Developer Tea

The Most Important Part of My Day (Part 2)

Episode Summary

In today's episode, we talk about a habit that I believe anyone listening to this can benefit from: a morning/evening journal session. Today's episode is brought to you by Spec! Spec is here to help you level up as a developer, designer, or other digital creative producer. Check out the other shows and community by heading to, and join the spec community at!

Episode Notes

In today's episode, we talk about a habit that I believe anyone listening to this can benefit from: a morning/evening journal session.

Today's episode is brought to you by Spec! Spec is here to help you level up as a developer, designer, or other digital creative producer. Check out the other shows and community by heading to, and join the spec community at!

Episode Transcription

What is the most important parts of your day? My name is Jonathan Cutrell, you're listening to Developer Tea. This is the second part in a two-part episode about the most important time in my day. Time is something we all share and this is relevant to everyone really, how you spend your time and how you can best set yourself up to spend your time. This is a two-part concept. The first part we said the most important part of my day is the morning time, the first 10 minutes where my mind is actively engaged, where I take it to think and be mindful about how I'm going to spend my energy that day. That is only valuable though if I take the time in the evening or when the day is done and if you want to call it that, when I'm winding down and I'm getting ready to go through another cycle, if I take that time and evaluate how I did, evaluate myself based on what I intended to do versus what I actually accomplished. Think about it this way. Let's say you want to stick to a diet. If you are constantly cheating on that diet but you still tell other people that you're on a diet and you have the self-perception that you're on a diet and you never evaluate the fact that you're cheating on that diet, then the diet is kind of useless. Isn't it? It's kind of a waste and in fact it's even worse really for you to waste the energy of acting and putting forth any kind of mental thought towards a diet that you're not actually even following. This is particularly relevant to me because this is something I've done recently. I've been cheating on a diet and not really paying attention to it and not being mindful the way that I should be. This is something that I'm working on every day and that I'm calling you to work on every day and then the previous episode, we discussed the fact that this isn't just about being hyper productive. This isn't just about organizing your day so that you never end up doing something that's just fun for the sake of fun. Instead this is about being mindful about everything that you choose to do. Now it's possible for you to change those plans. There's nothing here that we're talking about that means that you are rigid or that you're inflexible or that you're, you know, you can still be spontaneous, you can still kind of make decisions off the cuff. The important thing to recognize here is that you choose what you do with your time. You have the agency, the authority to choose what you do with your time. This is true for most people, even people who may not feel like that's true. It is still true. It may not be as easily accessible to everyone and you may have obligations that you've decided on in the past or that your circumstance has determined for you that you have to overcome. But as a general rule, you are the person who decides what you do with your time. On top of this very simple concept of agency and authority of your own time, you are also going to be the person who cares the most about your own time. There's no one else in the world who is going to want your time to be spent well as much as you will. Now the reality is most people have kind of competing voices that are fighting for their time, whether it's an internal voice, the good voice, the one that you have determined that is powerful and that has that agency. Maybe it's a bad internal voice, the impulsive and opportunistic voice, the one that, you know, goes against your established values or it goes against what you kind of internally know is better for you. That impulsive voice can compete for that attention and then of course the voices of others, the wants, the needs, the desires of other people in your life. And each of these voices needs to be evaluated differently. There are times when your impulse is actually going to serve you well. There's going to be an abundance of times when someone else's needs or someone else's desires, if you accommodate those, then you're going to be better off in the end and so will they. But the truth is most people don't think even half this far. Most people go throughout their day without ever giving a second thought about what voice they're listening to. In every sense of the word, they're going with the flow. And sometimes the flow takes them in places they don't really want to go. If you were to sit them down and do an exercise of understanding their values, understanding their goals and dreams and aspirations, if you were to list all those things out and then compare them to that person's daily life and activities, you know, they don't really line up. They don't really agree with each other. So this is the driving motivation to why you should take this time on a daily basis to write this stuff out, to actually give yourself a moment to think about how are you going to spend your time today? What are you going to be flexible to? Who are you going to give your time to today? So this has been established. We talked about it on the last episode. I want to talk about this evaluation step, though, because this is the one, you know, probably half of the people who are doing any of these steps are only doing that first part, that journaling part at the beginning or, you know, maybe it's not a journal. Maybe it's just sitting and meditating or thinking through your day, planning it. However you do that step, about half of those people are probably just doing that step and they're forgetting the evaluation step. And that's a shame because this is such an important part of the process of learning. The evaluation step is kind of giving yourself a grade. It's looking back at what you intended to do, what you wrote down on what you said, you know, eight or 12 hours before and determining, hey, how well did I actually do what I said I was going to do? Now of course, this is also flexible. You have to understand that sometimes things are going to shift. The goals that you set that morning may change over the course of the day. And you should be able to adapt to that change. Don't be so married and so, you know, vehemently connected to whatever it is that you wrote this morning that that journaling process becomes dogmatic and that the outcome of it becomes, you know, a rule book rather than guidelines. Instead what you should do in this evaluation process is look at the course of the day, look at your initial intentions and recognize what happened. This is more about awareness. This is more about knowing where did my time go and am I happy with it? Did this do what I really wanted it to do? Did my day accomplish what I really wanted for it to accomplish? How could it be better? How could my day have gone better? What went way off the rails? Now, I want to take it one step further. This evaluation process, it's very easy for these to go, you know, kind of mediocre every single day. The evaluation process of looking back at your day and saying, how did it go? It went fine, right? That could be where you stop and you'll never have a different answer because you're kind of averaging the way that you feel at the end of the day and you're never going to have a spike that really changes that average enough to matter. It's going to be weighted, it's going to be biased. If you only have kind of a monotone answer to this question of how did the day go, this evaluation, then you're probably not answering with enough detail to improve. So here's what I want you to do. Instead of answering a singular question, I want you to answer more specifically what went well today and what did not go well today. And beyond that, and this is kind of the advanced level of this journaling process, instead of only pinpointing the way that things went in a specific instance. In other words, maybe you didn't like a particular client interaction or maybe you didn't like a particular coworker interaction or maybe you lost a lead or you lost some other kind of business problem. There's tons of things that you could put into this category of specifics. But what I want you to do is tie those specifics to larger kind of thematic elements in your personality and tie these things to the larger goals at hand and your overarching story. So you should pull out from this stuff insights about how you behave generally, not just in that specific instance, because every day is going to be a new day with new experiences and you have to take the things that you learned, the specifics that you experienced yesterday and understand a more abstracted level of information about yourself. You have to be able to evaluate from that abstract perspective to be able to apply that information that new knowledge that you have about yourself to be able to refine in the future in new experiences that you've never had before. So a simple way you can do this is to determine, okay, this is a good thing that happened, right? Explain it in detail. Something that I evaluate to be a good thing and then ask yourself, why? Why is it good? What does it mean? What am I connecting from this experience to this factor of good? This is going to help you start to understand the patterns of your own behavior as well as the areas that you can refine and work on to become better. And I have one final note as it relates to this planning process and the most important time in my day. And that is that this doesn't just matter on a day-to-day basis. I recommend that you go through this learning process as often as possible, but I also recommend that you go through it at a more kind of zoomed out level, right? So what does that mean? Well, for me, I do this on a Sunday night as well to plan out and to kind of get a general overview of what the next week looks like. What I want to accomplish at a larger kind of zoomed out scale, what would I like to accomplish over the course of the next week, rather than just over the course of today? And then I can evaluate how things went on a Friday or a Saturday. This is something that the cycle can be abstracted to multiple time period levels, right? So good time period level two of Shack2 is the quarter. So every three months or so, you can set out an agenda and then at the end of the three months kind of understand how well did we accomplish this? And usually this kind of review is something that companies do, but I challenge you and I'm challenging myself too because I haven't been diligent in practicing this at the quarter level myself. But I challenge you to try this because this really is fundamentally what we're doing here is we're setting our goals, we're understanding our values, we're reminding ourselves on a daily basis, on a monthly basis, or I'm sorry, on a weekly or quarterly, or monthly if you want to choose whatever kind of time period you want to choose for this, we're reminding ourselves of our values. We're evaluating what we did versus what we intended to do and then we're refining, we're getting better, we're choosing to take those insights and apply them forward. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. If you missed out on the first part, I recommend you go and listen to that as well. There's some information and some insight there that I think kind of makes this episode make a little more sense. And hopefully you resound with that anxiety of feeling like, you know, time is passing you by and you want to take a hold of it and you want to be able to get on the other side of a day and feel good about what happened in that day. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. Again, my name is Jonathan Cutrell. You can find me on Twitter at at J. Cutrell. You can also find me on Twitter at at Developer Tea. That's more Developer Tearelated things and I share more of my personal opinions on my personal Twitter. So go and check those things out as well. And make sure you subscribe and whatever podcasting app you are using right now. We've got some very exciting ideas that are coming up both towards the end of this year and starting into next year and you don't want to miss out on those on those things. So if you enjoyed today's episode and you enjoy this kind of content, this is the kind of stuff we like to talk about on the show. Make sure you subscribe so you don't miss out on future episodes, which there are a lot of. We released three episodes a week. So there's tons of episodes of Developer Teathat are coming out all the time. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.