We tend to think of a day as this single block of time, a finite period during which you can either triumph or fail. But you might find you have fewer bad days — and more good ones — if you start think of a single day as something that can be divided up into smaller segments of time.
If you tend to get discouraged as perceived failures stack up against the clock, re-envision your day as four distinct quarters, each rife with opportunities for success.
Visualise your day like a basketball game
If you’ve been watching the NBA playoffs, you understand that ample ground can be made up in a short matter of time, even if it looks like you’ve already lost. And while sports analogies might seem overly simplistic, thinking of your day as four distinct quarters can help you stay on track as time races by.
Instead of feeling that you’ve blown the day and thinking, “I’ll get back on track tomorrow,” try thinking of each day as a set of four quarters: morning, midday, afternoon, evening. If you blow one quarter, you get back on track for the next quarter. Fail small, not big.
The idea here is to accept that failure is a given. Nobody walks through life (or embarks on a career path) without stumbling unexpectedly. Thinking of the day in terms of quarters normalizes the inevitability of failure and the idea that you still have a chance to recover — because there’s always another quarter to make up lost ground.
Obviously, reorienting your thinking in this way takes a fair amount of diligence, as to truly succeed you’ll have to get used to allocating and investing your effort throughout the four quarters of your day — morning, midday, afternoon, and evening. But doing so also delivers a sense of empowerment, as it will be up to you to decide which quarter is the most consequential, or the least, and rank them accordingly. That way, even if you spent a quarter of today aimlessly scrolling the web while important work was left unattended, the entire day won’t end up being wasted.