A day can easily turn into a train wreck.
Bad days get a terrible wrap. They’re often thought of as not worth resuscitating. We let our bad days die and then hope tomorrow is a good day.
I murdered entire days too. I let frustration win. Then I came across a bizarre technique. It’s definitely not a popular idea, but helps to cure a bad day.
The Day from Hell
I was about to start a new job … and move house, and move in with my partner, and start a new business.
All of the events occurred in a single day and nothing went right. My grandma raised me to be a good little politically correct boy and to refrain from using swear words. On this day from hell, I tell ya, I invented new swear words from all the outrageous anger.
The walls got scratched by removalists. The train behind my new apartment ended up being louder than a truck going 100 mph and suddenly having to stop by slamming on the breaks with a trailer full of moo-cows in the back. The door of the closet didn’t close with clothes inside, and nothing could be done to fix it as the space simply wasn’t wide enough. Then my fiancé’s two roommates both decided to depart on the same day and leave her with all the bills and cleaning up to do. The landlord decided to be an ass too.
By 5 pm I was smoked. The day was nuked.
The productivity guilt began to set in. I’d achieved nothing for the whole day. I learned a new technique a few days before to handle bad days. It was time to road test it.
Think About a Bad Day like This from Now On
When you have a bad day, remember there are four quarters.
First quarter: Morning
This is when you have the most energy after a good night’s sleep. Many bad days start here. When your morning goes off track, it can set up the rest of your day for disaster. The key isn’t to be defeated in the morning. If the morning sucks then you’ve still got three quarters to play.
Second quarter: Midday
The morning ends at 12 pm. If things go wrong then you can start a new day at this point. 12 pm is a good time to win back your day because it’s when you eat lunch. Lunchtime is a good place to reflect on what has happened so far to look for the upside.
Third Quarter: Afternoon
From 3 pm until 6 pm you’ve still got a lot of time to win back the day. The afternoon is often where I experience a second burst of energy that comes from nowhere (the technical term is second wind).
Fourth Quarter: Evening
After 6 pm is the final chance to save a bad day. It’s where you can use the time after dinner to do the work you weren’t able to complete in the other quarters. Many people report working better at night. The urgency of bedtime is a great motivator to rescue a bad day and turn it around.
Even if you fail in the fourth quarter of the day, there’s always tomorrow. That’s how you quietly beat a bad day no matter what.
The Mantra to Keep Your Day Moving Forward
Here it is:
If you mess up one quarter of the day, then do better in the next quarter.
By breaking my day into quarters, I was able to fix the day from hell in the fourth quarter. The apartment got sorted. Housemates did the right thing in the end. The business didn’t die a horrible death upon creation.
A day can be saved when you feel there’s still more game time to start again.
A basketball game isn’t over after one quarter. Why should your day be like that? Thinking of your day as four quarters gives you more chances to try again. When you try again the solutions eventually present themselves.
Time alive is precious. Don’t let bad days consistently ruin what could otherwise be your most productive hours alive doing work you enjoy. A day can easily go off track. But a turnaround can occur too. Go easy on yourself. You’re doing the best you can. We all have bad days. It’s what you do in the remaining quarters that counts.
Break your day into four quarters to avoid writing off entire days.