18 Best Daily Self Reflection Questions to Improve Your Productivity

Written by
Macgill Davis
“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection, will come even more effective action.” - Peter Drucker

Introduction

Self reflection is a critical habit to build for personal growth and continuous self-improvement. As with most habits, you need to practice it daily in order to reap the benefits. Taking time to self-reflect daily will help improve your mindfulness, productivity, and happiness. It’s the only way to ensure you’re growing into the future self you wish to become. 


I’ve put together the following list of self reflection questions you can ask yourself daily. You don’t have to ask all of these questions everyday but cycling through them over the course of a month will help you discover areas for self-growth, personally and professionally. 

Why self reflection is important for productivity

Before diving into the self reflection questions, it’s important to highlight the benefits of self-reflection. Self-reflection is a core component of self-care. Asking yourself reflective questions improves self-awareness and makes sure you’re living the life you want to live.


Self-reflection is not about being your “best self” it’s about asking yourself what future self you want to become. What is important to you? What are you passionate about? What makes you happy?


When it comes to productivity, self-reflection ensures you’re being conscious about how you’re spending your time. This is especially important during difficult times like many of us experienced with COVID in the last year.


Self reflection has been found to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. Tennis players who self reflected felt less stressed and performed better. Students who self reflected performed better in school. Therapists who self reflected were able to more deeply empathize with their patients. Across the spectrum of jobs, self reflection leads to improved mental health, personal growth, and increased performance.

18 Daily Self Reflection Questions

1. Did I accomplish what I wanted to? If not, what stopped me?

This is a key question to ask yourself everyday. Review your to-do list and see if you accomplished what you wanted to. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you didn’t. The goal of self reflection is not to punish yourself. It’s to understand how you can improve the next time. 


2. Did I work on the most important tasks today? If not, what led me off track?

We often review what tasks we crossed off the to-do list each day. However, we rarely ask whether those were the right tasks to be working in the first place. Our time and attention are limited resources. Prioritizing the right tasks is as important as execution.


3. What is something that distracted me or slowed my progress today?

Attention is a finite resource. Every distraction and interruption reduces our ability to focus and our efficiency. Understanding what distracts you and removing those distractions from your day will greatly improve your productivity. You’ll be able to get more done in less time. 


4. Did I take enough breaks today? If not, why wasn’t I able to? 

Most people do not take enough breaks throughout the day. Studies and research show that taking breaks is a simple and easy way to stay refreshed and avoid burnout. As in all areas of your life, you need to moderate the amount of time you sit at the computer. Yet we often find ourselves sitting endlessly in front of the screen. Prioritizing breaks is an easy way to improve your productivity and health. 

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/04/21/this-is-your-brain-on-zoom/  


5. How do I feel emotionally after finishing my work? Why do I feel that way?

Be sure to check in on your mental and emotional state when you finish the day. Are you feeling overwhelmed or calm? Exhausted or refreshed? Checking in on your mental health is key to spotting if you’re overworked and on the path to burned out. If you’re continually having negative thoughts and feelings, it may be time to make changes to your job or personal life.


6. Did I work on something that I’m passionate about today? If not, what stopped me?

Feeling passionate about your work makes everything easy. Despite what you might see on social media, you can’t be passionate about all of your work all of the time. But you should be working on something you're passionate about more often than not. If you aren’t, what changes do you have to make to get there?


7. Did I follow my daily routine? If not, what disrupted it? How can I avoid those disruptions in the future? 

Our habits make us who we are. The key to developing strong habits is following a daily routine. Each day you should be reflecting on your routine. Both to understand if you checked off your daily goals but also to make sure you’re focusing on the right goals.


8. Did I make time to exercise today? If not, what stopped me?

Your physical health is critical for productivity. Daily exercise is often referred to as the closest thing to a panacea, a cure for all diseases. You don’t have to run a marathon everyday. Exercise can include something as small as starting your day with a morning walk.  


9. What took up most of my time today? Why?

Just like your attention, your time is a limited resource. Having a deep understanding of how you spent your time is critical to staying productive and happy. You can use a time tracker like Rize to automatically track your time and improve your time management.


10. What’s one thing I could have done more efficiently today?

Always be on the lookout for ways to improve your efficiency. Even small changes to efficiency compound over time to deliver big time and productivity gains.


11. What’s something I did today that I want to stop doing or have outgrown?

When it comes to productivity, we often think in additive terms: i.e. what can I start doing to be more productive. However, stopping things can be just as powerful. What can you stop or remove from your day that will make you happier and more productive? What is something you’ve outgrown?


12. Did I make time to meditate today? If not, what stopped me?

Just a few minutes of meditation can drastically improve your quality of life. Meditation calms your mind and leaves you in a better mood. 


13. What is something that happened that I’m grateful for today?

Did you get a chance to chat with your loved ones? Was the weather beautiful? Did you read an inspiring quote? No matter how small, practicing gratitude and self-love daily will rewire your brain to be happier and calmer.

14. What are some good habits that I completed today? What are some bad habits that I completed today?

As mentioned, our habits create us. Keep an eye out for good habits and bad habits. Always check that you’re focusing on the habits that will create the best version of your future-self. 


15. Did I do something outside of my comfort zone today?

Continuing to push yourself out of your comfort zone is required to grow. Challenging yourself also leads to self-discovery. 


16. What is something that I failed at today? What can I learn from it?

You should be failing consistently. If you aren’t failing, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. When you fail, before you move forward, you need to self-reflect. We learn and grow from failure. So be sure to never miss an opportunity to grow. 


17. What is something that I did well today? What can I attribute my success to?

Showing a bit of self-love is so important to stay happy. This is especially true if you’re consistently pushing yourself and dealing with failure. Be sure you make time for self-love.


18. Who can I thank for helping me today?

Spotting those who helped you and acknowledging their help is a skill you can build. It will make you a more grateful person and improve relationships with your team members and loved ones. 


How to build the habit of self reflection

1. Start Journaling 

Journaling is a great habit to form. It helps you become more self-aware and articulate your feelings. Writing is an important skill to build for all aspects of life. You can use the questions above as journaling prompts. Keeping a record of your responses is helpful to see how your thoughts and feelings change over time. Did you respond differently to a question last time? Why?

2. Set Calendar reminder

Set a calendar reminder to journal at the end of each day. This is an easy way to remind yourself to self reflect.

3. Use a time tracker

You can use a time tracker like Rize to get an idea of how you’re spending your time each day. When you receive the end of day notification, take a look to reflect on how you spent your time and ask yourself a few self reflection questions.

4. Keep a Running Streak

Gamify self reflection by keeping a running streak using a Google Doc or an app like Streaks.

Conclusion

Building the habit of self reflection can help you build a fulfilling life. Again, self reflection is not about building your “best life”, it’s about figuring out what type of person you want to become. There is no right or wrong answer. But if you don’t take the time to ask the question, you won’t have control over where you end up. 


Sources

  1. https://hbr.org/2017/03/why-you-should-make-time-for-self-reflection-even-if-you-hate-doing-it 
  2. https://www.smashingmagazWhy You Should Make Time for Self-Reflection (Even If You Hate Doing It)ine.com/2018/01/importance-self-reflection-part-2/ 
  3. https://www.tuw.edu/school-news/self-reflective-learning-leads-to-successful-students/ 
  4. https://bpspsychub.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/papt.12026 
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S014976340900195X 
  6. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/sbp/sbp/2002/00000030/00000008/art00011 
  7. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10020070412331343511 
  8. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/sbp/sbp/2016/00000044/00000007/art00008


Photo by Paul Gilmore.


Macgill Davis is the cofounder of Rize - a simple, intelligent time tracker that improves focus and helps build better work habits.

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