When you're a kid, someone often asks you "What did you learn today?" You start to expect the question so you're kind of preparing for it throughout the day. Then when you get home and your mum springs the question on you, you've got some kernel that will satisfy her so you can go outside and play. Stuff like, "I learned that Einstein was a Pisces" or "I learned that mice sometimes eat their young" or "I learned that stuffing yellow tissue paper up the tap spigot turns the water yellow and then everybody thinks it's pee."
When you get to be an adult, people stop asking you "What did you learn today?" I think that's because you're just supposed to know stuff. I guess you're supposed to have grown up by now. Well where's the fun in that?
Recently, I signed up for a business course with Melanie Benson Strick. She gave me a new excercise. Every night I get my notebook and write, "One thing I learned today is..." and I write down one thing I learned, and then I write down one thing I'd do differently if I had to do it again.
Amazingly, this has the same effect on me that it used to have. I go through my day learning things on purpose so I have something to report later.
Sometimes the stuff I write at night is understated, like "One thing I learned today is that pressing Ctrl-S frequently is the only way to have a happy experience with Microsoft Word." This is a much nicer way of putting it than the things I said in the white hot rage of the actual learning moment (after 3 crashes and the abject failure, on each occasion, of AutoRecover).
Sometimes I learn stuff about my behaviour. Like, "One thing I learned today is that I have a lot more energy to get things accomplished when I have the drama of a time limit." For example, instead of putting on my to-do list "Clean up the workshop" I now write "Clean up the workshop - 20 minutes". That lights a fire under the old botty*.
And if I don't get the job totally finished in 20 minutes, at least I got 20 minutes worth of effort into it, and I can do another 20 minutes tomorrow. But the thing is, if I didn't apply that time limit, odds are good that I would have felt so overwhelmed by the task that I wouldn't even have started the job in the first place. Cool, eh?
So let me be your mum for a minute. What did you learn today?
*Botty: Old English for arse