5 questions you should ask yourself every day before bed

productivity questions

By Mars Dorian, {grow} Contributing Columnist

I’m a vampire.

No, not the solar-phobic Transylvanian bloodsucker with his campy cape, but the graveyard worker who spends all night hitting the keyboard and dropping into bed when the first sun rays sneak through my curtains.

You see, I’m what the German government now calls the digital solo-self-employer (if you think that’s a mouthful, wait until you see the German version). This ‘new’ caste of people are ones who use only a computer to conduct online business around the world and defy the regular schedule. With no physical boss breathing down my neck, my days drifted away from the daily, humane 9-to-5 routine and morphed into a mess. That unhealthy working routine forced me to visit a doctor who advised me to bring order into my day.

In other words, I needed to find a simple and effective way to structure my day.

Now if there’s something more available than sand on beaches it’s productivity guides on book shelves. Every pundit with a PhD tells you the ultimate formula on leveling up your productivity, but the trouble is, most systems are too complicated and end up as digital dust collectors.

The most effective tactics are the ones that require no pen, paper or iPhone, but your eager brain wobbling between your ears. Questions, in other words. They frame your mind and prime it for productivity. Thanks to relentless article reading on the internet, I’ve collected the best ones and reveal them below.

So when sleep knocks and you’re ready to hit your pillow face first, ask yourself the following 5 questions to jumpstart tomorrow with efficiency. If these productivity framings worked for a pseudo-vampire, they will work for you.

Your Five Question Check-List

1) What did I learn today?5-productivity-Questions-before-bed

I’m a huuuge fan of the Japanese Kaizen principle, which means long-term improvement in tiny steps. Practically, it means learning one major thing each day in your chosen categories. I give you three of mine so you get an idea:

Social dynamics: I’ve learned how to focus on my partner’s needs during my improv theatre session.
English mastery: I’ve acquired three new advanced English words used in space science.
Job mastery: I’ve figured out how to better code an e-book in the mobi and epub format.

2) What positive thing happened to me today?

This is another constructive question that frames your mind for positivity. Focus on the small stuff. One day an Israeli world traveller and Facebook friend wrote me a personal message where he thanked me for liking and commenting on his posts. I haven’t seen the guy in years and rarely speak to him, but this little digital Thank You note showed that even a ‘superficial’ long-distance friendship can cause positive impacts through the simple act of ‘liking’ and ‘commenting’.

3) Whom did I help today?

I used to only focus on my needs, but as legendary peak performance celebrity Tony Robbins has said, fulfillment comes from helping others. Yeah, I know, it sounds Cheesy with capital C, but what can I say, it abso-freaking-lutely works. Personal problems, frustration and lack of aliveness fade away if you help others accomplish their goals, no matter how small.

So how did I serve others that day? Well, a Japanese friend of mine worked on the official tourist website for Tokyo. He needed to find an English native speaker and web designer who could help him with the English version, so I referred an US freelancer which I knew from my ancient Tokyo travel days. It’s a small deed, but it helped two folks work and create something together.

4) What did I do today that moved me toward my goals?

That day, I learned a good deal about paid book marketing, which is essential for a self-publishing indie author like me. This step leads toward the grander goal of becoming an established sci-fi author.

5) What will be my starting focus tomorrow?

This is the question that primes your unconsciousness for tomorrow. Whenever I wake up now, I remember answering that question the night before which steers my focus before my sleepy brain boots up. You want to ask yourself ONE question only. The goal is not to plan your entire working day, but to have a starting goal so you can get into motion. Once your sleepy body accomplishes one task, you’re in flow for the next. Example: Tomorrow, I will help my mother with the English translation of a gallery project treatment for Texas.


I drop any productivity method that requires more than my brain. Even a pen and paper is baggage—you need to be able to change your rituals when naked and alone. The simple act of framing your mindset through constructive questions can jumpstart your productivity. You can vary these questions in any form you want, but for full effect, I recommend to keep the themes intact:

Be grateful for the ‘little’ things.
Serve others.
Learn one thing.
Focus on tomorrow’s first goal.

What’s your number one productivity question that frames your mind in a constructive way?

mars dorianMars Dorian draws funky illustrations and pens sci-fi thrillers for the Internet Generation. His latest novel is available on Amazon for just $2.99! Consider his artwork for your next project: http://www.marsdorian.com

Original illustration by the author.

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