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08 Feb

Set aside fifteen minutes for the future

Datum: 2012-02-08 11:00

Do you enjoy tak­ing a moment to reflect on what you have done and what­ev­er awaits you next when­ev­er you have a moment to spare, just as much as I do?

When our lives are just spin­ning and you feel as if your every­day-life is like a rat race (“Mon­day, Fri­day, week­end. Mon­day, Fri­day, week­end.”), it is easy to lose sight of where you are going. 

It can be par­tic­u­lar­ly dif­fi­cult to set the right pri­or­i­ties, that is, choose the right task for every giv­en sit­u­a­tion, and espe­cial­ly choos­ing the right tasks not to do right now.

Think­ing about lat­er will help you now

Say­ing that it is impor­tant to explic­it­ly for­mu­late a vision for what you strive to achieve in the long run, is almost a tru­ism. But I am not say­ing it for noth­ing. Remem­ber­ing this will make what you do in your every­day life feel more mean­ing­ful since you know where all your activ­i­ties are tak­ing you. 

When I held a lec­ture for an orga­ni­za­tion in the south of Swe­den last week, some­one asked me:

But David, how am I sup­posed to sit here and relax when I know that my e‑mail inbox at the office is fill­ing to the brim as we speak?”

After a few min­utes dis­cussing we agreed on that if we stop and think about what we aim to achieve in the long-run with what we are doing right now, we real­ize its val­ue – even if what we are doing right now can appear as a mis­al­lo­ca­tion of time in the short­er perspective. 

You will also obtain a more healthy per­spec­tive on all the short and quick urgent-tasks you per­form on a dai­ly basis, and feel a greater sense of mean­ing in what you do, since you are aware of why you are in such a rush to do what you are doing right now in the first place. 

It will now be eas­i­er to decide what the right thing to do right at this very moment is, both in your work and in your pri­vate life. By mak­ing the future come alive in your dai­ly doings, the prob­a­bil­i­ty that you will see your visions and wish­es come true, increases. 

The beau­ty of this way of approach­ing your time-man­age­ment is that you do not have to wait until you are com­plete­ly free of oth­er oblig­a­tions before you direct your atten­tion towards the future, rather:

Now and again, set aside fif­teen min­utes for the future. 

As a struk­tör who strives to con­cretize mat­ters fur­ther, my next ques­tion is then: How?

Do this

When­ev­er you have some free time” to spare, for instance

  • when you are in your car, stopped by the rail­road tracks and are wait­ing for a train to pass,
  • in your car wait­ing for the car-ferry,
  • when you are in line wait­ing to board the air­plane (and there is no idea to open up your com­put­er or make a few phone calls since you are sur­round­ed by people),
  • when the fas­ten seat­belt” sign is lit on the air­craft and no elec­tron­ic devices may be switched on,
  • when­ev­er you need to wait for the com­put­er to reboot after an error occurred,
  • when you are hav­ing lunch alone and are con­tem­plat­ing as you are hav­ing your coffee,
  • when­ev­er you sud­den­ly feel like it,
  • or when you sim­ply get the urge and just can­not resist,

then take fif­teen min­utes to con­tem­plate the future, how you want your life to evolve — in your busi­ness, at work and in life in general. 
Do not have the ambi­tion to con­cretize and cre­ate to-do-tasks, just fan­ta­size. Fan­ta­siz­ing isn’t just for chil­dren; it is what you do when­ev­er you think about any­thing which is still wait­ing to become reality. 

A card, a doc­u­ment, a picture?

To help you do this, keep a pock­et-sized card in your jack­et-pock­et which you look at or read through when those 15 min­utes are on your hands and you have noth­ing bet­ter to do. On the card you might write the key­words which describe how you want things to be in the future. Add or sub­tract words when­ev­er you feel like it. 

Per­haps it is not a card, but a doc­u­ment in an appli­ca­tion on your phone, syn­chro­nized with the same doc­u­ment on your computer. 

Or maybe you have print­ed out your vision-mind-map (from for instance Mind­man­ag­er or Mind­meis­ter) which con­tains all aspects you can think of describ­ing the future sit­u­a­tion you want for your­self. You have fold­ed it so that it fits neat­ly in your brief­case or purse. 

Some keep a pic­ture in their wal­let of for instance a nice­ly dec­o­rat­ed room as it embod­ies the essence of their vision.

Or per­haps the card only reads one ques­tion which you ask your­self: How will this par­tic­u­lar day appear in five years from now?”

Sep­a­rat­ing the wheat from the chaff

If you make your future more acces­si­ble in your dai­ly rou­tines, it will become eas­i­er to deter­mine what task con­sti­tutes wheat and what can be regard­ed as chaff, that is, what tasks to pri­or­i­tize, and you will with greater ease deter­mine what is impor­tant and what is not. 

What is your way?

How do you suc­ceed in aim­ing into the future? Leave a com­ment to let me and oth­ers know your best tip.