Time Management: Project Forward, Look Backward

13/03/2023by dang tin0

Project Forward, Look Backward

WHAT IS THE MOST important and valuable work that you do, in any field or profession? It’s thinking ! Your ability to think clearly about what you do and how you do it will have a greater impact on your future results than any other single action you take.

There are some areas of your work where “slow thinking” is absolutely essential for you to perform at your best.
Take thirty minutes or more each day to review your goals, your plans, and your progress. The best time to do this review is first thing in the morning. Take time to think, plan, dream, and create. All exceptional executives and highly effective men and women set aside this time each day to carefully consider what they are going to do before they begin. You should read, review, reflect, and think about what you are doing before you take action. Over the years, I have read hundreds of biographies and autobiographies of successful men and women in every field. One common thread in these biographies that I discovered was that true greatness only emerges with introspection, retrospection, solitude, and contemplation. You will only achieve the greatness you are capable of when you begin to take time regularly to think about who you are, what you want, and the very best way to achieve it.

Take the time to evaluate your life and your activities in a larger context. Think of where you are today and where you want to be in five years. Look at the activities that you are engaged in today and determine which of them can have the greatest impact on your future. This way of thinking will allow you to manage your time much better than you can even imagine at this moment. Sometimes, just one good idea gained in a period of solitude or contemplation can save you months and even years of hard work.

Long Time Perspective

Dr. Edward Banfield of Harvard University conducted more than fifty years of research into the attitudes and behaviors of high-performing people, both in America and worldwide. He identified one special quality that seemed to separate the high performers from the low performers. He called it “long time perspective.” Banfield found that high performers took the time to think far into the future, often ten and twenty years, and to develop absolute clarity about where they wanted to be in their lives and work at that time. They then come back to the present and make sure that everything they are doing in the moment is consistent with where they want to be in the future.

This is a powerful technique that you can use, too. Project forward one, two, or three years, and imagine that your life situation is ideal in every way. Create a clear mental picture of what your work situation would be if it were per- fect. From this vantage point of the future, look around you and describe your ideal life and work situation. Then, ask yourself if what you are doing right now is consistent with the creation of your ideal future. From that future vantage point, look back at yourself, to where you are today, and see the steps that you will need to take to get to where you want to go. This “back from the future thinking” is a practice of many top executives.

Make Better Decisions in the Present

For example, a young woman decides that she wants to be very successful in business in her adult life. With this clear long-term perspective in mind, the individual works many extra hours to get excellent grades in high school so that she will qualify for a good college. In college, the individual takes harder courses and studies much longer than her peers to graduate as close as possible to the top of her class.
As a result of many years of hard work and study, and putting off the immediate gratification of parties, sports, and social life, the individual graduates at a high level from a prestigious university and is then hired by a large company, where she has the opportunity to get paid more and pro- moted faster than classmates who were not really thinking about the future at all.

When you are clear about where you want to be some- time in the future, it is much easier for you to make better decisions in the present. The rule is that long-term vision improves short-term decision making. You have heard the saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” The habit of developing long time perspective is quite powerful. By projecting into the future and looking back to the present, you will often see steps that you could take, and mistakes that you could avoid. This exercise will help you to crystallize your values. It will give you the internal tools to organize your time and activities so that what you are doing today is moving you toward the creation of your ideal future.

Ready for Time Management Techniques

If you are not headed toward your desired destination, you don’t want to get there any faster. If you are not moving in your own self-determined direction, there is no point in managing your time in a way that accelerates your speed of accomplishment. Time management strategies and tactics applied without a clear future vision will get you to a desti- nation that holds no interest for you, only faster.

Once you are clear about your values, vision, and mission for your life and work, and you are clear about what it is you want to accomplish and the best way to achieve it, then, and only then, can you begin to apply some of the powerful time management techniques that are available to you.

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