How To Expand Your Awareness
How To Use The Future Self Notebook
A task period is a period of time that you imagine will take between 45 minutes and an hour and a half. It is a single period of the day you devote your time, attention and energy to. Nothing else.
Step 1: Pick your task
What is something you want to do, but keeps drifting from your list? Something that, if you don't do it today you can always get around to it tomorrow, next week or maybe even next year. Write that task down.
Step 2: Choose the optimum time
Now that you have picked a task, it's time to decide when you will devote your time to this task. When is the optimum time for you? Are you more effective in the morning or the evening? When will you have the most energy for this task? What about resilience to the interruptions life throws at you? Pencil the start time and end time to the left of the anticipation column. Pin that down.
Step 3: Anticipate your next actions
In the anticipation column, list out the things that you're going to do during that task period. What are you going to start with? Imagine the actions you need to take in the appropriate order you need to take them.
Step 4: Log what actually happens
In the activation column, log the stuff you actually did and note how much time it took. If you drifted from your task, write down when that happened. Did you take a break? Capture everything and your future self will be thankful.
Step 5: Reflect
Look at what happened. What did you learn that will help you do the next task? The goal is to feel more confident and effective moving forward.
Once you’ve gotten practice at capturing our three experiences of time in a Task Period, you’ll extend the time horizon to a day. We recommend including your personal and professional time. Use code words for confidential activities in either domain.
Step 1: Select an upcoming day
Predicting and logging an entire day is an intellectual heavy lift. For that reason, we recommend sampling a day or two in your week rather than using this on a daily basis. What day(s) optimum for you? Write down the date in the upper right hand corner of your page.
Step 2: Anticipate the day
Capture how you anticipate the selected time period: what you plan to accomplish and, importantly, under what conditions do you anticipate this will show up to help and hinder your ability to complete your intentions. What promises will you make with your future self? Write these things down.
Step 3: Activation
We call this, the sometimes harsh, reality. During the period of engagement, log what shows up during the selected period; not just what you do, but what impacts you as you engage in that period of time.
Step 4: Reflect
On the following day, scan your anticipation and activation columns and note the different realities that showed up. Can you identify any common themes that pulled you away from your original intentions? Be careful not to beat yourself up as you analyze your day. What often happens is a confluence of things showed up and you did something different.
At this point the cognitive muscles, experience and frames of mind should be well greased to anticipate the week.
Step 1: Anticipate your week:
If your week starts on a Monday, anticipate your week on Saturday or Sunday. Write the date and anticipate monday-sunday. This shouldn’t be as daunting by now, because you will have identified your daily rhythm/ritual from your days.
Step 2: Log what happens
Turn to the next page to the anticipation section of your week and log what happens. This is the same process established in the day section of your notebook.
Step 3: Reflect
After each day or the week, briefly summarize what you learned. Now grab a cup of coffee and take a step back to review each summary of the week. What shows up? Can you identify common themes? Are you happy with the decisions you made? If so, is there anything you would do differently? Write that awareness in a different color.
We use three weeks for a specific reason. Every three week period is statistically likely to have a significant interruption in it. It's just the way the math works. How much can you accomplish and realistically commit to over three weeks?
Step 1: Anticipate your next three weeks
What do you already know about the next three weeks? You won’t know everything that is going to happen, but you can use your best judgment to capture everything that is likely to happen. How much time will it take you to write your next blog post? If you have a fixed event like an appointment, how long will that realistically take? Any holidays? Block out the demands on your time.
Step 2: Log what happened in each week
Log how you allocate your time to get a general sense of how you used it.
Step 3: Reflect on the three weeks
At this point, we often find that you really don't have 15 work days at your disposal. You're going to lose significant chunks of those work days to some form of predictable randomness. A snow storm shows up one week, you have to repair your car, or maybe it's a work emergency or holiday. Whatever it is, it pulled you away from being as effective as you originally thought you would be. Do the same process a few times and begin to recognize what those things are that hijack your time.