Advertising
Advertising

Tomorrow May Never Come

Tomorrow May Never Come

Don’t let pressure and overwork encourage you to hurry past parts of your life. Whether it’s your children’s early life, whole segments of your marriage, or maybe the last active years of loved parents, they are swiftly past and gone beyond recall. Regret comes too late to save them. How many people still cherish an unfulfilled ambition to travel, or start their own business, or enter a new career, and yet do nothing to make it happen? Too many. Time passes. What was once an inspiring idea seems less and less feasible. Yet still they cling to the dream — only not this year. Maybe next year, when things calm down a little. When they’re not so busy. When they have the time.

We are so confused about time. We always have the same amount of it, since we can neither create more, nor save any for later, nor do away with what there is. Yet our perception of time is totally different. Sometimes it seems to drag in endless amounts. Sometimes it appears to flash past. Only our perception changes. Time itself does not.

Advertising


Of course, what we mean is time free from other demands. But we will never have that either. There are always other calls on our attention and always will be. If you’re waiting for that magical day when nothing else awaits you, only your dream ready for fulfillment, you will wait for ever.

The truth is simple. People confuse what is urgent with what is important; what is pressing today with what is pressing in terms of their whole life. A task stands before you and shouts for your attention because it’s here, now, and must be done by tomorrow. So you set aside far more important activities and choices because they’re not urgent. You can do them tomorrow, no matter. Only that tomorrow never comes.

Advertising

To live this way is understandable — it’s how the vast majority live — but it’s neither sensible nor fulfilling. All those unmet dreams and expectations build up, until you enter the later part of life trailing a vast, sad cloud of “might have beens.” So many people today are filled with regret at the opportunities they missed because there were more urgent claims at the time. As they look back, they see clearly those claims were never as important as the hopes they supplanted. Now it’s too late.

“There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.”

(William Shakespeare: Julius Caesar)

To choose a fulfilling path, you must be clear about your values, so you can see the difference between demands that are only urgent, but otherwise have little importance in the scheme of your life; and those that may lack obvious urgency, yet are crucial to who you are and what you want your life to be. You must have the courage to use your time on important matters and set aside what’s merely urgent.

If there’s a dream in your life — something you yearn to achieve, or merely something it would be so much fun to try — don’t put it aside. If that dream is up there at the top (or very near the top) of your personal values, do it now. Yes, now. Don’t wait another day. Nothing is as important to your long-term well being. But if your dream doesn’t make it to the top of your list, set it aside without regret. Like a pretty toy, it may be pleasant to look at, but it’s not important enough to give time to.

Advertising

Choice may not remove regret entirely — you may always wonder a little what it might have been like — but at least you’ll know you did choose. You didn’t look back later and realize you’d missed that boat without ever grasping it was ready to leave.

“The moving finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.”

(Edward Fitzgerald: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam)

Adrian Savage is an Englishman and a retired business executive who lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for anyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership, and The Coyote Within.

More by this author

Have You Ever Wished Your Kids Will Beg To Do Their Chores? How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them in 7 Simple Steps 20 Things People Regret the Most Before They Die Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science Quit Your Job If You Don’t Like It, No Matter What

Trending in Lifehack

1 What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero 2 13 Common Life Problems And How To Fix Them 3 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 4 How to Be Your Best Self And Get What You Want 5 How to Be Confident: 62 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 8, 2020

What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero

What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero

Ah, Inbox Zero. An achievement that so many of us long for. It’s elusive. It’s a productivity benchmark. It’s an ongoing battle.

It’s also unnecessary.

Don’t get me wrong, the way Inbox Zero was initially termed is incredibly valuable. Merlin Mann coined the phrase years ago and what he has defined it as goes well beyond the term itself.[1]

Yet people have created their own definition of Inbox Zero. They’re not using it with the intent that Mann suggested. Instead, it’s become about having nothing left in immediate view. It’s become about getting your email inbox to zero messages or having an empty inbox on your desk that was once filled with papers. It’s become about removing visual clutter.

But it’s not about that. Not at all.

Advertising

Here’s what inbox zero actually is, as defined by Mann:

“It’s about how to reclaim your email, your atten­tion, and your life. That “zero?” It’s not how many mes­sages are in your inbox–it’s how much of your own brain is in that inbox. Especially when you don’t want it to be. That’s it.” – Merlin Mann

The Fake Inbox Zero

The sense of fulfillment one gets from clearing out everything in your inbox is temporary at best, disappointing at worst. Often we find that we’re shooting for Inbox Zero just so that we can say that we’ve got “everything done that needed to be done”. That’s simply not the case.

Certainly, by removing all of your things that sit in your inbox means that they are either taken care of or are well on their way to being taken care of. The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” is often applied to clearing out your inbox. But unless you’ve actually done something with the stuff, it’s either not worth having in your inbox in the first place or is still sitting in your “mental inbox”.

You have to do something with the stuff, and for many people, that is a hard thing to do. That’s why Inbox Zero – as defined by Mann – is not achieved as often as many people would like to believe. It’s this “watered down” concept of Inbox Zero that is completed instead. You’ve got no email in your inbox and you’ve got no paper on your desk’s inbox. So that must mean you’re at Inbox Zero.

Advertising

Until the next email arrives or the next document comes your way. Then you work to get rid of those as quickly as possible so that you can get back to Inbox Zero: The Lesser again. If it’s something that can be dealt with quickly, then you get there. But if they require more time, then soon you’ve got more stuff in your inboxes. So you switch up tasks to get to the things that don’t require as much time or attention so that you can get closer to this stripped down variation of Inbox Zero.

However, until you deal with the bigger items, you don’t quite get there. Some people feel as if they’ve let themselves (or others) down if they don’t get there. And that, quite frankly, is silly. That’s why this particular version of Inbox Zero doesn’t work.

The Ultimate Way to Get to Inbox Zero

So what’s the ultimate way to get to Inbox Zero?

Have zero inboxes.

The inbox is meant to be a stop along the way to your final destination. It’s the place where stuff sits until you’re ready to put it in the place where it sits until you’re ready to deal with it.

Advertising

So why not skip the inbox altogether? Why not put it in the place where it sits until you’re ready to deal with it? Because that requires immediate action. It means you need to give the item some thought and attention.

You need to step back and look at it rather than file it. That’s why we have a catch-all inbox, both for email and for analog items. It allows us to only look at these things when we’re ready to do so.

The funny thing is that we can decide when we’re ready to without actually looking at the inbox beforehand. We can look at things on our own watch rather than when we are alerted to or feel the need to.

There is no reason why you need an inbox at all to store things for longer than it sits there before you see it. None. It’s a choice. And the choice you should be making is how to deal with things when you first see them, rather than when to deal with things you haven’t looked at yet.

Stop Faking It

Seeing things in your inboxes is simply using your sight. Looking at things in your inbox when you first see them is using insight.

Advertising

Stop checking email more than twice per day. Turn off your alerts. Put your desk’s inbox somewhere that it can be accessed by others and only accessed by you when you’re ready to deal with what’s in it. Don’t put it on your desk – that’s productivity poison.

If you want to get to Inbox Zero — the real Inbox Zero — then get rid of those stops along the way. You’ll find that by doing that, you’ll be getting more of the stuff you really want done finished much faster, rather than see them moving along at the speed of not much more than zero.

More Productivity Tips to Get Organized

Featured photo credit: Web Hosting via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merlin Mann: Inbox Zero

Read Next