Meeting With Self

Just the other day I was talking to a friend and sort of complaining about how I seem to have lost my grip on my calendar… again. This tends to happen from time to time, but this time I was feeling like I couldn’t even find the time to get my ideas in order and have some free, creative thinking time.

Well, my friend just smiled sympathetically.

“Quite common. It happened to me as well.” he said as a matter-of-fact. “What I do is take notes of things that interest me throughout the week. I don’t make any assumptions about the things I note, just try to put them down factually. To go through all those notes, I scheduled a two hour weekly meeting with myself. It’s a recurring appointment and I try to choose a different environment than the office. That way I’m generally not interrupted.”

I didn’t give it much thought then. In fact, two days had gone by before I recalled the conversation and decided to try it.

First thing I did was book a weekly two hour slot in my calendar.

“Let’s see how long I can make this last.” I told myself as I hit the save button.

A few weeks have passed since then and I’ve managed to keep holding my weekly “meeting with self”. I’m also becoming much more proficient in taking (meaningful/useful) notes (mind-maps help a lot) and have already quite a collection of interesting ideas to explore and follow on. Also, some of these ideas have already started to pay off as I’ve been able to incorporate them into some of the projects I’m currently working on.

Designer and creative thinker Stefan Sagmeister also suggests an interesting approach to work-life balance and how to find time for creative thinking. His approach is a bit more radical, but I guess creative types usually are. Stefan’s approach involves taking a year long sabbatical leave to think and try new and different things. During this year, he collects ideas to fuel his work for the next seven years, before taking another leave. You can see Stefan Sagmeister’s talk on The Power Of Time Off in the Videos section.

Having time to think, sort out ideas, throw away those that are not interesting and focus on the ones that are is a precious commodity nowadays. Don’t count on having time “later” to do everything you need to do. Book the time in you calendar. That way everything else just tends to fit together.


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