Future You

What if Future You were Current You’s best friend? You would treat your future self like a separate person that you care about deeply and would go out of your way to make life easier for.

This is the absolute best way to prevent myself from procrastinating. Instead of saying “I’ll do it in the morning” when chances are 50-50 that I will simply forget in the morning, I will now get up out of bed after I’m tucked in and snuggled down and just do the thing. I do not like it, but I do it for my future self, who is much happier arriving at work with the laptop bag which was tied to the door handle so she didn’t forget it (again).

Reframing lots of unpleasant tasks as “I’ll do it for Future Me” and doing this continuously over a few years has re-trained my brain to often actually do the task instead of even thinking about putting it off. As a born and raised slob, this is magical! I can now pick something up and put it where it belongs any time I am going from one room to another, instead of waiting until the weekend when the sisyphean task of putting everything back where it’s supposed to be takes up half a day.

I use the concept of my future self at work as well, but there I also have the problem that I need to make my current self’s life easier. Although being able to see possible roadblocks is a great skill to have when planning a project, my team tends to try to solve everything in advance. We spend time worrying about “what if” for something so far down the road that conditions may have changed completely by the time we get there. Learning to say, “We’ve recognized the possible roadblock and will document it, but let’s leave solving it as a problem for Future Us” frees us to concentrate on work that has an impact right now.

And I trust that Future Me will have the skills to solve the problem, because they’re my best friend and they care about me, too.

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