time management

Why Daydreaming is the Most Underrated Free Time Management Tool

May 20, 2024

Reading Time: 12 minutes

How to set boundaries

Why Daydreaming is the Most Underrated FREE Time Management Tool

It’s fun to think about the future around a new year or our birthdays. But who says daydreaming should just be reserved for special occasions? What if we allowed ourselves to focus on the future every day?

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My birthday is coming up in a few weeks. I don’t know about you but every year right around my birthday feels like an appropriate time to look back and look ahead. Maybe even do a little daydreaming. 

I’ll think about things like what I’ve learned in the past year or the most memorable moments I experienced. But I also can’t help but think a bit about the future too. What do I want to experience or achieve before my next birthday? What new habits do I want to build? What bad habits do I want to break?

It’s not unusual for us to think about the future right around milestones or special occasions like our birthdays or the beginning of a new year. But what if I told you that daydreaming shouldn’t just be reserved for special occasions?

What if we allowed ourselves to be future focused dreamers everyday? What would our future and the way we spend our time look like then? 

It turns out, even though daydreaming might seem like a waste of time at face value, it’s actually one of the most important free time management tools we could ever take advantage of.

So in today’s episode, I’m talking about:

  • Why having a vision for your future is essential for good time management
  • Three big things holding us back from daydreaming about the future
  • Why you don’t need to wait for a special occasion to start daydreaming about your future
  • The importance of daily, short-term, and long-term planning and how a vision helps us create the future of our (day)dreams

Why We Skip Daydreaming and Creating a Vision

So, why do we often skip creating a vision for ourselves? 

There are a lot of reasons why someone might skip out on daydreaming or creating a vision, but here are three big reasons that I see often.

First, we’re stuck in survival mode.

Second, we’re afraid of failure.

Third, we’re just plain overwhelmed.

1. We’re in Survival Mode

First off, a lot of us just aren’t aware of how important it is to have a vision. We get so caught up in our daily routines and immediate, urgent tasks and to-do’s that long-term planning – Thinking about anything more than a month or two out – gets pushed to the side. It’s easy to focus on what’s right in front of us – that urgent email, the next meeting, what we’re going to make for dinner – and forget to look at the bigger picture.

Think about it: how often do we wake up and immediately dive into our to-do lists? Or start checking email? We’re juggling work responsibilities, family commitments, social engagements, and endless errands. In the middle of all this busyness, it can be incredibly challenging to give yourself the time and mental space to step back and think about the future.

When you’re in survival mode, you are just trying to get through the day without falling behind. This focus on immediate tasks can create a never-ending cycle where we’re constantly reacting to what’s urgent rather than proactively planning for what’s important. We get so used to putting out fires that we forget to map out for the long-term goals and dreams that truly matter to us.

Plus, there’s often a misconception that creating a vision requires a significant amount of time and effort, or that it’s something only for major life changes or career decisions. This isn’t true. Creating a vision for your life or even just the next year doesn’t require a quest to the top of a mountain, or a week-long silent retreat. Creating a vision can be as simple as taking a few minutes each day to reflect on what you want in life and how you can take small steps towards it.

For example, instead of just thinking about getting through the week, ask yourself questions like, ‘Where do I want to be in five years?’ or ‘What are the things that truly make me happy and fulfilled?’ By making a habit of these reflections, you start to form a clearer picture of your long-term goals and can begin to align your daily actions with them. On top of that, when you get used to asking yourself big questions like that, they start to feel less scary. You start to get more comfortable thinking about the future.

Remember, creating a vision for your life doesn’t mean you’re trying to predict the future. Instead, creating a vision is giving yourself a general direction to move in that helps you make decisions and prioritize your time. But that takes giving yourself permission to daydream.

2. Fear of Failure

Another big reason why we don’t let ourselves daydream is fear of failure. It’s a tough one. The idea of setting a vision, putting it out there, and then not achieving it can be really scary. Many of us worry about what will happen if we set goals and fall short. This fear can be paralyzing, making it easier to avoid setting a vision or setting goals altogether.

Fear of failure often starts with a fear of judgment – from ourselves and from others. We worry about looking silly or feeling disappointed if things don’t go as planned. This fear can prevent us from even trying, leading us to settle for the way things are rather than pursuing our true potential.

But here’s the thing: not having a vision is like building a house without a blueprint. You might be building something, but without a clear plan, you risk ending up with a structure that doesn’t fit your needs or your wants. A blueprint provides direction and clarity, ensuring that each brick is laid with purpose and precision. 

Here’s what I want you to remember: failure is a natural part of the journey towards success. Every failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. When you set a vision, you’re giving yourself a destination to strive towards, even if the path there is filled with twists and turns.

Consider this: some of the most successful people in history faced numerous failures before achieving their dreams.   

Take Taylor Swift as an example. She talked her parents into letting her fly out for a visit. “I took my demo CDs of karaoke songs, where I sound like a chipmunk—it’s pretty awesome—and my mom waited in the car with my little brother while I knocked on doors up and down Music Row. I would say, ‘Hi, I’m Taylor. I’m 11; I want a record deal. Call me.”‘ They didn’t. (But you have to wonder how many of the folks who answered those doors suddenly flashed back to that moment when they saw a grown-up Swift screaming over her Best New Artist nod at the Grammy nominations press conference.)

Rather than discouraging her, that rejection was like rocket fuel.

Y’all, I have failed so many times in my life it is not even funny. And I have all of the second, third, and fourth place trophies in my bedroom closet at my parents house to prove it. Ask me about the time I won second place in a national speaking competition when I was 15. Or the time I placed third runner-up in the Miss LSU pageant as a freshman in college. Not to mention the time my running mate and I came in third for student body President and Vice President my senior year. I have definitely failed way more times than I’ve won. But I can’t imagine how much different my life would look if I’d never even tried. Or how different I would be now that I’m an adult. 

I’ve learned firsthand that having a vision helps you stay resilient in the face of setbacks. When you encounter obstacles, your vision serves as a reminder of what you’re working towards, keeping you motivated to push through challenges and keep going.

So, instead of fearing failure, let’s embrace it as part of the process. Remember, it’s better to have a vision and adjust it along the way than to have no direction at all.

3. Overwhelm

Then there’s the feeling of overwhelm. Thinking about the future can seem like this massive, complicated task. Like it’s a whole big thing.  Where do you even start, right? When you think about the next five, ten, or twenty years, it’s easy to feel daunted by the sheer scope of it all. The idea of mapping out your entire future can be so intimidating that you might feel paralyzed, unsure of where to begin.

This feeling of overwhelm is completely normal. We live in a fast-paced world with countless responsibilities and distractions, making it hard to find the mental space to think about the long-term future. 

Start by identifying what matters most to you. What are your core values and passions? What brings you joy? Fulfillment?. You don’t have to have all the answers right away; just begin with what feels most important to you.

Once you have a general idea of your values and passions, think about your short-term and long-term goals. What do you want to achieve in the next year? What about the next five years? Break these goals down into smaller, actionable steps. For example, if your long-term goal is to start your own business, your short-term goals might include taking a business course, networking with industry professionals, and developing a business plan.

Use tools like journaling, vision boards, or mind maps to help organize your thoughts and ideas. These tools can make the process more tangible and less abstract. Write down your goals, draw pictures that represent your dreams, or create a visual collage of images and words that inspire you. These practices can help clarify your vision and make it feel more achievable.

It’s also helpful to set aside regular time for reflection and planning. This could be as simple as a weekly or monthly check-in with yourself to review your goals and adjust your plans as needed. By breaking the process into regular, smaller sessions, it becomes more manageable and less overwhelming.

Remember, your vision is not set in stone. It’s okay to refine and adjust it as you grow and learn more about yourself. Life is dynamic, and your vision should be flexible enough to accommodate changes and new opportunities.

Envisioning the future is a journey, not a destination. Start small, stay consistent, and be patient with yourself. Each small step you take brings you closer to your larger vision. By breaking it down into manageable pieces, you can make steady progress without feeling overwhelmed. Trust the process, and give yourself the freedom to dream big, one step at a time.

When’s the Right Time to Daydream and Create a Vision?

Now, you might be thinking, ‘Do I have to wait for a special occasion like my birthday or New Year’s to start thinking about my future?’ Absolutely not! Every day is a new opportunity to start planning. You don’t need a calendar date to give yourself permission to think about what you want in life.

Start integrating vision planning into your daily routine. Maybe it’s during your morning coffee or as you wind down in the evening. Reflect on where you are and where you want to be. Small, consistent actions can make a huge difference.

Don’t underestimate the power of small steps. It’s those little, everyday actions that eventually lead to big changes. So, jot down your thoughts, make a list of what excites you, and start shaping your vision bit by bit.

And remember, creating a vision isn’t a one-time event. It’s a continuous process of reflecting, adjusting, and realigning. Each day, take a moment to think about your vision and the steps you can take to get closer to it. Over time, these small actions will accumulate into significant progress.

How Daydream and Vision is Crucial for Time Management

When you have a clear vision, it helps you prioritize your daily tasks. You know, what’s important and what can wait. This clarity keeps you motivated throughout the day because you’re working towards something meaningful.

Daily Planning

Daily planning is all about making the most of each day by aligning your tasks with your larger goals. When you start your day with a clear vision in mind, it sets a positive and focused tone for everything you do.

First, begin each day by revisiting your vision. Take a few moments in the morning to remind yourself of your long-term and short-term goals. This helps you stay connected to your purpose and keeps your motivation high.

Next, prioritize your tasks for the day. Make a to-do list, but instead of just listing everything you need to do, categorize tasks based on their importance and relevance to your vision. Identify the top three tasks that will move you closer to your goals and focus on completing those first.

Consider using time-blocking techniques. Allocate specific time slots for different tasks throughout your day. This helps you stay organized and ensures that you’re dedicating enough time to the activities that matter most. For example, if your vision includes writing a book, set aside a dedicated time each day for writing, even if it’s just 30 minutes.

Be mindful of your energy levels. Plan your most important and challenging tasks during the times of day when you feel most alert and focused. For many people, this is in the morning, but it can vary. By aligning your tasks with your natural energy levels, you can work more efficiently and effectively.

Don’t forget to schedule breaks. Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity and avoiding burnout. Use these breaks to recharge, whether it’s taking a short walk, practicing mindfulness, or simply relaxing with a cup of tea.

At the end of the day, reflect on your progress. Review what you accomplished and how it aligns with your vision. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small, and identify any areas where you can improve. This daily reflection helps you stay on track and continuously refine your approach.

Short Term Planning

A vision guides your weekly and monthly planning. It aligns your short-term goals with your long-term aspirations, making sure you’re always moving in the right direction. For instance, if your vision includes improving your physical health, you might plan your week to include regular workouts and meal prep.

Having a short-term vision is about setting realistic and attainable goals that you can achieve in a matter of weeks or months. These goals act as stepping stones towards your larger vision. Let’s say your long-term vision is to run a marathon. Your short-term vision might include completing a 5K run within the next three months. By breaking down your larger vision into these smaller, manageable goals, you create a clear path forward.

Short-term visions also help you stay flexible and adapt to changes. Life can be unpredictable, and sometimes your long-term vision might need adjustments. Having short-term goals allows you to reassess and realign your path as needed. It’s like having mini-milestones that keep you on track and motivated.

For example, if your short-term vision is to improve your professional skills, you might set a goal to complete an online course within the next two months. Your action plan could include dedicating an hour each day to study, setting up a dedicated study space, and joining an online study group for support. By monitoring your progress and celebrating the completion of each module, you stay motivated and on track towards your long-term vision of career advancement.

Having a vision doesn’t just help you plan better; it also helps you say no to things that don’t align with your goals. When you know where you want to go, it’s easier to avoid distractions and stay on course. It’s about making conscious choices that support your vision and using your time wisely to create the future you want.

So, as you plan your days, weeks, and years, always keep your vision in mind. It’s your blueprint, your guiding star, and it will help you manage your time more effectively.

Long-Term Planning

This is where your vision truly shapes your future. Having a long-term vision means you have a clear picture of where you want to be in several years. It’s about looking beyond the immediate future and setting your sights on big, ambitious goals.

Long-term planning involves setting milestones for where you want to be in one year, five years, or even ten years. These milestones act as checkpoints that guide your journey and help you stay on track. For example, if your long-term vision is to start your own business, your milestones might include completing a business plan within the next year, securing funding within the next two years, and launching your business within the next three years.

To make your long-term vision actionable, break it down into specific, measurable goals. These goals should be challenging yet achievable, pushing you to grow while still being within reach. Here are a few steps to help you with long-term planning:

Long-term planning requires patience and perseverance. It’s about playing the long game and staying committed to your vision, even when the journey gets tough. Remember, significant achievements take time, and every step you take, no matter how small, brings you closer to your dream.

By having a long-term vision, you ensure that your daily actions and short-term goals are aligned with your ultimate aspirations. It keeps you focused on the big picture and helps you navigate challenges with a clear sense of purpose. Your long-term vision is your guiding star, lighting the way and giving meaning to your efforts.

So, as you plan your future, remember to dream big and set ambitious goals. With a clear vision and a well-thought-out plan, you have the power to create the future you desire.

4 Practical Tips for Creating and Maintaining Your Vision

Now that we’ve covered why having a vision is so important and how it ties into daily, short-term, and long-term planning, let’s talk about some practical tips for creating and maintaining your vision.

1. Dream Big

First, allow yourself to dream big. Think about what you truly want in life without limiting yourself. Envision your ideal future and let your imagination run wild. Remember, your vision is a personal and unique reflection of your deepest desires and aspirations.

Once you have a general idea of your vision, consider using visualization techniques. This could be as simple as daydreaming about your future, creating a vision board with images and words that inspire you, or writing down your goals in a journal. Visualization helps to clarify your vision and keep it at the forefront of your mind.

2. Adjust Your Vision

It’s also important to regularly review and adjust your vision. Life is constantly changing, and your vision might evolve over time. Set aside time periodically to reflect on your progress, reassess your goals, and make any necessary adjustments. Staying flexible and open to change will help you stay aligned with your true path.

3. Surround Yourself with Support

Surround yourself with inspiration and support. Share your vision with trusted friends or mentors who can provide encouragement and feedback. Engage with content that motivates you, whether it’s books, podcasts, or inspirational quotes. Keeping your vision alive in your daily environment helps to reinforce your commitment and enthusiasm.

4. Be Patient and Persistent

Finally, be patient and persistent. Creating and maintaining a vision is an ongoing process that requires dedication and resilience. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small, and keep moving forward, even when the journey gets tough.

Your Vision Gives You Direction

Remember, your vision is your guiding star. It gives you direction, purpose, and motivation. By dreaming big, visualizing your goals, regularly reviewing and adjusting your plans, surrounding yourself with support, and staying patient and persistent, you’ll be well on your way to creating the future you desire.

So, take some time today to start envisioning your future. Embrace the process, enjoy the journey, and believe in your ability to make your vision a reality.

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