dreams · Oct 26, 2015

Your time comes with a price tag

Crystal Chen
Content writer, food lover, and aniholic.

My helpful screenshot

I have a bucket list.

I’ve always wanted to learn the guitar and Japanese, backpack in Europe, go bungee jumping, and publish a book. However, it seems I can always find excuses to postpone them: I don’t have the time, I don’t have enough money, I don’t know where to begin, etc.

This is why almost 10 years later, my dream of writing a book and having it published before I turn 20 never became a reality.

I don’t want to waste another 10 years! It was time for a change.

I’ve heard and read about the GTD method, and so I’ve decided to try a simpler version of it based on Chris Winfield’s system to help me cross this long-delayed dream off my list.

I call it the 4 Ds:

My helpful screenshot

1. Dream it. Know the big picture

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Walt Disney

First, imagine your ideal life. What do you really want from life? What are your ambitions and dreams? It can be anything you’ve always wanted to do, have or achieve.

For example, you might want to learn a new language, travel around the world, do an extreme sport, be your own boss, publish a book, build your dream house, and so on.

It’s okay to just have a vision of who you want to be, what you want to do and where you want to be for now. Don’t worry about not knowing how to get there. You can fill in the details later.

My helpful screenshot

2. Dump it. Get all your ideas down

Once you have a the big picture, thoughts, ideas and questions will naturally come to you.

In my case, the first thing that came to my mind was I wanted to write a story of young superheroes and superheroines fighting against a supervillain but the bad guy falls in love with the good girl and they - very much like Bellamy and Clarke from The 100 - run off together and live happily ever after (I know it sounds a bit ridiculous).

Next, I asked myself what should the plot be, what is the climax, how many chapters I should have, how many pages I should write, what publisher I should submit my story to, etc.

The key here is to get your ideas down before they fade away.

Simply use your Lamy or Moleskine to write them down. They can be messy and ugly, but that’s okay. Or, if you’re more comfortable typing on a computer, TextEdit, Notepad or Google Doc is a good choice too. Free note-taking apps like Evernote are great as well, and it even works on your smartphone.

My helpful screenshot

3. Divide it. Organize, categorize and divide

Now that you’ve gotten your ideas down, it’s time to organize, categorize and break them down into actions.

Outliner apps especially one with unlimited number and levels of tasks like Quire will be helpful at this point.

For example, I’ve created my dream project named “My Book” and inside it a task “Characters” with children tasks including “Names and personalities” and “A character relationship chart.” The former children task was further broken down into “Protagonists,” “Antagonists” and “Others.”

I’ve also added specifics, such as due date and tag like In-Progress or Later, to each task , so I know what should be done first and what should have my attention.

My helpful screenshot

4. Do it. Complete each task one by one

This is the step that’ll take the most time, as you’ll need to conquer each task one by one, starting from the easiest to the most challenging.

Obviously, the easiest task for me was to come up with the names for my characters, and the most difficult one that I’ll definitely need help with and I’m saving for later is finding a publisher that’d be willing to publish my book.

The good thing is that when even the most challenging task has been further broken down into simple ones like “Search for appropriate publishers” and “Email appropriate publishers”, what seemed terrifying, isn’t so terrifying.

When you’ve started your dream project, a review of it will help you stay on track.

Every Sunday afternoon, I spend 10 minutes to review my work. I start by collapsing the tasks, so I only see the first-level tasks without being disturbed or overwhelmed by the details. Next, I zoom in to see each task, adding new ones and reordering them. Then, I remove the tag “In-Progress” from those I’ve finished over the past week, mark them complete, and add the same tag to the ones that should be done in the upcoming week.

See, it didn’t take days or months for my dream to look realistic. It isn’t so far away now, because I’ve finally started somewhere, and can clearly see where I’m heading.

Time isn’t free, you’re paying it with your life. Instead of wasting it on imaging what your dream would be like in your head, make it happen. In reality.

So what are you waiting for? Create your own bucket list and follow these steps yourself!