Thursday, October 30, 2014

Expect good things to happen

Yesterday a friend whom I hadn't seen for a long time called me. He just returned from his world trip and told me he was around for two days. I was excited but my schedule was already jam-packed and I first hesitated to invite him to my place. From experience I had learned that trying to do too many things at a time makes it impossible to truly enjoy them. Yet I didn't want to miss the chance and we met for breakfast this morning. As expected I couldn't help looking at the clock frequently, since we had so much to talk about but only limited time.

What lesson can I learn from this? Should I say no the next time? Certainly not! That conversation was one of the most inspiring incidents over the last while. We discussed cultural perculiarities of Europe and Asia, and how the word communication has an entirely different meaning depending on where you are. In the western hemisphere to communicate is to talk in terms of sending a message, while in eastern countries emphasis is being put on listening closely. I could sense the impact that the journey had on him - he was more grounded and calmer than before. I am very grateful for this encounter and glad that I made use of the opportunity.

If saying yes was a good decision, what then can I do better next time? The answer is to expect good things to happen. To not cram full my schedule. To leave space for spontaneity and be flexible. Optimism is the foundation of minimalist time management. It is that childlike attitude of joyfully anticipating what the next day might bring.


  1. I love the example of the western and eastern perspective. I always had the impression that while you are saying something, hardly is anyone really listens but is already thinking about their response - a response to something they don't fully have absorbed.

    I generally believe that making time for friends is the most valuable way to spend your time. Life is not all about finishing to-do lists, but about making someone's day better every day. Sometimes maybe only your own.

  2. You are absolutely right. It's interesting that these insights (about how valuable listing to your vis-à-vis with true dedication is) came to me through a conversation. That means I learned about the benefits of it when I first did it. For me that's another example of how openness to new experiences leads to a better life. You simply don't discover what's good when you're not ready to go try it. If somebody thinks that's an odd way to put it, as we are all listening when we talk to somebody, do the following: Let the other person talk until he or she said everything that was on his or her mind. Then wait for a couple of seconds to see whether he or she is really done. Now ask questions about further thoughts. Really applying this takes openness, and that's what I mean.