Recall and Create Exercise

Shane Wilson

When we mix time management with concentration, we have a truly life-changing formula. The following practice is a combination of a method of time management called Pomodoro, and a method of visualization that recalls yesterday and creates our today. I often use this practice as an aid for anxiety, for those experiencing restlessness and worry, thoses that feel stuck as a result of grief or loss of some kind, and for people that feel limited in some way as a result of an experience of some type. The practice can and should be used by anyone and everyone and if this is done daily, it will change your world in so many ways. It truly has to be experienced to believe it, but here's a shortlist of what this can do for you. 

 

  • You will see exactly where your time is going.

  • You will never say that you do not have enough time.

  • You will get much more done in a shorter amount of time.

  • Your creativity level will go through the roof.

  • You will realize your limitlessness (your limitless capacity to create and accomplish).

  • You will feel more organized.

  • People close to you will understand why you need moments alone.

  • Your concentration will improve.

  • You will have more direction in life.

  • You will understand why time seemed to fly by.

  • You will be happier and feel complete with life.

  • You'll understand the importance of practice, and what it truly means to accomplish.

  • You will be able to plan your days, and your life.

I will start by explaining the two methods separately that are to be combined to form this practice that is called recall and create.

 

Step One - Understanding the Pomodoro Technique 

This is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short five minute breaks. These intervals are named pomodoros, the plural in English of the Italian word pomodoro (tomato), after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used while he was refining this method of time management. 

 

Here's how it works:

 

  • Choose a single topic to focus on.

  • Spend 25 minutes working on that topic while avoiding multitasking.

  • Take a short break. After every four cycles, take a long break.

  • Repeat.

 

This is a simple method that requires nothing more than a timer and intention, I personally use my phone as the timer. I speak into the phone saying “Set timer for 25 minutes” and it’s done. This 25 minutes is set aside as a dedicated time to work on what I intend to work on. Intention is everything, which could be looked at as concentration in the form of stick-to-itiveness.  Some people have also called this stick-to-business-ness because this method is used frequently in the business world. There are many apps that can be downloaded into the phone or computer that can be used for this method. One app that I have used with my iPhone is called the Focus Keeper…nice name!

 

This method is a wonderful channel for creativity in that it reminds us that with consistent effort, meaning to do something daily proves to us that repetition is king when it comes to mastering something. If we want to accomplish something and we set aside 25 minutes a day towards its achievement, in nearly all situations our intended goal can be accomplished. If you want to stay in excellent health you work out for 25 minutes a day. If you want to write a novel you can write for 25 minutes a day. If you want to call yourself a meditator, you can sit in silence for 25 minutes a day or you can do the following exercise and call yourself an incredible achiever. Who does not want to be able to call themselves an incredible achiever?

 

So let’s say that you have now set the timer for 25 minutes. Think of this as being a one half hour segment in your day. The idea is that the remaining five minutes of the half-hour is used for relaxation before the next 25-minute segment is setup. You could be working on the same project for another 25 minutes or you might be doing a completely different project. At this point, we are not yet concerned about what you're doing with the time. 

 

Some people create pomodoros throughout their day. Some might do a couple of these (pomodoros) in the morning, a couple in the afternoon and possibly a couple more in the evening. Done this way, we are looking at three hours of dedicated, concentrated time that was applied to your intended goal or whatever you might be working on. The pomodoros are mentally concentrated moments of time, as well as moments of time that are strung together for organizational reasons. 

 

The Pomodoro method in itself is very powerful and when we combine with the following the combination of methods, it becomes even more powerful.

 

It's important to understand that typically meditation is not a time to visit the past or the future. Here we will be using this exercise to work with the past and the future as a practice that is related to meditation (although if we look at meditation from the standpoint of the eastern practices, it is a practice of letting go and not a practice of trying to fix something that happened in the past or to create something that we feel should happen in the future). It's a practice of being very still and present and accepting the moment as it is. If nothing else, our meditation practice should be increasingly about letting go, rather than adding things to our life. This practice, whether we call it meditation, self-hypnosis, or contemplation, it is very beneficial. 

 

Step Two - Recalling your Day

The second half of this technique involves visualization which is very natural for most people but in many ways it is a learned art in itself. There are some who do have difficulties with visualization; these people report that they primarily see black when the eyes are closed. If this is the situation for you, do not lose hope. The more intention we have to see objects within the mind’s eye (that is, with the eyes closed), the more effective visualization will become for the person who may be having difficulty or does not visualize well. It can be viewed as a training exercise in; what to see, and what details to see. If you feel you have difficulty visualizing, stay with it,  use all of your senses and imagination and your visualization will improve.

 

If we divide our 24-hour day in to half hour segments, we of course have 48 half hour segments. Let's eliminate 8 of those hours right now, as these are the hours that we need for sleeping which is very important. That leaves us with 16 hours or 32 half hour segments that we will consider the time components of our day. 

At this point let's call the half hour segments pomodoros. (a 25 minute working segment, with a 5-minute break).

 

One day = 24 hours

One day = 48 half hour segments

Minus 8 hours sleeping = 32 half hour segments

Result: 32 pomodoros 

 

Now here is the tricky part and the area that might take some practice. The better you get at this, the more it will add benefits to your life. You want to find a quiet place and not be disturbed and where you can relax with your eyes closed. You want to visualize yesterday in half hour segments or pomodoros. For example:

 

  • (7:00AM) You wake in the morning and used the bathroom —— MORNING

  • (7:30AM) You sit in a meditation posture and do this exercise

  • (8:00AM) You make breakfast

  • (8:30 AM) You eat breakfast

  • (9:00AM) You read the newspaper

  • (9:30AM) You drive to the office

  • (10:00AM) You attend a meeting

  • (10:30AM) You work at your desk

  • (11:30AM) More desk work

  • (12:00 Noon) You take a friend to lunch —————————— AFTERNOON

  • (12:30PM) Enjoying lunch with your friend 

  • (1:00PM) Attending a meeting at work

  • (1:30PM) Napping in the meeting

  • (2:00PM) Finishing up the meeting

  • (2:30PM) Checking emails

  • (3:00PM) Doing desk work

  • (3:30PM) Still doing desk work

  • (4:00PM) Taking care of a situation at work

  • (4:30PM) Talking with coworkers about the situation

  • (5:00PM) Driving home ——————————————————— EVENING 

  • (5:30PM) Stop at the store to pick up milk

  • (6:00PM) Stopping at home to change clothes

  • (6:30PM) Go to the gym to workout

  • (7:00PM) Work out

  • (7:30PM) Continuing the drive home

  • (8:00PM) Preparing dinner

  • (8:30PM) Eating dinner

  • (9:00PM) Relaxing with a book

  • (9:30PM) Writing down ideas for your business

  • (10:00PM) Checking Emails

  • (10:30) Meditating

  • (11:00) Preparing for bed

 

This is an example of what a typical day might look like. Notice that the details are not there but just the primary activity itself. You will find that this practice will be very easy on some of the days and more difficult with others. Some days are very much a routine perhaps, while others may be scattered with many different activities. At times you will find yourself doing an activity for several hours. Or you may do something such as going to a movie theater which can take several hours. I suggest that you be a little bit more introspective and think in terms of what your mind was doing during the day’s longer activities. 

 

 The more this exercise is done the easier it becomes and the clearer you will be with your daily activities. You will begin to think in terms of how this area of your day will be looked upon tomorrow.

 

It becomes much easier if you can consider that there are approximately 10 pomodoros in the morning, 10 in the afternoon and 10 in the evening. By doing this it becomes easier to keep track of these specific areas of the day. You can even use your fingers to count in order to keep track of how many pomodoros you have in the morning, afternoon, etc.

 

How is this beneficial? For all of the reasons already discussed. First of all, we're building our ability to concentrate and to recall. Let's face it, if we can't remember what we did yesterday we should be striving to strengthen our recall. When we recall our activities from the day before we can better see what we accomplished and what we wanted to accomplish and why it wasn't accomplished. Just like a meditation practice, this practice must be tried in order to fully experience the benefits. For many people it's the most rewarding thing they do each day. 

 

Step Three - Create

 

Reviewing (recall) what we did yesterday is very beneficial for many reasons. Looking at what we will be doing today is equally beneficial for many of the same reasons and more! When these two methods are combined, the results can be astonishing.

 

Immediately after doing the above exercise you will want to continue with the exercise which utilizes visualizing the next 16 hours in your current day. It is important to do this practice in the morning because you are planning your day.

 

When doing the recall method above, what we are doing is recalling the pomodoros of yesterday. Now Instead of recalling what we did, we are creating what we want. This is the reason this exercise is called “recall and create”.

 

In this step the key is to simply plan your day. We are not trying to necessarily create our future, or how it's going to be different from what we did the day before; not yet anyway. So, if your today looks much like your yesterday, this will be a fairly easy practice for you. If you want your today to be different from your yesterday this is where the magic happens. 

 

What would your day be like if you spent one or two pomodoros each day creating something that inspired and motivated you to the extent that your passion in this purpose lead your life in a totally new direction? What if you could actually see your life unfold just the way you planned it?

 

Try adding to or changing your day at first, perhaps just slightly and taking it eventually in to a whole new direction; one of purpose.

 

What would happen if you used the portion of your day doing what felt the most important to you?  Perhaps you would research something that you are interested in?  Maybe you would write a few pages every day in that book that you always wanted to write? Maybe you would do some things that ‘other guy’ you envy is doing?

 

More about pomodoros

 

In the same way that you reviewed your yesterday in the exercise above, you will begin to use the same time frames (which are 30 minute segments) to plot out your day in these same 30 minute segments. 

 

When this is done daily, we naturally become more organized. We soon realize that we are actually living each moment more thoroughly by being more aware of our time and how we are using it.  Imagine driving from one location to the other and knowing that it takes 1/2 hour to do so. What this means is that this takes one pomodoro from your day. This is neither a bad thing or a good thing. What happens is that you're becoming more organized mentally, more aware of your time and this begins to happen naturally. You begin to pay attention to the following half hour, and then the half hour after that and so on. It is important to note that this method is not supposed to provide or cause a strictness or a stuffiness in life. Some will get the wrong message about this technique and will say and feel as if they want freedom in life in regard to their time, rather than their time being controlled by some regimen. What this practice provides is an organization of life. The ultimate result is that we get more done in less time. We feel more complete with ourselves and feeling more complete is the primary goal for most people. It is our desire in life to feel complete and satisfied. That's exactly what this technique can provide and it has to be practiced in order for you to prove it to yourself. 

 

Practicing Recall and Create

 

As suggested earlier, this practice should be done in the morning because you want to be creating your day. It is possible to do this practice in the evening, and this is the second-best choice. If you choose the evening, you want to recall your current day and then plan your tomorrow. You might want to experiment with this. You might even want to practice this method twice a day; if so, you would do it once in the morning and once in the evening. Simply put, your morning practice would be to recall yesterday and create today, your evening practice would be recalling your day and creating your tomorrow.

 

Practice daily and you will reap amazing benefits. The construction of this should take no more than 20 minutes or less unless you wish to create a lot of detail. It's personal preference on how much time you want to spend doing this exercise although I would suggest that you start with a 20-minute session. 

 

It is a good practice to take notes immediately after the session. When I work with people privately, I encourage them to set aside 5 minutes after their 20 or 30-minute session to jot down their intentions for the day and any other personal messages which seem pertinent. I do not suggest that you do this during the session itself because this will take away from the concentrated focus. It is not advantageous to add another distraction; exactly what you would be doing if you would stop to write while you are creating or recalling. Again, have a pad of paper and a pen or pencil sitting next to you so that once you're done with your session you can write for about 5 minutes. Being very detailed here is not as important as it is when creating your daily/hourly structure. The primary thing is to do this daily and to allow the natural results and the natural benefits unfold for you. 

 

This practice is normally done in the same posture as you would if meditating. It's your preference whether you sit in a chair or on the floor. It's important that you are comfortable and relaxed, in a quiet place free from excessive noise and disturbances. When doing meditation and these types of practices, the intention is to first eliminate the worldly or outside distractions, and then work on the non-worldly or inner distractions.

If you're new to meditation, know that practicing daily is very important. Daily practice will eventually eliminate bodily discomfort. In time, discomfort will fade away allowing you to use this special time to fulfill your intentions, that is, to recall and to create for the betterment of your quality of life.

 

Note - After becoming familiar with the above exercise you may find that your preferred pomodoro length may be 50 minutes with a 10 minute break. If you find this to work better for you feel free to use this adjustment to the pomodoros. The result is that there would now be 5 pomodoros in the morning, 5 in the afternoon and 5 in the evening.

 

The main concern at this point is that you practice the above exercises daily until it becomes a habit. Please do so and it will provide lasting, beneficial results for your life.

Shane Wilson

shanewilson.org

 

 

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© 2019 by Shane Wilson.