We are living in a fast-motion world where we are constantly bombarded with so many responsibilities, associated duties and tasks. And if we do not manage them with caution we often find ourselves in a situation where we have no direction and we are spending most of our time on the insignificant and unimportant matter. However this is not our greatest problem – many times we remain unaware of (or ignorant to) the danger until we become the boiled frogs and we burnout. The Forever Check is a simple self-assessment technique which might show us when the “water is boiling” and is time for change.
The Forever Check
The Forever Check uses your own perceptions and internal feelings to determine your desire to keep on with your current way of working (or living) infinitely. It does so by asking “To what extent you would like to have exactly the same day as (or clone) your last day until FOREVER?“. By being extreme the question could be quite alerting and demanding actions.
Starting every single day with The Forever Check might give you a quick feedback on: (1) where you are currently standing; and (2) whether you are progressing towards your professional and personal fulfillment. It is obvious that if you are spending most of your days on the red (and yellow) ratings – you should better stop (or at least slow down), self-reflect and eventually make a change. If you are on the opposite side of the scale – you should still remain cautious (as the world constantly changes) and continue challenging yourself to further improve.
Although The Forever Check is a simple technique – it requires self-discipline and consistency to work. Even if it is not done on a daily basis – checks should be regular so they provide valuable insights and inspirations.
The Three Post Questions
There are many ways to self-reflect (and introspect in general). Many of the retrospective techniques already utilized by the agile world could be easily adapted for personal use (like Start-Stop-Continue retrospective, Starfish retrospective, Speedboat retrospective and many others). Still you could stay within the context of The Forever Check by asking yourself the following three post questions:
- Which activities, if shortened (or removed), would have made my last day closer to the infinite one?
Once you have identified these activities (e.g. through the FLY score) you might use the FLY technique to further decide how to approach them in the future. You could try and remove them entirely (through TRASH-ing and/or TRANSFER-ing) or minimize the time spent on them (through DEFER-ing and/or DELEGATE-ing).
- Which activities, if lengthened (or added), would have made my last day closer to the infinite one?
Similarly to the previous question you might use the FLY technique to maximize the time spent on such activities (e.g. through CLARIFY-ing, SIMPLIFY-ing and/or EXECUTE-ing them) or start looking for (and experimenting with) new ones.
- What rearrangement of activities, if done, would have made my last day closer to the infinite one?
Given the set of activities fixed – we might use different prioritizing techniques (e.g. Franklin Covey method, Pareto principle, MoSCoW method, etc.) to try and rearrange them in a way which is more appealing for us. For example, if we apply the FLY score, we could see how our last day might have looked like if we were focusing on internally and externally important activities that are current, simple and clear.
The philosophy behind these three questions (and The Forever Check as well) is “you know it when you see it“. With small but constant changes you might discover your “perfect day” at some point of time (rather than defining it in the very beginning and then working hard to achieve it – with the hope it would remain actual until the end).
The Forever Check @ Workplace
The Forever Check might be utilized at the workplace as well. One possible application could be as the forth question in the daily Scrums. This might provide additional insights on how different people are perceiving their working time every single day but would put a lot of pressure (on all levels) for improving it. Another possible utilization (and much less demanding) could be aggregating The Forever Check to the whole team and using it (e.g. during retrospectives) as a measure on how close the team is to their “perfect day”.