” Alice laughed,”There’s no use trying,”she said, “One can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen, “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
These lines from Alice in Wonderland have always intrigued me. Lewis Carroll wrote them in the 19th century. Today, in the age of “The List Article” and the “Top Ten YouTube Video” they remain quite topical.
If, like the Queen, we take some time at the beginning of each day to plan and organize our time, we can do many impossible things. If, like me, you are a chronic procrastinator you may be putting off things. Little things, like not replacing stationery after using it, not putting away ingredients after baking that yummy cake, or not putting away your finery on returning from a party so that it keeps lying on a chair for a week or more. Or maybe you are indefinitely postponing big things in your life like following that dream career, building a house, moving to a new country or committing to a relationship. There are so many things, big or little, that we want to do. But they seem impossible just because we keep putting them off.
Making a list of seemingly impossible goals is the first step towards achieving them. Putting them down on paper in your notebook, planner or diary, or saving them on your laptop or smartphone enables you to identify them. Putting your dreams in words consolidates them into concrete goals. You can then visualize the actions you need to take to achieve them. For instance, if your dream is to go to Paris, writing this down will tell your brain that things are getting serious. You will next be able to think about finances, visa, tickets etc.
The next step is to prioritize your goals. Which is the most important? Which one will add the most meaning to your life? In other words, achieving which one will make you happiest? But if, like me, all this organizing and prioritizing tends to put you off and hence further delays the things you need to do, just scrap this step.
Simply list the six things you want to do, in whatever order, and set about doing them one by one. Water the plants, do the laundry, write that report, finish that presentation. All these things were impossible just because you thought they were. Once you begin to do them, you will be surprised how ridiculously simple and possible they actually are.
Coming back to the Queen, believing in ” six impossible things before breakfast” is akin to accomplishing them “before breakfast” too. In other words, it is important to set a time limit to achieve your goals, to reach your target, or more simply, to just run your errands. Setting a time limit is important because, as any wise person is sure to tell you,work has a tendency to expand and fill the time that you allot for it. The more time you give yourself to do something, the longer it can take.
Your time limit or your deadline has to be reasonable and practical. You may want to learn a new language, but you can’t accomplish that in a weekend or even in a week . Depending on the rest of your commitments, you will need to set your own deadline: two months, six months, or a year, it all depends on how much time you can spare.
The Queen’s Method, as I like to call it, works best for me if I apply it to small tasks and small blocks of time. For example, if I have a free morning, I will make a list of six things I want to do, say, by lunch time. Maybe the first item on my list is to tidy up my bookshelf; I will not get distracted by my favourite novels as I put them away because I know I have to complete five more tasks by lunchtime.
The Queen”s Method becomes even more effective if you commit your list to memory. Most of us will find it very hard to remember six tasks or six items. Gone are the days when everyone could recite six digit phone numbers for every friend or relative. A good way is to try and remember only two or three things to begin with and to keep increasing as you go along. This is such a good memory exercise. But there are other advantages:
Six advantages of The Queen’s Method
- Things get done.
- They get done within a time limit.
- Improves memory.
- Leads to a really productive day.
- Gives you a sense of achievement.
- Increases self worth and self approval.