As far as no-list systems are concerned I’m pretty satisfied with The Next Hour of Your Life. I’m conscious though that many people don’t like the no-list way of working, so I’ve been pondering the alternatives.
I asked myself the question: What do I need from a list-based system if I’m really going to do everything?
- Fast processing and selection
- Ability to do any task at any time without leaving the system
- A good framework for getting an overall vision of one’s work
- Elimination of procrastination
I then asked myself a further question: What would a system like this require or exclude?
- No preselection
- No confining to one page at a time
- No random selection
- A catch-all list
- No compulsion to do any particular task
- No time restriction
These conditions rule out about 90 per cent of all the systems I have ever designed!
But there are some left which fit all the conditions. I have not published all of them, but I’ll give their names anyway:
- The Bounce
- Alternate end scanning
- AF2 reversed
- Alternate end full scanning
Of these the one I like best is The Bounce. Basically what it consists of is scanning a catch-all list in one direction until a task stands out. Then when you’ve taken action on the task you scan in the reverse direction from the task you’ve just done until another task stands out. You repeat this ad infinitum. If you reach either end of the list without a task standing out, you bounce off the end of the list (hence the name) and scan back in the opposite direction until a task does stand out.
The Bounce is fun to do, but I find it suffers from two disadvantages, particulary when the list gets long:
- It tends to localize itself in one part of a long list so you don’t get an overall picture of what needs doing;
- It tends to harvest the trivial tasks in one area of the list and then move on to another area of the list where it does the same. So the overall results are not very satisfactory.
What I am experimenting with at the moment is an adaption of The Bounce which I hope will not be subject to these two disadvantages to the same extent. The difference is that bouncing off the end of the list no longer happens. Instead you go to the opposite end of the list and carry on in the same direction.
So, if you are scanning in the direction of the end of the list and you reach the end without selecting a task, you go to the beginning of the list and carry on scanning from there.
Similarly, if you are scanning backwards in the direction of the begining of the list and you reach the beginning without selecting a task, you go to the end of the list and carry on scanning backwards from there.
Since there’s no bounce involved the system needs an entirely new name. So I’ve called it the Reversing Circle, on the basis that the list is treated as if it were one continuous circle.
So far the results have been positive, but it’s very early days yet.