The answer to the question I asked in my last post is The Next Hour of Your Life as nuntym correctly guessed in the comments. This is a really good no-list system and I can recommend it to anyone who would like to try one. It has stood me in good stead over some quite trying times recently.
However for those who prefer a “catch-all” system, I am currently working on a system I call FastFocus. This is a speeded-up version of the original Autofocus system (AF1). The big limitation with any catch-all system comes as the list grows faster than you are capable of actioning it.
But since my aim at the moment is to find a system which really will allow you to do everything as well as anything, I’ve got to hit that limitation fair and square. To do that, it’s necessary to focus on removing the sources of friction within the system.
What are the sources of friction in a system like Autofocus?
I’ve identified a few and done what I can to remove them:
- Procrastination. The original Autofocus (and many of its successors) relied on the threat of dismissal to deal with tasks that were being procrastinated over. This was never really satisfactory and sometimes had the effect of increasing procrastination rather than reducing it.
- Time spent scanning. In Autofocus you have to read through a page and then circulate round it waiting for the next task to stand out. This is actually quite a slow process.
- Time spent choosing. Even during one visit to a page, a task can be passed over several times before being chosen. This is also quite a slow process.
- Excessive fragmentation. Circulating round and round a page encourages very small “bites” at tasks. This results in its taking a long time to complete a task and a danger of leaving tasks half finished. Although “little and often” is good in principle, Autofocus encourages taking it to excess.
- Loss of momentum. This results from the excessive fragmentation. When a task makes little progress each time it is visited, there is a lack of finished work, leading to a loss of forward movement.
FastFocus improves all of these factors, but I haven’t been using it long enough to know if it improves it enough to achieve my aim of doing everything. I’ll keep you posted!