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« Most Popular Articles | Main | Review: "The To-Do List" by Mike Gayle »

New Developments Update No. 5

At the time of writing I have 715 people signed up for the trial of my new system and I have had many comments and emails about how excited people are about the launch of the Beta Testing on January 5th. We are right on schedule for that date.

My own testing of the system has continued to go unbelievably well, and has even survived being used over the Christmas season. With most time management systems I get to the stage of having to force myself to continue using it. This has not been the case at all with this new system. Quite the reverse - I actually have to tear myself away from it. Which is pretty sad, I have to admit!

The other thing that I frequently find with time management systems is that I start to get frustrated because I am not doing as much as I want to. Again this has not been the case with the new system. It has adjusted perfectly to whatever has been going on at the time, and I’ve always been happy that it has enabled me to do whatever is really important to me. I emphasize “to me” because so many goal setting systems imprison us in what we think ought to be important to us.

So, a complete absence of procrastination, a sense of being on top of everything that matters to me, and a renewed vision of where I want to go and what I want to do - is that enough to make me feel this is the most important discovery I have ever made?

Click on the New System category link at the bottom of this email to see all previous postings on this subject.

Reader Comments (32)

Hi Mark!
Congrats! I'm licking my chops awaiting a sip of that elixir! You don't mention a calendar....does scheduling factor in at all? (I'm rattling and sniffing my wrapped gift! *blush*)
December 29, 2008 at 13:31 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
Please don't regard this as a spammer in the works...........
Does this system also accomodate those "imprisoning shoulds" as well? We all do have them! LOL! In fact, I need the most support for those....hence, my worst first policy. I need absolutely no prodding for the personal values and goals stuff.....Like you, that part of living is what keeps me grateful and enthusiastic! In fact, clearing the path for these high pay-off projects is my main incentive for getting the most important yet most boring slog work out of the way. LOL!
*confession* I keep these two areas of my life separate as not to taint the great aspects of creativity and accomplishment! LOL!
December 29, 2008 at 13:43 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
Learning as I go:

Scheduling is only needed for things which cannot be done at the present time, e.g. contacting a colleague who is away on holiday.

The system accommodates whatever you need it to accommodate!
December 29, 2008 at 18:23 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Will your new approach still have a way of dealing with backlogs? Because mine is pretty hefty. Also, any thoughts on releasing a day or two early, so we're ready to go first thing Monday morning?

December 30, 2008 at 14:31 | Unregistered Commenterjoe jones

Re backlogs, as I said above the system accommodates whatever you want it to accommodate.

Re thoughts about an earlier release: sorry, no. I need to thoroughly test it myself and write up the method incorporating what I've found. If I cut that process short, I will be short-changing everyone. Also I'd like as many people as possible to be taking part in the trial. 814 so far - I'm hoping for over 1,000 by the launch!
December 30, 2008 at 16:18 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Hi Mark

I'm really looking forward to 5 January and the revealing of the new system. I've always enjoyed researching time management and self development programs and have found your systems to be the most workable that I've found, I think because you so obviously work to ensure that your systems are constantly reviewed, adapted and added to.

I have to confess to a high degree of curiosity about the removal of procrastination - regardless of what system I use procrastination has a habit of creeping up on me. The fact that a large part of my time is dictated by outside influences gives procrastination a lot of freedom to take over! Of course it is never my fault!!

Looking forward to the launch party ........ :-)
December 30, 2008 at 23:32 | Unregistered CommenterChristine B
Hi, Christine

Yes, the complete lack of procrastination is one of the most remarkable features of this system. I've never worked a system before in which it didn't gradually creep up on me as you describe. I'll be interested to see whether other people find the same.
December 30, 2008 at 23:38 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Hi Mark

Can the new system work equally well for those of us who are predominantly computer and PDA oriented? Or is a paper based system the preferred method to use? Looking forward to the big launch. I have been a constant reader of your work and have been empowered many times. Thank you.
December 31, 2008 at 10:04 | Unregistered Commentersteve
I have so much that I have to do by the end of January (definately "have to do" as opposed to "want to do") so if this system can enable me to achieve that ............ I'm certainly willing (or more accurately desperate!) to be convinced!!! Roll on January 5 - I have my notebooks, pen and highlighter all ready to go!
December 31, 2008 at 10:06 | Unregistered CommenterChristine B

The system as developed by me is paper based. I'm sure it could easily be adapted to electronic means, though I haven't tried to do so yet. I think it would be easy to do so on Evernote 2, perhaps a bit more difficult on Outlook.

I would be very interested in any experiences beta testers have in trying to adapt it.
December 31, 2008 at 14:01 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

Just feed it all into the system. I'd be interested to know how much you get done by the end of January.
December 31, 2008 at 14:02 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Will this system work for people who are not in a position to retire? LOL.

I love your message Mark but sometimes I fear that the latest work is for people who are not me (a mortgage holder, a new parent, a small business owner who moonlights with a passion as a playwright).
December 31, 2008 at 15:08 | Unregistered CommenterJ.N. Howard
Thanks Mark - will definately keep you posted!

In response to Steve's question I use OneNote 2007 to manage my paper lists and hope to use that with your system (I misplace notebooks but have not yet managed to misplace my desktop PC!)

Although we are all in ignorance as to what your system is I haven't found much that OneNote can't be adapted for so will be happy to report after 5/1 if that would help.
December 31, 2008 at 15:26 | Unregistered CommenterChristine B
J.N. Howard

I've been all those in my time and more (if you substitute "author" for "playwright"). All I can say is that if I'd had this system then life would have been a lot easier, and I might have been a lot more successful!
December 31, 2008 at 15:32 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

I've never used OneNote so can't comment on that, but I don't imagine any great difficulty in adapting the system to electronic means whatever you use. Even a perfectly ordinary wordprocessor document would work fine. All your comments on the system will be welcome.
December 31, 2008 at 15:34 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Great then I can't wait to use it. My biggest battle is that I my mind says "doing what you WANT to do is great for Mark. HIS daughter is all grown up and he has paid for HIS house. YOU on the other hand better get 'real' and forget about doing what your intuition tells you to do right here and now". Or perhaps I am misunderstanding your teaching?
December 31, 2008 at 15:37 | Unregistered CommenterJ.N. Howard
Mark, as I've commented before, I'm excited to test your new system! My only worry is the idea of abandoning the old one, because I've had such success with your recent DIT modification. But I know I can always go back to it if I want to. I'll plan to tell my blog readers again this week that they have a chance to be beta testers for Autofocus.

Happy new year!
December 31, 2008 at 15:50 | Unregistered CommenterJanine Adams
PS I should mention that I have only read the first 2 books and have only just recently ordered DIT so I am sure it is much different than How to Make Your Dreams Come True.
December 31, 2008 at 16:04 | Unregistered CommenterJ.N. Howard
J.N. Howard:

You want to bring up your daughter properly and pay your mortgage, don't you?
December 31, 2008 at 17:14 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

Thanks for planning to mention it to your blog readers again. Much appreciated.
December 31, 2008 at 17:15 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
LOL yes I DO I DO Mark!
December 31, 2008 at 18:25 | Unregistered CommenterJ.N. Howard
Hi Christine and Steve,

My entire management system with DIT is on Outlook 2007. As I am a digital person, I will work to develop Mark's new system on Outlook 2007. I also use OneNote 2007 for project management.

December 31, 2008 at 19:47 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Drake
Hi David

As a digital person myself I've used Outlook for years but found it quite restrictive and worked mainly in NEO Pro as an add-on for email, with other software for planning. 2007 is a lot more workable but I need to get back to using it fully. I love OneNote 2007 (a vast improvement on 2003!) My main notebook is very originally called Do It Tomorrowwith a section group for Current Initiatives; I love the ability to embed files and keep everything for a project in one place.

Happy New Year everyone!!
January 1, 2009 at 0:37 | Unregistered CommenterChristine B
Hi David Drake
If you're successful using Outlook 2007, perhaps you might want to read Michael Linenberger's book, "Total Workday Control". It's an excellent method that that's similar to how I work my hybrid version of DIT and GTD. At the least, it's an excellent reference! His system can accomodate many different people's needs, ambitions, responsibilities, etc. It makes my planning, goal setting, reviews and prioritizing much easier. Plus, it's quite flexible. It's hard to make it not work! LOL! (Since I can't use a computer at will (disabled), I've retrofitted many aspects into a paper system.
His website is
learning as I go
January 1, 2009 at 1:07 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
Like many others, I have found DIT the best of all the many systems I have tried. I echo what gsd smlies (correct?) says about Michael Linenberger and I use his TWC method as a way of using Outlook 2007 (preferably) for using DIT. After implementing TWC last year I emailed Michael to say there is a lot in common with DIT; Michael replied that he was surprised not to have heard of it, but had ordered a copy. I expect to see some of DIT included in a future TWC or update.

As I also use OneNote 2007 (not as efficiently as i would like, the desire for perfectionism keeps getting in the way, one of the perceived reasons for my own procrastination), I am very keen to see if Autofocus can be done effectively with OneNote 2007, as some have hinted already in comments above.

You Americans have the snow to use as backlog recovery time, it seems. I will be on assignment in Africa for five weeks next month, so hope to use weekends to test AFTM and clean up my OneNote files, IF the electricity supply is working.

Roll on 5 January beta testing, one productive way to spend the 10 hour flight to South Africa next week. I'd like fellow OneNote users to highlight how they are using the software to manage AFTM.
January 2, 2009 at 17:44 | Unregistered CommenterRoger J
I hesitated to sign up because, as I'm retired, I have way too much discretion about how I use my time. I've recently discovered "Refuse to Choose" by Barbara Sher which has helped me understand that I do not have and will probably never have a single, clear focus around which to organize everything I do. Rather, I have many overlapping interests--and time spent on any one always seems like time lost on others. So I'm very intrigued to see if Autofocus can help me focus. Getting Things Done helped a bit, but then became an obsession all by itself. DIT was a breath of fresh air and works well when I'm overwhelmed by externally generated demands that must be met soon (like doing taxes). At other times, I find my lists are just places to park things I really do intend to do, need to do, want to do, while I go about either dabbling in one of my pet projects or another or killing time reading too much fluff on the internet.

One trouble with creative projects is that when you get up a head of steam, it's very hard to stop working in time to get to the other things originally planned for the day--one hates to lose the momentum/inspiration/energy/excitement. It's joyful for the duration, but then when you do stop you realize you've let some things slide that you didn't want to let slide.... Can't wait to see the new system.
January 2, 2009 at 18:25 | Unregistered CommenterStan
Hi Roger

I can relate to your comment re perfectionism being a major factor in procrastination - I definitely believe that to be an issue for me - but find OneNote to be a great tool to deal with that aspect. It took me a while to use it effectively (and I am still experimenting) but I have found the key for me to be, not just in the planning, but also in the fact that OneNote's flexibility enables me to redefine layouts etc as I feed more into it.
January 3, 2009 at 0:57 | Unregistered CommenterChristine B

Autofocus uses only one list and my recommendation will be that you bung everything into it, including your pet projects, your taxes and your internet surfing and let the system sort it all out for you. It aims to balance the rational and intuitive parts of your mind to produce the best result for you in whatever situation you find yourself.
January 3, 2009 at 11:58 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

Autofocus can help to reduce perfectionism because it encourages a "little and often" approach to most tasks.
January 3, 2009 at 12:00 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Thanks, Mark.

I've never "bunged" before, but am looking forward to learning how. :-)
January 3, 2009 at 14:33 | Unregistered CommenterStan
Thanks Mark - counting down the days ..........
January 3, 2009 at 16:52 | Unregistered CommenterChristine B
to bung [British informal] put or throw (something) somewhere in a careless or casual way: <<fill out the reply-paid card and bung it in the post.>> Oxford Dictionary of English.
January 3, 2009 at 17:24 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

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