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Think big and act small. Leslie Koch
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« Dates for Your Diary | Main | Expand Your Ideas the Easy Way »

Predicting Your Day: Follow Up

How am I getting on with the Predictive To Do list which I wrote about on Saturday?

The answer is amazingly well.

Today is the fourth day in which I have used this form of to do list, and on the first three days I completed every item on the list with great ease. Today at 3 p.m. I have only a few small items left.

You’ll recall that the to do list is written in answer to the question “What do I actually think that I will do today?” What I realised very quickly was that asking the question changes the reality. In other words, if I write down the answers to the question, then I will have a very different day from what would happen if I just allowed the day to happen.

You might think that asking a question like this would result in very little getting done. But in fact the opposite has been the case. I have got more done than normal - including some very serious pieces of work which I had been putting off.

What’s more, I’ve done all this without looking at the to do list. Once I’ve written the list, I’ve just got on with what’s in my head. Since the list reflects what I expect to do, by and large that’s what I’ve done - virtually automatically. I’ve found it useful to check the list at lunchtime, just to remind myself what’s left, and also towards the end of the working day.

I’m also becoming aware that the principle behind this list can be used in a whole variety of ways. But more on that later.

Reader Comments (9)

"I’m also becoming aware that the principle behind this list can be used in a whole variety of ways. But more on that later."

That´s a nice cliffhanger, Mark :-)

Anyway, I like your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!

August 6, 2008 at 10:54 | Unregistered CommenterThomas
What if you are in a cynical mood one morning and don't think you'll do much? Is accepting that part of the strength of this?

I'm curious if this will work in steps
1. When you start predicting your day, accept your laziness, procrastination (or whatever) and work it into your predictive list. (Embrace honest acknowledgment.)
2. Over the course of days and weeks, write out those things and overcome them.

So my question in essence is: Do you eventually begin to stretch your predictions to become more effective, or is simply accepting what you predict enough, and the results will just start coming?

I have a feeling I might be over-thinking something which should occur as natural. I'll just do some tests and post if I have any cool breakthroughs. :)

August 15, 2008 at 21:24 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Even if you are feeling in a cynical mood, you've still got to do *something* all day even if it's vegging out in front of the TV.

Putting "Watch TV" on your list, gives a sense of purpose even to a purposeless activity.
August 16, 2008 at 11:45 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
My thoughts on this echo Chris's, although mine is less about cynicism and more about realism; I really am pretty useless at getting anything constructive done at all (although getting marginally better due to reading books & websites like yours!). I can quite happily while away entire days doing little more than surfing the internet or reading a book (I weaned myself off TV some time ago, so that's not such a distraction, but if someone else is around and they switch it on I can get sucked in pretty easily). Or rather, the day is whiled away quite happily until the point I suddenly realise how utterly unproductive my day has been and I go into frantic action mode, denial or a state of self-critical dejection.

So I'm not sure how useful predicting my day would be for me, although it would probably be interesting to try it. I wonder whether trying it NOW would be worth it or whether I should attempt to get just a tiny bit more in control of my day before I try this. I do often start off with unrealistically high hopes for the day, so perhaps if I allow some of my crazy optimism to tinge the unfettered realism I might actually get a few more productive things done! It might work better than my usual wildly optimistic to-do lists, at least.
August 17, 2008 at 20:20 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Dipsy

My advice would be to try it now. If you wait until you are more in control of your day, then you will be waiting for ever.

Remember the whole idea is to list what you actually think you will do that day. So maybe your first day will look something like this:

* Read improving book
* Read Mark Forster's website
* Surf internet
* etc etc
August 17, 2008 at 20:50 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Isn't what you are suggesting just stating a list of intentions? Would it make a difference if you didn't write them down but just thought them instead?
September 10, 2008 at 13:26 | Unregistered CommenterNicky

If someone said to me "What do you intend to do today?" and then asked me "And what do you actually think you will do today?" they'd get a different answer!

It does, in my experience at least, make a lot of different if I write the items down. At the moment I am using Evernote which has a To Do list function in which the items disappear from view as I tick them off. I only come back to the list a few times during the day to tick off what I have actually done.
September 10, 2008 at 16:52 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I would just like to say that after a very busy week and feeling a little physically tired today (and a little guilty at not being productive on a day when I have all the chance to be productive) I have enjoyed the positive comments and feedback, the simple and encouraging tips and tricks and the general feel of how you write. I think that it is so refreshing to see someone giving out advise that is designed to empower people and not make them feel like immediate failures if they do not match up to the perceived expectations.
I have not yet read your books and happened upon your website by chance but I am pleased that I did. Generally I am fairly organised but fatigue brings me down every now and then so this information has lifted my spirits and I look forward to trying out some of your ideas! Thanks!
February 21, 2009 at 6:48 | Unregistered CommenterMiriam
Thanks, Miriam, I'm glad you have found your visit to this site useful. I hope you'll come back many times!
February 21, 2009 at 11:55 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

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