The rules by which I ran the demo
Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 11:07
Mark Forster in 3-Task Method, Articles, Autofocus

From my point of view the demo on Friday was a great success. I not only achieved my definite aims for the day, but I also did all those things which I said I would like to do if I had the time. The only thing I didn’t succeed in doing was to watch a movie - but that was because the DVD I was expecting didn’t arrive - so instead I watched an episode of “Downton Abbey”.

What most impressed me about the day was that I finished it feeling that I had achieved some really substantial progress, rather than just processing a load of trivial stuff.

This has continued to be the case yesterday and today. Because the emphasis is on FINISHING, I’m beginning to really hate seeing unfinished work.

Although I said in the demo that the 3-Tasks method was being fed by an AF4 list, I didn’t spell out exactly how that was done. So here are the full rules I was working by:

1. To begin, draw up a list of tasks. Draw a line at the end of the list.

2. As new tasks come up, add them below the line.

3. The part of the list above the line is known as the “closed list”. The part below the line is known as the “open list”.

4. Select three tasks from the closed list. Mark them by putting a dot beside each task in the left-hand margin).

5. Work on each of the three tasks in turn for as long as you feel like.

6. Continue circulating round the three tasks. When you finish each task, cross it out.

7. When you have finished two of the three tasks, you select another two from the closed list and work on all three tasks in turn as before (See Note 1).

8. When you have selected as many tasks from the closed list as you want to do for the time being you may then start to replenish the 3-Tasks from the open list. You may do one pass through the open list in one direction only before returning to the closed list, and continue as before (See Note 2).

9. Whenever you return to the closed list, you must select at least one task from it. If you do not select at least one task, then all the remaining tasks in the closed list are dismissed (see Note 3) by being marked with a highlighter rather than being crossed out.

10. When all tasks on the closed list have been either selected or dismissed, draw another line at the end of the open list. The open list now becomes the closed list, and a new open list is begun.


1) After you have selected the two new tasks you start work on the task which was already on the list, not one of the new tasks.

2) It can be difficult sometimes to remember where one has got to in moving through the closed and open lists to select tasks. To make this easier, the rule is that one starts selecting new tasks from the position of the task you have just crossed out.

3) Dismissed tasks should not be allowed back onto the list without being reviewed carefully as to the reasons for their not having been done. It is a good idea to have a task “Review Dismissed Tasks” on the list.

Article originally appeared on Get Everything Done (
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