My Latest Book

Product Details

Also available on,, and other Amazons and bookshops worldwide! 

To Think About . . .
Within a sequence of decisions, your most hesitant and vague decision will have the greatest effect on the overall consequences. Alexander Cortes
My Other Books

Product Details

Product Details

Product Details

Product Details

Click to order other recommended books.

Find Us on Facebook Badge

Search This Site
Latest Comments
« Time management when retired - update | Main | Qlockwork v. 2 »

Time management when retired

I had a vision of what it would be like when I retired - I would basically just potter around all day doing the things I enjoyed doing. I would take lots of long walks and visit lots of interesting places. I would at last have time to learn a musical instrument, would perfect my French, Spanish and German, and read loads of books.

Some of that’s happened, but the sense of unlimited time available for what I want to do has so far eluded me. In fact I am so busy most of the time I don’t know how I ever fitted full-time, or even part-time, work into my day. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing - just not what I’d envisaged.

One of the problems is that I don’t seem to be able to switch my mind off inventing time management systems. I’m always getting brilliant ideas, and when I get a brilliant idea I want to try it out. And if I’m trying it out then I want to tell other people about it, and discuss it with them and get them to try it out too. So before I know it, I’m doing almost as much work for nothing as I was previously doing for money.

The above is just a preamble to saying that I have now come up with yet another new time management system. It is however very different in the way it works from the Autofocus and DWM systems which I have introduced over the last sixteen months or so. About all it has in common with them is that it uses one long list.

What it does do however is what the Autofocus systems aimed to do, but never quite achieved, which is to autofocus - to zoom in on the things which really matter while not neglecting the mundane but essential tasks which are part of everyone’s lives. So I’ve actually started to get moving with the walks, the music, the languages, the trips and the books. And I may even be able to find time without too much difficultly for that fund raising project which my church seems keen to get me involved in.

How does it work? It’s too early to go into detail, but it is basically a new way of combining some of the time management principles which I have worked on over the years, plus some new ideas.

More soon.

P.S. I almost forgot to say that I think it will work just as well for those who are not retired!

Reader Comments (24)

Hi Mark,

being paid or not seems irrelevant when passion is at play...;-)

Still I would love to hear about your DWM adventure and analysis.

With kind regards,
April 21, 2010 at 12:12 | Unregistered CommenterTies
Mark, thanks for confirming what I have heard over and over again from retired friends. I tell people to "do it now" because there won't be a not-busy time in their lives.
April 21, 2010 at 13:31 | Unregistered CommenterMel
I've been told that creators never really retire. They just keep creating. Can't wait to see your new system.
April 21, 2010 at 13:37 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua
Good to hear you're keeping busy! I'd actually rather stay busy when I retire than potter around. I hope you'll announce your new system on this blog. I find myself following the discussion board less and less lately. Perhaps it's because I don't see your name there as often, I don't know.

I'm still happy with AF4, but am always willing to check out whatever new ideas you have. I'm completing a 2-year graduate program and just found out I have a new job in the field and I credit much of my recent success to your AF systems.

Thank you so much,
April 21, 2010 at 13:48 | Unregistered CommenterJim (Atlanta)
Hi Mark,

I am so glad to hear about your new system! You are indeed an amazing fellow. Engagement and productivity -- on things that matter -- sounds very good. As always, am waiting with anticipation to the unveiling of your new system.

Take care,
April 21, 2010 at 13:56 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Drake

"...autofocus - to zoom in on the things which really matter while not neglecting the mundane but essential tasks which are part of everyone’s lives..."

Autofocussing on the important in the midst of our daily drudgery? Wow! This would certainly help getting the right things done. Can't wait for you to share this one.

Thank you much for your efforts,
April 21, 2010 at 15:22 | Unregistered CommenterJoel
Can't wait! I am an AF convert - although a new one. The idea of being able to tackle the regular stuff more easily appeals.
April 21, 2010 at 15:40 | Unregistered CommenterAlison R
"autofocus - to zoom in on the things which really matter while not neglecting the mundane but essential tasks which are part of everyone’s lives."

That is exactly what I seek in time management. I must say AF4 comes awfully close to that goal for me.
April 21, 2010 at 18:22 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Can't wait...
April 21, 2010 at 18:47 | Unregistered CommenterRuth Capers
For the first time since being involved since the dawn of AF1, I 'm not quite as excited as others who have commented here.

I'm not saying I'm closing my addled mind to something new, I have a low threshold for boredom, but I am finding myself satisfied enough (for now) with DWM.

I'll wait to see what Mark has come up with - Mark, please label/brand it asap to cut down on confusion - and how others on the forum have reacted.
April 21, 2010 at 20:18 | Unregistered CommenterRogerJ
"if you give a pig a pancake" or "if you give a moose a muffin"
I was reminded of this series of children's books while reading your description of how one thing leads to another and so what seemed like a simple item to get done turns out to take a long time because one thing leads to another which leads to another

for what it's worth...
Keep up the good work.
From another fan
April 22, 2010 at 1:01 | Unregistered CommenterChad Brown

Though still getting to grips with DWM, I'm sure I'll be enchanted by the next one. Thank you so much.

How do you feel about the "beta release" approach you took for DWM? In practice, I didn't see much difference from the incisiveness of the feedback you got on AF1 - 4, and certainly didn't see any significant changes resulting. Did I miss something? Is the beta closed now?
April 22, 2010 at 8:03 | Unregistered CommenterWill

Hope you have maintained the strong dismissal technique which is keeping my list short!

Looking forward to hearing more.
April 23, 2010 at 8:50 | Unregistered CommenterLaurence

In fact none of the methods have been changed as a result of comments received. What has happened is that I've introduced entirely new methods in an effort to meet the legitimate criticisms.
April 23, 2010 at 9:40 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Thanks, Mark.

Theoretically, DWM is still in "Beta" (unless I missed an announcement, which is quite possible). Does this mean anything in practice, or did it just seem bureaucratic to formally announce closure when there were no strong proposals for change?


April 23, 2010 at 14:03 | Unregistered CommenterWill

<< Does this mean anything in practice? >>

Not really!
April 23, 2010 at 14:25 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I've never properly used DWM, as it doesn't feel quite as organic (or better yet, _emergent_) as AF1/AF4 do. However, it still solves some of the problems with AF.

I am glad that you keep experimenting with new time mangement systems, and I look forward to hearing the details about the new one!

I love the notion of following a simple set of rules that produce an emergent behavior of keeping our attention on the right things at the right times.

I often think of AF/DWM as Attention Management, rather than Time Management.

It sounds like you are striving to balance out the work/project-oriented nature of AF/DWM with more LIVING. I like this, I definitely could use more balance.

I've been pondering that the solution to balance is through scheduling. Setting aside blocks of time. I haven't followed a schedule since University, and I was more balanced back then. A schedule can be really nice because it gives me something to look forward to, like regularly doing X activity on X day at X time.

Maybe there could be some emergent rules for creating a weekly schedule that is responsive to things that might throw it out of whack. And also responsive to priorities in a simple way.
April 23, 2010 at 15:16 | Unregistered CommenterJames R
James R:

I'm not a great fan of scheduling myself - it just doesn't suit my personal style - but I know that some people get on well with it.

Two tips:

1) Leave plenty of unscheduled time for the inevitable upsets to the schedule. I recommend at least 20% should be left unscheduled initially. You can adjust this figure as you gain experience.

2) Keep a record of how long you thought each task would take v. how long it actually took. That way you can learn to estimate more accurately. Don't try to filter interruptions out of the time taken - they are part of the work environment.
April 23, 2010 at 15:38 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

Have you come across David Seah's work? I was blown away (groan) by . You'll understand the groan if you check out the link.

The full instructions are career limiting in an open plan environment. But there's more to life than climbing the greasy pole.
April 23, 2010 at 22:44 | Unregistered CommenterWill

Interesting but that doesn't seem to help with schedule planning or finding a balance :P
April 27, 2010 at 6:55 | Unregistered CommenterJames R
Obviously, I'm curious about your new approach, Mark.

It's interesting that you've categorized your post as "Resistance Principle" which makes me wonder if you've now got a workable system based on Colleys Rule?
April 30, 2010 at 6:38 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Good detective work! That was my original intention, yes. But things have changed a lot as I've been working on it, and as it stands at present it doesn't include Colley's rule.
April 30, 2010 at 14:53 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Well the whole idea seems great. Getting things done now and saving time for the future, living in leisure. I think Iove that
September 23, 2010 at 9:41 | Unregistered CommenterAchi David
I am ready to hear all about it. Time management has ways been problem that I need to work on.
February 26, 2012 at 13:34 | Unregistered CommenterAnn Alka WorkingBoomer

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.