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« What's Next? - Progress Report #2 | Main | Coyote Watches »
Monday
Feb212011

What's Next? - Progress Report #1

So after announcing at the beginning of today that I was going to start one huge task called “What’s Next? List”, and use it as an example of how to work projects with SuperFocus, how have I got on with the task so far?

The answer is nothing.

I’ve passed the page with this task on it twice today, and both times it failed to stand out for me.

Sorry about that, guys.

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Reader Comments (24)

While I'm sure that many are disappointed. This is a weirdly wonderful progress report. I say this because I believe that doing something out of choice/desire produces much better results in less time than forcing yourself when it's not the right time. Though, in many work situations, we do not really have control over waiting until the time is right and often have to plod ahead anyway. However, SF provides a much more comfortable platform from which to work. Thanks for your continued work on these very helpful systems.
February 21, 2011 at 23:19 | Unregistered CommenterMaureen
Not a problem, Mark. Sounds to me like they it just did not stand out for you today....trusting the system....when you are ready to launch, it will get done as it then will become an item in your second column! :)

-David
February 21, 2011 at 23:59 | Registered CommenterDavid Drake
Mark - no need to apologise; that is a perfect illustration of how the system works, and demonstrates that SuperFocus is designed for real people in the real world. A lesser man would have forced himself to do it because he felt under an obligation, and that would have been against the spirit of doing what stands out, so well done!

Thanks too for the "To Think About" quotes on this site - a constant delight and inspiration.
February 22, 2011 at 9:26 | Registered CommenterMargaret1
Hi Mark It just mean that you are not ready to do it and have others priorities. One day you will feel to do something and it will come. So never mind.
February 22, 2011 at 9:57 | Registered CommenterJupiter
I've been finding with SuperFocus that big tasks like "what's next list" just don't stand out much, compared to how in previous systems they did. I'm tending to either dump the list or just some readyish items into SF, or at least pick one and say "ebook outline -> WNL" if ebook was the thing chosen. Then when outline is drafted I return to Wnl and pick another item, and/or write ebook back on the main list or the WNL.

"what's next list" and other big vague things just get ignored in SF more than previous systems.
February 22, 2011 at 12:41 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
<< "what's next list" and other big vague things just get ignored in SF more than previous systems. >>

Not if they're in Column 2 they don't.
February 22, 2011 at 13:00 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Isn't that "illegal"?
February 22, 2011 at 13:04 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Mark:

I've been following your progress on the newest version of SF. Perhaps I missed it, but have you released the new rules?
February 22, 2011 at 14:52 | Unregistered CommenterBrace
Alan Baljeu wrote:
<< "what's next list" and other big vague things just get ignored in SF more than previous systems. >>

Personally I am finding this to be true, but there's a reason for it. When these items are in Column 1, if I take action on them I am committing myself to keep working till completion on them. But maybe I already have too many things in Column 2 and I need to finish those things first.

I find myself very choosy about starting up some big new Column 1 task until I really feel ready to start something new.

I think this is working as designed: a feature, not a bug. :-)
February 22, 2011 at 15:03 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
I love the honesty of this post!! Huzzah! Sometimes that's just the way it works out AND the real hidden blessing of the system. Sometimes, with a corporate project handed to you there is no choice. However, with a personal creative project would you rather push it and have it come out sub-par or wait till it's ready to be done?
February 22, 2011 at 15:05 | Unregistered CommenterBryanR
Alan:

<< Isn't that "illegal"? >>

Why should it be illegal? You can put any task you like in Column 2 as "urgent", which only has to mean you want to get a move on with it, and then it will stay in Column 2 until you've finished it.
February 22, 2011 at 15:23 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Brace:

<< have you released the new rules? >>

If you are already acquainted with AF1:

http://www.markforster.net/blog/2011/2/7/superfocus-instructions-third-revision.html

If you are not already acquainted with AF1:

http://www.markforster.net/blog/2011/2/10/rules-for-superfocus.html
February 22, 2011 at 15:45 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark, you said you weren't making progress on the task. I said vague-sounding tasks (like "what's next list" tend to get ignored. You said not if they're in column two.

If this project was in column 2 and you're not making progress, that's illegal. So I assume you didn't put it in column 2.

"You can put any task you like in Column 2 as "urgent", which only has to mean you want to get a move on with it, and then it will stay in Column 2 until you've finished it. "

I thought being in column 2 meant you MUST move on it before turning the page. I thought you weren't allowed to just move stuff forward without doing something.
February 22, 2011 at 16:16 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Seraphim:
"When these items are in Column 1, if I take action on them I am committing myself to keep working till completion on them."

I don't see that as quite true. I think I'm free to refine the scope on such an item, that I don't have to complete it.
February 22, 2011 at 16:18 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Alan:

<< If this project was in column 2 and you're not making progress, that's illegal. So I assume you didn't put it in column 2. >>

Correct.

<< I thought being in column 2 meant you MUST move on it before turning the page. I thought you weren't allowed to just move stuff forward without doing something. >>

Isn't that what I said?
February 22, 2011 at 16:48 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Seraphim and Alan:
<<I don't see that as quite true. I think I'm free to refine the scope on such an item, that I don't have to complete it.>>

My experience is similar, as the rules say, SF3 forces you to define completion carefully.

Column 2 now seems to be serving as the "want to focus on these items" list. Any project big or small that is not that important right now moves off column 2 and any project that I want to keep pushing forward moves into column 2.

Quite handy and flexible when you consider that in the meantime other little tasks continue to get taken care of.
February 22, 2011 at 16:57 | Registered CommenterOhNiners
It feels like you missed my point, and this confused everything.

Point: Vague-sounding tasks don't move much. Therefore it's not surprising to me your project didn't move on the first day.

Then you mentioned about tasks in column 2, so I assumed that was the case here, and that confused me. How could a column 2 task not move? I guess that was a red herring.

To your question: No, it isn't what you said most recently. Given my above confusion, it didn't help. I think I have it straight again: If it's in column 2, it must be worked on; when you mentioned column 2, that wasn't connected to a project you didn't work on.
February 22, 2011 at 17:15 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Alan:

<< Point: Vague-sounding tasks don't move much. Therefore it's not surprising to me your project didn't move on the first day. >>

I didn't quite miss this so much as have trouble understanding why you considered a task which I'd broken down into no less than 16 action steps could be called "vague-sounding".
February 22, 2011 at 18:41 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Because those 16 steps weren't on your list. I had a lot of such tasks, and they weren't very effective.
February 22, 2011 at 18:44 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Alan:

"A project should managed to the extent that it needs to be managed, no more and no less." - Mark Forster
February 22, 2011 at 19:11 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I give up.
February 22, 2011 at 19:39 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Alan, I'm not sure, but looking at Mark's "progress report #2", it seems like his advice regarding these "big vague things" could be to enter them in column 2 as a "review" type of task that would be linked to a more detailed outline written (electronically or on paper) somewhere else.

Mark wrote:

"So when “What’s Next List” stood out for me today as the next thing to take action on, my first step was to ask myself:

“How much does this project need to be managed - and how?”

My answer was that I would keep the task “What’s Next List” purely for review purposes. In other words, this task consists of nothing but reviewing the project list of 16 items, thinking about the progress made so far and deciding what specific tasks need to be put on the SuperFocus list for action now. Since this is quite a limited definition, the task will normally be finished every time it comes up. Therefore it will be re-entered in Column 1.
"

This isnt very clear to me as a non(yet)-practitionner of SF3, but i wanted to know, would this be a good answer to your current quibble with SF3 ("big vague things" not standing out/being acted on compared to the former systems)?

Please feel free not to answer directly to me but simply comment on the "progress report #2" journal entry.

Thanks
February 22, 2011 at 20:37 | Unregistered CommenterDaouda
@Alan
Oops, i just looked up "quibble" in the dictionnary and it doesnt quite mean what i thought it meant (Im french), so it might have sounded little bit offensive. What i meant (trying to sound like a fluent english speaker) was rather "your current PROBLEM with SF3 compared to the former systems").
February 22, 2011 at 21:25 | Unregistered CommenterDaouda
With projects that contain a list of tasks that evolves over time and thought, and 'initiatives' which for me, are more vague groupings of ideas/tasks/considerations, I find that sub lists end up being places where items which have a strong resistance to doing can hide themselves, since there are no rules to process/dismiss/focus on them and gain the benefit of normal flow of the system. For me, the off-list accounting for these items causes the system to break down because there is a different set of rules there (no rules).

Alan's mention above of Project ebook outline->WNL as an example I think brings this more granular to a specific project (which to me means that "ebook something->WNL" needs to stay on col2 until ebook = done or conciously deciding to postpone/stop doing).

The challenge (for me at least) here is that ebook WNL is a list bucket where things can go to hideout, additional ebook project related ideas/tasks can be added and then chosen to be the What's Next (the non resistive ones), and the resistive items on this offbook Ebook Project List hide.

Any thoughts on an approach that is a mirror of the main benefits of the main sf3 list on these outside lists? Maybe a shorter split horizontally page approach where there are only 5 rows for col1 and col2?

On a related note, what could a solution look like to this electronically where lists and sublists can be merged/managed virtually in more than one way for each purpose? To keep things simple, I'll rephrase this as : "What could SF3 look like if you had magic virtual paper that can do whatever you want and be displayed in any and multiple formats?

Keeping the paper paradigm here I think will help so it is easy to understand in discussion and keeps it simple and focused even though there are unlimitted non paper paradigms possible.

My thoughts here are possible an inlining of sublists/pages/parts of pages, maybe with different # (much less) of lines per inlined virtual page.

My thoughts specifically on this are that it is important to have organization/views of tasks as part of a project and also have tasks/subtasks in one big list that takes time of entry/progress/dismisal into consideration.

BTW- I have and use "magic paper" - a tabletpc, and writing (inking) is natural and I feel can give the best of paper and electronic. I'll post images of any development work I do here for others to see a virtual AF/SF system if interested.
February 22, 2011 at 23:23 | Registered CommenterDarrenM

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