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« Competition Time | Main | SF Tips - #7: Tasks that are both urgent and unfinished »

SF Tips - #8: Dismissal

The concept of dismissal is distinctive to the AF/SF family of systems. Dismissing tasks is one of the most essential part of SuperFocus.

It is important to realise that the rules about dismissal effect the way one treats all the tasks in the system, not just the ones to which the dismissal rules are being applied. Therefore for the system to work properly, it is very important that you keep to the rules about dismissal.

If you are working the system properly then dismissal should be an automatic process. You don’t decide which tasks should be dismissed or not dismissed. The only question is whether a task has “stood out” for action and, if not, whether it is now liable for dismissal.

When a task is dismissed it should not be seen as a failure in any way. In fact, it simply means that the system is working as it should.

Consider the types of task that may be found on the pages of a SuperFocus notebook:

  • Unactioned tasks
  • Deleted completed tasks
  • Re-entered recurring tasks
  • Re-entered unfinished tasks (Column 2)
  • Urgent tasks (Column 2)
  • Dismissed tasks awaiting review
  • Finally deleted unactioned tasks.

These different categories of tasks provide a hugely effective sifting process, which classifies tasks more or less automatically for action, urgent action, little-and-often work, review and final deletion. Because of this sifting, the system does not need pre-sifting. You can enter all potential tasks and projects into the system, and let the system deal with them.

Reader Comments (5)

When column 2 is full, the page is dismissed.

This appears as an essential balance in the system. From an alternate perspective:
SF lets you do anything anytime. If that thing is in column 1, it gets crossed out. Otherwise you first enter it in C2 declaring it "urgent" and do it. You can easily overdo this freedom except for the above rule.

In essence, the rule says if you're doing lots of stuff other than what you originally wrote in here, you should review the original list which isn't getting done. - Nothing bad about this at all; just a signal that hey you've been busy frying bigger fish so let's set the smaller ones aside so you can get to everything else in time.
March 31, 2011 at 19:28 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Thanks again, Mark, for your simple and clear comments, which add yet another layer to my understanding of SuperFocus.
April 6, 2011 at 11:36 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Schapel
Hi Alan, this rule had me confused for a while because it appears to offer no direct benefit. It seemed to me that you could equally say that if it's Tuesday and column 2 is 3/4 full then you dismiss all col 1 tasks, and that this helps encourage targeted use of col 2. The rule about col 2 being full causing dismissal of tasks in col 1, which may otherwise be perfectly capable of being actioned, seemed very arbitrary.

I like the way you phrased the above. It helps give the rule a clearer meaning. SF is very much based around units of pages and things which happen on a page can affect the entire unit, eg if no col 1 tasks that happen to be on one page stand out on a fresh pass then they are all dismissed. Your explanation above makes the most sense.

Thanks for helping to clarify it.

April 6, 2011 at 22:53 | Unregistered CommenterChris
Hi Mark
Could you clarify somhing for me?

A. In the SuperFocus rules linked from the home page there is this rule:

"2. When you visit a page which is full (i.e. both Column 1 and Column 2 are full), all Column 1 tasks on that page must be either actioned or dismissed.

Dismissal only applies to tasks in Column 1. Tasks in Column 2 must always be be worked on."

B. In the "Third Revision" ( ) published a few days before it said:
"7. When you visit a page which is full (i.e. has no space left in Column 2), all tasks on that page must be actioned or dismissed."

C. I think Alan is referring to the rule in B above - it took me a while to work out where he got the rule from because the superfocus rules from the main page doesn't have it.

Could you tell me which one you are using? My assumption is you are using the dismissal rule in A - is that right? I am also aware of your current experiments with snoozing col 2 activities if that plays into this for any reason.

Many thanks
April 13, 2011 at 23:17 | Registered CommenterSpike

The rules referenced on the home page and in the top menu are the correct ones to use:
April 14, 2011 at 9:06 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

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