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« The Ultimate Time Management System? | Main | Another Simple and Effective Method »
Sunday
Jun092013

A Simple and Powerful Method

Sometimes the most powerful ideas are staring one in the face. That’s exactly how I felt when I thought of this method.

Please note that I have not tested out this in any way shape or form whatsoever. In fact I only thought of it last night, and today is my first day using it. However it’s already shown itself to be very powerful, so I’m going to describe it so anyone who wants to can experiment with it.

One of the most persistant ideas I have carried around with me is that the correct way to prioritise what one does is “Do the thing you are most resisting first”. The things that one is resisting tend to take you outside your comfort zone, so they are frequently the very things you need to do in order to take your business and/or your life forward.

However I’ve found it very difficult to find a systematic way of doing this. Of course the simplest way would be to identify what one’s resisting most, bash away at it until it is finished, and then identify the next most resisted project/task and give it the same treatment. But unfortunately this sort of one-thing-at-a-time approach isn’t very realistic in real life. There are lots of things calling for our attention and we can’t just abandon all of them for days on end.

Then, as I said a moment ago, I had a brainwave yesterday evening. I realised that the method I described in my previous post, Another Simple and Effective Method, would be the ideal vehicle for this. All one has to do is to change the criteria for selection of tasks so that instead of chosing the easiest task in each section you choose the task you are most resisting.

Basically that’s it. All you have to do is read the rules in the previous post and use what you are most resisting as your selection criterion.

Please note that with this method you will need to do urgent tasks separately, using the rule “If it needs to be done now, do it now.”

Reader Comments (14)

That sounds like an idea worth trying, Mark. Would you recommend starting a new list rather than using my current (AF1) list, which has about 90 assorted tasks on it? I know that there are many tasks lurking there that have great resistance. Cheers.
June 10, 2013 at 20:08 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret1
I remember trying this approach when you suggested it somewhere else a couple years ago (choosing what you are resisting most), although it used a different algorithm. I ran into troubles with it, because sometimes I was resisting doing something because it really didn't need doing. I had a hard time distinguishing these items from "the very things you need to do in order to take your business and/or your life forward".

How would you suggest handling this kind of thing?
June 10, 2013 at 21:13 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Very interesting and simple idea. I tried it (and original ASEM) (experimentally, with different focus - to look for what I resist most, what I want to do, what is most important & I resist most etc) and soon found very smooth work rhythm. So far, so good.

What I especially liked is that tasklist does not have to be sorted in oldest-first fashion (which is required by AF and FV) for the method to work, but ASEM can be easily adapted to work with a list sorted by projects, which I prefer. Also, I found that I like to work in blocks, and after longer break I like to remove all done tasks (I am using electronic list, not paper), starting whole ASEM method from the beginning.
June 10, 2013 at 21:24 | Unregistered CommenterDaneb
Daneb:

Great enhancement of a great method! As strange as it sounds, it's the first MF method that really clicks with me. Three years of lurking really seem to pay off for me now (it was fun all the way, though). Can't wait to try your sorting variation tomorrow. By the way: which app do you use?
June 10, 2013 at 23:00 | Unregistered CommenterLaby
Margaret:

<< Would you recommend starting a new list rather than using my current (AF1) list, which has about 90 assorted tasks on it? >>

It's really up to you. If you do the whole list you will have to do quite a few high resistance tasks before you get to any easier ones. Though if you have a written list you could just use the existing divisions on the list, which would mean you had more easy tasks to do.
June 11, 2013 at 1:11 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Seraphim:

<< I ran into troubles with it, because sometimes I was resisting doing something because it really didn't need doing... How would you suggest handling this kind of thing? >>

It's an interesting question this. To decide not to do something because it doesn't need doing isn't resistance. It's just a decision.

But if you are really feeling resistance there must be something deeper going on. Maybe you are feeling guilt over not having done it, but haven't been ready to take the decision that it shouldn't be done at all.

My feeling is that you should still take action on the task but remember that one way of taking action is to delete without doing!
June 11, 2013 at 1:16 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Seraphim:

"...choosing what you are resisting most...I ran into troubles...because sometimes I was resisting something because it...didn't need doing. I had a hard time distinguishing these items from "the very things you need to do in order to take your business and/or your life forward".

How would you suggest handling this kind of thing?"


"The thing you fear doing is often the thing you most need to do."
— Timothy Ferriss
June 11, 2013 at 1:17 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
I know in my heart what i'm avoiding, so I'll experiment with it in SMEMA context.
No lists.
June 11, 2013 at 10:57 | Unregistered CommenterShamil Aysin
@Seraphim ("sometimes I was resisting something (what)...didn't need doing.") - I had similar experience + sometimes the most resisted tasks also could not be started (tasks with different context etc.). So I slightly changed my question to: "what I resist most and is convenient to be done now?" I think we can experiment with the question like in FV.

@Laby - I use Things - I use "Next" to view all tasks sorted by projects. When done (or partially done), I mark the task as done (when partially done, I duplicate the task before). ASEM is so simple that it can be done with almost every app. (although Wunderlist would have problem, because it moves tasks up as soon as you star them and moves them down as soon as you complete them.)
June 11, 2013 at 12:21 | Unregistered CommenterDaneb
Daneb:

The full version of the question is "What am I most resisting doing right now?" This obviously doesn't include things which for one reason or another you can't do right now.
June 11, 2013 at 16:51 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark: This wording clarifies it for me a lot, thanks. I missed the original question by quick reading...
June 11, 2013 at 18:06 | Unregistered CommenterDaneb
Okay, Mark, I'm in. :-) I found this to be very similar to doing the most important task. For some reason, I resist that. I like to start easy. I think this can work because you at least get the relief of changing sections. I'll give it a test next week.
June 12, 2013 at 15:21 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie Wilson
Melanie:

I look forward to reading your review. I hope this does better than the last one of mine!
June 12, 2013 at 16:33 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Hey Mark, Thanks for sharing your ideas on this method! I really think people can take alot from this post! I hope you and your followers can take a few minutes to check out my blog on time management at http://www.tonysavickas.com/blog/ ! Thank You!
June 28, 2013 at 17:47 | Unregistered CommenterTony Savickas

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