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« A Day with FVP | Main | The Perfect Time Management System »
Thursday
May212015

The Final Version Perfected (FVP)

This is an amended version of the instructions for the Final Version (FV) time management system. It contains an improved algorithm and a new question.

(Chinese Traditional version by Catus Lee - external site)
 
Introduction
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Here are the long-awaited instructions for the Final Version Perfected (FVP) time management system. I don’t know if it’s the best time management system ever devised. What I do know is that it is the best time management system that I have ever used myself. It’s shown itself to be even more resilient, responsive and quick than the Final Version.


FV and now FVP are based on my earlier time management systems, particularly the extensive range of AutoFocus and SuperFocus systems developed over the last five years. These were unique in that they were constantly developing with the assistance of a large band of commenters on my web-site. Anyone who has tried one or more of these systems will recognize the strong family resemblance that they have with FV and FVP. The most striking resemblance is that they are all based on one long list (either paper or electronic) which can be used to capture just about every possible action that springs into one’s mind. There is a minimum of special markings or annotations.Such a list depends on an effective algorithm to process it. There are three main requirements which have to be kept in balance. These are urgency, importance and psychological readiness. Traditional time management systems have tended to concentrate on the first two of these. The neglect of psychological readiness is probably the reason that most people don’t find time management systems particularly effective or congenial.The most distinctive feature of FVP is the way that its algorithm is primarily based on psychological readiness - this then opens the way to keeping urgency and importance in the best achievable balance.
 

The FVP  Algorithm
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The FVP algorithm uses the question “What do I want to do more than x?” to preselect a chain of tasks from the list. What exactly is meant by “want” in this context is deliberately left undefined. There may be a whole variety of reasons why you might want to do one thing more than another thing and all of them are valid.The chain always starts with the first unactioned task on the list. Mark this task with a dot to show that it’s now been preselected. Don’t take any action on the task at this stage.This task then becomes the benchmark from which the next task is selected. For example, if the first task on the list is “Write Report”, the question becomes “What do I want to do more than write the report?” You move through the list in order until you come to a task which you want to do more than write the report. This task is now selected by marking it with a dot and it becomes the benchmark for the next task. If the first task you come to which you want to do before writing the report is “Check Email”, then that becomes the benchmark. The question therefore changes to “What do I want to do more than check email?”As you continue through the list you might come to “Tidy Desk” and decide you want to do that more than checking email. Select this in the same way by marking it with a dot, and change the question to “What do I want to do more than tidying my desk?”. The answer to this is probably “nothing”, so you have now finished your preselection.The preselected tasks in the example are:

Write report
Check email
Tidy desk

At this point “Tidy Desk” represents the task you most want to do at the moment. Do it.
Note that as in all my systems, you don’t have to finish the task - only do some work on it. Of course if you do finish the task that’s great, but if you don’t then all you have to do is re-enter the task at the end of the list.

Now what are you going to do next? “Check email” is the previous task you selected, but that isn’t necessarily the task you most want to do. What you can say though is that it was the task you most wanted to do up until you selected “Tidy Desk”. This means that you only need to check the tasks that come after “Tidy Desk” in the list.

So what you do next is to ask yourself “What do I want to do more than check email?” again, but you check only the tasks which come after the task you have just done (Tidy Desk).

Once you have worked your way back to the first task on the list and done it (this may never happen!), you take the next unactioned task as your root task.

That’s it! You’re now ready to go. Everything else is further examples and explanation.



A Longer Example
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In this example for ease of understanding no new tasks are added while working on the list. This of course is unlikely in real life. Your initial list of tasks:


Email
In-Tray
Voicemail
Project X Report
Tidy Desk
Call Dissatisfied Customer
Make Dental Appointment
File Invoices
Discuss Project Y with Bob
Back Up  
 
Put a dot in front of the first task:  
 
· Email
  In-Tray
  Voicemail
  Project X Report
  Tidy Desk
  Call Dissatisfied Customer
  Make Dental Appointment
  File Invoices
  Discuss Project Y with Bob
  Back Up
 
Now ask yourself ” What do I want to do more than Email?”
 
You work down the list and come to Voicemail. You decide you want to do Voicemail more than Email. Put a dot in front of it.  
 
· Email
  In-Tray
· Voicemail
  Project X Report
  Tidy Desk
  Call Dissatisfied Customer
  Make Dental Appointment
  File Invoices
  Discuss Project Y with Bob
  Back Up  
 
Now ask yourself ” What do I want to do more than Voicemail?” You decide you want to tidy your desk.  
 
· Email
  In-Tray
· Voicemail
  Project X Report
· Tidy Desk
  Call Dissatisfied Customer
  Make Dental Appointment
  File Invoices
  Discuss Project Y with Bob
  Back Up  
 
There are no tasks you want to do more than tidying your desk, so you have the following dotted tasks:
 
Email
Voicemail
Tidy Desk
 
Do the Tidy Desk task.
 
Your list will now look like this:
 
· Email
  In-Tray
· Voicemail
  Project X Report
· Tidy Desk
  Call Dissatisfied Customer
  Make Dental Appointment
  File Invoices
  Discuss Project Y with Bob
  Back Up
 
Now start again from Tidy Desk (i.e. the last task you did). and ask yourself “What do I want to do more than Voicemail?”  The only task you want to do more than Voicemail is Back Up. Do it.
 
The list now reads:
 
· Email
  In-Tray
· Voicemail
  Project X Report
· Tidy Desk
  Call Dissatisfied Customer
  Make Dental Appointment
  File Invoices
  Discuss Project Y with Bob
· Back Up
 
There are no further tasks beyond Back Up, so there is no need to check whether you want to do any tasks more than you want to do Voicemail. You just do it.


The list now reads:


· Email
  In-Tray
· Voicemail
  Project X Report
· Tidy Desk
  Call Dissatisfied Customer
  Make Dental Appointment
  File Invoices
  Discuss Project Y with Bob
· Back Up
 
 
There is only one dotted task left on the list and that is Email. You now need to check whether you want to do any of the tasks more than Email. So ask the question “What do I want to do more than Email?” You already know that you want to do Email more than In-tray, so you start scanning from the first task after the task you have just done (Voicemail).
 
You decide you want to do Make Dental Appointment more than you want to do Email, so you dot it and change the question to “What do I want to do more than Make Dental Appointment”. The answer is “Discuss Project Y”. As this is the last task on the list you do it immediately, and then do Make Dental Appointment immediately too. There’s no need to scan because you already know that you want to make the dental appoinment more than you want to file invoices.
 
The list now reads:
 
· Email
  In-Tray
· Voicemail
  Project X Report
· Tidy Desk
  Call Dissatisfied Customer
· Make Dental Appointment
  File Invoices
· Discuss Project Y with Bob
· Back Up
 
 
So the tasks on the original list have been done in the following order so far:
 
Tidy Desk
Back Up
Voicemail
Discuss Project Y with Bob
Make Dental Appointment
 
These tasks have been done in the exact order of what you want to do most at the time. There may be a huge number of factors affecting what you want to do most, but you can allow your brain to sort them out for you below the level of consciousness simply by asking the question “What do I want to do more than x?” and applying it in the way shown above.
 
 If you are having trouble following the example above, then I suggest you write the list out on paper and work through it by hand.
 

Additional Tips  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The best way to sink any time management system is to overload it right at the beginning. FVP is pretty resilient, but at this stage you aren’t. So build up the list gradually. My advice is to start off with the tasks and projects that are of immediate concern to you right now, and then add more as they come up in the natural course of things.Tasks can be added at any level, e.g. Project X, Plan Restructuring, Call Pete, Tidy Desk.


If at any stage you find that a task on the list is no longer relevant, then delete it. If you find that your preselected list is no longer relevant (e.g. if you have had a long break away from the list or some new factor has come into play), then scrap the preselection and reselect from the beginning. [Afternote July 3rd - I now don’t do this. I simply cross out any tasks which need re-prioritizing and re-enter them at the end of the  list.]


If one or more very urgent things come up, just write them at the end of the list and the algorithm will automatically select them next (assuming you do actually want to do them of course). Similarly if something already on the list becomes very urgent, then just cross it out and move it to the end of the list.Remember that the aim of any time management system is to help you to get your work done, not get in the way of doing your work. So don’t be afraid to adjust priorities as and when you need to. However don’t overdo this - stick to the rules when possible as they will ensure you deal with your work in a systematic way.
 
Why It Works
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
At the beginning of this article I said there were three factors which every time management system needs to address: urgency, importance and psychological readiness. Let’s see how FVP deals with each of these.


Urgency. Because of the nature of the preselection process, urgent tasks tend to get selected because generally speaking the human brain wants to do things that it knows are urgent. If things come up that are particularly urgent they can be added to the preselected list at any time.

Importance. Generally speaking the human brain is a bit less keen on doing important stuff than it is on doing urgent stuff. This is particularly the case when the important stuff is difficult. However the FVP preselection process ensures that the entire list is kept under continuous review and your brain will start to flag up that it wants you to get on with stuff it thinks you might be neglecting. If this doesn’t happen, then it’s likely to be because you would be better off getting rid of it altogether.

Psychological Readiness. This is where FVP really enters new dimensions. By using a pre-selection process, the brain is softened up towards the selected tasks. But this isn’t all. The selection process is based on what you want to do. This colours the whole preselected list so that even tasks which seem like chores get affected.

Reader Comments (159)

Works like a dream in Outlook tasks on the desktop.

I tag the selected tasks so they show up in a separate filtered view in the todo bar throughout Outlook. The "created" timestamp tells me how far back to go in the main list each time I finish a task.

The phone client doesn't work quite so neatly. I use "OneDo" for Windows Phone as a nice, simple task list. This requires a slight workaround. Not sure whether to go back to paper and pen for my personal stuff.
May 22, 2015 at 16:15 | Unregistered CommenterWill
Mark:

I'm loving FVP so far, truly excellent. Have worked on 25 important tasks since adopting the system late last night! It feels like a very addictive method and also very user friendly...Thank you for sharing your ideas with us all.
May 22, 2015 at 16:25 | Unregistered CommenterLeon
Chris,
If it's not too much trouble, do you think you could share a dropbox link to your long text calendar template? You did so on an old thread, but the link is broken.
May 22, 2015 at 16:39 | Unregistered CommenterAustin
Hi Austin, I closed that dropbox account a while back. Here's the file:

http://pastebin.com/download.php?i=wxkvzNR9
May 22, 2015 at 22:01 | Unregistered CommenterChris
@Chris
----------
I achieve this by targeting work that matters (because I want or need to do it) over the next few days. I tend to have snippets of stuff relating to the endless tasks in a text file and just know the rest in my head. You could think of that as the growing long list if you like. I get on with the stuff that matters over the next few days and get it done.
----------
I'm not sure of ongoing criticism on Mark's systems? One could imagine a person with perfect sense of time. Any time of day or night, will always just know what time it is. That person would wonder why so many other people need clocks and watches. Why not just do what they do, just know the time? So yeah, for you, FPV might seem over complex, silly, you have other methods to get things done. However for those here, what Mark writes about has value.
May 23, 2015 at 2:30 | Registered CommentermatthewS
matthewS: I've not said FVP is silly or over-complex at all! And I'm not criticising Mark's systems but it is interesting to me that you perceive what I actually have said as such and that you feel a need to say so. If anything I criticise people who jump from one system to another looking for the "right" one, or who say they fell off the wagon, as a way to excuse themselves from the fact they they're not facing up to their work, having fooled myself like this too in the past. The systems can become a useful facade.

In the post you quoted I am trying to gauge the differences between a baseline I know and have used for years, and the workflow of FVP and the additional admin it requires. If there is a potential uptick in usefuless which justifies the admin then it's really interesting to think about more.

It's particularly interesting because out of all Mark's systems FVP is the closest to the way I've worked for years, but I've been doing it without the lists and the questions. That in fact came from an earlier time when I would list what I wanted to do today and also what I wanted to do that week. The latter kind of morphed into the "things I want to get done in the next few days", the short list which I don't tend to write down, which I mentioned. It also ties into the post about the 2 minute shredder, where you can't apply it to your infinite list of stuff to do, but you CAN take a subset and apply it to that, so again the short list concept. FVP creates a short list in the chain that you create from the answers to the question. Even SMEMA isolates a few things to get done next but without the benefit of a broader context. AF creates short lists of things that stand out at that moment. Short lists created using different rationales.

So the common theme that works here is taking your very long list of stuff to do, breaking it down and making short, digestible lists of stuff you want or need to do and then, crucially, getting stuck in. I don't see that FVP helps with that last part any more than any other system, so I have a feeling that it will only work for some people in the way that the novelty of all fresh systems do for such people, after which they will "fall off the FVP wagon". If you're writing stuff into your FVP list today which you recognise has been moved from one system to another weeks and months ago, when you were trying them out, then I bet you can expect this outcome.

Meanwhile for those people for whom it DOES work, could they simply create short lists from their long lists of stuff and do those without FVP and have a much simpler approach? Then we're back to that's what I've been doing for years and I'm nothing special so it's interesting to me where the differences are and how to isolate those and study them.

The part I see missing from all the systems is the bit I call "rolling up your sleeves", the often unpleasant bit where you actually work on something you'd rather not. Even DIT and the BBC system (and Beeminder) only dictate penalties for failing to do it, the assumption then being that the penalty is enough to encourage you to do it, but that assumption cannot be relied on. With that part missing the systems sieze up with endless tasks and become out of date and then cause stress just dealing with them. So I try to really focus on the actual doing of the stuff I want and need to do, and actually that's really hard at times and takes a lot of willpower but I know nothing else will get it done, and once it is done it feels great. And in doing that I found that I don't really need a system as such at all, just to stay focused on getting these short runs of things done and dusted.

See? It's all fascinating. I've acknowledged the value from Mark's efforts in my first post in this thread and in previous posts. Whatever systems or methods you're using, as long as you're actually then getting the stuff that matters done, that's what counts.
May 23, 2015 at 17:23 | Unregistered CommenterChris
Chris, have you tried FVP yet? Even though it looks like you are creating a shorter list out of a longer list (the dotted selections), that's not how it works at all in practice. All you're doing is finding the 1 item you want and need to do the most in this moment. Once you are done with that task (for now), the selection dots help you find the next most wanted item on the list in an efficient way (unless things haven't changed enough that you need to re-select from scratch). The whole list is the list.

Take a list with the following numbers, if the numbers were the amount that you want to do them, lower number being more desired (#1 is most wanted). (For simplicity, I will assume the numbers don't change, re-entered, or added.)

4
8
1
9
3
2

After selection, 4 and 1 are selected. 1 is worked on. At this point, you start from 4 (the dot before the one you just did).

After the second selection, 4, 3, and 2 are selected. Now 2 is selected, even though it was not in the original list.

As you can see, the initial selected list was not the list of items you really wanted to do. The selected list is NOT the smaller list out of the longer list.
May 23, 2015 at 17:47 | Unregistered CommenterDon R
Corrections: when I wrote "now 2 is selected" I mean "now 2 is worked on" and for clarification, where I wrote "the initial selected list was not the list of items you really wanted to do" I meant that the item you wanted to work on 2nd wasn't even in the original selection list, which is why the selection list is not equal to a sublist of the most wanted tasks.
May 23, 2015 at 17:58 | Unregistered CommenterDon R
Don R:

When I was testing out the algorithm I did actually check with quite a long series of random numbers whether the algorithm would really succeed in sorting them into the correct order, right down to the very last one. It did.
May 23, 2015 at 19:25 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Don R/Mark: Not sure if I am getting this right, but in your example you had
4
8
1
9
3
2

Your first dots will be on 4 and 1.

You will work on 1 first.

Then start from 1 going down to get to the next most wanted item which is 2.

You work on 2 and there is nothing after 2 and thus you will next work on 4 which is the next dotted item on the list.

You have thus worked on 1,2 and 4…

3 is thus out of order?

Am I interpreting this right?
May 24, 2015 at 2:53 | Unregistered CommenterNico
No Nico. After 2 you would do 3 as it has already been dotted. Read the instructions a few times. Look over Mark's examples. Then try a simple list yourself while refering to the instructions.
It works.
May 24, 2015 at 3:01 | Unregistered CommenterTommy
Tommy: I see it..after you have done number 1, then 3 and 2 will be dotted and you will do two. 3 is thus next on the list.
May 24, 2015 at 3:06 | Unregistered CommenterNico
If anyone made a simple web and mobile app of this, it would be fantastic.

How would the system handle subtasks or next actions? If one occurs, do you just write it on the bottom of the list?
May 24, 2015 at 3:40 | Unregistered CommenterJesse
Jesse - with Workflowy, it's trivial to add subtasks. I really do recommend giving it a try if you're an electronic adopter like I am.
May 24, 2015 at 4:41 | Unregistered CommenterKyle Nesgood
@Jesse: I think you can work with almost any app, which allows you to "dot" (mark) your tasks somehow - Wunderlist (star), Todoist (use priority), Things (Today or Label), Omnifocus (flag), Outlook, any txt file, Remember the milk (again use priority) etc etc. No need for special app.
May 24, 2015 at 7:12 | Unregistered CommenterDaneb
@ Jesse, Kyle, Daneb

I run my list on my Android phone (Samsung Galaxy Ace 3). The Workflowy app for Android seems to be pretty crippled, from what I read. So instead I use Halna Outliner, which does basically the same job brilliantly.
May 24, 2015 at 9:15 | Unregistered CommenterChris Cooper
Jesse:

<< How would the system handle subtasks or next actions? If one occurs, do you just write it on the bottom of the list? >>

Yes.
May 24, 2015 at 9:51 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
This sounds like an intriguing concept. Forgive the newbie questions but there were a few thoughts I'd like clarified:

1) If the tasks 'want to do' factor stays constant, then the list works perfectly, but how do you accommodate changing priorities (e.g. a task near the top of the list nears it's deadline)

2) Is there a way to accommodate tasks that are best done at a certain time of day, e.g. mowing the lawn would be best done in the morning or late afternoon, but not at night or in the heat of the day

Thanks for the concept, I've just started reading 'Get Everything Done' on my Kindle.
May 24, 2015 at 11:27 | Unregistered Commenterdagaz
@Daneb:

I'm trying to work out how to use this with Todoist. The problem with priority is that it reorders that task, taking it to the top. Now you've lost your placemarker, so there's no fast way to continue (or to know when to back up).

I'm wondering if I can do it with projects though, so there's a default project (inbox) and a dotted project (marked). The selected tasks then show the dot of the other project while staying in the same order. But I'm not fond of that, as it kills my ability to see what projects are taking up the most of my time.
May 24, 2015 at 11:36 | Unregistered CommenterSylvia
dagaz:

<< 1) If the tasks 'want to do' factor stays constant, then the list works perfectly, but how do you accommodate changing priorities (e.g. a task near the top of the list nears it's deadline) >>

In fact this turns out to be less of a problem than one would think because the algorithm responds well to changing priorities. However when necessary re-prioritize the whole list as the instructions say.

<< 2) Is there a way to accommodate tasks that are best done at a certain time of day, e.g. mowing the lawn would be best done in the morning or late afternoon, but not at night or in the heat of the day >>

Again, the algorithm is usually quite capable of handling this. But if not, re-prioritize.
May 24, 2015 at 12:56 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
You know when I'm trying to convey what I'm thinking? I feel like it's coming across that I'm slagging off Mark's systems and that I'm saying everyone is stupid. I'm not at all and I hope what I'm saying is useful and food for thought.

Hi Don R, yes it looks interesting. What I'm referring to as the long list is all the stuff you want to do, which is typically hundreds of things. In your example a snapshot of those is the tasks 4, 8, 1, 9, 3 and 2. What I'm referring to as a short list is the one in your example which is 4 and 1 then there's another one which is 4, 3 and 2.

I don't think I'll be trying FVP for a couple of reasons but I'm interested to see how people will be getting on with it after a few months. I reckon a lot of people will still be using it too. If you're interested in the reasons for me not trying it:

- I don't capture everything that goes through my head, been there and done that, ends up with hundreds and hundreds of tasks and ideas as noise which should have and would have been forgotten.

- I don't think of my life as a list of tasks to be crossed off any more. Been there and done that too, ended up with a list of things based on levels of granularity which made sense at the time I thought of them, but which didn't always make sense or were simply not doable as recorded when I chose to start them. So before I could get started I had to try and reverse engineer what led to them and then rethink them which just added inertia and often lead to not starting. The list would get stale and eventually unworkable and I would tell myself that I'd "fallen off the wagon", and this would usually lead to looking for a new system. Rinse and repeat. Any new system works at first because at that moment it is, by definition, a perfect reflection of your workload reality and so feels right.

- I tend towards the idea of touching things as few times as possible and most things I do tend to go from thought to doing them, so I don't want to have to start writing them down. If I don't write them down I cannot stick to the FVP algorithm since what I want to do next is likely not to be on a list.

- I don't see what drives any work to get done on the root task. It's constantly being superceded by things we want to get done more than it. Okay that's fine in a closed list because eventually we have to tackle it. But in a list that we're adding to there will always be tasks we want to do more than it. We're probably resisting it because it's in some way laborious or not fun. If anything FVP seems to give us an excuse to never do it. I get the idea of structured procrastionation. This horrible root task is helping us do other less horrible but otherwise unpleasant tasks.

The root task appears to be a sacrificial lamb but it loses its power once this becomes apparent. But we're using FVP because we want to address this issue via a system, so aside from novelty introducing a bit of a willpower kick when that stuff gets done for a while, I don't see that FVP can help, and some tasks will start to hang around haunting the user and creating stress. Mark even says the first task may never get done. Indeed the new question and the open list nature allows unpleasant tasks to gravitate towards the top of the list to be done after the things I want to do, ie perhaps never. And if they are getting done, its because they've been faced up to and mattered, so couldn't they just have been faced up to in the first place because ultimately that was the only way this something that mattered was ever going to get done.
May 24, 2015 at 14:14 | Unregistered CommenterChris
@Chris:

To your points 1-3 (as for why not to try it): You may be surprised but I do/feel/think the same (I don`t capture everything down, don`t think about my life only in tasks, I believe in doing things immediately without writing them down etc.) and STILL, I have tried FVP and so far, I liked the results.

Nobody said that we have to use it all day, all time and for our every movement. Today it is Sunday and I did not look into FVP list at all, because I do not want to. I do not think that it disqualifies the method or algorithm. The degree into which you use any rule/system, is up to you. I have used some Mark`s systems with great satisfaction for years, but none of them 24/7: I use GED when I feel like it (sometimes once a week for an hour, sometimes every day for several hours, sometimes not at all for several weeks, it depends...), I use randomness in the same way etc. It is only method to help us with our work, not religion we have to fully convert to.

Your point 4 (re root task) - It sounds theoretically well, but - try the system. When I reviewed all my tasks in the list, I did not feel that any task (even the first ones) is omitted and should have been given more attention during my FVP processing. Your opinion is based on theoretical understanding. It is the same like saying that running cannot get you high, because you do not see any rational reason in the description of running why it should...

>>I don't see what drives any work to get done on the root task.<<

When the root task needs to be done (you WANT to do it) it will be done. Remember that you should reset preselection at least once a day. I believe Mark`s comment that the root task does not have to be done means it does not have to be done in current preselection, not that it will be not done at all.
May 24, 2015 at 16:25 | Unregistered CommenterDaneb
Thanks for this. The change in question is ... intriguing. For some reason it sounds very much like a Kanban board - never noticed that with your earlier versions, but it struck me forcefully this time for some reason.
May 24, 2015 at 16:34 | Unregistered Commenterbryane
@Sylvia, re Todoist:

Just be sure that you are in "project view" (not in Today view, which will automatically sort according to priorities). In "project view", tasks will stay as they are after changing priorities (the same in Wunderlist).
May 24, 2015 at 16:35 | Unregistered CommenterDaneb
Thanks Daneb, I see what you mean now but I don't think it's going to work for me. I want to apply FLV to my full list of things to do, not just a single project. I don't want to lose my projects, as they are useful after-the-fact for seeing quickly where my time went. If I use filters, I can see all of the projects in project order, which would be fine, but now things that are marked for the future (which could tidily be tucked out of the way) are visible, which is not optimal.

Actually! I've just realised while writing this that if I use a label instead, it will work. For each "dot", I tag the task with "@next" and work my way down the list.
May 24, 2015 at 18:47 | Unregistered CommenterSylvia
@Sylvia: Yes, it can be done with tags. But if you want to use both standard Todoist projects and FVP (which use tasks sorted by age), you need to filter/sort all tasks by age and you need to be sure that after you have finished doing task for the moment, but the whole task is not finished yet (something what you would do by rewriting it at the bottom of the list in paper), you will have to duplicate it (=make new task with the same title) and delete the old one. Which IMO is quite too complicated for smooth work. (Or you could use "modified by" date (if available in Todoist), but still, there would be another problem, if you would change your task from other reason than FVP)

What I do now during my experimenting with FVP: I also have many tasks ordered under specific projects/areas (in Things, which is similar to Todoist), not all of them are actionable now, some are future tasks, some are scheduled for future etc. I chose only most important now (20-30), put them into FVP list (and added other tasks, routine tasks, quick ad-hoc tasks which I do not need to add under projects in Things). And I work from FVP - on paper.

My project lists (Things app) play only backend/task repository role from which I could draw new tasks in necessary to FVP. I check Things once a day for five minutes (for scheduled tasks, if any) + I put many ideas there to incubate (so as not to clutter FVP with all these new ideas/tasks). And in some cases I would put more detailed project subtasks there, again so as not to clutter FVP list - with only project title written into FVP list. So I work from FVP list mainly. Before FVP, I worked from Daily List /on paper/ which I also constructed also every day from Things /project/ tasks and other ad-hoc tasks.
May 24, 2015 at 20:05 | Unregistered CommenterDaneb
@Daneb

I haven't used Things so this is based on Todoist but I think they are quite similar, from what you have said. If I have done some work on a task and not completed it, then I can simply drag it down to the bottom of today (because no priority is set) or bounce it to tomorrow. Either way, it's at the bottom of list, which means they are sorted by age along with any new things I add (as they are automatically added to the bottom of Today unless a priority is set). So I think it works that I don't have to move tasks out into an FVP list and I don't have to put it on paper. My "Today" list spans all my projects and the FVP processing happens there. The main downside is I can't use priorities at all, as that breaks the ordering, but if FVP is working correctly, then I shouldn't need to anyway.

The next day, I probably want to clear all my labels (dots in FVP parlance) in order to reprocess. You are creating a new FVP list, which has the same effect. In the end, I'm happier if everything is in a single list and everything I want out of the way (i.e. what you see as cluttering the FVP list) can be shifted by date or the deadline taken off it, so it doesn't show (although right now, I can't think why I'd have to do this).

I'm glad to be rid of my paper list, so that's probably a key reason why I'm happier not having two separate sets of tasks to work through.
May 24, 2015 at 21:37 | Unregistered CommenterSylvia
@Sylvia: OK, but when you add a new task in any project (in project view, not in today view), will this task always appear at the very bottom of your filtered view (=in Today or All tasks or what you use in Todoist), irrespective of the task position in the project, position of the project among other projects etc? If yes, then it could work (I have limited experience with Todoist and its sorting of Today view...)
May 24, 2015 at 22:03 | Unregistered CommenterDaneb
What do I do when I can't remember what the last task I did was? In other words, if I have a long list and there's a bunch of crossed out items in various places on the list, do I just start asking the "What do I want to do more than X" question (where X is the last "dotted" item) with the item below the last crossed-out item?
May 24, 2015 at 23:23 | Unregistered CommenterJesse
Jesse:

<< What do I do when I can't remember what the last task I did was? >>

If you're using paper and pen then I put a book dart on the task I'm currently working on, which then becomes the marker for the next scan.

It is quite important to correctly identify the last task you were working on, so if you can't remember I suggest you make your best guess.
May 25, 2015 at 0:54 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Or get into the habit of making the next scan before you tick off the current task?
May 25, 2015 at 8:46 | Unregistered CommenterWill
@Daneb Good question, I hadn't tested that. But the same applies: I add the task under the project and when I swap to today view, it's the bottom one on the list.
May 25, 2015 at 9:47 | Unregistered CommenterSylvia
Hello Mark,

as always, your new system is a brilliant iteration over your previous body of work.

Since I prefer working digitally over pen and paper, I like to implement your systems as small web applications to test them out.

My current implementation of fvp is here: http://www.andreasmaurer.net/public/apps/fvp/

I chose to not show the whole list, but one one or two tasks at a time, either the one task that should be done, or the two tasks one needs to decide which one likes better.

Do you think this change (displaying two tasks with the question "Which task do you want to do more?") preserves the spirit of FVP, or did I deviate too much already?

Also, are you okay with me publishing this web app, or should I move it to my private webspace?

Regards,
Andreas
May 25, 2015 at 13:25 | Unregistered CommenterAndreas Maurer
Dear Andreas

I tried your app out for a bit and it's brilliant. Two remarks:

1) I assume the "Interrupt" button is also intended to be used with recurring tasks as well as unfinished ones? If so, it needs to be clearer that it's intended for both. If not, how do you see recurring tasks being controlled?

2) I like the clear choice which only seeing two tasks at a time gives. However I think one should have a means of accessing the full list in order to check whether a task is on the list.

Please feel free to go ahead.
May 25, 2015 at 14:40 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark:

Thank you for your feedback and permission! Indeed, I only had unfinished tasks in mind when I labelled the "Interrupt" button, but of course all it does is re-add the task at the end of the list, which is the intented behavior for recurring tasks as well. I will simply label it "Re-Add" for now.

Now that the core selection algorithm works well, I will add features in time, including showing (and bulk editing) the whole list, deleting tasks during selection and resetting the preselection list.
May 25, 2015 at 15:10 | Unregistered CommenterAndreas Maurer
Andreas, this is fantastic! Is there a way to save it locally for me? If I leave the application and come back to it, will it remember (and keep private) all my stuff? I realize this is a lot to ask, but I'd happily pay you (and Mark) for an app like this.
May 25, 2015 at 21:06 | Unregistered CommenterJesse
Jesse:

At the moment all the data you enter is saved locally in your browser's database (either websql or indexeddb, via the pouchdb library, if you are interested in the technical details) and if you re-open it in the same browser, it should still be there. Nothing gets sent to my server, so your data remains private. The downside to that is of course that it can't synchronize data between, for example, your smartphone and your computer.

I'll probably create a forum thread for this app once I added a few more features. But feel free to use the current version.
May 25, 2015 at 21:26 | Unregistered CommenterAndreas Maurer
So cool.

I've been using FVP on a little cheap notebook for about 24 hours now. I had a 7 hour work shift last night, got home, did chores, and am getting a lot of stuff down today. And with a clear, unstressed head.

With this web app, I'm absolutely giddy. Now I don't have to have a messy notebook, or try to remember what I'm working on. (Those are not at all big deals, by the way.)

The "Re-Add" button even solves my recurring tasks problems. And "next actions" (GTD term) are a breeze. I just add them when working on a larger, related project and the algorithm sorts it perfectly. I hope this doesn't get feature bloat...

Oh, and I totally get why the question is "want to do" instead of "needs to happen first". Mental resistance! Now I'm excited to get to my list.

As far as the web-app, I'm going to use it at home and work, but since they are two different browsers, I'll just treat them as contexts for now.

Sorry to leave such a long comment, but I'm really excited about FVP and the web app.

Thank you!
May 25, 2015 at 21:43 | Unregistered CommenterJesse
hi mark

to be clear: the initial preselection process should span all open pages, correct?

in other words, the first preselected item is on page 1 (first open) and the process starts from there and ends at the item you last preselect, which could be on page 3, 4 or wherever the item you last preselect.

brett
May 25, 2015 at 21:49 | Unregistered Commenterbrett
brett:

What you say is correct.
May 25, 2015 at 23:28 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I would add one rule to the system (if it doesn't already exist). If you feel reading the first item that it must be done immediatly just do it. It happened to me with a call to a client which was urging and so important to me that I let down all the list.
May 26, 2015 at 9:51 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
I would add another rule
If you doted a series of items and some are relative to other group them and do it at a batch.
ie I have to call Isabelle (it was the last doted item of the list about one subject, but I have a secont item of my list about calling isabelle for another subject, I do both.
May 26, 2015 at 9:58 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
Jupiter:

<< If you feel reading the first item that it must be done immediatly just do it. It happened to me with a call to a client which was urging and so important to me that I let down all the list. >>

I don't think that needs to be a rule. If we know we need to do something immediately then we don't need a time management system to tell us to do it. The same applies to your post about your call to Isabelle.

However as a reminder, if you want to increase the priority of any item on the list then just cross it out and re-enter it at the end.
May 26, 2015 at 10:02 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Thank Mark I have another question. I have a lot of calls and many question to treat by call about many subjects. As they are all relative to the same person do I understand that I may collect all theses questions at the end of the list ? Or would it be another to day it better ? Thanks
May 26, 2015 at 14:01 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
Jupiter:

<< I have a lot of calls and many question to treat by call about many subjects. As they are all relative to the same person do I understand that I may collect all theses questions at the end of the list ? >>

I'm not sure I quite understand the situation. However, apart from the initial list, all new tasks are entered at the end of the list. There's no need to group them, because the algorithm will naturally do things in the best order.

The problem comes when your priorities change and a task or tasks which you need to action quickly has got stuck towards the beginning of the list. In that case, rather than re-prioritize everything, it's easier to cross the tasks out and re-enter them at the end. If all these tasks relate to the same subject, then yes they would be grouped together at the end of the list.
May 26, 2015 at 15:29 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Thanks Mark.

I'd add that you'll also be reviewing all open pages after each task is done. In my opinion, this is one of the strongest aspects of the system. In the past, I've stuck to a page and then failed to run through my list until I finally got off the page. Sometimes this was detrimental as I tended to not work on items i needed to make progress on.

So far, after 5 days, I'm really digging this. I am going to commit to working it, unaltered, for 30 days. I'll report back then.

Brett
May 26, 2015 at 15:29 | Unregistered Commenterbrett
Brett:

<< I'd add that you'll also be reviewing all open pages after each task is done. >>

I'm not sure what you mean by this. The only time all open pages are reviewed is when you start your scan with a task on the first page - and usually only then on the first scan from that task.

For instance, the task I am actioning at the moment (Comments) is on the last page (page 7) of my list. There are no dotted tasks between this task and a task on page 1 (To send a group email about a charity project). When I've finished with Comments, I will only scan the remaining eight tasks up to the end of the list. If I don't want to do any of them more than the Charity Email, then I will go directly to page 1 and action that task.

The task before that is to read a Poetry Book, but before I can do that I will need to scan every page for tasks I want to do more than it. But while I'm doing those I won't be scanning every page.
May 26, 2015 at 15:41 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark,

For FV processing, I remember that you had suggested crossing off and reentering a potential out-of-context root task (rather than skipping it). I always thought this was a bad idea, as you would lose the 'age' of this perhaps-unpleasant task, and would then have more chances to neglect it.

Now with FVP you seem to be recommending cross-off/reentry when priorities change or for a daily reset. It does seem more elegant than dot-erasure of the undone preselected tasks. But again, this upsets the chronology of the list.

Would you say that the order of the whole list – prior to preselection – isn't important?
May 26, 2015 at 19:28 | Registered Commenterubi
"But again, this upsets the chronology of the list"

No, it doesn't. It did for FV because the FV algorithm was meant to put pressure on the oldest task. The FVP algorithm is all about finding what you most want to do at any given time, so location of a task on the list has no effect on the algorithm.
May 26, 2015 at 20:17 | Unregistered CommenterAustin
Mark,

Yes, sorry, I think I mispoke.

Let's say I'm on task 15 on page 5 of 7. Task 14 of page 5 of 7 is also preselected. When I'm done with 15, I'll go to task 14 and then go through all tasks up to the end of 7 to see if there's anything I want to do more than task 14.

Hopefully that makes sense.

thanks,

brett
May 26, 2015 at 22:57 | Unregistered Commenterbrett

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