My Latest Book

Product Details

Also available on Amazon.com, Amazon.fr, and other Amazons and bookshops worldwide! 

To Think About . . .
Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time. Steve Uzzell
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
Log-in
« 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)

Chris,
Thank you for sharing your text calendar template. I have used your single text file approach a few times, but even when I was using something else for projects and tasks, the text calendar stuck around - I found it really useful. But somewhere along the lines I must have deleted my previous copy.
May 27, 2015 at 0:18 | Unregistered CommenterAustin
brett:

<< 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. >>

Not quite. When you're done with 15 you will go from task 15 to the end of 7 to see if there's anything you want to do more than task 14. It makes no difference in this example, since the tasks are next to each other, but it would if there were several tasks in between them.
May 27, 2015 at 1:44 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
"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."

If so, is it really necessary to rewrite a task at the bottom on the list when you've worked on it, but not completed it? It seems to me that you could keep it in its original place without upsetting the algorithm.

I understand that a paper-and-pencil list might look neater if tasks are rewritten, but when using an electronic system it's much easier to keep the task in place.
May 28, 2015 at 21:16 | Unregistered Commenterfse
fse:

<< is it really necessary to rewrite a task at the bottom on the list when you've worked on it, but not completed it? It seems to me that you could keep it in its original place without upsetting the algorithm. >>

Try it out and see what happens.
May 29, 2015 at 0:45 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Andreas,

I just want to say ditto to Mark's comment about your web app. It is seriously brilliant! I tried it out tonight after adding my very long list of items. I was going to make a few recommendations, but you already mentioned all of them in your comment of upcoming features you would like to add. I love the simplicity, but would like to be able to reprioritize the list at any point (i.e., when I arrive at or leave work). Being able to see the whole list and bulk dismiss would also be nice. But it is already a very usable application as it is.
May 29, 2015 at 7:31 | Unregistered CommenterBrad Mills
Andreas,

I am using your web app as well and love it! Thank you so much for sharing.
June 5, 2015 at 16:24 | Unregistered CommenterDavid F
I've used FV since it first came out. I thought I was using it per the instructions. Apparently, over the years I've let it morph a bit. The way I use it now (without actually thinking much about it) is much like FVP being run in automatic.

As Mark says, the word "want" in the algorithm question is undefined. The current question I use in FV also leaves the word "before" very vague. So vague in fact that is often resembles "more than" (the FVP version). The result often is a question something like this: "What do I want to do before I do x or more than I want to do x?" It all depends on what the two tasks are and changes item by item. It's become very intuitive.

I also never hesitated to add a dot to an item further down the list than the one I was working on. But I think a tried to limit that to fairly new items. So I kept that pressure on getting back to the first item.

When I mark off a task, I look forward to make sure nothing new is marked.

All in all, it seems much like the way FVP is supposed to work. (Just hard to describe.)

For what it's worth:
Periodically (every couple of weeks or so) I count up the items on each page and the total number of open pages and items. Usually I float between 6-9 pages and 50-60 items with a low under 40 and a high over 80. My pages are 29 lines long and pages usually remain open 1-2 months. I rarely close pages out of order.

Most importantly, I feel like I'm on top of things and much more productive than at any time in the past with any system. I've tried a variety of ToDo lists and all of Mark's systems from AutoFocus onward. I think l learned more about the way I think about tasks by starting with AutoFocus; it just helped train my brain.

FV as I use it is comfortable and pretty much runs on autopilot. So I won't make any specific changes in an attempt to more closely follow FVP rules.
June 6, 2015 at 20:30 | Unregistered CommenterMartyH
One more note: One piece of advice that Mark gave I have never (that I can remember) followed: "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."

I've either tried to make sure I wasn't in that position (e.g., avoid having a long chain just before vacation) or I just gut it out and complete it.
June 7, 2015 at 14:59 | Unregistered CommenterMartyH
You can use the same method in reverse: starting at the root entry, ask "What task do I have less appetite to do anytime soon than the one just selected?"

The result is a chain of unappetising tasks, the last few of which are the least attractive and are candidates for weeding from the list, or transferring to a Someday/Maybe list.

I am experimenting with this as a mechanism for keeping the list under 100 entries long.
June 10, 2015 at 9:15 | Unregistered CommenterDavid C
David C:

<< "What task do I have less appetite to do anytime soon than the one just selected?" >>

I tried that with a similar question, "What am I resisting more than...?".

It didn't last long!

I'm not finding any problem with resistance with "no question" FVP so the need for something on those lines isn't there any more. One can control which part of the list you work on very easily just by varying the number of dots you make on each scan.
June 10, 2015 at 11:55 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Hi everybody — And greetings to Mark :)

I now have my own version of this efficient model, feel free to browse http://bit.ly/MarkForster-sFVP-French_unofficial and tell me what has to be corrected then enhanced (I still use the Stabilo trick for the unachieved items, is it correct?) — Warm regards from France • Lionel
June 11, 2015 at 13:25 | Unregistered CommenterLionel
Lionel:

I had a quick look but you appeared to be correcting it while I was reading, so I though it best to wait until you'd finished. One point: you have misspelled my first name in the page title. It comes up as Marck Forster's FVP.
June 11, 2015 at 13:43 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Lionel : nice work.

About spelling and words.

* surlignés, reconsidérer, réitérer (no hyphen)
* I would use réintroduire instead of ré-entrer
* Ça avance (cedilla)
* Be seeing you (2 es)

About the Stabilo trick, it is unclear at what point of the algorithm items "remain". (« Si des items demeurent, je les surligne ; ») FVP does not formally cater for item review and dismissal, except by always selecting the first unactioned item and allowing you to enter a "Weed list" task.

I would also challenge the sentence « L’expérience montre que ce travail est efficient puisque la liste diminue tout le temps. » My list only shrinks when I weed it. It has a tendency to grow in the nominal case. (That's only MY experience) It's a "capture-all" system to begin with. I don't deem it less effective because my list grows. It still allows me to have important (to me) things done.
June 12, 2015 at 10:30 | Unregistered CommenterLaurent
Dear Laurent,

Many thanks go to you regarding the insights.

I already changed the content: can you tell me if it is better?

Warm regards,

L.
June 12, 2015 at 11:44 | Unregistered CommenterLionel
Mark? There is now a more stable version (it seems to make sense in plain, affirmative — do-s instead of don't-s — and simple French) — I am still testing it with brand new readers, who discover the Forster galaxy :)
June 19, 2015 at 19:50 | Unregistered CommenterLionel
Lionel:

Thanks, I'll have a look, probably tomorrow sometime.
June 19, 2015 at 21:51 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Hi Mark,
I was looking for this FVP Instruction in http://markforster.squarespace.com/final-version-faqs/ , http://markforster.squarespace.com/tm-systems/ and http://markforster.squarespace.com/home/ .
I was surprised I couldn't find it there. I finally just scrolled back the blog at http://markforster.squarespace.com/ .
July 6, 2015 at 4:32 | Registered Commentersabre23t
sabre23t:

Did you try searching for FVP in the search box?
July 6, 2015 at 8:00 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I didn't use this site "search box", Mark. I overlooked it, possibly because it is "below the fold" on my screen. Subsequently, I did use Chrome's Ctrl-F to find FVP on this site blog page. No biggie. Especially, if you consider FVP not yet ready for the home or FAQ page
July 7, 2015 at 9:16 | Registered Commentersabre23t
Is there a linkable description of questionless FVP anywhere? I'd like to point some of my work colleagues at it.

Cheers,

Will
July 8, 2015 at 10:17 | Unregistered CommenterWill
@Will:
The first mention of it is in some of the text of this blog post, kind of as an off-hand remark:
http://markforster.squarespace.com/blog/2015/6/9/follow-up-to-the-productive-day-challenge.html

Hope that helps!
July 10, 2015 at 13:28 | Unregistered CommenterLenore
I've been using PV and FVP now for a few months and I love it.

I've been trying to get across the GTD methodology for years but never quite got there due to the workload required to maintain it.

Having said that, there are a couple of key principles, like Zero Inbox and a implementing a trusted system, that are very beneficial so I've kept them.

However FVP has been just so easy to setup at work and home (trying to work out how I integrate them is the next step) and the psychological readiness aspect suits my brain perfectly. 😊

I have added something to it that makes it even better for me.
I thought I'd share it with you all in case it is of any use to you.

I maintain my list at the back of my spiral bound Planning Book.
I write my actions on the right hand page.

On the left hand page I write "What do I want to do more than 'x'?" to be a constant reminder when building a list.

Underneath this I have a heading called "Deferred" for tasks that I need to defer for valid reasons.
The benefit is that I can review these regularly and add them back in to the main list or delete as required.
I've also removed the need to remember them or record them in another system.

Equally important is that I have removed the frustration of having an action in my list that I can't work on.

Thank you Mark for creating this great system.

Have a great day everyone.

Kind Regards
Scott
July 19, 2015 at 23:46 | Unregistered CommenterScott
What if we want to do something "more" presently, but then we change our mind in the future, and there are no tasks after it? Can we remove the dot from it?
E.g., Right now I want to vacuum the house but the vacuum breaks. I go to choose something else from list, but it is last. Can you work backwards?
December 2, 2015 at 2:00 | Unregistered Commenternedistanman
@nedistanman: Technically, you did something on the task since you discovered that the vacuum is broken. Therefore, you can cross it off. (Since you didn't finish, you can choose to add it at the end.)

But you said it was the last task, so removing the dot has the same effect. I'll do that if an item is near the end of the list. Sometimes things just change and I don't really want to do a chosen task but don't want to move it to the end of the list for some reason.

The longer you've worked with this process and your list, the easier it becomes to know what's the right thing. Just always be honest with yourself and never do anything to actually "cheat" on the process. If it feels like you are cheating, you probably are.
December 2, 2015 at 12:32 | Registered CommenterMartyH
Hi Everyone,

I read the blog and comments, but commenting for the first time.
Apologies if I missed the answer to this question...

Suppose you don't get back to your root task (Email).

Do you leave it on the top of the list as the root task for a future attempt at the list OR do you move it to the bottom of the list and make the task ahead of it the new root task?

Hope this makes sense! :)
December 10, 2015 at 15:56 | Unregistered CommenterAK
AK,

Just leave it at the top. If you don't get to it, that's fine. It just means that there are other things that you want to do more than that item.

There's nothing actually special about the root item. It just happens to be the first thing on your list, not necessarily the most important.
December 10, 2015 at 18:17 | Unregistered CommenterJesse
Mark,

**Thank you *so* much!**

You see, unlike probably every other reader you have, I have a question that is very similar to your FVP question **tattooed on my left forearm.**

It's a fine question, but wasn't doing me much good because I lacked an algorithm to use it. Now, I've got a brilliant one: your Final Version Perfected!

This is going to make a massive difference in my life. For real.

I'll substitute my question for yours as the meaning is similar and, well, mine is permanently inscribed on my body. Now, I'll use it **with your algorithm** and I have no doubt that will make a massive difference.

Best part is that it will work with a paper or electronic list, but also ... a **mental list!** A set of possibilities in my mind, from whatever I want to do or whatever is immediately around me. The algorithm can be applied anyplace, anytime, anywhere.

I just bought your latest book on Kindle and can't wait to see what it has inside.

I hope you get well soon and/or are having a blast of a time with your family and loved ones! Thanks for leaving me with this powerful and simple system that I can use from this day forward in my life for my benefit and, hopefully, the benefit of others.

With great respect and affection,

Christoph
December 13, 2015 at 8:57 | Unregistered CommenterChristoph Dollis
Christoph:

Thanks for your good wishes. I'm doing fine at the moment.

I hope you enjoy the book and that the system works well for you. Note btw that I developed FVP after I wrote the book so there is a different system in the book. It's not primarily about time management though - the subject is productivity of which time management is only a small (though important) part.
December 13, 2015 at 9:12 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Hi, Mark, I figured this book was more general rather than about a particular system.

I believe I'm going to use your FVP system for life, if for no other reason than I have an equivalent question tattooed on my body (my only tattoo) and this gives me something great to do with that question.

Of course, I could change my mind. :P But for now, it's the path forward.

I'm glad you're doing well!
December 13, 2015 at 9:17 | Unregistered CommenterChristoph Dollis
It's already paying dividends.

I'll need to get more in the habit, but it's had a salubrious effect on how I've spent my time since I started it.

Other than that, what's great about it is once you get to the last item on the list (or in your head) that satisfies the question, there is nothing else to do with the list at all. The only thing left to do at that point is to start that item.

That's HUGE!
December 14, 2015 at 17:58 | Unregistered CommenterChristoph Dollis
Note, for an electronic list ("Wunderlist" works very well!) or even Email (such as Gmail [which places both new emails and modified email threads at the top]), it is, in my opinion, permissible and perhaps a convenient idea to have the settings set so that new tasks are added at the top—particularly because this allows you to see that the task was added correctly and then to edit the task if you want to add a note, subtask, or file, etc., to it—not bottom, and then to reverse the order in which you process the list. In other words, you first "dot" (star) the last unactioned item on the list, then scroll up asking, "What do I want to do more than x?" over and over again against the previous benchmark. In this way, you end up with the final "dotted" (starred) item to act on at the top of the list, instead of the bottom (and when you check your electronic app's starred items list, the item to be done is at the top of it).
December 16, 2015 at 0:04 | Unregistered CommenterChristoph Dollis
Christoph Dollis:

<< it is, in my opinion, permissible and perhaps a convenient idea to have the settings set so that new tasks are added at the top >>

I can't see any reason why that would be a problem.

When I first looked at your comment I misread it and thought you meant enter the tasks in the normal order, but dot the last task and select back from that. In other words do FVP in reverse. I realized my mistake almost immediately, but then thought "Why not?" and I intend to try it out to see what the effect is. I find it very difficult to predict!
December 16, 2015 at 1:54 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Christoph -

Nice idea for processing Gmail. I've been using the FVP algorithm to process all kinds of other things. I've used it for working through my shopping list while going through Walmart - it was super easy and fast and surprisingly effective. I've also been using it for a shelf-full of books I want to read. I really like your proposed method for processing Gmail and will give it a try!
December 16, 2015 at 5:07 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Mark -

I also misread Christoph's comments at first, and am very curious to see how your experiment plays out!

I am guessing that processing the list in reverse-FVP-order would make it more responsive to urgent tasks when in a reactive and stressful environment or situation, since you'd always dot the most recent task, and probably be dissuaded from dotting too many more, because of the pressing urgency of things. But when the urgency settles down, I am guessing it would guide your attention to the higher-impact things that have been lingering on the older part of your list; and since you are not constantly reviewing the newest tasks, maybe it would let you focus on those older, higher-impact items with less distraction.

But maybe I am totally wrong! I agree, it's hard to predict!
December 16, 2015 at 5:15 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Let me clarify. There is no difference, at all, between my FVP mod and the cannonical version. All I'm doing is taking advantage of the fact that an electronic list allows you to add new items at the top.

Then I just use the normal FVP process, starting at the bottom of the page and working toward the top.

All I've done is reverse top and bottom of the page, but made no actual changes to how FVP works.

Does that make sense?
December 16, 2015 at 8:10 | Unregistered CommenterChristoph Dollis
P.S. You could do what I'm talking about with paper if you felt so inclined.

I.e., you could, if using a notebook, start at the bottom of the last page rather than the top of the first page.

I'm not saying you should do it that way with paper (although it makes total sense with Gmail, etc., because Gmail does, in fact, put new emails at the top!), but if you did run it as I said above, you would just do FVP in the normal manner, but enter items on the list last page to first / bottom of page to top.

So, in closure, I've not changed the logic of the system, just pointed out you can reverse the direction of the list—running the algorithm with an electronic system that adds the new items up top—and still get every benefit of FVP.
December 16, 2015 at 8:20 | Unregistered CommenterChristoph Dollis
Christoph - Yes, I think that's clear. And it provides a useful way to process "most recent items appear at the top" lists (such as Gmail) with the standard FVP algorithm.

But in first reading your earlier post, it looked like a proposed change to the algorithm to process the list in reverse order (even though you really weren't proposing that). I think it's interesting that Mark has decided to experiment with that reverse-order algorithm, and that's what those other posts are about.
December 16, 2015 at 17:05 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
I did word that confusingly!

"In other words, you first "dot" (star) the last unactioned item on the list, then scroll up asking, "What do I want to do more than x?""

Should have been:

"In other words, you first "dot" (star) the first unactioned item on the list, which is actually located at the bottom of this electronic list, then scroll up asking, 'What do I want to do more than x?'"
December 16, 2015 at 17:54 | Unregistered CommenterChristoph Dollis
Christoph's comments make me wonder if questionless FVP could be altered slightly to get it to work faster. Would this work?

1. Write out your FVP list as normal, dotting the first item you write down as normal.

2. Instead of starting with that item and scanning to the end of the list, start at the end of the list with the most recently written item. Scan from there until you see an item that stands out. Dot it and begin working on that.

3. Once you finish that item, or when you've worked on it enough, cross it out and start scanning from the end of the list again and go to step 2.


Maybe there's something I'm missing, but wouldn't this work faster and still get stuff done in the same order with regular FVP?

One caveat is that I don't think it will work very well with a question.
December 16, 2015 at 18:39 | Unregistered CommenterJesse
Seraphim:

<< But maybe I am totally wrong! I agree, it's hard to predict! >>

In theory Reverse FVP should produce exactly the same results as normal FVP. In practice, who knows?

I've put off my experiment on Reverse FVP for a bit as I've been diverted onto something else.
December 17, 2015 at 13:51 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Jesse:

<< Maybe there's something I'm missing, but wouldn't this work faster and still get stuff done in the same order with regular FVP? >>

If I've understood what you are proposing correctly, each time you do a task you select the next task by scanning backward from the end of the list.

This is actually a method I proposed a long time ago called Autofocus 2 (AF2) http://markforster.squarespace.com/blog/2009/6/27/autofocus-2-time-management-system-af2.html . The main problem people found with it was that as your list gets longer and longer it becomes more and more of an effort to scan back further than the first couple of pages. There's also a temptation to concentrate on the easy stuff that's at the end of the list without getting as far as the more difficult stuff further back.

Have I got what you're proposing right?
December 17, 2015 at 14:01 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I would not expect it to produce the same results, even in theory. The reason is that you'd be scanning different subsets of items. With reverse FVP, the main difference is that you would not scan new items at all till after the completion of a whole chain. Rather, upon completion of each task, you'd be repeatedly asked to scan the older, higher-resistance items that have been on your list for a while. This is why I thought the system might give more focus to deeper work that had more resistance. However, when there is a lot of pressing urgency, you'd probably be less inclined to form long chains, knowing that this makes you less responsive to new tasks. So you'd have even less focus on deeper tasks than usual. So it seems it would provide a sharper contrast between urgent tasks on one hand and important/resistant tasks on the other.

Do you think this reasoning makes sense?
December 18, 2015 at 4:31 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Seraphim:

<< Do you think this reasoning makes sense? >>

No - As far as theory goes. If you run a sorting algorithm (which is what the FVP algorithm is) to put things in a certain order, it doesn't matter what order the list is in. You can easily verify this by using the FVP algorithm to sort a list of random numbers into numerical order, and then sort the same list using "Reverse FVP".

Yes, as far as your deeper thoughts go. As I've already said, I find it quite difficult to predict what would happen in practice.

Anyway, I'm just starting an experiment using Reverse FVP with a "current initiative". The current initiative is treated exactly the same as any other task except that when it is re-entered it is automatically dotted and the chain starts from where it is (i.e. the end of the list).

I'll let you know how I get on. If it seems to have any mileage in it, I'll open a thread on the Forum on the subject.
December 18, 2015 at 13:09 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark -

<< If you run a sorting algorithm (which is what the FVP algorithm is) to put things in a certain order, it doesn't matter what order the list is in. >>

That is true but only if the list is static.
December 18, 2015 at 15:45 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
It will be interesting to see how your new experiment plays out!
December 18, 2015 at 15:45 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Seraphim:

So far it's brilliant - but very early days yet!
December 18, 2015 at 21:04 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
What I was suggesting is EXACTLY Autofocus 2.

Even though I theoretically think it would be faster as there's no reason to scan beyond the item you are working on, I already feel anxiety about those items above it that would be unactioned for so long. I'm thinking that the act of scanning even through old items is beneficial as one can rest easier knowing that what they are working on is a good thing to be working on. That's the whole point, right?

I'll wait to hear back from Mark on his experiment.
December 19, 2015 at 20:40 | Unregistered CommenterJesse
This is getting a bit off the subject of the FVP blog post so I'm going to start a Forum thread on "Reverse FVP".
December 19, 2015 at 21:14 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
It's a long time since I posted here, good to be back.

Am I right in thinking there are others here using MLO with FVP? There is a new version for Android which has cleared up some issues, and I have been trying various ways out of implementing Marks algorithm in the app. One challenge has been moving a partially completed task (or even a new one) to the end of a to do list (this happens in ASEM as well). I wonder if there are mathematically equivalent algorithms which do not require this movement, as it is not so simple in MLO, although I have found a way which more or less works. I notice with interest that fse above suggested that there may be no need to move partially completed task to the end.

There is a thread in the MLO support forum about this at this link https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en#!topic/mylifeorganized/-GZqckwH7vs and I shall post a link to this page there, hoping to build a bridge between these two sophisticated paradigms.

Seasonal greetings to all

Laurence
December 19, 2015 at 23:40 | Unregistered CommenterLaurence Glazier
Dear Mark,
I recently 'discovered' your site. Literally I am addicted.
For the past 1 month or so I have taking your suggestions by stride and have been evolving my experimentation with my own to-do lists.
I think almost all of agree the 'capture-all' part of the to-do list, but I think the key difference is in the way 'process' our to-do list subsequently doing it.
I started with you Autofocus system and now I am experimenting with FV-P version. I have been a fan of Eat the Frog and Eat the Elephant System and following AV and upgrading to FV-P for me felt like natural evolution (http://sathyawrites.com/to-eat-the-frog-or-the-elephant-nay-eat-the-candy/).

However I am facing few key issues pertaining using FV-P.
I seem to be reverting back to AF as a result of this.

Main reason is the decision fatigue using Colley's Rule. [However I like the choice component that Colley's Rule gives. I simply have the ability to choose between tasks based on my psychological readiness either urgency, priority or liking is informing my choice. The perception of choice itself was entertaining for me]
Is there some solution you figured out?
March 2, 2016 at 6:51 | Unregistered CommenterSathya

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):
Post:
 
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.