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« Systematic, Fast and Flexible | Main | In Memoriam »

The Next Hour

Since the diagnosis that my cancer had returned, the last month has been quite stressful - as you can probably imagine.

From the point of view of time management and personal organization it’s been very difficult because planning ahead has been virtually impossible. I usually haven’t known what I’m going to be doing the next day, let alone the next week. Indeed as I write this at 9 a.m. I’m waiting for a phone call to tell me whether I’m going to have an appointment with an oncologist later today. That will involve an hour and a half’s travel, plus a good deal of waiting around time in addition to the consultation itself.

And we’re still sorting out some of the effects of having had to move out of our house for a month and a half due to its being flooded by a burst water pipe.

It’s at these sort of times that good time management becomes a) even more difficult and b) even more necessary. I’ve found that in these circumstances one method has stood out above all the others. I described it a few months ago under the title of The Next Hour of Your Life.

The Next Hour is a development of the 5-2 method described in my book The Secrets of Productive People

In the 5-2 method you write down a set number of tasks. But in The Next Hour you write down an hour’s worth of tasks and keep it topped up so you always have an hour’s worth on your list. The “hour” doesn’t have to be taken too literally - it’s intended to be a guide only.

It’s highly effective. I’m on my 16th task of the day and have five more on my list. By the end of the day I will probably have done something like 40 or 50 tasks, even if I have to spend three or more hours on the hospital appointment. The really important thing is that the system can cope quite happily with the uncertainty. It can make maximum use of your time whether it’s just odd scraps in between appointments, or a whole day with nothing scheduled.

Well, no sign of that phone call I’ve been waiting for. I think I’ll phone them and see what’s happening. And yes, that call is on my Next Hour list!

Reader Comments (61)

Thinking and praying for you.
December 6, 2016 at 15:10 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon
Hi Mark, Hope all is going as well as you hope for yourself.

With very best wishes to you and your family.
December 7, 2016 at 15:24 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret1
Many thanks, Brandon and Margaret
December 8, 2016 at 11:58 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark, how is the treatment going? I am feeling unmotivated because I have too much free time. I'm going to try the Next Hour today. Wishing you a merry Christmas and a healthy and happy new year!
December 17, 2016 at 15:09 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie Wilson

So far so good, thanks. I've finished radiotherapy and will have my second session of chemo on Thursday this week.
December 18, 2016 at 8:05 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark, I'll be praying for you.
December 18, 2016 at 19:20 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie Wilson
Hi Mark,

I've been lurking for months but for some reason not able to post. Posting seems to work now so let me take this opportunity to say that I have been thinking about you these past months and wish you all the best. Your work has been instrumental in how I do mine.
January 11, 2017 at 21:43 | Unregistered Commentervegheadjones

Sorry about your not being able to post. It seems to happen each now and then but only to one person at a time (or at least only one person reports it). That makes it very difficult to pin down.

Thanks very much for your kind thoughts and wishes. They are much appreciated.
January 12, 2017 at 0:54 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
vegheadjones and Mark:

It's happened to me for years, but only when logging in to comment on a blog post. I can't recall it ever happening when trying to reply or post in the forums. In the case of blog posts, if the system says "You are unable to post", I simply copy what I had written, log out, manually fill in the minimum info necessary in the "Post a New Comment" box below the blog post, and then submit my comment. Bear in mind though, you will be unable to edit your comment once you've submitted it this way.
January 12, 2017 at 2:33 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
Mark, I wanted to add my thoughts and prayers to those of others. I also wanted to thank you for this amazing website. I think there is a lot to be learned from exploring it even for people who aren't looking specifically for advice or ideas about getting things done. And that's a testament I think to an originality and experimental spirit in your work that inspires others, certainly me.
January 20, 2017 at 17:20 | Unregistered CommenterDan H
Thanks for the kind words, Dan. I hope it will continue for a good while yet!
January 21, 2017 at 9:29 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

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