How to Do The Same Old Thing
Tuesday, December 27, 2016 at 0:25
Mark Forster

I’ve been working on a simple system to keep myself doing the same old thing(s), and new ones, as mentioned in my previous artice. What I’ve some up with is very simple indeed - almost as simple as you can get - but so far very effective. It’s worked well over the Christmas period when normal routines always get disrupted, with the additional factor that the radio- and chemotherapy has depressed my energy levels.

Basically it’s just a catch-all list which you circulate around from beginning to end over and over again, doing tasks as you feel they are ready to be done. Tasks are entered and re-entered as necessary at the end of the list.

The trouble with a simple scan of the entire list is that it’s only too possible just to skip over the difficult tasks and do only the easy trivial stuff.

To prevent this there is one additional rule:

You can’t pass over more than nine active tasks.

Or to put it another way, if you’ve passed over nine active task you have to do the tenth.  However you do get a chance to re-assess the tasks you’ve passed over.

You achieve this as follows:

  1. When you start scanning, count “one, two, three… ” as you come to each active task.
  2. If you reach “ten” without having selected a task for action, then reverse direction and count back again “one, two, three…” (Make sure Task 10 counts as “one”, or you’ll go back one task too far).
  3. If you reach “ten” on the reverse scan without having selected a task for action, reverse direction again and as before count each active task as you come to it. But this time if you don’t select a task for action you have to delete it. You continue to delete tasks until you have either taken action on a task or reached “ten” again.
  4. Then start scanning again as in 1.

When you reach the end of the list go directly to the beginning of the list without interrupting your count. Don’t add any new tasks while you’re doing this or you’ll confuse the count if you have to do a reverse count.

Article originally appeared on Get Everything Done (
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