My Latest Book

Product Details

Also available on,, and other Amazons and bookshops worldwide! 

To Think About . . .
I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. J. K. Rowling
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
« My Book Challenge - Update | Main | Trending this week »

Why "no list" systems work

Why do “no list” systems work, in spite of all our fears that we are going to miss something important?

And come to that why does a “no list” list work better than just not having a list at all?

I’m no psychologist, but my observations of myself, clients and the reported experiences of people writing in the forums on this site lead me to think that our minds like things like this:

  • routines.
  • tasks which they know how to do
  • questions - just so long as they don’t feel under pressure to find a “right” answer
The sort of things our minds don’t like on the other hand are:
  • unfinished tasks
  • feeling out of their depth
  • having to work for too long on one thing

They like freedom

They like to be challenged but not overwhelmed

They like building connections

They avoid things which they are afraid of, and they are afraid of being taken out of their comfort zones.

The very worst thing you can do with your mind is to overwhelm it with a huge list of stuff to do with not enough time to do it. This results in resistance and avoidance, either by giving up altogether or working on trivial stuff.

On the other hand the best thing you can do with your mind is to let it get on with what it wants to do but record it so it can see and learn. Your mind loves building things and it loves progressing things.

A “catch all” system always ends by either building resistance to the list, or by processing endless amounts of trivia.

A “no list” system on the other hand concentrates on what you are actually involved in, and because you are actively involved in the work your mind works with enthusiasm. And because the system actively constructs the list of what you have done, your mind is able to learn and adjust for maximum creativity.

Reader Comments (5)

I don't why this post doesn't have any comments. This is one of the clearer explanation of using catch all, no list, without list systems.
November 4, 2016 at 14:43 | Unregistered CommenterSathya

Thanks for drawing my attention back to this article. I needed to be reminded of what I wrote.
November 4, 2016 at 23:35 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Not a problem, Mark.

I have been frantically reading about your no list systems and experimenting it in whatever way I comprehended it (particularly the NL-FVP. Have been a fan of FVP system).

I remember reading that you mentioned - no list system could be next big thing in time management. I hope you will be investing more time in developing, evolving more such methods.

All the more, not to be condescending, but productivity gurus find it easier to propose and market 'list-making' in whatever form as productivity/ time management systems. A 'no list' doesn't fit the bill.

I hope you could bring in a revolution that would shake some fundamentals (just like your DIT did).

Waiting to read more of your posts :)

(from India)
November 5, 2016 at 20:04 | Unregistered CommenterSathya

I'll do my best!
November 6, 2016 at 0:43 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Wish you the swift recovery.Waiting for you here,
NL-FVP, indeed has a future
November 13, 2016 at 7:51 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

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