I’ve spent the last few days revisiting my old catch-all method, Autofocus (more often known as AF1 these days) to see how it feels after having spent quite a while with various no-list systems.
As I expected, the first thing that I experienced was that my list started to expand rapidly. By the third day there were seventy-four tasks and projects on the list with no sign of a slow-down in the expansion. I must admit that it was nice to have everything written down on one list, even though there wasn’t the slightest chance of getting through it all.
I did however make a major change to the rules of Autofocus for my revisit. I decided to do without both the dismissal process and the rule that at least one task must be done on each visit to a page.
These rule changes were accompanied by a big change in mental attitude. Instead of seeing each page as a list of things to be done, I saw it as a list of things from which I could choose what to do, but without any obligation to do anything. The result was that writing something on the list was no longer a commitment to do it, or even to try to do it. It was something I might do. If some tasks languished on the list without ever being done, that was absolutely fine. I refused to be concerned even if something I considered vital got passed by.
This change of attitude makes a huge difference. Strangely enough it makes Autofocus more like a no-list system because you simply have to trust your mind to come up with the right stuff at the right time.
I was expecting to find that Autofocus felt unwieldy and overwhelming after my experiences with no-list, but in fact quite the opposite has been true so far. But it’s only been a few days, and that may change.
I also have the question in my mind of whether I could have made the mental shift to a freer version of Autofocus if I hadn’t had my mind trained by using no-list systems. I don’t know the answer to that.