My Latest Book

Product Details

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

To Think About . . .
To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did. Denzel Washington
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
« 3rd Day Report on No-List Autofocus | Main | No-List and Autofocus »

2nd Day Report on No-List Autofocus

I’ll have to think up a better name for this than “No-List Autofocus” - suggestions, anyone?

The thing which stands out most about this system is how quickly everything gets done. On the first day (Monday) I got all my routine tasks onto the list (which as you know means I actually had to work on them). That took most of the morning, and then I went off and did a long hill walk during the afternoon in training for a Tough Mudder Half. In the evening I watched some videos, did some reading and kept things like email and blog comments up to date.

This morning (Tuesday) I woke up fairly early and started on all the routine tasks which the system listed for me yesterday. By 10 a.m. I had re-established inbox zero on everything, and was actually getting to the stage of wondering what I was going to do for the rest of the day!

There was no difficulty finding an answer to that of course. I had some bigger projects to get working on and these needed feeding onto the list.

I’ve finished the second day with 28 active tasks on my list, spread over three pages. I don’t think it will get much larger. All of these tasks of course have been actively worked on over the last two days. There is nothing on the list which is not current.

I’m surprised to find how different this feels from other systems. It seem to be giving me an entirely fresh perception of time as an unlimited resource, rather than a very limited one. I wonder if this feeling will survive the next few days and weeks.

Reader Comments (29)

Echo your feeling, but wondering if it's the freshness of a new approach?
March 30, 2016 at 10:08 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Jane
How will you handle this scenario: you have 3 pages and are currently circulating through page 1. You are busy with a task that you have some momentum on. A coworker walks past your desk and informs you to call back a customer.

What do you do? You do not want to stop what you are doing now, you also cannot add it to your newest page due to the fact that you are on page one and you most probably will forget this if you do not write it down.
March 30, 2016 at 10:19 | Unregistered CommenterNico
Mark Forster:

How many lines are on your page?

Another Question: I´ve got an idea, but could you please give details how you process, if you are, say, on page 1 of 3 pages and something urgent comes up, that can´t wait? Do you just do it without writing it down (a general rule allows this for all of your systems, I think) or do you scan the rest of page 1 and the entire page 2 to get to page 3 and be allowed to enter the new task, provided nothing stood out on the way to page 3?
March 30, 2016 at 10:24 | Unregistered CommenterLaby
Sarah Jane:

<< Echo your feeling, but wondering if it's the freshness of a new approach? >>

That's what I'm wondering too!
March 30, 2016 at 11:18 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Thanks for sharing this Mark.

The system pushes me to do the task and not delay it.
It gives focus too.
March 30, 2016 at 11:24 | Unregistered CommenterChino

<< A coworker walks past your desk and informs you to call back a customer. What do you do? >>

What I'd actually do is write it on a paper square and put it where I couldn't miss it.

Other options include:

- Ask the fellow worker to email me a reminder

- Email myself a reminder

- Write it in my calendar

- Write it on a card and put it in my in-tray

- Text the customer a better time to call me

- etc.

However since I was working on a project during which I was unwilling to be interrupted by a phone call, I would have probably put my phone on voicemail in any case.
March 30, 2016 at 11:31 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

<< How many lines are on your page? >>

31 (standard Moleskine lined notebook)

<< if you are, say, on page 1 of 3 pages and something urgent comes up, that can´t wait? >>

You can go straight to the end of the list, enter the task and do it.

Then you have the choice of staying on the last page or going back to where you were.
March 30, 2016 at 11:43 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark Forster:

That helps a lot. I'm going to give this a try, starting now. Thank you, Mark!
March 30, 2016 at 11:58 | Unregistered CommenterLaby
Laser Focus
Now Focus
Simple Focus
True Focus
Running Focus
Rolling Focus
Crystal Focus
Hard Focus
Focus List
Running List

Aaaaaand that's all I got for now.

As for the case of being interrupted by tasks you, and dovetailing right in with Mark's answer - perhaps you could keep a bullet journal. I don't care for the bullet journal's method for working on tasks and migrating them forward and all that, I much prefer Mark's methods. But I do like how each kind of thing has its own bullet. You could have a bullet journal in which you keep a daily log of notes and events (with dashes and circles respectively) and the tasks that you log with a dot (per bullet journal rules) would simply be reminders. This log would be completely separate from your Focus List (or whatever it will be called) which you actually ACTION tasks from. You could have a recurring task to "Review B-Journal."

All these thoughts come from the peanut gallery though. I have not yet begun a test of my own. I think I will start today.
March 30, 2016 at 14:29 | Unregistered CommenterMiracle
"Do It Now"
March 30, 2016 at 14:40 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
Using the Wikipedia article of the day naming theory (I still love the Georgette Heyer system)- today Is Jumping Flash! which is seems like a great name for this system. Yesterday's article was Benjamin Franklin Tilley which I don't like quite as much for a name.
March 30, 2016 at 15:07 | Unregistered CommenterEric
STS: The Single Task System
March 30, 2016 at 16:13 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
March 30, 2016 at 17:05 | Unregistered Commentervegheadjones
All good stuff. Keep the names coming!
March 30, 2016 at 17:40 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
What about No-Focus, or Hocus-Pocus-Focus, or No-Hopus-Focus?

Sorry, but it isn't working for me at the moment. Bad day.
March 30, 2016 at 17:50 | Registered CommenterWooba
OmniFocus? :-)
March 30, 2016 at 19:55 | Unregistered CommenterWayne
LOL @ Hocus Pocus Focus!

Good one Wooba!

@ Wayne - "OmniFocus" Hah!

How about UniFocus?

Auto List
Sharper Focus
Task Lever
Finish Focus
Finish Line List
Tight Focus
Rolling Stone List (The task management system that gathers no dross ;-)

Aaaaaaand tap-out again.
March 30, 2016 at 20:18 | Unregistered CommenterMiracle
What about AF1T
March 30, 2016 at 20:32 | Unregistered Commenterjens
Be Here Now
RightHereRightNow (RHRN)
Clear and Present (CAP)
Clear and Present System (CAPS)
March 30, 2016 at 21:12 | Unregistered CommenterNeil
March 30, 2016 at 22:53 | Unregistered CommenterPaul MacNeil
March 31, 2016 at 2:46 | Unregistered CommenterWayne
Yet Another System

March 31, 2016 at 7:48 | Unregistered CommenterChris
@ Eric

> Using the Wikipedia article of the day naming theory (I still love the Georgette Heyer system)

Please - not this method - that was always a terrible idea! Who can remember what the Georgette Heyer system was?

Things are bad enough with the welter of acronyms here already. Meaningful non-acronyms, please!
March 31, 2016 at 8:55 | Unregistered CommenterChris Cooper
"Meaningful non-acronyms, please!"

@ Chris Cooper: I agree. Do you have any ideas?

Back on the topic of names, we could emphasize the facet of this system that creates a log of what you've done on a given day (like a true No-List system). With that in mind we can add words like "Journal," "Diary," and "Log," into the mix with "Focus" and other adjectives that indicate some manner of precision.

Focus Log (or Journal, or Diary)
Rolling Task Log (or Journal, or Diary)
Running Action Log (or Journal, or Diary)
Focused Action Log (or Journal, or Diary)

Another word that implies Focus is "Lens."

Action Lens
Focused Action Lens

... I think in the end, if we don't pick something to call it, I'll be in danger of calling it what it's being called - "No List Autofocus List - or NLAFL". Which just makes me think of "Falafel."
March 31, 2016 at 13:35 | Unregistered CommenterMiracle
<< A coworker walks past your desk and informs you to call back a customer. What do you do? >>

A good question, and Mark has already provided some good answers. I'm trying out a horizontal line approx 3/4 across the page and 4 lines from the bottom (using a large sized moleskine notebook). This space is note area only for external things coming in that I might otherwise forget (as in Nico's example, above). Not sure if it contributes anything but thought I'd share...

The 1/4 of line not drawn across is for the date entry as per Mark's suggestion i.e. when the page get filled up with tasks.
March 31, 2016 at 19:11 | Unregistered CommenterLeon

Focus is both a noun (an attraction) and a verb (to aim).
March 31, 2016 at 19:38 | Unregistered Commentermichael
I've been calling it AFN - AutoFocus Now or AutoFocus No-list if you prefer.
April 1, 2016 at 4:25 | Unregistered CommenterBrent
Taking off on Miracle's lens idea, I suggest the cryptic and non-catchy "Fresnel". As defined by Wikipedia:

"The design allows the construction of lenses of large aperture and short focal length without the mass and volume of material that would be required by a lens of conventional design. A Fresnel lens can be made much thinner than a comparable conventional lens, in some cases taking the form of a flat sheet. A Fresnel lens can capture more oblique light from a light source, thus allowing the light from a lighthouse equipped with one to be visible over greater distances."
April 1, 2016 at 15:15 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown
I also have a soft spot for "Soft Focus" and "Foglifter."
April 1, 2016 at 18:42 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown

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.