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« No-List Types - I: The Hammer | Main | No Article Tomorrow (Sunday) »

Point-Count Time Management

Here’s a little game you can play to encourage yourself to do the stuff that really matters.

Write a list of the things you hope to have done by the end of the day. Make sure to identify how you will know when you have done each task.

Then allocate points to each task according to a table of values. You can make up your own table, but here’s one for starters:

The Current Initiative: minus 25 points if you don’t work on it.

Major Projects: plus 20 points each

Lesser Projects: plus 10 points each

Routine Tasks: plus 5 points each

Tasks not on the list: 0 points.

How you define the difference between Major, Lesser and Routine projects/tasks is up to you, but it’s important to be consistent. The Current Initiative is one project selected in advance - note that you score minus points for not doing it, rather than plus points for doing it. This is because the idea behind the Current Initiative is that you do some work on it every day until it is completed (according to your definition of “completed”).

At the end of the day add up the points for the tasks you have done (according to your definition of “done”) and record the total for the day.

Each day try to beat your best total so far.

Reader Comments (6)

Hi Mark,

Interesting: I see the relevance to the Current Initiative that we've discussed recently on another thread plus having effectively 2 pages for tasks rather than 3. Definitely worth thinking about / using as self feedback and improvement!
April 11, 2016 at 7:41 | Unregistered CommenterLeon
OK Mark - I have have put together a method based on your ideas here -- I may start a new thread in the general forum to report back on.

Having run FV / FVP for a week with the three page limit I did find myself losing focus a little bit actually. Therefore I want to put more emphasis on the Current Initiative in my next experiment!

Thanks again for your ideas!
April 11, 2016 at 9:46 | Unregistered CommenterLeon
I’ve been experimenting with a system that differentiates between different types of tasks.

I only make one distinction: short, self-contained tasks that require little attention and high attention tasks where I’m aiming to lose myself in the work and carry on for as long as possible. A good recent example of the latter would be painting my kitchen. It would have been possible to paint a wall for only ten minutes, but I was really hoping that I’d overcome my resistance to it and paint the whole thing.

I’ve noticed that my problems don’t stem from having too many minor tasks on my list, but multiple immersive tasks can cause me a sense of internal conflict. I feel as though I cannot devote myself to one without worrying that I won’t have time to deal with the other, or that I am prioritising the wrong one.

The approach that I’m playing with is to use a final version style list that must always contain a single high attention item. This forces me to ask the “would I be happy if this was the only thing I did today” question and relieves me from the sense of conflict. The small tasks function as quick wins to keep me feeling productive, but keep returning me to my main goal.

It could also work using a five item list.

Anyway, it’s early days yet, but I thought it might be of passing interest.
April 12, 2016 at 20:19 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
I sometimes use a different version of points. At the beginning of the day, I assign each of the big rocks points. One point per minute to start, and some particularly nasty or draining tasks get extra. Travel and recovery also get points.

The total gives me a reality check for whether it's even possible to get it all done.

Eventually, I might track points earned each day. I suspect that at first it will tell me I'm not earning very many points each day, and become a challenge to improve. Eventually, it will give me a better feel for how many points I can realistically expect to do each day.
April 24, 2016 at 2:48 | Registered CommenterCricket

<< The total gives me a reality check for whether it's even possible to get it all done. >>

If you are going to do it this way, it's good practice to leave at least 20 per cent of the time available free.
April 24, 2016 at 8:39 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Agreed. Any day with over 6 hours planned work is declared a busy day, with extra limits on unplanned relaxation.

Planned relaxation is as important as planned work. I had to spend 2 hours finishing a craft today, for tomorrow's guild open house. Second level rock. (First level was committee work so the open house ran well.) Fortunately, I enjoyed it enough that it counted as relaxation.
April 25, 2016 at 3:07 | Registered CommenterCricket

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