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« More About No-List FVP | Main | How to Handle Re-entered Tasks in No-List Systems »
Monday
Jun272016

And the Winner Is...

Since I last wrote I’ve been testing out various types of No-List systems because none of the ones I tried proved entirely satisfactory. You can see a full list of them in the Discussion Forum.

The one which I feel has worked best so far is No-List FVP. That’s rather an ungainly title derived from its descent from other TM systems.

Ungainly title or not, the method is simplicity itself

  1. Write down a task you want to do.
  2. Ask yourself “Is there anything I want to do first?”
  3. Write that down on the next line.
  4. Repeat the process until you get “No” as the answer to the question.
  5. Do the end task on the list.
  6. Before you do the next task (i.e. the last active task remaining on the list), ask the question again and repeat as above until you get no answer to the question.
  7. Continue this process until there are no active tasks left on the list. Write down another task you want to do and start the whole process again.
  8. Repeat ad infinitum.


POINTS TO NOTE

1) It’s perfectly ok for there to be a “No” answer to the question when you’ve written down the first task. In this case just do the first task and then write down another one. If this results in writing down tasks one by one and doing them immediately, that’s fine.

2) You can build up to a difficult task by entering it as the first task and then gradually working back to it. This is quite an effective technique for getting moving on something. When deciding what to write as your new first task, it’s a good thing (though not compulsory) to select relatively difficult and/or important tasks. The more trivial tasks will get done as “fillers”.

3) It’s good to end the working day with no tasks remaining on your list. So try and select the tasks you write down towards the end of the day with this in mind.

4) A good method is to start the list initially with the three or four major tasks/projects that you want to take action on during the day. You need to make sure that they are in the reverse order to that in which you want to do them.

IN CONCLUSION

The advantages which I’ve found with this system are:

  • You can sketch out the main achievements of the day in advance.
  • You can do tasks in the most efficient and effective order
  • You have a sense of where you are going with the day
  • You make the best use of the time available
  • Procrastination drops to virtually nil.

Which is your favourite no-list system?

Reader Comments (22)

Sounds very interesting! I especially liked the idea of starting with the major tasks
of the day. How did you handle re-entered tasks in this system?
June 27, 2016 at 9:47 | Unregistered CommenterTheseus
Theseus:

<< How did you handle re-entered tasks in this system? >>

There's no specific provision for re-entering tasks. Re-entries get entered just like any other task in answer to the question "What do I want to do first?" It seems to work fine.
June 27, 2016 at 10:55 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark

It's certainly worked fine for me this morning.
June 27, 2016 at 11:00 | Registered CommenterCaibre65
I think re-entering tasks just when they come up
as an answer to your FVP question could work
fine for recurring tasks like 'Email'.
But what about re-entering unfinished tasks/projects?
Say you've got a project like 'bathroom renovation' on your
list. You decide th to work on it for a while to sketch some plans,
make some calls or whatever. Then you decide to work
on something else. Would you advise to just cross the
task out without re-entry?
June 27, 2016 at 11:28 | Unregistered CommenterTheseus
Hi Theseus,

< Would you advise to just cross the
task out without re-entry?>

This would seem OK to do. It is still possible to read previous tasks that have been crossed through to see if one wishes to add the task again.
June 27, 2016 at 11:48 | Unregistered CommenterLeon
Theseus:

I agree with Leon's reply. This hasn't posed any problem for me while I've been using the system. I suggest you try it and see.
June 27, 2016 at 13:45 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark, Leon,
Thanks for your feedback. I'll definitely give this a try!
June 27, 2016 at 16:04 | Unregistered CommenterTheseus
I've been using No-List FVP since it re-surfaced in the long list that Michael B assembled. That includes 2 work days and two weekend/home days. I'm going to keep trying it out for now because it really works well so far.

It's pretty flexible too because the choices for what I want to do next can be unrelated, but they can also be smaller steps towards completing the larger task as well. Rather than repeating/rewriting the same larger task as you go, you can break it down into smaller specific steps.
June 27, 2016 at 16:18 | Unregistered CommenterDon R
Surprisingly missed this system when it was first posted but have had a productive working day with it. It seems to combine the strengths of No-List and FVP but without the downside of an ever expanding FVP list.

By far my favourite of the No-List systems.
June 27, 2016 at 17:28 | Registered CommenterCaibre65
Isn't this more like no list fv?
June 28, 2016 at 1:02 | Unregistered Commenternedistanman
nedistanman:

<< Isn't this more like no list fv? >>

No. The rules for No-List FV would be:

1. Write down a task you want to do.
2. Ask yourself “Is there anything I want to do first?”
3. Write that down on the next line.
4. Repeat the process until you get “No” as the answer to the question.
5. Do the tasks on the list in reverse order, i.e. the last task is done first..
6. Repeat ad infinitum.

You might like to try it and see if it works well for you. I could never get it to work myself.
June 28, 2016 at 2:20 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Do I flim-flam, if I put a Task entered above another to the end of the list?
(Possibly because I reconsidered what's better to do next)

example list:
Task 1
Task 2
Task 3
--
Working on Task 3
--
Now before Task 2 I want to work on Task 1. So it would lead to the following:
--Tasks 1---crossed, reentered at the end
Task2
--Tasks 3---done
Task 1

In the rules there is nothing which keeps me from doing so, if I got it right.
Thus no-llist FVP aligns perfectly to the current cirumstances. IMHO.

(I wonder if this is a System which works for Monks ;-)
June 28, 2016 at 9:43 | Unregistered Commenterjens
jens:

<< Do I flim-flam, if I put a Task entered above another to the end of the list? >>

I think that's perfectly acceptable. In fact I've done it myself a couple of times over the last few days. In FVP you were always permitted to re-prioritize.
June 28, 2016 at 10:20 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
This idea looks pretty awesome. I'm going to try it today. Mark wrote "Ungainly title or not, the method is simplicity itself." So I will call it the 'SI' method.

As usual, I will use Clear.app (on iPhone & Mac) instead of pen & paper. Since it's easy to "pull down" to add a task *above* the current one, I will order the tasks top-down instead of bottom-up. If successful after a few days, I'll post modified rules for running the system with Clear.
June 28, 2016 at 14:36 | Registered Commenterubi
ubi : you do know that you can also add with tap to black open area of bottom of Clear.app?
June 28, 2016 at 21:58 | Registered CommentermatthewS
matthewS,

Yes, but I use the bottom of my active (no)list for other purposes. All the action is at the top.
June 28, 2016 at 22:42 | Registered Commenterubi
Thanks Mark. I'm going to give this a try. My methods haven't been working.
July 6, 2016 at 18:46 | Unregistered CommenterJesse
Jesse:

I hope it works for you.
July 7, 2016 at 9:32 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I've been using this all week. Love it! Very flexible, and it manages to let me do fun things in-between serious things. What do I want to do? This hard thing. Is there anything I want to do first? Watch this short YouTube video. Now that I've watched it, I feel like I owe it to myself to work on the hard thing, knowing full well that my next task might be another fun thing. It's working brilliantly, and no list of undone stuff at the end of the day!

The one odd thing is that I get strange looks from people when they see my task diary (such as when I'm sitting next to them in a meeting). I can only guess that it's because I have a list of items and most of them are checked off, giving the impression that I am almost done with my work for the day. How could this be? :) This is especially noticeable in the morning, when the list is short and all but an item or two are crossed off. Most of my colleagues have pages and pages of undone tasks.
July 8, 2016 at 15:50 | Unregistered CommenterScott Moehring
Do you use a different list for each place like in FV/FVP?
July 16, 2016 at 14:13 | Unregistered Commenterrandom
random:

<< Do you use a different list for each place like in FV/FVP? >>

No, there's no need. The list will automatically change content as you change location.

If you want to keep separate records of business v. home then by all means use two lists.
July 17, 2016 at 7:54 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Must confess, I have been a serial list-maker. So when a system like no-list pops up, I was more intrigued and challenged than ever.
However, my recent my experiments in NL-FVP threw some insight into my own workflow.
I have recorded how and why it benefited me here:
http://sathyawrites.com/10-reasons-no-list-system/
Though I'm not sure whether I would continue with this system in the future, it did yield some quite an interesting perspective on my own personal task management systems and processes.
Thanks to Mark for being a fore-runner in such productivity micro-experiments.
December 15, 2016 at 17:17 | Unregistered CommenterSathya

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