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« And the Winner Is... | Main | Ridiculous Goals »
Tuesday
Jun072016

How to Handle Re-entered Tasks in No-List Systems

Perhaps the thing I’ve found most difficult to get right in designing the best possible no list system is the question of how long to hang on to re-entered tasks.

My answers have at various times included the following:

  1. Have no re-entered tasks at all.
  2. Re-enter a task only if there is current work still outstanding on it.
  3. Re-enter a task if you expect it to be needed again the same day.
  4. Re-enter all tasks regardless of whether they are going to be used again.

I’ve chopped and changed systems to fit one or other of these, but none have proved entirely satisfactory. At one extreme, a lot of tasks are started but don’t get worked on to completion. At the other, there’s a long tail of re-entered tasks to plough through.

And what does one do about open-ended tasks like reading books? Reading a stated number of chapters or reading for a set time are too rigid for my liking.

How to handle these re-entered tasks is a really important question because, you will recall, my intention is not to do anything but to do everything!

I had a flash of light recently about this. If, I asked myself, a task can only get onto the list by being done, then perhaps it should only be able to get off the list by not being done.

So I’ve added the following rules to the May 9 System:

  1. Whenever a task on the list has been worked on it must be re-entered, whether or not it is going to be needed again.
  2. There is no compulsion to work on any re-entered task.
  3. When you come to a re-entered task and for any reason do not work on it, that task is deleted.

These rules involve a little bit more re-writing than before, but they seem to have solved the problem. The question of how long to keep a task on the list now boils down to the simple principle: “Work on a task and it’s on the list; don’t work on a task and it’s off the list”.  

Reader Comments (60)

This sounds intriguing enough to try. I think I understand the rules, which are simple enough if you're using pen & paper. I'll probably need to do it that way before figuring out a clever way to run the system electronically.

I like the idea of auto-reentry and resulting forced dismissal (deletion without further action). It may seem negative simply to delete a bunch of (possibly unfinished) tasks at the end of the day. But remember that each deletion is a task on which at least some work was done!

Does it make sense to use a special mark or highlight for the deleted tasks?
June 7, 2016 at 19:52 | Registered Commenterubi
While this "enforced dismissal" approach would work for tasks that can be worked on at any stage throughout the day, but what about tasks that need to be done regularly, multiple times a day, but not every time you cycle through the list?

To use a concrete example, I have a series of wrist exercises given to me by my physiotherapist that I'm supposed to do every 2-3 hours. I could set an alarm to remind myself to do them, but I found that too intrusive and didn't work well for me at all. Instead, I simply put "wrist" on my list at the start of the day, do my first set of exercises, and then re-enter that item for later. Each time I cycle through the list and get to that item, I think "is it time for my wrist exercises?" If so, I do them. If not, I skip that item but keep it on the list.

I often do the same thing with my "email" task -- I like to check my email regularly throughout the day, but don't want to be doing it every time I cycle through the list. So I'll often get to "email" and decide it's only been half an hour since I last checked it, so I'll skip it.

I must admit that I like the freedom of being able to choose whether to do a task or not whenever I get to it on the list. Sometimes I'll get to a task and decide I've done enough on that for today, so I'll just delete it. The rest of the time, I'll either do it or skip it, depending on what the task is and whether or not I think I should do it now.

Because of this, I find that your option #3 works the best for me: "Re-enter a task if you expect it to be needed again the same day." Enforced dismissal really wouldn't work for me at all, I'm afraid, because of the way I work the (no) list.

- Erik.
June 7, 2016 at 20:12 | Unregistered CommenterKiwi Erik
Erik,

Rules 2 & 3 above let you delete "email" or another reentered task, without skipping. You would need to remember to add it again at the later time you want to do it. I don't think adding a previously-deleted task is against the rules. Skipping over reentered tasks might result in a long list, which goes against the 'no-list' philosophy.
June 7, 2016 at 20:37 | Registered Commenterubi
Kiwi Erik:

I wrote the new rules to solve a problem which I perceived with re-entered tasks. If re-entered tasks are not a problem for you then stick with what you are currently doing.

<< I have a series of wrist exercises given to me by my physiotherapist that I'm supposed to do every 2-3 hours... I often do the same thing with my "email" task -- I like to check my email regularly throughout the day, but don't want to be doing it every time I cycle through the list. >>

You could just put "Wrist?" and "Email?" on your list. Then the task is to check whether it's time for the action.

<< I find that your option #3 works the best for me: "Re-enter a task if you expect it to be needed again the same day." >>

For me, the trouble with option #3 is that I end up with a long list of tasks most of which are not active, and just have to be skipped over in the manner of a "catch-all" list. I want the only stuff on my list to be what is currently active. As ubi points out, tasks which I want to do again during the day can be re-entered when I'm ready to do them.

I find that so far the new rules give me the right balance, but as I said at the beginning if you don't have the problem, then you don't need the solution!
June 7, 2016 at 21:18 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Kiwi Erik:

Mark's solution below is working well for me:

"You could just put "Wrist?" and "Email?" on your list. Then the task is to check whether it's time for the action."

I also use this first thing in the morning when adding day-specific reminders to my list from my calendar. My first task, "Calendar", is to add each non-time specific reminder to my list with a question mark. When I come to it in the course of working the system I do the reminder task by checking to see if it's ready to be done. Note that I'm checking to see if the task is ready, not if I'm ready. In other words, if I don't "feel" like doing it, but could, then the task is deleted without further thought.
June 7, 2016 at 22:22 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
Ubi:

<<Rules 2 & 3 above let you delete "email" or another reentered task, without skipping. You would need to remember to add it again at the later time you want to do it. I don't think adding a previously-deleted task is against the rules. Skipping over reentered tasks might result in a long list, which goes against the 'no-list' philosophy.>>

Yes, of course you could do that -- but then you need some way of remembering to put them back onto the list. Forgetting to do these repetitive tasks has been my main problem...which is why I've found that Mark's more flexible no-list approach works well for these kinds of things.

Mark:

<<You could just put "Wrist?" and "Email?" on your list. Then the task is to check whether it's time for the action.>>

Yes, that's basically what I've been doing. I like your suggestion of adding question marks -- I'm going to start doing that.

<<I find that so far the new rules give me the right balance, but as I said at the beginning if you don't have the problem, then you don't need the solution!>>

Indeed!

Michael:

<<Note that I'm checking to see if the task is ready, not if I'm ready. In other words, if I don't "feel" like doing it, but could, then the task is deleted without further thought.>>

That's a very good distinction.

Thanks, guys.

- Erik.
June 7, 2016 at 22:57 | Unregistered CommenterKiwi Erik
I tried out this system but broke away after about two hours due to some interruptions. Most of the tasks I did were one-off, and it seemed tedious to reenter them when I knew I would just be deleting them soon anyway. It occurred to me that I could just enter any new task twice from the start, and 'dot' the first, rather than waiting until I had done some work on it. So I suggest that we call this the DoubleEntry System. ;-)

I might have a go with it again tomorrow. Two hours starting mid-day isn't a fair test.
June 7, 2016 at 23:04 | Registered Commenterubi
To further illustrate how I handle day-specific reminders that I've noted in my calendar, this is my list from first thing this morning:

http://www.dropbox.com/s/eslb5b48ko33kjz/Post_it_Note_1.jpeg?dl=0

1. First I wrote down "Calendar".
2. I wrote down all the day-specific reminders at once followed by a question mark.
3. I crossed out the task "Calendar".
4. I wrote down a new task, "Water", and drank half a liter of water.
5. As per Mark's May 9th system I then checked in on each of the reminders I wrote down earlier.
June 7, 2016 at 23:09 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
Michael B.,

It sounds like you are using Calendar to populate a longer list. Isn't that more like DIT than any 'no-list' approach?
June 7, 2016 at 23:22 | Registered Commenterubi
ubi:

No, not in this case. In the Do It Tomorrow system everything non-urgent and non time-specific that comes in today is written on the calendar for tomorrow. In my case, I'm only adding things to my calendar if they are best done on the date I'm specifying. Here are some previous comments from Mark and others to clarify:

Mark:
"Everything special I need to remember is in my calendar."

Bernard:
"Can you share how you keep track of activities that can realistically be done at a future date (i.e., buying a birthday gift, packing for a trip three weeks from now, etc.)? Some of the big things are probably easy to think of, on the correct date, but I am concerned that I will lose track of certain events if they are not maintained in a list somewhere."

Mark:
"It's perfectly OK to have reminders of things that need to be done at a specific time. You could put these into your calendar, or use a reminder system like Nudgemail."

Mark H:
"I have tried several of the no-list methods, but I feel the need to access other lists, calendar, etc. Could they be used as a feeder for the no-lists?"

Mark:
"Reminders of things which you have to do on or by a specific time are fine."
June 7, 2016 at 23:45 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
ubi: so we're at Double-entry bookkeeping are we? That sparks a thought:

On the left side of our ledger are things that need doing. On the right is time spent doing things. Make sure these balance.

Not sure it's a good thought, but it's a thought!
June 8, 2016 at 2:22 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Michael,

I think I'd be tempted to have a recurring "Calendar?" rather than transcribing the tasks for the day.
June 8, 2016 at 9:59 | Registered CommenterWill
I am running into another issue which feels like the opposite of resistance.

When I start a task sometimes I get sucked into it and end up spending hours on it. This is bad when the task was mostly trivial and there was something more important that needed to be done as well.

If anyone else has run into this and has ideas around it would appreciate hearing about them.
June 8, 2016 at 14:26 | Unregistered CommenterAsim Jalis
Asim:

<< When I start a task sometimes I get sucked into it and end up spending hours on it. This is bad when the task was mostly trivial and there was something more important that needed to be done as well. >>

It may well not be the opposite of resistance. It could mean that you are resisting the more important task.

The best remedy is to set yourself a time limit of 10-40 minutes for each task. You can set an alarm to signal the end of the period. Stop as soon as the alarm goes off - even in mid-sentence.
June 8, 2016 at 15:40 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Starting my work-at-home Wednesday a bit late, and dreading the idea of double-entering all the trivial one-off tasks I will do today, so no new experiment for now. I'll monitor the Blog to see how Mark's work evolves on this one.
June 8, 2016 at 16:21 | Registered Commenterubi
Ubi:

<<...and dreading the idea of double-entering all the trivial one-off tasks I will do today...>>

I'm a bit confused by your problems with this. Yes, if you take Mark's instructions literally you would re-enter every single task, but I think he meant that you only re-enter an *unfinished* task. So wouldn't most (all?) of those "trivial one-off tasks" simply be written down once, done, and then crossed off? You'd only re-enter the task if it wasn't finished...

- Erik.
June 8, 2016 at 21:14 | Unregistered CommenterKiwi Erik
Maybe I got it wrong somewhere, but I think I've found a simpler way to get exactly the same effect as the May 9th system with these new rules—but without all the crossing out and rewriting:

0. Start a new no-list every day.
1. Write a task on the no-list.
2. Work on the task as long as you want.
3. Write a new task on the no-list.
4. Work on the new task as long as you want.
5. Cycle back to the top of the list.
6. Go through each item on the list in order. For each item, either work on the item, or cross it out.
7. When you reach the end of the list, repeat from (3).
June 8, 2016 at 21:36 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Kiwi Erik:

"Yes, if you take Mark's instructions literally you would re-enter every single task, but I think he meant that you only re-enter an *unfinished* task."

Of all the coaches I've known in my life Mark is the most specific and intentional. So I believe Mark's instructions are to be taken literally here.

Personally, I'm not rewriting unfinished tasks. I write the first task. I do the task. I write another task. I do the task. When done, I go down from the top of my list doing or deleting each task as in the May 9th system. Then I write a new task and continue.
June 8, 2016 at 21:38 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
Seraphim:

You beat me to it by two minutes! We must have been writing at the same time! Haha.
June 8, 2016 at 21:40 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
LOL, I just noticed that too!
June 8, 2016 at 21:43 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
We probably would have clicked "Create Post" at the same time and created a rip in the space-time continuum had I not been thinking about cutting that part of my comment out and creating a forum topic for it!
June 8, 2016 at 21:59 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
:-)
June 8, 2016 at 22:00 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
I've been using it off and on as I thought maybe I was missing some element that Mark intended from the rewriting, but now that I know both you and I have had success with it, maybe it's solid!

I was first inspired by part of Jesse's post on not rewriting unfinished tasks: http://markforster.squarespace.com/forum/post/2601072

I've used that with the May 9th system and it works great with Mark's new rules. The main issues are remembering where you are in the list and knowing how many times you've worked on a task. I'm not concerned with how many times I've worked on a task and knowing where you are in the list is as simple as knowing what you just did.
June 8, 2016 at 22:07 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
<< knowing where you are in the list is as simple as knowing what you just did >>

Yes. Or just leaving your pen next to that item.

Or using a bookdart or paper clip or something.

Or, since things don't usually hang around my list very often (it's a no-list, after all!), I just use a dot or an arrow or a circle or something. If I select the item multiple times, I just use whatever means of emphasis happens to come to mind. If I used a dot last time, then maybe I'll use a star, or maybe I'll use an arrow. Sometimes these pile up on top of each other, which makes the no-list a little messier, but I kinda like it that way. :-)
June 8, 2016 at 23:17 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Seraphim & Michael B:

You guys are brilliant! So the system should be called "Delete or Do (After Two)" — the first two tasks are done as they are entered, then you keep cycling. And you always add & do one task before cycling back, regardless of how many unfinished ones remain, right?

Are you sure it works out the same as Mark's DoubleEntry approach, when there are a lot of unfinished tasks? I might try to verify that . . .

Update: If I understand Mark's DoubleEntry and your DorD rules, I think the order of task work comes out different.

Suppose you have 6 tasks A-F and it takes 3 sessions to do A & E, only 1 to do B & F, 2 to do D, and 4 to do C. For DoubleEntry, I get

a,b,a,c,a,d,c,e,d,c,f,e,c,(g),e.

For DorD, I get

a,b,a,c,a,c,d,c,d,e,c,e,f,e.

Please correct me if this is wrong.
June 9, 2016 at 0:35 | Registered Commenterubi
ubi -

<< And you always add & do one task before cycling back, regardless of how many unfinished ones remain, right? >>

Yes, and Mark's 5/9 method requires the same—see http://markforster.squarespace.com/blog/2016/5/9/my-current-no-list-system.html#comment21570322


I ran through your example, and got the same results, so it appears this algorithm is not identical to Mark's as I had supposed. :-(

But it's still working pretty well. :-)
June 9, 2016 at 1:29 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Seraphim:

<< Yes, and Mark's 5/9 method requires the same >>

A small point but 5/9 in the United Kingdom means the 5th day of September, not the 9th day of May. On the other hand we use both 9 May and May 9 so it's best if you can remember to use the name of the month rather than its number.
June 9, 2016 at 8:02 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I have been having a go at this idea this morning. But I'm finding that I keep getting lost about where I am in the list. Unlike Seraphim I don't like messy markings, so I'm now trying to think of a cleaner way to do this.

Maybe the simple solution is just not to re-enter a task if you _know_ that it's not going to be required again (which is what several people thought I meant anyway). That should keep the amount of rewriting down to an acceptable level.
June 9, 2016 at 9:43 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I like the idea that the task only can be entered by doing it.
So if I'm finishing task - I cross it out.
If not finishing - I leave it uncrossed, marked with a dot until I reenter it again.

All starting dotes of crossed out tasks are connected with a line that is breaked by unfinished (recurring) tasks.

It gives me satisfactory level of control.

And it the end of the day I have an exact log of what I was doing.
June 9, 2016 at 10:43 | Unregistered CommenterShamil
Shamil:

<< If not finishing - I leave it uncrossed, marked with a dot until I reenter it again. >>

I'm not quite clear how this works. Do you mean that when you come to an unfinished task marked with a dot you work on it and then cross out and re-enter it if it's not finished?
June 9, 2016 at 11:17 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark Forster:

<< I'm not quite clear how this works >>

When I come to an unfinished task I
- cross it out
- re-enter it
- work on it

Let me use your example:

You decide to work on email. Write it as the first item on your list and start working on it. When you’ve finished since it’s recurrent do not cross it out, but leave with a dot
*Email

Next you decide to work on tidying your office. Again it’s recurrent, so when you’ve finished working on it do not cross it out, but leave with a dot
*Email
*Tidy Office

You add some more tasks in the same way.
*Email
*Tidy Office
--Phone Julie--
*Draft Project X Report

Note that “Phone Julie” is not a recurrent task and it is finished so it is crossed out.

At this stage you decide to revisit some of the tasks on the list, so you scan through the list from the beginning and work on any tasks you want to. In this case you check your email again, so reenter it, and cross out previous entry of this task
---Email---
*Tidy Office
--Phone Julie--
*Draft Project X Report
*Email

Now you decided to work on Project X
---Email---
*Tidy Office
---Phone Julie---
---Draft Project X Report---
*Email
*Draft Project X Report

Now you completely finished ProjectX for today, and decided to work on Task A
---Email---
*Tidy Office
---Phone Julie---
---Draft Project X Report---
*Email
---Draft Project X Report---
*Task A

And so on..
June 9, 2016 at 12:09 | Unregistered CommenterShamil
Shamil:

Thanks, that's much clearer, but I'm still not sure about how you handle the task "Draft Project X Report".

First of all, you enter it on the list and do it, leaving it in the same place with a dot. So far so good. Then you work on "Email" and decide to work on Project X again. You cross it out and re-enter it with a dot. Again fine. But now comes the bit I don't understand. Without doing any other task you finish it off and delete it. Why did you need to re-enter it in order to finish it off?
June 9, 2016 at 15:28 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark Forster:

I am taking action on something only by writing it down.
So in this case I need to re-enter recurring task (it's not enough to just cross out previous entry of this task).

It is like "Entry by Doing" method but with some additions:

If current task complete for today than I am crossing it out.

If current task is not complete or this is a recurring task I will cross it out later by re-entering it when I will be ready to take next action on it. So this task will cyclically go down the list all day or, sometimes, it will hang on the list all day.

As a result I have an exact log of what I was actually doing.
June 9, 2016 at 17:35 | Unregistered CommenterShamil
Shamil's method has the virtue of an ordered log of what was done, but otherwise doesn't adhere to the DoubleEntry or DorD rules, I think. According to the description above, there is no compulsion to do or delete a dotted task when cycling. In the other methods, a recurring task cannot 'hang on' the (no)list all day.
June 9, 2016 at 18:28 | Registered Commenterubi
ubi:

<<In the other methods, a recurring task cannot 'hang on' the (no)list all day.>>

That's why I am connecting crossed out tasks into blocks to make it easier to identify unfinished, recurring tasks. And my (no)list looks very similar to the picture on this link (scroll down)
http://markforster.squarespace.com/blog/2011/2/10/rules-for-superfocus.html

Working this way I have a stimulus to fill the gaps, by dropping unfinished/recurring tasks down.
June 9, 2016 at 20:39 | Unregistered CommenterShamil
ubi:

<<In the other methods, a recurring task cannot 'hang on' the (no)list all day.>>

That's why I am join crossed out tasks into blocks to make it easier to identify unfinished, recurring tasks. And my (no)list similar in appearance to the picture on this link (scroll down)
http://markforster.squarespace.com/blog/2011/2/10/rules-for-superfocus.html

Working this way I have a psychological stimulus to drop unfinished/recurring tasks down the (no)list.
June 9, 2016 at 20:57 | Unregistered CommenterShamil
I've been using the May 9th system as well.

Rewriting is a pain, but I like it. It gives me an intentional placeholder so I can make a clean break. That seems to produce a "stopping, for now" feeling that I like. Because of the new list every day principle, I also know I will be back to it soon but refreshed. With this clean break, I'm able to move to the next task with no significant mental residue.

I've spontaneously developed my own method for dealing with re-entered tasks. If a re-entered task can't be worked on right now, then I can move on to the next re-entered guilt-free. If there are no more re-entered tasks that can be done, then I can add a new task and action it immediately.

I figured this out sitting in a long meeting where my input and attention weren't critical for about 15 minutes. I checked off "attend meeting", and then looked at my e-entered tasks. There were two, "empty paper inbox" and "design loyalty diagram", neither of which I could do sitting in the meeting. Wanting to follow the system, but not wanting to waste 15 free minutes, I thought of something I could do in my current context - "sketch ideas for camping gear". I did it, crossed it out, and then wrote another which I didn't finish.

When the meeting ended, I headed back to my desk, went to write another task, and realized that I could action the re-entered ones now, so I did. It felt simple - action re-entered tasks only if they can be done, otherwise skip them. IMPORTANT: this should not be a way for me to procrastinate on something I'm resisting. It's only for things that can't be actioned at the moment due to circumstances.

I think it's similar to what Michael B. said: "Note that I'm checking to see if the task is ready, not if I'm ready."
June 9, 2016 at 21:03 | Unregistered CommenterScott Moehring
I rather like the record of what I did, in sequence.

I have gone back to electronic, though. Since I do most of my work on the computer, it's no problem to have a OneNote page for the day's focus in my "Journal" folder, docked to the side of one of my screens all day. And a little AutoHotKey script to check off and re-enter unfinished tasks.
June 9, 2016 at 21:18 | Registered CommenterWill
ubi:

<< In the other methods, a recurring task cannot 'hang on' the (no)list all day. >>

That's why I join crossed out tasks into blocks to make it easier to identify unfinished, recurring tasks. And my (no)list similar in appearance to the picture on this link:

http://markforster.squarespace.com/storage/SuperFocus%20Notebook.jpg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1297343989252

Working this way I have a psychological stimulus to drop unfinished/recurring tasks down the (no)list.
June 10, 2016 at 0:38 | Unregistered CommenterShamil
Mark:

"I have been having a go at this idea this morning. But I'm finding that I keep getting lost about where I am in the list. Unlike Seraphim I don't like messy markings, so I'm now trying to think of a cleaner way to do this."

Agreed.

"Knowing where you are in the list is as simple as knowing what you just did."

This statement of mine needs revisiting after losing my place in the list too many times today. Not so simple after all! As I also dislike messy markings and extra tools like paper clips, I've decided to abandon that approach.
June 10, 2016 at 2:34 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
Shamil:

Thanks for posting your approach. I was using it just now when an idea occurred to me...
June 10, 2016 at 2:48 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
I've been working on this idea for the last few hours getting it to be as simple as possible. It's a remarkably difficult task testing all the possible scenarios!
June 10, 2016 at 8:11 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
Michael B.:

Another addition to this method is:
To join crossed out tasks into blocks to make it easier to identify unfinished, recurring tasks. List become similar in appearance to the picture on this link:

http://markforster.squarespace.com/storage/SuperFocus%20Notebook.jpg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1297343989252

Working this way I have a psychological stimulus to drop unfinished/recurring tasks down the (no)list.
June 10, 2016 at 8:12 | Unregistered CommenterShamil
ubi:

<< In the other methods, a recurring task cannot 'hang on' the (no)list all day. >>

That's why I join crossed out tasks into blocks to make it easier to identify unfinished, recurring tasks. And my (no)list similar in appearance to the picture on Mark's blog with title "Rules for SuperFocus" dated by february 10, 2011

http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/93510/10517470/1296587340657/SuperFocus+Notebook.jpg?token=TYZwgm9XvYD9e83M%2BrFfyJ5Rmt0%3D

Working this way I have a psychological stimulus to drop unfinished/recurring tasks down the (no)list.
June 10, 2016 at 8:23 | Unregistered CommenterShamil
Here is what I'm looking for in case anyone would like to help. I would like an approach that works with Mark's May 9, May 10, May 15, or June 1 systems and has the following attributes:

• Eliminates or dramatically limits rewriting. Ideally a task is written once until it's no longer relevant for the day
• Uses only a non-erasable ink pen and a piece of paper—no external tools for marking tasks
• Uses only a single dot for marking tasks and a crossing out when a task is deleted—no other symbols or markings
June 10, 2016 at 8:38 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
One addition to that list:

• The current task you're working on is easy to locate at all times
June 10, 2016 at 9:03 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
Michael B:

I'll be very surprised if anyone comes up with an answer which meets all your conditions, since I think they contradict each other.

However the nearest thing I can think of which meets your conditions is the system which I developed the present no-list systems out of. That is the rotating list, which uses columns to show each iteration. It's difficult to describe in words, especially as lining up columns in these Comments is just about impossible. I'll do a sketch sometime this morning and link to it.

Later:

http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/93510/27076336/1465553788807/Rotating.jpg?token=1EwE8REqspAD5E%2Fj%2BwIT8tGn6gQ%3D

This basic layout can be adapted to whichever no-list method you want to use.
June 10, 2016 at 10:15 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Michael B,

I think your conditions should be achievable, I notice that you sensibly didn't put ant constraint on the size of the piece of paper.

The main challenge will be making the current task stand out on the wall sized chart...

:0)

Will

More seriously, I find this sort of constrained exercise exhilarating and productive. Even though my sonnets are, frankly, execrable.
June 10, 2016 at 11:24 | Registered CommenterWill
Michael B,

Would you allow an open dot for the current task, filled in when you finish working on it?

Or you could dot each task when you consider it, so you're always working on the last dot in the current column. (The rows of dots might have gaps in them: going down, a new dot would need to be directly under the previous dot.)
June 10, 2016 at 11:40 | Registered CommenterWill
Mark's tick-table looks pretty good. If entered digitally as plain text, an end-of-day postprocessor could reconstruct the daily log. And if you prepend the columns, it would all line up without the need for added spaces (if using a fixed-width typeface). The columns would be flipped left-right, and the current column is on the far left.

I'll try to replicate here with vee (v) for checkmark, dash (–) for blank space, and two dots (..) for the horizontal line:

v v v v v Email
v v v v v Paper
v v v v .. Tidy
• v v .. .. Evernote
- v .. .. .. Mow Lawn
- .. .. .. .. Check Diary

This lines up pretty well with the Georgia typeface; not sure about whatever default your browser is using.

This would also work fine with a square-gridded notebook, pad, or even index cards. Just reserve the maximum number of repeat columns (10-15?) on the left or right edge.
June 10, 2016 at 14:35 | Registered Commenterubi

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