Over the last months I’ve been doing a whole load of experimentation with no-list methods. More recently I’ve been re-visiting the idea of randomness in time management. And I’ve realised that the two methods have something in common.
The common factor is that they both have a reputation for reducing procrastination.
I started wondering about why this was and I realised that both methods do not involve rejecting tasks.
What do I mean by that?
In most list-based time management systems, whether mine or other people’s, the process of selecting the next task for action involves scanning the list and selecting the task from it. But you’re not just selecting a task; you are also rejecting every task that you scanned before selecting that task. If you have a long to-do list some tasks may end up being rejected scores or even hundreds of times.
My theory is that every time you reject doing a task you increase the amount you are resisting doing that task.
By contrast the selection process in both no-list systems and random systems does not involve rejecting any tasks.
In most no-list systems you make a short list (usually 1-5 items) of what you are going to do and then do them in order. You don’t at any stage scan over any of the tasks and reject them.
In a random system you are simply told what to do by the randomizer. You don’t have to reject anything. The randomizer selects the next task from the list for you.
So the converse of my theory is that the less often you reject a task the less you build up resistance to doing it.
So what sort of system can we design round this? We need a system in which we know what to do next without having to reject any tasks during a selection process.
Here are four ways of achieving this:
- By having a boss who tells you what to do all the time
- By doing everything on your list in the order you wrote it down
- By not having a list but instead just writing down a few tasks at a time and doing them
- By having a randomizer select tasks from a list for you
Can you think of other ways of achieving this?