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« So Can I Do Everything Yet? | Main | A Refinement on "Dot and Do" »
Sunday
Jul172016

More Thoughts on the Random Method

After experimenting with various methods of working the Random Method I’ve come to the following conclusions:

  • The random method is best taken neat without any attempts to prioritize. The reason is that whatever method you use for prioritizing will slow down the rest of the system.
  • For the best results the list needs to be kept well-weeded. I am finding it works best with 35-40 items on the list - much above that and its effectiveness starts to fall off.
  • You can use the list for time-sensitive stuff, subject to my final point, which is:
  • When something needs doing now, do it now.

Reader Comments (6)

Mark, you when you say "You can use the list for time-sensitive stuff" - do you still recommend marking up tasks that are time sensitive, or take it "neat" as you say, without any marking up.
July 19, 2016 at 1:41 | Unregistered CommenterJD
Mark, didn't try the variations you suggested but I am not surprised they made the RM system less effective. AF1 and RM are both excellent examples of how to process a list of non sensitive items (or at least non urgent) with minimum resistance or procrastination. To me all variations on AF1 are attempts to include time sensitive items and they all less effective (in my view). Would these be fair comments? For urgent items as I said in a previous post I just take a run through my RM list regularly to see if anything has become urgent and do it. I put 30 mins at start of each day to deal with urgent items and then RM. I call the 30 mins the current initiative. Sure I read of someone suggesting that somewhere!
July 19, 2016 at 8:27 | Unregistered Commenterskeg
JD:

<< do you still recommend marking up tasks that are time sensitive, or take it "neat" as you say, without any marking up. >>

Bearing in mind that everything I say is still experimental, I'm advising taking it neat.
July 19, 2016 at 12:27 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
skeg:

<< To me all variations on AF1 are attempts to include time sensitive items and they all less effective (in my view). Would these be fair comments? >>

Yes, I think so. More and more I think that the best way to handle such items is a combination of scheduling and the rule "If something needs doing now, do it now".
July 19, 2016 at 12:30 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I'm finding the random system useful with both suggested modifications: the double entry for unfinished tasks, and the marking up of time-sensitive tasks.

I didn't realise how much difference the double entry makes until I tried it, and it is essential to what I'm doing. I have decided to enter whole projects alongside one-off tasks. Because I never finish the projects in a session, they come to take up more space on the list, and I end up spending more time on them - which is what I want. But the sessions of working on the big projects are broken up with little tasks, which make for good breaks.

As for time-sensitive tasks - I am including anything due within two weeks, which seems necessary since projects are included on the list, and some take considerable time. The presence of the dotted projects is really useful, and makes this really a semi-random system for me: I am often stopping to do some work on projects due soon, as I feel I need to - but I don't _have_ to unless the random process actually lands on them, and that makes these projects feel less imposing.

Anyway, still early days and I'm interested to see how the list develops. I suppose the really long-term projects (by which I mean things I expect to finish over 1-3 months) will take on ever-growing proportions of the list. That sounds good from this vantage point, but we'll see how it works when I get there,
July 21, 2016 at 1:46 | Unregistered CommenterMichael
Very interested to see how you get on Michael .. Please keep us posted.

I have been using the random method with some success also but have had some unease due to several >6 month projects running in parallel as well as many atomic tasks and I think your approach of putting projects or higher level project task groups as entries seems a good one. So far I have been just entering task level items and my list was starting to get unwieldy.

I will try your suggestions .. I am amazed at how well the random method takes a lot of the stress out of task selection process and am really keen to try your self balancing tweak for projects

Onwards ..... :)
July 21, 2016 at 20:14 | Unregistered CommenterGrik

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