My Latest Book

Product Details

Also available on Amazon.com, Amazon.fr, and other Amazons and bookshops worldwide! 

To Think About . . .
The body is the servant of the mind. It obeys the operations of the mind, whether they be deliberately chosen or automatically expressed. James Allen
My Other Books

Product Details

Product Details

Product Details

Product Details

Click to order other recommended books.

Find Us on Facebook Badge

Search This Site
Log-in
« The Random Hour v. The Next Hour of Your Life | Main | Failure! »
Wednesday
Jul272016

The Random Hour

I said in yesterday’s post that I was left with The Next Hour of Your Life as the best method for getting everything done. Today I’ve been trying to improve it by using it with a randomizer.

The details of what I’m doing are:

  • I’m using a 22 line notebook, specifically a Moleskine Cahier.
  • I’ve set the Randomizer on 11 (i.e. half the page)
  • No sliding - I just count the active tasks
  • The list is a rolling list of approximately one hour’s work.

Although today’s been very fragmented, the system has been pretty successful so far. Tomorrow should be a bit more stable, which will give a better opportunity for it to show its paces.

Reader Comments (7)

Mark,

After reading this post, it occurred to me that one might use the randomizer to generate the running list. Write down a task you want to do in the next hour, but set the randomizer to "2". And if you get a 2, write down another task that you want to do in the next hour, and set the randomizer to "3". More generally, keep the randomizer one unit "ahead" of the number of items on your list, to give new items that much chance, so to speak, to be added to the list.

I haven't tested this (yet), but my guess is that it would keep the list to a manageable size, more or less within an hour's worth of time, but have a tighter focus on tasks as they are added one by one for the next hour, rather than written down in larger groupings to fill the time. The one drawback I see is having to reset the randomizer frequently. (And maybe you've already thought of this, tested it, and dismissed it for reasons I can't see yet!)
July 28, 2016 at 4:20 | Unregistered CommenterDan H
I'm not sure I quite follow what you are suggesting here.

You're saying that you can only add a new task to the list when the unallocated number comes up - is that right?

It's easy enough to test out without having to actually do the tasks. I'm using the Randomizers app.

Add Task A
Task A Done
No tasks left
Add Task B
Task B Done
No tasks left
Add Task C
Add Task D
Task D Done
Task C Done
No tasks left
Add Task E
Task E Done
No Tasks left

And so on...

It never seems to rise above 1 or 2 tasks on the list at a time.
July 28, 2016 at 6:47 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I tried a randomizer run with a standard six-sided die, for the simplicity/convenience and because I like dice.

I made little hash marks in the margin every six lines, and I treated each block of six lines as a page, including sliding. It seemed to work fine. My list stayed short, never more than a couple of dozen active items, so I don't know how it would be with a long list.

Six lines are easy to eyeball: spot a group of three followed by another group of three. Look for that as you write a new item at the end of the list, and make a little mark. Simple.

If six seems too small, there are gaming dice available in 8, 10, 12 and 20.
July 28, 2016 at 6:53 | Unregistered CommenterBernie
Mark,

Thank you, first, for trying to understand my unclear suggestion! Let me take another stab at it.

Yes, you are right about only adding a new task when the unallocated number comes up. The general idea, then, would be to keep the Randomizer set equal to the number of active tasks plus one, the "plus one" being the unallocated number.

I've been testing this today and it seems to work (I'm currently at 5 active tasks and my random number generator is set to "6".) I'm not altogether sure what is happening in your example to limit the number of tasks to 2. But I'll say that I wouldn't have thought this could be tested without making a (hypothetical) determination each time a task is worked, about whether it is completed or not.

To clarify, I'll offer the results of my own quick sample test. (I'm using the Random.org phone app).

1. Add Task A, and set Randomizer to "2".
2. Generated number: 2.
3. So add Task B, and set Randomizer to "3".
4. Generated number: 2.
5. So work on Task B.
6. Suppose Task B not yet complete after being worked. Then it stays on the active list, and Randomizer stays on "3".
7. Generated number: 1.
8. So work on Task A.
9. Suppose Task A is completed after being worked. Then the Randomizer is set back to "2", and Task B becomes only active task.
10. Generated number: 1.
11. So work on Task B.
Etc.

In this example, it's true I haven't yet produced an active list of more than two tasks. But this is only because at step 7, my generated number wasn't a 3. If it were, I would add a Task C and then set the Randomizer to "4". Similarly, if I didn't complete Task A in step 9, the Randomizer would stay at "3". So it would be possible in step 10 to generate a 3, and add a Task C to produce a list of three active tasks.

And even if you were committed to completing every task worked, it's theoretically possible on this approach, even if increasingly unlikely, that you keep generating the unallocated number (a "2" at step 2 above, a "3" at step 4, etc). In that case, you'd produce an unending list of active tasks, but never get anything done!

But in practice, again just judged by my test with this approach on my actual tasks today so far, you can at least get to five active tasks, with the chance of increasing that to 6. My guess is that I'll stay more or less around that number, given the frequency I'm completing tasks relative to the chances of generating the unallocated number each time I use the randomizer to decide what to work on next.
July 28, 2016 at 14:56 | Unregistered CommenterDan H
Dan H:

In your example at #6 you re-enter a task without throwing again. You didn't mention that you could do this in your instructions so that would explain the difference between our figures.

However it seems a lot of work to achieve something that could be much more easily achieved by other means, such as setting a limit to the number of tasks on the list.
July 28, 2016 at 16:19 | Unregistered CommenterMark Forster
Bernie:

<< I made little hash marks in the margin every six lines, and I treated each block of six lines as a page, including sliding. It seemed to work fine >>

There's no point in using sliding using a die. Sliding is only useful when using a random number generator set to a high number, the reason being that the higher the number it is set at the longer it takes to cover all the numbers and this rises exponentially. With a low number like six, all the numbers from one to six will be thrown quite quickly. Even at 11, the number I set, it is not worth using sliding. But with 22 which I use in the Random Method sliding is definitely required, otherwise a few tasks would be left languishing for days.
July 28, 2016 at 16:33 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark:

<< In your example at #6 you re-enter a task without throwing again. You didn't mention that you could do this in your instructions so that would explain the difference between our figures. >>

Ah! Yes, that's it. Thank you for clarifying that.

<< However it seems a lot of work to achieve something that could be much more easily achieved by other means, such as setting a limit to the number of tasks on the list. >>

Yes, I agree, though I admit I kind of like the idea of starting with just one task, and having the list grow or shrink without my knowing when in advance, or by how much. I guess I should think more about why I like it.

In any case, thank you for the replies, and more generally for being so creative and generous with your ideas!
July 28, 2016 at 17:32 | Unregistered CommenterDan H

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.