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« Simple Scanning - The Rules | Main | High Intensity Use of Time - Progress »
Friday
Dec012017

High Intensity Use of Time - A Decision

After a lot more experimenting, I haven’t been able to find a system which works consistently better than Simple Scanning. So I taken the decision that I’m going to be concentrating on that from now on.

At the same time I’ve found out lots more about how Simple Scanning works and about what makes it suitable as the vehicle for High Intensity Use of Time.

Here are three characteristics which make it faster and more effective than any other long-list system: 

  • Clumping
  • Attenuation
  • Maturity 

Over the next few days I shall be writing about each of these (not necessarily in that order) to show how they work together to produce the high intensity.

Reader Comments (27)

What is the right abbreviation to use for High Intensity Use of Time?
December 1, 2017 at 17:11 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher
Looking forward to this to see what I may be missing. I have recently had to abandon Simple Scanning for the old standby, Do It Tomorrow. Perhaps I just need more structure and the goal of clearing the list daily. When left to my own devices, I am prone to wander.

Thanks Mark for sharing your knowledge and wisdom with us!
December 1, 2017 at 17:16 | Unregistered CommenterJakeIsArmed
Were there any official instructions? I had a search in the TM systems tab but could not see there.
I suppose it might even deserve its own tab if to become the one that stands out the most!
December 1, 2017 at 17:32 | Unregistered CommenterMrBacklog
It has clumping?! YES my favorite feature. It's an awesome part of Flexible AF and RAF as well.

Wait, Simple Scanning has clumping?
December 1, 2017 at 17:47 | Registered Commenternuntym
Mr Backlog:

<< Were there any official instructions? >>

Scan round and round the list doing whatever stands out.
December 1, 2017 at 18:32 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Christopher:

<< What is the right abbreviation to use for High Intensity Use of Time? >>

I'm thinking of changing it to HITM (High Intensity Time Management) - pronounced Hit 'Em.
December 1, 2017 at 18:35 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
JakeIsArmed:

<< Perhaps I just need more structure and the goal of clearing the list daily. >>

No, you need less structure and to cease worrying about clearing the list at all.
December 1, 2017 at 18:38 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
nuntym:

<< Wait, Simple Scanning has clumping? >>

It's an awesome part of RAF, which is based on Simple Scanning, so it's not surprising.
December 1, 2017 at 18:42 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
OK sorry I cannot see how Simple Scanning takes advantage of clumping. I mean there IS clumping of similar items there, but because of the linear scanning process of Simple Scanning where you don't go back to a particular item you passed by until you reach the end of the list those clumps of tasks do not get taken advantage of much.
December 1, 2017 at 19:00 | Registered Commenternuntym
nuntym:

<< OK sorry I cannot see how Simple Scanning takes advantage of clumping.>>

Then perhaps you could explain how RAF takes advantage of clumping.
December 1, 2017 at 20:39 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark: <<Then perhaps you could explain how RAF takes advantage of clumping.>>

For those who do not know, "clumping" is the phenomenon first mentioned by Mark Forster in

http://markforster.squarespace.com/forum/post/2653333#item2653755

where "tasks of similar priority and/or time requirement tend to get clumped together" because of re-writing, and thus they tend to get cleared together.

This was pronounced in FAF because you get "trapped" in a page.

In RAF too this was pronounced because it is really easy to see the tasks you did the day before, especially with the tasks not that numerous, and therefore it is a good way to establish a daily routine.

On the other hand, in Simple Scanning I never did feel nor see this clumping effect. Maybe I should have made myself more discerning of them or something.
December 1, 2017 at 22:27 | Registered Commenternuntym
I don't think I would get clumping in Real Autofocus without the daily DDD rule.
December 1, 2017 at 22:58 | Unregistered Commenterubi
I haven't used Simple Scanning (at least not deliberately), but I imagine the clumping would happen like this:

1. When I write down a new task on my list, sometimes this will remind me of related items.
2. So I write down the related items as well.

That's the first level of clumping.

Then as you work the list:
1. When something stands out, it's because I am ready to work on that item.
2. Therefore it is likely that similar/related items will also stand out, even if they aren't adjacent on the list.
3. I know from previous experience with all long-list systems, when I am on a roll, I tend to "hunt" for similar items, wanting to get them all done, or at least consolidate them in one place. This will tend to amplify the effect.
4. If any of those items are re-entered on the list, they will be re-entered as a clump.

This is the second level of clumping. It will tend to feed and amplify the first level -- a virtuous cycle of clumping.

If you stay with a set of related tasks for any period of time, you will tend to keep working near the end of the list. This accelerates and compounds the clumping. So that's the third level of clumping. It will tend to feed and amplify the third level -- a virtuous cycle of clumping.

With these virtuous cycles accelerating the effect, you will get lots of clumping.
December 1, 2017 at 23:45 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Seraphim:

Thank you for a very clear description of how clumping works. Since, as I said in the blog post, I shall be writing on the subject very soon, I won't add anything at the moment.
December 1, 2017 at 23:59 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
One additional thought:

It's important to understand that clumping happens entirely naturally as a feature of the way the system works. It is not a conscious process.
December 2, 2017 at 8:10 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
HITM sounds pretty cool. It's also somewhat acronymic. The letters lend themselves very well for creating logos and other graphics.

From a marketing standpoint it is a comparison to "ordinary" time management and suggests to be an improvement. Which it probably is, therefore the name is a good fit. I like it.
December 2, 2017 at 8:50 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher
HITM is sounding good.
1) What kind of notebook are you using?
2) How often do you scan the list?
3) Are work & personal life items all on the one list?
Looking forward to hearing more about this
December 2, 2017 at 22:15 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Jane
Hit Me with this new High Intensity Time Management Experience!
December 3, 2017 at 1:48 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
So Clumping has been explained. What about the next bullet in this mysterious blog post - Attenuation? Let's speculate until Mark explains what it means . . .
December 4, 2017 at 16:19 | Registered Commenterubi
I’d guess “attenuation” has something to do with the way it becomes clear over time that some tasks and ideas are non-starters and OK to delete, even though there may have been some excitement about them when first entered on the list.

And I’d guess “maturity” is related but opposite - some tasks may start out rather tentative and indefinite, but repeated exposure and perhaps “little and often” help the task take more definite shape as it matures, and helps it generate more “pull”.

Autofocus and similar systems all exhibited these characteristics to some degree.

Other thoughts?
December 4, 2017 at 19:16 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Mark Forster:

<< No, you need less structure and to cease worrying about clearing the list at all. >>

I seem to still fight that same old struggle: easier/simple items tend to be actioned first while harder/unpleasant items are left till later. After I do the earlier items during the first scans, the other items are left.

With DIT, I find that even though I don't want to do some of the items themselves, there is a pressure to do everything in the closed list. This helps maintain the maxim that on average the amount incoming work must equal the amount of outgoing work.

With Simple Scanning, I find that I fall into the trap of adding items to the list expecting that merely by doing so that everything will magically get done. There is no pressure to do anything, which, I think, is by design. Therefore, it must be a lack of willpower and self-discipline on my part and not a fault of the system. Maybe DIT just works better for me by creating that daily goal of clearing the list. I'm not sure.

I haven't given up on Simple Scanning. That's why I hope to find out what I'm missing.

One thing I love about your systems and this site is the amount of introspection that I am forced to do. Why am I working? Do I like what I am doing? Must I really do this task or that task? Have I taken on too much? Is what I'm doing valuable to myself or others?

Thanks!
December 5, 2017 at 15:31 | Unregistered CommenterJakeIsArmed
I'm looking forward to the articles, Mark. At the same time, I hope you will say what the system was that you were experimenting with, and why it didn't work. Partly just curiosity after you made us so excited for the reveal of the system, but also because looking at why a system doesn't work can be as instructive as looking at one that does.
December 6, 2017 at 11:16 | Unregistered CommenterRobin
JakeIsArmed:

<< I fall into the trap of adding items to the list expecting that merely by doing so that everything will magically get done. There is no pressure to do anything, which, I think, is by design. Therefore, it must be a lack of willpower and self-discipline on my part and not a fault of the system. >>

Actually the trap is that if you do put it on the list it doesn't get done, and if you don't put it on the list it doesn't get done. So the net result is the same.

Or is it?

Do you in fact do the same set of tasks when you have everything on the list compared with what you do when you only have a short list?

Which gives the better result?
December 6, 2017 at 12:49 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Robin:

<< I hope you will say what the system was that you were experimenting with, and why it didn't work. Partly just curiosity after you made us so excited for the reveal of the system, but also because looking at why a system doesn't work can be as instructive as looking at one that does.>>

Yes, I probably will.
December 6, 2017 at 12:54 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark:

<< Do you in fact do the same set of tasks when you have everything on the list compared with what you do when you only have a short list? >>

I have to say probably not. I think when I'm adding items to my DIT list for tomorrow, I'm only adding items that I have to do. In reality I end up doing other things that I think of that I want to do or feel like doing. These get written below the line as they weren't part of the original plan, on paper anyway.

<< Which gives the better result? >>

I'm not sure. I'm kinder to myself about time usage when using Simple Scanning. I reread this article (http://markforster.squarespace.com/blog/2017/10/9/thoughts-on-the-long-list-making-everything-easy.html ) which has got me thinking. I'll try Simple Scanning again with more awareness of how I feel when using the list.
December 8, 2017 at 22:29 | Unregistered CommenterJakeIsArmed
Mark:

I replied Friday but I do not see my post. I must have messed up somehow. Now I can't remember my thought process.

<< Which gives the better result? >>

I'm not sure. Both list methods tend to be successful for me in the short term.
December 11, 2017 at 17:05 | Unregistered CommenterJakeIsArmed
JakeIsArmed:

I had a look for your post and found it in the spam folder. No idea why!
December 11, 2017 at 18:33 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

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