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« Testing an HITM System 2: Goals I Seem to Have | Main | Physician, heal thyself »
Saturday
Dec302017

Testing an HITM System - 1

I’m starting to test a new HITM (High Intensity Time Management) system today. This is designed to improve some of the problems I’ve been having with “Simple Scanning”. Those of you who follow my blog will know that I made Simple Scanning the standard for HITM after the failure of another system for which I had high hopes. So Simple Scanning was always in default of a better system.

The main problem with all “catch all” lists is that as the list gets longer so it becomes more and more difficult to control the timing of tasks. The whole point of a “catch all” list is that it is long. That is because the idea is that the list will filter all the ideas that you have been having and make coherent sense of them in your life. If this sounds like a tall order, it is!

Another problem is that the longer the list the longer it takes to scan it. For instance FVP will scan a long list very thoroughly and effectively but takes a lot of scanning time to do so.

And yet another problem is that if you lose either speed or direction, or both, you lose momentum and eventually will get bored with the list.

What I have been working on for months now is the question of how to improve both speed and direction. I think I have now found an answer to this problem, but of course I won’t really know until I’ve tested it thoroughly. The testing started first thing this morning.

Reader Comments (9)

This promises a happy new year for us TM addicts.

For the present, I've gone back to Real AF, with the resolve to seriously Delete / Defer / Do and not let backlogs build up.
December 30, 2017 at 13:11 | Unregistered CommenterChris Cooper
You've made me think. I've decided to return for a while to good old AF1, as an answer to some of the problems with the long list that you mentioned. I find the list I currently have for simple scanning is boring, I think because it has gotten too long and I've lost momentum. But I remember fondly the days I first discovered Af1 back in '08. There were two things working in its favour that were very highly motivating. First, the idea of a single page "closed list." Maybe that was part of the problem with my current simple scanning list - it was open, and perhaps by definition, too long. Secondly, I miss the idea of dismissal. If nothing on a page stood out, the entire page was dismissed, which helped keep the whole list shorter. I'm hoping that if I work the AF1 list consistently that it will be very effective as a simple scanning method. We'll see, I'll try it while I wait for the results of Mark's experiments.
December 30, 2017 at 23:22 | Unregistered CommenterPaul MacNeil
Chris Cooper:

<< I've gone back to Real AF, with the resolve to seriously Delete / Defer / Do and not let backlogs build up. >>

Real AF works just fine as far as it goes, but what I am trying to do with HITM is not to have compulsion or pressure at any stage.
December 31, 2017 at 12:51 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Paul MacNeil:

<< I've decided to return for a while to good old AF1 >>

As with Real AF, I'm trying to get away from the element of compulsion in AF1. There's an additional problem which is that it's very slow to move through the list.

Both of these work against letting one's intuition have full rein. What I'm really after is the original concept behind Autofocus - that the system itself will provide a platform for one's intuition to provide focus for one's life. That is really to say that the system should be a vehicle not just for getting stuff done, but for bringing clarity and direction into one's life.
December 31, 2017 at 12:59 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Maybe there are two kinds of compulsion: Compulsion for doing work on the list in general, and compulsion for doing an individual task on the list. Perhaps compulsion in the second sense is what interferes most with letting intuition have full rein. It's very difficult, for example, to let intuition decide a task on page 1 of AF1 when there is a very pressing and urgent task on the last page. Simple scanning was a good answer for this. But is it possible to have a more general feeling of compulsion for the whole list? For example, if one is driven to keep the list small by getting stuff done, then one gets closer to the ideal of eliminating backlogs and having the same amount of work coming in as going out. Simple scanning didn't seem to give me this kind of compulsion. I think it might be possible to be very driven about a list in general while still letting intuition have full rein with respect to any one individual task. Somehow.
December 31, 2017 at 14:44 | Unregistered CommenterPaul MacNeil
I think I understand the concept of "speed" here, in that it is one's ability to go through the whole list fast. But what is "direction"?

EDIT: Oh wait. So the sense of direction is "that the list will filter all the ideas that you have been having and make coherent sense of them in your life?"
December 31, 2017 at 22:42 | Registered Commenternuntym
nuntym:

<< I think I understand the concept of "speed" here, in that it is one's ability to go through the whole list fast. >>

Not just going through the whole list fast, but also doing the work fast. If you are bored and unmotivated your work slows to a crawl. But if you are fired up, you work much faster - and better too.

<< But what is "direction"? >>

It refers to giving direction to your life - as opposed, at the other extreme, to drifting aimlessly.
January 1, 2018 at 17:45 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Paul MacNeil:

<< It's very difficult...to let intuition decide a task on page 1 of AF1 when there is a very pressing and urgent task on the last page. >>

That was the main problem with AF1. It was not good at handling urgent items without having to leave the system.

<< if one is driven to keep the list small by getting stuff done, then one gets closer to the ideal of eliminating backlogs and having the same amount of work coming in as going out. >>

I'm not too fussed about this currently. The idea behind HITM is that you have a big list which contains everything you might want to do. It's then by working the list that you discover what you really do want to do. Anything that you decide that you are not going to do gets weeded out.

<< Simple scanning didn't seem to give me this kind of compulsion. I think it might be possible to be very driven about a list in general while still letting intuition have full rein with respect to any one individual task. Somehow. >>

As I think I've said before, I think the precise mechanism is less important than the approach. Unlike other approaches where not getting everything on the list done is seen as a failure, with HITM not getting everything on the list done is seen as a success, i.e. it's what's supposed to happen.
January 1, 2018 at 18:10 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I keep coming back to your posts over the years. I've tried just about every software programme there is but settled for a custom version of FVP.

There are two issues I have faced with task management.
1. Computers encourage too much detail and too much tweaking. Plus once your list goes off the screen you live in a "collectors fallacy", ie because you know it's somewhere in your system you think it's covered, but you never really get to the tasks below the screen.
2. Dealing with reminders when working with paper lists (yes, I'm one of those!)

The system I've settled for is as follows:

1. One long master list
2. The master list is scanned for all task I want to do this month. This massively reduces the list and I only work from this list for the month.
3. Tasks from the monthly list get added to my calendar with specific times when they need to be done.
4. New task are added to the master list unless they have deadline for the current month.

This has worked well so far, but I'm only 24 day into this system.

As I'm a bullet journaler, I have a 2-page spread for the month with all the tasks listed for that month. At the start of the week I scan the list and enter the tasks into my calendar for that week. I've been amazed that I'm knocking off lots of tasks and they are then crossed of the master list once completed. The benefit I have found in blocking the time in my calendar is that if I'm asked for a meeting, the time is already blocked out in my diary. This means meetings happen a week later and my system integrates with changes in my calendar because I'm only blocking a week at a time. I'm also happy that I only need to look in one place (my calendar) for what I'm doing and the week flies by just completing tasks rather than deliberating what I'm doing. I only have to deliberate at the beginning of the week.
January 24, 2018 at 21:19 | Unregistered CommenterSimon Smailus

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