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« What to give up for Lent? | Main | Guess which? »
Wednesday
Feb152017

This One!

Here’s the answer to the question I posed in my previous post.

It’s the method described at http://markforster.squarespace.com/forum/post/2006818#post2070863

I hope I didn’t mislead people too much by saying it wasn’t one of the Autofocus systems. I don’t think of it as an Autofocus system and it doesn’t bear an official AF series number, but I see it was originally part of a discussion on possible AF variations. The name I usually give this to myself is The Bounce for reasons which are obvious if you read the instructions. I keep track of the direction I am going in by using a caret or upside down caret in place of a dot when selecting a task.

I had it in mind that I had written more about this somewhere, but for the life of me I can’t find it. Kudos to anyone who can find some other references.

And it’s still working really well with 68 active tasks on my current list.

Pages are not relevant to the actual mechanics of the method, but they are useful to see what sort of spread the system gives. I’m using a standard Moleskine notebook with 31 lines to the page. I started with a fresh list so only this method has been used on it.

Active tasks per page:

Page 1 0

Page 2 0

Page 3 0

Page 4 5

Page 5 13

Page 6 2

Page 7 9

Page 8 11 (including this one)

Page 9 20

Page 10 8 (out of 8)

Reader Comments (27)

Are you using AF2's dismissal?
(The instructions from that earlier post begin with "Rules as per AF2 except...")
February 15, 2017 at 20:20 | Unregistered CommenterBernie
Bernie:

No, I've not found it necessary.
February 15, 2017 at 21:37 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I did think of this one but discounted it because of the AF2 link. I did try it at the time - and will certainly give it a go again.
February 15, 2017 at 21:51 | Registered CommenterCaibre65
Mark

There was definitely further brief discussion. I will find it tomorrow. First task on my Bounce list.
February 15, 2017 at 22:00 | Registered CommenterCaibre65
Mark, I'm wondering if you are recalling a post that briefly appeared on July 30 2016, where you described a "bounce" and "circle" method. (The post vanished the same day.) I made a comment about it in the thread to this (still-existing) post:

http://markforster.squarespace.com/blog/2016/7/29/the-random-hour-v-the-next-hour-of-your-life.html
February 16, 2017 at 3:32 | Unregistered CommenterDan H
I tried this today and so far I love it. Thanks, Mark!
February 16, 2017 at 17:58 | Unregistered CommenterPaul B
Ive got through some tough tasks today using this method and it was actually enjoyable!
February 16, 2017 at 18:19 | Unregistered CommenterLeon
Dan H:

I deleted it because it very quickly didn't work out, and I didn't keep a copy so can't even remember what the system was.
February 16, 2017 at 22:12 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark,

I find that as I bounce further & further down the list, I am more and more certain that nothing above is going to stand out, because I have reviewed it all many times while bouncing off the top. I begin to skip the bounce, taking for granted that I will just bounce off the top again and right back to where I am, headed downward again. And so at that point I am really just scanning down the list, waiting to hit more interesting stuff near the bottom.

Of course, this resets when I change location or the morning changes to afternoon, or I've passed into a thicket of more relevant stuff, and so then I stop taking the shortcut.

Have you experienced this, and have you done anything special about it?
February 17, 2017 at 0:19 | Unregistered CommenterBernie
Mark:

Thanks for bringing this one back to our attention! Had briefly tried it when you first published it, but as with you I had originally tried it with a long list to start. Started the list today with 10 tasks and built up from there. Built my list to 33 tasks throughout the day of which 24 have been completed.

It definitely has a game-like quality. The bouncing scan also seems to have a subtle "Randomizer with Sliding Method" feel to it. As in, when changing directions, it almost feels like dice have been thrown or a random number selected, and you don't know what random selection of tasks you'll be scanning over next.

Got some tasks done that I've been avoiding for months, but I don't know if it's the system, my mood today (abnormally calm and energized), the partly sunny weather (and mild, not cold), good sleep last night, moving from task to task more rapidly (shorter bursts—which this system seems to encourage), a new system to try, or a combination of these factors.
February 17, 2017 at 5:04 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
So, tried the "bounce" today. Surprised at how well it worked.
Things I liked:
-it really does help break through resistance. Something about repeatedly considering a task seemed to help my mind get ready to get going on it.
-loved that I can throw just about anything on it and yet don't have to worry about something becoming lost in the list.
-the process of flowing through the tasks was surprisingly fast. I was stunned at how often I moved through it.
-I was even able to put time sensitive items on it. This is really my favorite thing! I long for a way to integrate my to-do list with a calendar. While this doesn't fully do that, it can easily handle todays items.

What I found difficult:
-maybe I'm slow, but I found it hard to remember which way I was going! And which way to bounce when a task was done. And, sometimes, which task to scan from. I think I solved this by not crossing off my dirrectional mark until I selected the next task.

Overall, very promising! Now If I could only integrate this even more with my calendar...!
February 17, 2017 at 5:31 | Unregistered CommenterTommy
Tommy:

"What I found difficult:
- maybe I'm slow, but I found it hard to remember which way I was going!"

Same here. Even with the use of carets (^) my mind would somehow get confused for a moment as to which direction comes next. As a solution I'm going to try reversing the carets. So instead of marking my current task with my current direction of travel, I'll instead mark it with the next direction of travel.
February 17, 2017 at 6:49 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
Bernie:

<< I find that as I bounce further & further down the list, I am more and more certain that nothing above is going to stand out, because I have reviewed it all many times while bouncing off the top. I begin to skip the bounce, taking for granted that I will just bounce off the top again and right back to where I am, headed downward again. And so at that point I am really just scanning down the list, waiting to hit more interesting stuff near the bottom. >>

When I have exhausted for the time being a particular area of the list I tend to make a very definite move in a different direction, Rather than just do the first task that strikes my fancy I will scan until I have penetrated well into where the next group of tasks is situated. That means that I don't have to scan all the way to the end of the list when I reverse direction.
February 17, 2017 at 8:50 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Michael B:

<< Even with the use of carets (^) my mind would somehow get confused for a moment as to which direction comes next. As a solution I'm going to try reversing the carets. So instead of marking my current task with my current direction of travel, I'll instead mark it with the next direction of travel. >>

Actually this is something that should have been included in the original instructions because it's exactly what I have been doing all along. The caret should point in the direction of the next task, i.e. back where you've just come from.
February 17, 2017 at 8:55 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Tommy:

<< And, sometimes, which task to scan from. I think I solved this by not crossing off my directional mark until I selected the next task. >>

This is good practice whatever method you are using, and without checking I am pretty sure I included it in the original Autofocus instructions... or maybe the video.
February 17, 2017 at 8:58 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark:

"Actually this is something that should have been included in the original instructions because it's exactly what I have been doing all along. The caret should point in the direction of the next task, i.e. back where you've just come from."

Yep, it's already solved the issue for me!

This sentence from the description is a little open to interpretation:

"I keep track of the direction I am going in by using a caret or upside down caret in place of a dot when selecting a task."
February 17, 2017 at 9:26 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
When returning to the list after a break or it's a new day, do you start at the top or start scanning from previous task completed? Also, do you quickly look over the list first just to familiarize yourself with possibly urgent things?
February 17, 2017 at 18:13 | Unregistered CommenterTommy
Tommy:

<< When returning to the list after a break or it's a new day, do you start at the top or start scanning from previous task completed? >>

Personally I start from where I left off. Since that's usually "Go to Bed" I leave the task undeleted so I can easily see where I was (and what direction to start scanning in).

<< Also, do you quickly look over the list first just to familiarize yourself with possibly urgent things? >>

Usually, but not always. In fact I will look over the list whenever I feel the need to, regardless of the time of day.
February 17, 2017 at 18:33 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark,

"When I have exhausted for the time being a particular area of the list I tend to make a very definite move in a different direction, Rather than just do the first task that strikes my fancy I will scan until I have penetrated well into where the next group of tasks is situated. That means that I don't have to scan all the way to the end of the list when I reverse direction."

Thank you. That sounds appealing.
February 17, 2017 at 18:39 | Unregistered CommenterBernie
I have found the caret very unaesthetic, as I am very hooked on the good ole dot and the solid appearance of drawing the cross-out line from its center.

To keep track of direction, I am underlining the dot when approaching from below and "overlining" it when approaching from above. This amounts to making a small dash over or under the dot. The dash shows where I came from and where I will be going to.
February 17, 2017 at 18:45 | Unregistered CommenterBernie
Also I am drawing a small open circle next to any unfinished items as I rewrite them, and I fill in the circle to make a dot when it stands out.

I don't have any rules about these little circles. All they do is inform the standing-out process by visually reminding me that I had momentum on these items.
February 17, 2017 at 18:57 | Unregistered CommenterBernie
I've been using this the last couple of days, but it feels a bit more cumbersome than Fast Final Version http://markforster.squarespace.com/forum/post/2296859

I'm struggling to see how the Bounce is better. This is probably one of those cases where I should just use what works for me, but I'm curious on everyone's thoughts.
February 17, 2017 at 21:28 | Unregistered CommenterJesse
Jesse: I took a look at your link. For me, I would not want to use anything that forces you to work on something.

I've been using this Bounce method and it's pretty fun. One thing I've noticed is that I've been crossing out items from the list (the phrase that comes to mind as I cross it out is "not particularly relevant"). This is kind of a big difference because with typical catch all lists I am loathe to dismiss/remove anything. I think it's because with this method, the ones that aren't very relevant to your life right now start to "get in the way" as you have to keep passing over them a lot more often with the Bounce method. The other reason is that with AF or FVP having extra stuff on the list doesn't feel like it would get in the way because you'll see AF pages on the next pass through the list (I don't get through AF list very quickly) and FVP lets you zero in on the one task to do by looking at the fewest number of list items (because you already have most of the list narrowed down). If that makes sense.

In other words, for whatever reason it seems like Bounce method makes you want to keep the list relevant to today.
February 19, 2017 at 16:29 | Unregistered CommenterDon R
Jesse: "I'm struggling to see how the Bounce is better." - I don't know about "better" but I will say that it really is the first system that I've been able to trust. Because of the limited rules, the speed at which one moves around the list, and the way that "bounce" helps you to focus on certain task ranges, I have been able to actually just work the system instead of tweaking it or worrying that something is getting missed.
I do think that one advantage that I didn't realize until I tried it is the way that the method keeps you considering certain tasks more than other ones at particular times. it's really an interesting thing. Any task is available, and yet I find that there is a gentle nudging towards a cluster. Facinating!
I also enjoy that, because of the simplicity, I don't have to think about rules or tweaks. it all just flows.
Thanks Mark!
February 20, 2017 at 4:25 | Unregistered CommenterTommy
If you don't finish the task that you've "bounced" to, do you cross it out and rewrite it at the end of the list, or just leave it in place until it is completely finished?

-----
Added later (since I can't delete a submitted comment)....


Okay, having actually read the AF2 instructions now :-) it seems that you rewrite unfinished tasks at the end of the list.
February 25, 2017 at 19:50 | Registered CommenterFrank
I was intrigued enough by this idea to seriously start trying out this system. Probably like others, I'm quite surprised at how such a simple idea can efficiently process a task list while keeping on top of urgent items. I've been getting things done that I've been putting off for a long time. Of course, there's always a honeymoon period with any new system, so it will be interesting to see what happens over the coming days/weeks.

A question for you, Mark, if you don't mind...

In past postings, you've mentioned you've used "The Bounce" successfully on previous occasions. Given its (apparent) remarkable all-encompassing ability to handle almost anything that can be thrown at it, why would you even consider coming up with any other time management approaches? What about this system did you feel was lacking that caused you to look elsewhere on occasion?

Thanks.
February 26, 2017 at 12:00 | Registered CommenterFrank
Frank:

<< What about this system did you feel was lacking that caused you to look elsewhere on occasion? >>

it's to do with the nature of "catch-all" systems. For me the real reason to use a catch-all system is more to do with what one doesn't do, than with what one does do.

If you literally write down on your list everything that occurs to you, you will end up sooner or later (probably sooner) with a list that is so long that you cannot possibly do it all. Therefore the list needs to act as a sifting mechanism so that what is important (to you) gets done while stuff which isn't so important (or becomes less important to you) gets filtered out.

Although The Bounce is probably among the best of my existing systems at doing this, I've always been looking for something that does it better.

One day I shall find it!
February 26, 2017 at 16:30 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

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