My Latest Book

Product Details

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

To Think About . . .
Routine is not the enemy, but is the foundation of creativity. Paint daily. Dance weekly. Write monthly. Explore yearly. Rick Carter
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
Latest Comments
Log-in
« Guess which? | Main | The Natural Selection of Tasks »
Tuesday
Feb072017

Natural Selection Changes the Emphasis

One of the things that is coming out in the comments to yesterday’s post on The Natural Selection of Tasks is that the commenters are still thinking in terms of getting everything on the list done. But the whole point of Natural Selection is that you don’t get everything done or even aim to get everything done. You allow tasks and projects to find their own level.

The difference could be summarised as: 

  1. A comprehensive list of everything that needs to be done, OR
  2. A wide-ranging list of everything that you might do

 In the case of 1, the aim is to do everything on the list as quickly as possible whether you want to or not.

In the case of 2, the aim is to whittle the list down to what you are actually ready and motivated to do.

It should be obvious that there will be one major difference between how these two lists get actioned. In the case of 1, you will be continually struggling against procrastination. In the case of 2, procrastination will be virtually non-existent. 

In the absence of procrastination, the speed of work will be much greater. Therefore in theory you will get much more work done in the case of 2 than you would in the case of 1.

In practice, I have found this to be so. I have powered through mountains of work in the last few days, including stuff which I have been stuck over for weeks (even months in a few cases).

I know that my experience of a system doesn’t necessarily correspond to somone else’s experience, so this may not be for everyone. But I do encourage you to have a go  However make sure that you have first taken on board what I said at the end of yesterday’s article:

…the difference is not so much in the method as in the mental attitude that goes with it. It’s a matter of learning to trust that your subconscious mind is quite capable of sorting through your tangled priorities without any interference from your conscious mind. In fact it does a much better job on its own.

Reader Comments (16)

I take that attitude you refer to as one of escaping from the "already assumed", or already known. It's often assumed that the mind is the brain, or even just the intellect. Instead, if we assume that a person suffuses the whole of their body, then we may pause and involve our whole being to see what "stands out" instead.
February 7, 2017 at 21:32 | Unregistered Commentermichael
michael:

I think I would sum it up as "Just do what stands out and accept the results". No need to construct a theoretical structure round it - in fact it would probably get in the way if one did.
February 8, 2017 at 0:02 | Unregistered CommenterMark Forster
I think I shall try, "not so much in the method", but applying "the mental attitude that goes with it" and see how things turn out.
February 8, 2017 at 2:18 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
I'm trying this with AF4 right now. It'll be interesting to see what weeding to use with that. Right now I'm just doing it by hand like one would in FV(P)
February 8, 2017 at 5:56 | Unregistered CommenterRyan Freckleton
Alan Baljeu:

<< I think I shall try, "not so much in the method", but applying "the mental attitude that goes with it" and see how things turn out. >>

This is good, but the method I give (simple scanning) was deliberately chosen as one that doesn't put pressure on getting certain tasks done.
February 8, 2017 at 8:37 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Ryan Freckleton:

<< I'm trying this with AF4 right now. It'll be interesting to see what weeding to use with that. Right now I'm just doing it by hand like one would in FV(P) >>

What advantage do you see AF4 having over the method I recommend in this article?
February 8, 2017 at 8:40 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Long-time readers of this blog may want to Google "catch-all list" on this blog to see the evolution of Mark's thinking on the topic. Makes for interesting reading.

Mark even wrote about this current experiment a while back in a kind of "huh, look at that" kind of way ( http://markforster.squarespace.com/blog/2016/3/25/catch-all-revisited.html ) and these last two posts continue the evolution.

The catch-all list has been a problem with developing a rigorous system because we seem to have a rule in our minds that says we must "get everything done and ASAP", but relaxing the 'commitment rule' does change the game. Without getting too woo-woo, it does come back to trusting your 'self' to do the right thing without needing a mental drill sergeant to keep your 'self' in line (even if the drill is just asking yourself two one-word questions).

I'm giving this a try this week at work and at home. And as I always have to remind myself -- a calendar and a commitments list are still good to have on hand.
February 8, 2017 at 14:42 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown
Mark,

Are you still working on The Systematic Next Hour, or any other systematic no-list system?

I am a long-time reader but first-time poster. I bought "Secrets of Productive People" on Kindle and loved it. Your no-list systems (SMEMA, 5T) changed my life.
February 8, 2017 at 20:39 | Unregistered Commenterno-list fan
re Mark

<< What advantage do you see AF4 having over the method I recommend in this article? >>

I've been having issues with focus and follow through and my hope was to have a system that helped with that. I also didn't want something that was based on pages. Since last night, I've switched to following your directions fully, which has simplified things significantly and seems to have sped things up.

I'm still unsure how to handle weeding, but will come up with a policy when and if I need it.
February 8, 2017 at 21:22 | Unregistered CommenterRyan Freckleton
Mark:

reminds me of the way Future Self lived in "Dreams".
February 8, 2017 at 22:34 | Unregistered Commentermichael
no-list fan:

<< Are you still working on The Systematic Next Hour, or any other systematic no-list system? >>

I do my best, but even I am not actually capable of using more than one system at the same time!

But seriously, I didn't succeed in finding a way of making any no-list system more systematic than they are already. But I shall probably come back to it at some stage.

<< I bought "Secrets of Productive People" on Kindle and loved it. Your no-list systems (SMEMA, 5T) changed my life. >>

If they changed your life, then I'd stick with them if I were you!
February 8, 2017 at 23:22 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Ryan Freckleton:

<< I'm still unsure how to handle weeding, but will come up with a policy when and if I need it. >>

The weeding is a secondary matter. Use whatever suits you best.
February 8, 2017 at 23:25 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
michael:

<< reminds me of the way Future Self lived in "Dreams".>>

That hadn't occurred to me, but now you mention it I can certainly see some resemblances.
February 8, 2017 at 23:28 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
My outlook on FAF and "catch-all" systems in general have been going towards this direction of "A wide-ranging list of everything that you might do", or, as I have been getting to call them before, "weeks-long brainstorms". I have actually found it hard to think of such systems even before as "A comprehensive list of everything that needs to be done," because that essentially is a to-do list, which Mark Forster numerous times have said to be not what the AF systems are.

Anyways, I found that embracing this system's mentality of, "There is no such thing as procrastination. What we call “procrastination” is just our minds working through the selection process," can result in some ways of scanning the list that is foreign to the other systems in this website. I have been finding myself scanning the whole list multiple times to zero in on a task that I want to do. Usually what will happen is that on first scan of the list I will find more than a few tasks that will stand out only a little, but on second and a few more scans most of these would just fade to the background with a handful popping out, from which upon further scanning I will zero in on one task that I am certain is the one that I want to do right now. This kind of scanning is unheard of in the AF's, but it feels naturally to be the way to scan using this system, and this feeling of certainty makes resistance melt away.
February 10, 2017 at 1:21 | Registered Commenternuntym
With this type of system would you recommend having separate lists for each location (ex. Work and Home) or would you have one catch all list?
February 12, 2017 at 13:51 | Unregistered CommenterDiana
Diana:

Really this has to be a matter of individual preference. There are too many factors affecting individuals to be able to lay down a standard recommendation. Having said that, I personally tend to favour separate lists for each location - but it does depend on how much overlap there is, whether you work for yourself or for other people, how long you have during the day for private stuff, whether you take work home, etc. etc.

It comes down to trying different methods out and choosing the one that suits you best.
February 12, 2017 at 15:43 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

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.