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« Thoughts on the Long List (2) | Main | Thoughts on the Long List »
Sunday
Jun252017

Anchored Autofocus2

Until a few days ago I was using simple scanning for my experiments with the long list, but in the last few days I’ve been using a modified version of Autofocus 2 (AF2) to give me a bit more flexibility. So far this has been working very well - but it’s early days yet. I’m describing it now for anyone who wants to try it out - but please bear in mind that it has not been properly tested.

There are two ways in which this is different from AF2: 

  • There is no dismissal procedure
  • After you have done a task, you may do the next active task on the list in either direction from the task you have just done. You continue to do this until you don’t want to do either of the adjacent tasks. Then you return to the end of the list, perform another scan and repeat the process. 

Example:

Email
Sharpen Pencils
Prepare Planning Meeting
Arrange Group Photo
Call John re Project X
Voicemail
Check Proofs
Submit Expenses
Order New Front Tyres
Buy 300 copies of Secrets of Productive People

From the end of the list scan back to the first task that feels ready to be worked on, and work on it. Re-enter if necessary.

Email
Sharpen Pencils
Prepare Planning Meeting
Arrange Group Photo
Call John re Project X
Voicemail
Check Proofs
Submit Expenses
Order New Front Tyres
Buy 300 copies of Secrets of Productive People
Flowers for J
Voicemail

 

You now have a choice of Call John, Check Proofs, or rescanning:

Email
Sharpen Pencils
Prepare Planning Meeting
Arrange Group Photo
Call John re Project X
Voicemail
Check Proofs
Submit Expenses
Order New Front Tyres
Buy 300 copies of Secrets of Productive People
Flowers for J
Check Bank Balance
Voicemail

You now have a choice of Arrange Group Photo, Check Proofs, or rescanning:

Email
Sharpen Pencils
Prepare Planning Meeting
Arrange Group Photo
Call John re Project X
Voicemail
Check Proofs
Submit Expenses
Order New Front Tyres
Buy 300 copies of Secrets of Productive People

Flowers for J
Check Bank Balance
Voicemail

You now have a choice of Prepare Planning Meeting, Check Proofs, or rescanning. You decide to re-scan:

Email
Sharpen Pencils
Prepare Planning Meeting
Arrange Group Photo
Call John re Project X
Voicemail

Check Proofs
Submit Expenses
Order New Front Tyres
Buy 300 copies of Secrets of Productive People

Flowers for J
Check Bank Balance
Voicemail
Email

Note that as you now are at the beginning of the list you only have one task to choose from - Sharpen Pencils - or rescan..

Reader Comments (5)

Always glad to see a new post!

Because it seems like rescan is always an option, what benefits do you get from this method vs. someone who picks and chooses what they feel like doing from a long list?
June 26, 2017 at 1:15 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
> Buy 300 copies of Secrets of Productive People

That's still 299 to go for me. Quite something, but still better than most I suppose.
June 26, 2017 at 4:40 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher
Reducing the number of options to choose from to three seems like a good idea to reduce procrastination. Just like choosing something to eat from a short menu is much easier.
Why did you abandon the AF2 dismissal? Without it, couldn't there be less Motivation to get to the start of the list?
June 26, 2017 at 7:55 | Unregistered CommenterDino
Ryan:

<< Because it seems like rescan is always an option, what benefits do you get from this method vs. someone who picks and chooses what they feel like doing from a long list?

The advantages of AF2 are listed in the linked article.

The main criticism of AF2 was that to get to the earlier tasks in the list you had to scan back for each individual task through many pages. In this "anchored" version, once you've got back to an earlier part of the list you can stay there for as long as you have contiguous tasks to take action on..
June 27, 2017 at 15:59 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
"Bidirectional" anchored autofocus


..... You continue to do this until you don’t want to do either of the adjacent tasks. [new rule:] Then you go to the other side of the list and perform a scan in the opposit direction.... and so on, scanning upward from the end of the list, and downward from the beging of the list ...

In this way you give equal opportunities to tasks at the beginning and at the end of the list, mantainig the "anchoring" idea ....
July 4, 2017 at 10:00 | Unregistered Commenternick61

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