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« "Standing Out" | Main | High Volume, High Speed, Low Resistance - Final Test Result »
Wednesday
Jul192017

Real Autofocus?

French translation by Fred Mikusek

This method of dealing with a task list is the most effective I have yet found. It is based on simple scanning, that is to say going round and round the list doing tasks as and when they stand out.

This is in itself quite an effective method, but as I said here it suffers from two major related problems:

  1. The list tends to grow uncontrollably
  2. It gets spread over a large number of pages if you are using a notebook and pencil/pen. 

So what one ends up with is a huge backlog of tasks, which one doesn’t have a hope of ever clearing.

What is needed is a way of getting the list to self-limit in such a way that it focuses on what one can actually do within a couple of days or so.

Here’s how it works step-by-step. I’ve assumed you are using paper and pen/pencil, but it is easily adapted to work electronically. 


FIRST DAY 

  1. Start a new list. Don’t use an existing list.This is very important, otherwise you will overwhelm it before you’ve even started.
  2. Add other tasks to the end of the list as needed or as they occur to you throughout the day. Allow the list to build up gradually.
  3. Work the list by scanning it, taking action on those tasks that feel ready to be worked on.
  4. When you’ve worked enough on a task. cross it out. If it’s unfinished, re-write it at the end of the list. Do the same with tasks that will recur the same day or the next day.
  5. When you finish for the day draw a short horizontal line in the margin immediately after the last task on the list.

 

SECOND DAY

 

  1. Starting from the beginning of the list work as in rules 2-5 for the First Day.

 

 

SUBSEQUENT DAYS

 

  1. Extend the first of the two short line end-of-day markers (see rule 5) so that it goes right across the page.
  2. Start working from that line (i.e. ignore any tasks before it for the time being)
  3. When you reach the end of the list, go back to the beginning of the list.
  4. You now work only on the tasks between the beginning of the active list and the long horizontal line you drew at the beginning of the day:
    1. Scan them and DELETE any you no longer want to do at all
    2. Scan again and DEFER any you don’t want to do now to your schedule/calendar (do not just re-write them at the end of the list without taking any action on them)
    3. DO all the remaining tasks in order
  5. Continue working the rest of the list as in rules 2-5 for the first day.

 

IN SUMMARY, at the beginning of each day you work on yesterday’s tasks in the normal way, followed by today’s tasks. Then you clear ALL tasks remaining from the day before yesterday (DELETE, DEFER or DO). Once you’ve done that you carry on working yesterday and today’s tasks as normal.

Using this myself I was surprised how few tasks I needed to delete or defer. The list seemed to conform almost automatically to the amount of time I had available. I’ll be interested to know if it works that way for you too.

 

 

Reader Comments (157)

Eric (and all)

<< Do you always scan beginning to end of whatever section you are in? and then return to the beginning? I think this what you mean by circling - but not sure. >>

I've added an extra rule to the end of the instructions to make it clearer what I mean.
July 20, 2017 at 22:50 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark wrote:
<< And I wouldn't need to switch to the rival program if I wanted to post a screen shot ! >>

LOL! I use OneNote at work, the desktop version. And Evernote for sharing stuff online. OneNote's cloud solution is getting better, I hear, but I'm not using it yet.

When I'm working on paper, I tend to capture each task as a few words on the line in the notebook.

But when I'm working electronically, I tend to treat larger objects as tasks.

E.g., if there's a longer email I need to digest and extract the actions, I'll just count the whole email as a task. I throw the email into OneNote, which creates a "page" for it. I could do the same for Evernote, where it would create a whole new Note.

Another example is meeting minutes, with a bunch of action items embedded within. I'd treat the whole page of meeting minutes as a single task (which would likely get worked little-and-often till all the actions are done).

A "page" can also consist of a single word, like "email", and many of my recurring tasks are written that way.

If I end up breaking out my personal stuff into a separate list, and I go electronic, I'd probably do it in Evernote, and set it up something like this:

- Notebook for Today
- Notebook for Yesterday
- Notebook for Delete Defer Do

I'd then set my default notebook for new items to the Today notebook.

Everything I throw into Evernote would then show up as a Note in Today, and each such Note would represent a task.

Sorting by Modified Date would then get re-entered items sorted correctly.

But all of this reflects my own idiosyncratic way of working -- I could see how your checklist approach would be very effective if you express your tasks electronically as a few words of text as one would do on paper.
July 20, 2017 at 23:07 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
It surprises me that anyone would find OneNote confusing. I find Evernote puzzling because it doesn't appear to structure anything and I never get the hang of using a tag system.

OneNote meanwhile is nothing other than a 4-ring binder with tabs (labelling the sections and pages). If you understand a binder with sections, that's all you need to understand OneNote. There's no tagging or indexing or sorting, just pages. Now using one page per task in a todo list is unique but it works because the tabs make all the items visible at once down the side of your binder. And then you get the advantage of keeping details with your task.
July 21, 2017 at 2:05 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
<< Now using one page per task in a todo list is unique but it works because the tabs make all the items visible at once down the side of your binder. And then you get the advantage of keeping details with your task. >>

Yes, exactly!! :-)
July 21, 2017 at 6:42 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
I have some doubts about what scanning means exactly:

First day, rule 3: <<Work the list by scanning it, taking action on those tasks that feel ready to be worked on.>>

Does it mean:
- I go through the list until I find FIRST task which is standing out and do some action on it and then I go back to the following/next task and continue scanning?
- Or I quickly scan all the tasks in the list and then, second time, I go through the list more carefully, waiting for what stands out or comparing more tasks which stands out? (Autofocus-like?)
- Or I can take scanning more liberally, going up, down, back up, scanning somehow chaotically until something stands out? (of course, apart from situation when the rules say that I should scan just once (beginning of the day: yesterday-today) or do tasks in order (delete-defer-do section).

Thanks a lot.
July 21, 2017 at 7:47 | Unregistered CommenterDaneb
Seraphim,

How do you flag completed tasks? simply delete them?

If I were to go virtual, I'd probably use Outlook Tasks ( I live in Outlook), with date based views on current and old tasks.

http://hpe-my.sharepoint.com/personal/will_ross_hpe_com/_layouts/15/guestaccess.aspx?guestaccesstoken=j3R9uwkTKmJ2yhW7IAw8NkN081JzE4UcGlZHU%2bi7Yn8%3d&docid=2_0834e56f6060f44b3848eff4117a62734&rev=1 Not sure if that link will survive the company firewall. If not, and anyone is interested, let me know.
July 21, 2017 at 10:45 | Registered CommenterWill
Seraphim:

<< I could see how your checklist approach would be very effective if you express your tasks electronically as a few words of text as one would do on paper. >>

Although I don't use it myself (preferring the simplicity of paper and pencil) it's easy enough in Evernote to link a task to a document such as an email or meeting minutes. Or you can group any collection of documents together and link the lot to a task. And you can link the same document to more than one task.

And you can add check boxes within documents so you don't miss any action points.
July 21, 2017 at 11:21 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Alun Baljeu:

<< OneNote meanwhile is nothing other than a 4-ring binder with tabs (labelling the sections and pages). If you understand a binder with sections, that's all you need to understand OneNote. There's no tagging or indexing or sorting, just pages. >>

I'd find that far too restrictive. The great advantage of Evernote is that is that you can organize things any way you like, different things in different ways, or even the same things in different ways at the same time.
July 21, 2017 at 11:46 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Daneb:

<<I have some doubts about what scanning means exactly:>>

The first paragraph of the instructions defines scanning:

"This method of dealing with a task list is the most effective I have yet found. It is based on simple scanning, that is to say going round and round the list doing tasks as and when they stand out."

<< Does it mean:
<< - I go through the list until I find FIRST task which is standing out and do some action on it >>

You go through the list until you come to a task which stands out and take some action on it.

<< and then I go back to the following/next task and continue scanning? >>

You continue scanning in the same direction.

<< - Or I quickly scan all the tasks in the list and then, second time, I go through the list more carefully, waiting for what stands out or comparing more tasks which stands out? (Autofocus-like?) >>

You just go round and round the list doing tasks as and when they stand out. Leave it up to the "standing out" process to decide how many tasks to do on each pass.

<< - Or I can take scanning more liberally, going up, down, back up, scanning somehow chaotically until something stands out? >>

No.

<< (of course, apart from situation when the rules say that I should scan just once (beginning of the day: yesterday-today) or do tasks in order (delete-defer-do section). >>

Yes.
July 21, 2017 at 12:07 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Will:

<< Not sure if that link will survive the company firewall. If not, and anyone is interested, let me know. >>

It's asking for email/phone and password.
July 21, 2017 at 12:37 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Hi,

i implemented this in Outlook Tasks, grouping by start date and sorted by created date. To reenter a task it is best to copy it (Right click drag to the Tasks list on the bottom left) and check off the old task to give it a new "date created."

Seraphim, I used to use onenote for tasks but now find it to use the outlook flag in one note to move to do items to Outlook.

Alan and Mark: OneNote is more like a binder than evernote, but there are a lot of non-binder like features, including tagging and linking that makes it (in my opinion) as powerful as Evernote
July 21, 2017 at 14:17 | Unregistered Commentervegheadjones
I started my new Real Autofocus list on Tuesday afternoon. The notebook I am currently using has 26 lines per page. I just finished the DELETE, DEFER, DO process for the day before yesterday's tasks. The outstanding tasks by page are:

1 - 0
2 - 0
3 - 13
4 - 13
5 - 16
6 - 1 (only task on page)

So far I have taken action on 88 tasks and I have 43 tasks remaining.

This week is very busy for me, with one very large project due by end of day Saturday and lots of appointments on my calendar the past couple of days and between now and then.

I feel like I am going to make it with this method. I feel like I know what to say No to including requests from others I need to defer to next week.
July 21, 2017 at 15:26 | Unregistered CommenterStuart Tattum
vegheadjones:

<< OneNote is more like a binder than evernote, but there are a lot of non-binder like features, including tagging and linking that makes it (in my opinion) as powerful as Evernote >>

It's actually been a very long time since I've looked at OneNote so I'm sure it's got many more features now. But from what Seraphim was saying the one area it still falls down in is synchronizing across platforms. I would find it very difficult to do without that.
July 21, 2017 at 17:24 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
@ellie520: (dealing with work tasks during weekend)

- One way is having two separate lists as Mark suggested.

- Another way: On Sunday, copy (only the) Friday WORK tasks to today (=Sunday) list. With NON-WORK Friday tasks, deal normally via delete-defer-do. So the alternate sequence would be copy(work)-delete-defer-do(non-work). On Sunday you will probably not do any work tasks (which you put on today=Sunday list) but on Monday, they will be appropriately on "yesterday" list, which is what you want.

- Another alternative would be - on Sunday, deal with Friday tasks as: ignore (work-tasks) -delete-defer-do(non-work tasks). Mark ignored tasks somehow if you need. But there is no need as they are tasks which stayed uncompleted/unmoved in Friday list. On Monday, deal with them as part of yesterday (Sunday) list. On Tuesday, deal with them also as part of Sunday list (delete-defer-do). You can make a note in Sunday list so as not to forget.

This are of course two untried ideas, I will test them during this weekend as I want to mix work and non-work items in one list (I am working mainly from home) but I do not usually want to work during weekends.
July 21, 2017 at 19:45 | Unregistered CommenterDaneb
(continuation of previous comment) Sorry for confusion, I did not realize that on Saturday, I will also have to deal with work tasks (Thursday delete-defer-do). I will do the same as suggested in both alternatives - either move them to Saturday list (but not working on them) or ignore (mark) them on Thursday list and on Monday I will consider them together with Saturday tasks (delete-defer-do).
July 21, 2017 at 20:10 | Unregistered CommenterDaneb
ellie520 and daneb:

I am anticipating that handling Work tasks over the weekend will be relatively simple. Any Work tasks from Thursday that I still want to do and don't have to do tomorrow will be deferred to Monday or another day next week when I DELETE, DEFER, DO tomorrow (Saturday). During the day tomorrow when I scan the list I assume I won't feel like doing any or most work tasks from today (Friday), they won't stand out to me. When I DELETE, DEFER, DO on Sunday any Work tasks from Friday will be deferred to Monday or another day next week unless I feel I need to work on any of them.
July 21, 2017 at 22:16 | Unregistered CommenterStuart Tattum
If I were going to do one list for both work (5 day week) and personal (7-day week), I think the way I'd do it would be the stalagmite/stalactite method, For those of you don't know what this is, you write personal tasks from the top of the page downwards and work tasks from the bottom of the page upwards (or vice versa). When they meet you delineate the boundary with some sort of distinctive marking.

On Saturday and Sunday you would just ignore any tasks on the Work side of the boundary and pick them up on Monday as if the weekend hadn't existed. Nothing difficult about that at all.

You aren't restricted to weekends either. Any days off work can be treated the same way.

What's more, it will work the other way round on those occasions when you are away from home on a work trip and can't do any personal stuff.
July 22, 2017 at 1:15 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Clearing all tasks remaining from the day before yesterday reminds me the lizard dropping tail. Brilliant!
July 22, 2017 at 7:38 | Unregistered CommenterShamil
Thanks a lot for sharing this.
I made a quick translation in French of this very interesting article.

http://fmblg.blogspot.fr/2017/07/real-autofocus-nouvelle-methode-de.html

If You speak French, tell me what You think.
July 22, 2017 at 9:22 | Unregistered Commenterfredm
fredm:

Thanks for this. I'll put a link to it if I may. One thing you've missed is that i've added a new paragraph 5 to SUBSEQUENT DAYS. Otherwise it looks fine to me.

I particularly like that you've added quite a lot of points from the Comments. In fact I like it so much that I might have to translate them back into English and add them to the article!
July 22, 2017 at 12:25 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I have question,

Ive been ini third day using this system.

1. I've done scanning from yesterday tasks and today tasks
2. Now im scanning day before yesterday tasks, with DELETE, DEFFER, DO
3. looks like i cannot finish do all tasks in DO, because wait for someone tonight

My question: should i scan yesterday and today tasks before finish all DELETE, DEFFER, DO process?

Or you must must DELETE, DEFFER, DO process before you move next scan yesterday and today tasks?

Thanks, Mark
July 22, 2017 at 12:33 | Unregistered CommenterNanda
What an interesting system. I'm on my third day on this system, so the Delete-Defer-Do step has kicked in....and I can see how powerful this is. It keeps you focused on your current priorities. So far, I love it.
July 22, 2017 at 14:57 | Unregistered CommenterPaul B
Mark, your French link is broken.
July 22, 2017 at 15:27 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
@Mark
Thanks for adding a link (but it should be http://fmblg.blogspot.fr/2017/07/real-autofocus-nouvelle-methode-de.html instead of http://markforster.squarespace.com/blog/2017/7/19/ss_temp_url (broken link)).
I have added a new paragraph 5 to SUBSEQUENT DAYS.

@Alan
Thanks for noticing the broken link.

@Nanda
If you run out of time, I suppose you do whatever you can about the tasks DO and then write then again at the end of the list. They will stand out tomorrow morning.
July 22, 2017 at 16:12 | Unregistered Commenterfredm
Alan Baljeu:

<< your French link is broken. >>

Thanks. I don't know how that happened. Now fixed.
July 22, 2017 at 17:19 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Nanda

That's an interesting question.

As I understand it, what has happened is that now you have reached Day 3 and are having to deal with the Day-Before-Yesterday's tasks for the first time. Your problem is that you have too many tasks left in that day to clear in the time available.

These tasks would be the ones still unactioned of those you entered into the system on Day 1.

This illustrates the importance of following my advice to let the list build up gradually and not to put everything in it at once.

What's the remedy?

You know approximately how much time you have available today. You need to re-scan the Day-Before-Yesterday's tasks and DELETE or DEFER enough tasks so you can DO the remainder in the time available. Make sure that the DEFERRED tasks are not all deferred to the same date, otherwise you will just have the same problem in a few days' time.
July 22, 2017 at 17:44 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
fredm:

<< I have added a new paragraph 5 to SUBSEQUENT DAYS. >>

Great!

<< If you run out of time, I suppose you do whatever you can about the tasks DO and then write then again at the end of the list. They will stand out tomorrow morning. >>

No, see my reply to Nanda above.
July 22, 2017 at 17:50 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark,

As I understand it, what has happened is that now you have reached Day 3 and are having to deal with the Day-Before-Yesterday's tasks for the first time. Your problem is that you have too many tasks left in that day to clear in the time available.

Yes you are right. I put all my tasks in the system

What's the remedy?
Thanks for this, Mark.

Make sure that the DEFERRED tasks are not all deferred to the same date, otherwise you will just have the same problem in a few day's time.

Im deffering to days ahead right now, so glad you tell me this.

Once again, thank you very much
July 22, 2017 at 17:53 | Unregistered CommenterNanda
So how do you deal with semi-urgent stuff while you're in the "DO" phase of DELETE-DEFER-DO? The instructions say that you should finish everything from the day-before-yesterday before continuing to scan yesterday's and today's list, so just writing it at the end of the list will not really work. Even if you do only a little work on all DO-stuff from before yesterday it could take quite a while before you reach the end today's list.

I see several options:
* do urgent stuff as it shows up, just as in the original Autofocus (but that's tricky for semi-urgent things, when to decide if something is urgent enough to make you leave working the list).
* get in the habit of leaving as little as possible tasks on yesterday's list to avoid the problem altogether.
* start every day with a quick scan of yesterday's and today's list and immediately proceed to the tasks from before yesterday to get them cleared as early in the day as possible.

Mark, I assume you would advocate the second option? Any other suggestions?
July 22, 2017 at 18:01 | Unregistered CommenterNicole
So how do you deal with semi-urgent stuff while you're in the "DO" phase of DELETE-DEFER-DO? The instructions say that you should finish everything from the day-before-yesterday before continuing to scan yesterday's and today's list, so just writing it at the end of the list will not really work. Even if you do only a little work on all DO-stuff from before yesterday it could take quite a while before you reach the end today's list.

I see several options:
* do urgent stuff as it shows up, just as in the original Autofocus (but that's tricky for semi-urgent things, when to decide if something is urgent enough to make you leave working the list).
* get in the habit of leaving as little as possible tasks on yesterday's list to avoid the problem altogether.
* start every day with a quick scan of yesterday's and today's list and immediately proceed to the tasks from before yesterday to get them cleared as early in the day as possible.

Mark, I assume you would advocate the second option? Any other suggestions?
July 22, 2017 at 18:01 | Unregistered CommenterNicole
Mark,

What are you using for deffering tasks? Is it some kind digital reminder (like phone's tasks, calendar) or are you using something like notebook diary?

What do you suggest?
July 22, 2017 at 18:41 | Unregistered CommenterNanda
Might be weird question, what if there's so many tasks from yesterday that you didn't get any done that are supposed to be done today? It says you should do yesterday's tasks first, then today's.

So far, it has been really great for me and has massively increased my productivity, I think.
July 22, 2017 at 23:16 | Unregistered CommenterYoyorast
Nicole:

<< Mark, I assume you would advocate the second option? >>

Yes, you're right. If you have so many tasks for DDD that you are worried about getting to semi-urgent tasks, then you have too many.

<< Any other suggestions? >>

The way to avoid having too many tasks for DDD is not to put too many tasks on the list in the first place.
July 22, 2017 at 23:22 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Nanda:

<< What are you using for deffering tasks? Is it some kind digital reminder (like phone's tasks, calendar) or are you using something like notebook diary? >>

I have a digital calendar of my own design on Evernote, and I put tasks for specific days in the Comments column. I can access it on my desktop, my smartphone and any other computer in the world provided it has an internet connection. My wife has a link to the calendar and can see it on her laptop.
July 22, 2017 at 23:33 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Yoyorast:

<< what if there's so many tasks from yesterday that you didn't get any done that are supposed to be done today? It says you should do yesterday's tasks first, then today's. >>

I think you have probably put too many tasks on your list. My advice is to start again with a fresh list. And this time pay close attention to what I saId in the instructions:

" 1. Start a new list. Don’t use an existing list.This is very important, otherwise you will overwhelm it before you’ve even started.

" 2. Add other tasks to the end of the list as needed or as they occur to you throughout the day. Allow the list to build up gradually."
July 22, 2017 at 23:43 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Hi Mark, great new system!
I was wondering if you would be able to develop something, or expand this system for those who can't always clear the incoming tasks in a couple of days. I can see this system could create quite long lists of deferred tasks. A robust system to handle deferred tasks would be great...
July 23, 2017 at 8:41 | Unregistered CommenterMrBacklog
MrBacklog:

<< I can see this system could create quite long lists of deferred tasks. >>

So can I!

In fact the whole idea of the system is to keep your workload down to what you can actually do. So a long list of deferred tasks is self-defeating.

<< A robust system to handle deferred tasks would be great. >>

I think the easiest way to handle this would be to put a low limit on the number of tasks that can be deferred to a particular day. So if the limit were three a day, and one day you had 15 tasks you wanted to defer, then you would have to spread those tasks over five days (more if some of those slots were already filled).
July 23, 2017 at 10:39 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Thanks Mark, that will work nicely.
I can see the system is a bit like juggling 3 balls.
Yesterday tasks, today tasks and deferred tasks.
Take on too much at one time and you drop the balls. Get it right and a perfect system for getting everything done at the right time.
Lovely!
July 23, 2017 at 11:16 | Unregistered CommenterMrBacklog
If using this with a with a notebook, do you just leave deferred tasks uncompleted behind the lines, and then review them later?
July 23, 2017 at 12:40 | Unregistered CommenterYoyorast
Yoyorast:

No, when I defer a task I move it immediately off the list.
July 23, 2017 at 12:54 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
MrBacklog:

<< I can see the system is a bit like juggling 3 balls >>

Yes, that's a good way of putting it.
July 23, 2017 at 12:56 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I spent one day using Real Autofocus and loved it! However, I have a project that requires large time blocks daily. Part of the reason I loved the process is because I didn't spend the necessary amount of time on this priority project. I am going to try rewarding myself with my RA list after completing a time block and will report back.
July 23, 2017 at 15:53 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie Wilson
It's not hard to implement next hour with this is it? I found out about next hour a while ago, and the focus it gave me was insane.
July 23, 2017 at 16:06 | Unregistered CommenterYoyorast
Mark -

<< The way to avoid having too many tasks for DDD is not to put too many tasks on the list in the first place. >>

How do you do that in actual practice?

(You've already emphasized to start with a new list and let it grow naturally. My question assumes we've already done that but still need to control how much new stuff gets added to the list.)

I find that hard to do in practice with any catch-all system -- it's supposed to be a catch-all system, after all.
July 23, 2017 at 19:03 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
After reading all these comments, it's clear that there is a mixture of new-system enthusiasm and issues/concerns developing already with list growth, backlog, anxiety over delete vs deferral, etc. As usual, several folks have ignored Mark's instruction to start with a fresh list.

Confession: I haven't tried it yet. I'm hesitating for two reasons:

(1) I prefer a synced app-based method (macOS & iOS), and haven't imagined how best to do it - seems better with a paper pad or notebook.

(2) I have inferred (perhaps incorrectly) that success with this system depends on being judicious about what one adds to the list, which seems antithetical to the catch-all nature of the AF systems in general.
July 23, 2017 at 19:27 | Registered Commenterubi
Seraphim:

What I have found with this system is that the effect of DDD on the day before yesterday has been to keep it in balance. In other words it has the psychological effect of causing me to restrict the amount of work I put on the list to what I can reasonably expect to do.

Of course it's perfectly possible to break the system if one really tries, which is why it's so important to build up gradually until one reaches equilibrium. As I've already said I find I tend to stay within the range of 40-45 tasks on the list at the end of the day, but to be doing 70-90 tasks in the course of the day.

<< it's supposed to be a catch-all system, after all. >>

Is it? I don't recall having said that. My description of it was high-speed, high volume, low resistance.
July 23, 2017 at 19:31 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
<< Is it? I don't recall having said that. >>

It's in all the blog posts running up to the final one. For example, in the July 17th post:
<< Bear in mind that I was trying to find a way of processing a “catch-all” list without ending up with a huge number of tasks spread over many pages of notebook. >>

This seems to imply the system was intended to be a catch-all list. But you are right, you did not describe it that way in the actual system description. So I maybe I read too much into the run-up posts.

If that's the case, then it leads to another question. If it's not intended as a catch-all list, then what SHOULD it catch?

Based on your last response, I think the answer would be something like this: Start by putting everything that needs to get done. Over time, you will develop a better sense of what really needs to get done, and that's what you will put in the list, and this will happen naturally. So it is still intended to catch everything that needs to get done -- but your attitude toward this will change over the course of using the system.

Is that essentially what you mean?
July 23, 2017 at 20:39 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
After working this system for a few days, I realized that the system pre-supposes that important tasks should be worked on at least every other day, or, if you want to keep the system in check without risking a lot of stuff on D-D-D, every day. You could tweak this by changing what you designate D-D-D, for example changing it to the day before the day before yesterday instead of the day before yesterday. Have you tried that, Mark? Or would it dilute important tasks too much?
July 23, 2017 at 21:25 | Unregistered CommenterNicole
Like Seraphim, I was under the impression from the blog posts leading up to the instructions that this would be a catch-all system. I think I'm already in the process of breaking this system by overloading it with too much tasks that I can't possibly complete within the next few days. But as Seraphim also remarked, my attitude towards the system already changes while working it, making me reconsider when I put something on the list if that's really something I want/need/have to be doing within a few days.
July 23, 2017 at 21:30 | Unregistered CommenterNicole
And to add to my previous comment about changing the time scale that's being designated D-D-D: that would boil down to juggling 4 balls instead of 3. Maybe not such a good idea...
July 23, 2017 at 21:32 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

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