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« Problem 4 - Wasting Time | Main | Problem 3 - Resistance »

Reviewing an Old Favourite

At the moment I’m trying to get a lot of work done before a holiday deadline. So I have turned to an old favourite of mine. I’m not sure it ever got a name - official or otherwise - but I wrote about it under the title of Another Simple and Effective Method.

It is a really effective method for powering through a lot of hard work. If you’ve never tried it then maybe you should. 

There is a problem with this method which is that it ends up with a lot of single tasks which have to be done on the next pass. I don’t like ever having no choice about what I do next so I have changed the rules to avoid singletons. The new rules are:

1. A single task is treated as part of the next group of tasks for the next selection.

2. If the single task is the one selected, then the next group of tasks is selected from again.

This sounds complicated but is easy in practice. It is just a matter of remembering that you must always give yourself a choice of tasks (at least two) to select from.

Reader Comments (4)

I use the method often at home. I mostly use it when I make a long list of things that must be done today. I like how it eases me into the work but makes sure everything gets done.
November 19, 2018 at 9:19 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
Thanks for reminding me about this method, Mark. In the past, I tried this method and abandoned it for some reason (I do not recall why). I tried it again all this week with the modifications you recommended - and it is an amazingly effective system.
November 23, 2018 at 10:24 | Unregistered CommenterPaul B
Hi Mark, thank you for this 'new' old system.

I like it a lot because it condenses in itself both the long list and the short list concept. After a while, it is like handling some short lists at once, so that the daunting and resisting effect of an overlong list doesn't kick in.

Just a question: from the original post ( I read: "choose a task from each section".

I have found this rule a bit problematic as this may interrupt rather than facilitating being in the flow.

I would rather prefer choosing each time which section to focus on, rather than being forced to do at least one task from each section. Indeed, with a long list one may have lots of sections, so one may be forced to follow a rather rigid scheme rather than relying on intuition when selecting the standing-out task.

What do you think?
December 6, 2018 at 14:36 | Unregistered CommenterFabio
Hi Mark,
I tried yesterday this new old system and it worked well.

I like the fact that it forces one to focus on closed lists which, eventually, get shorter and shorter.

However, I have seen that having to do one task from each section somehow disrupts the flow. That is, once a task is done, I have found it more effective to choose freely the next task (even from the new halves just created) rather than being forced to move to another section to do it.

In other words, once a task is done, one would be free to choose the section which to pick up the task from (including the last two sections just created).

By the way, this would solve the issue of not dealing properly with urgent tasks (which are at the end of the list), without losing the FIFO effect.
December 7, 2018 at 5:05 | Unregistered CommenterFabio

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