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« Lenten Challenge: FFVP | Main | Change to Fast FVP »
Monday
Feb122018

An interesting link

Daniel Brownlees has forwarded me a link to his new system Pivotlist.  It’s very much on the same wavelength as some of the methods discussed on this website, but not identical to any!

Reader Comments (28)

It is interesting and has some similarities. The idea of dividing thing up into smaller organized list is quite different (although it has some similarities to closed lists). There is a standing out principle while doing things. I have just started trying it out tonight.
February 13, 2018 at 6:44 | Unregistered CommenterDon R
Well, isn't this just plain GTD with some new terminology? The unsorted list is the capture phase tool which then gets sorted into context (=pivot) lists
February 13, 2018 at 6:58 | Unregistered CommenterDino
A tad too complex for me. Curious what the other readers who are trying this will come up to, keep us updated ;)!
February 13, 2018 at 7:53 | Unregistered CommenterFrancesco
I've used similar system (4 to 6 columns on one page with simple lists for projects or places), but it didn't work good. I used to ignore some projects/places and overdo others. Lists of tasks for projects/places written on different pages led to total mess.
February 13, 2018 at 13:31 | Unregistered CommenterVarya
Short: not a system except at the most basic level

Long: many ideas similar to Mark's, similar to GTD, similar to Kanban. Not bad, but lacks the crystal clear cohesion needed for day-to-day use by other people
February 13, 2018 at 14:33 | Unregistered Commentermcogilvie
Reminded me of Planner Pad:
http://plannerpads.com/
February 13, 2018 at 14:36 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
It has similarities to GTD as people have mentioned but misses a key concept of pivotlist which is breaking it down into smaller pivots as needed and deciding on your own pivots. [work] and [home] are just examples which correspond to GTD contexts but the only reason you use more than one list is just to keep the lists short to begin with.
February 13, 2018 at 15:23 | Unregistered CommenterDon R
This system seems underwhelming to me as well. He uses incorrect terminology:

β€’ sort => filter by context
β€’ pivot => context
β€’ secondary pivot => tag (e.g. for urgency or specific project)

and then it all gets to be a mess with multiple square-bracketed "pivots" to handle projects, work-flows, etc. It involves rewriting sublists and then having to keep things on multiple sheets or pages and/or fold the paper just right to focus.

By the end of the description, I'm not seeing how it's any better than full-blown GTD or some other complex system.
February 13, 2018 at 18:20 | Registered Commenterubi
NO. Pivots are not contexts. But they can be. Nor are they tags. Pivots are mutually exclusive (except for projects). Tags generally aren't.
February 13, 2018 at 20:38 | Unregistered CommenterDon R
IMHO, in trying to supposedly simplify GTD, Pivotlist ends up being a slightly more ambiguous system that frankly demands a lot from a system on pen and paper.

What I found particularly interesting was the author's link (in the FAQ) to this other post about another system called "Get Sh*t Done" - http://utilware.com/gsd3.html ... now in reading that (very brief) blog post, I see some of Mark's ideas resonated in how the author approaches choosing daily tasks to do.

But at the end of the day, nothing has worked for me nearly as effectively Mark's systems... and I think I'm on a particular high now with Fast FVP - I (think) I've managed to mimic the paper version version quite well using an Workflowy-like outlining app called Dynalist.

For gifting me with a system that really is ridiculously simple but effective - Mark, I thank you πŸ™‡
February 14, 2018 at 1:25 | Unregistered CommenterSabeer
All I can say when reading that article is that "that escalated quickly"

From starting out with KISS to ending with workflows and temporal pivots!! Mind boggling
February 14, 2018 at 2:09 | Unregistered CommenterNico
I didn't read too closely because I'm not looking for a brand new system. But, I get the very strong impression that this only seems complex (compared to say FFVP) mainly because this guy has a different set of shorthand phrases compared to Mark (e.g. little and often, standing out, closed list backlog.) Once you start to intuit these other notions, I bet the system is rather simple.
February 14, 2018 at 2:31 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
I like the aspect of pulling out a certain number of tasks from the main list and forgetting about the rest until they need to be done.
I think that is very powerful. Especially if you isolate a number of tasks at the start of the day and clear them all by the end of the day. A good sense of achievement.

Also, if there are lots of tasks then I think the system is better suited to electronic rather than paper. They would be easier to manipulate and save writing out all the tasks twice or more. Perhaps paper is ideal if you have got a low number tasks.

I just wonder if there is any point in writing out tasks once in the unsorted list and again into a pivot list. Why not put the tasks straight into the appropriate pivot lists? Forget about the task and then do it at the right time?

Oh I wish I could end up with 10 tasks!
February 14, 2018 at 10:14 | Unregistered CommenterMrBacklog
My list was beginning to get a bit mushy. Inspired by this post, I split out some tasks to supporting lists and put in placeholder tasks to review the lists.

Then it occurred to me that I could have achieved much the same effect by rewriting the connected tasks at the bottom of the list.

eg

❏ June-Oct P&L
❏ check out HART
❏ CR/ Exit Criterion: Turkey efiling data
❏ VAT claim
❏ CPD Declaration - Your Action Required
❏ Talk to SSE
❏ Hypercare exit: Nick
❏ RE: Request - access to SAP LH
❏ RCRB plan [RE: RCRB]
❏ Sign off EEM flow for Russia❏ WA
❏ Plan currency training
❏ Will: get list of countries
❏ Mexico SFTP CR
❏ Business impacts of CRs
❏ RE: Solid problem statement for the Bordin work
❏ FW: Core Finance Hypercare exit criteria
❏ Resources per CR
❏ Write up agreement on detail feeds
❏ Check/ plan Eye appointment
❏ Updated ECDs
❏ Finish writing up Romania
❏ Call Glenda re joint account
❏ FX Rates
❏ email
❏ Home
❏ review Exit criteria
❏ Brief Mae on exit
❏ Lunch
❏ Walk
❏ Wash & valet car
❏ MF Comment

Becomes:


❏ June-Oct P&L
❏ check out HART
--CR/ Exit Criterion: Turkey efiling data--
❏ VAT claim
❏ CPD Declaration - Your Action Required
❏ Talk to SSE
❏ Hypercare exit: Nick
--RE: Request - access to SAP LH--
❏ RCRB plan [RE: RCRB]
--Sign off EEM flow for Russia--
❏ WA
❏ Plan currency training
❏ Will: get list of countries
--Mexico SFTP CR--
--Business impacts of CRs--
❏ RE: Solid problem statement for the Bordin work
--FW: Core Finance Hypercare exit criteria--
--Resources per CR--
❏ Write up agreement on detail feeds
❏ Check/ plan Eye appointment
--Updated ECDs--
❏ Finish writing up Romania
❏ Call Glenda re joint account
❏ FX Rates
❏ email
❏ Home
--review exit criteria--
❏ Brief Mae on exit
❏ Lunch
❏ Walk
❏ Wash & valet car
❏ MF Comment
❏ REVIEW EXIT CRITERIA
❏ CR/ Exit Criterion: Turkey efiling data
❏ RE: Request - access to SAP LH
❏ Sign off EEM flow for Russia
❏ Mexico SFTP CR
❏ Business impacts of CRs
❏ FW: Core Finance Hypercare exit criteria
❏ Resources per CR
❏ Updated ECDs

#UseTheForce
February 14, 2018 at 12:56 | Registered CommenterWill
I don't see how the pivots can be exclusive.

I have an important project, and I need to ask Joe about something today (Friday), before he leaves on vacation.

[project]
[Joe]
[today]
[Urgent. Stay late. Put off preparing for Monday's meeting and skip the gym if necessary.]
February 14, 2018 at 15:31 | Registered CommenterCricket
Converting it to electronic is easy.

Spreadsheet: Columns for "date last touched", task, and pivot. (Tip: For Excel and GSheets, typing ctrl-; (semi-colon) will enter the date. I think ctrl-shift-: (colon) will enter the time. Might vary with country.)

Some databases will calculate a "date last touched" field for you. I think both FieldBook.com and AirTable.com will. If I remember another thread correctly, My Life Organized will also do that.
February 14, 2018 at 15:35 | Registered CommenterCricket
THANK YOU for the shortcuts, Cricket: these things make a huge difference.

I'd use outlook tasks and sort by date modified. Contacts can be set up as projects and categories as pivots.

If I was that way inclined.
February 14, 2018 at 19:22 | Registered CommenterWill
Will, ctrl-D will copy contents downwards, ctrl-R will copy them rightwards. Experiment a bit. GSheets won't copy over existing content. Sometimes they will increment, especially if you've set a pattern.

Also, if you select a cell, copy, then select a group of cells and paste, the contents will be copied to each of the target cells. Play around with selecting a vertical or horizontal row of cells, then different shapes to paste into. It will usually repeat the contents to fill the target.

I'm still waiting for them to add a shortcut for paste special - formulae only. I often put horizontal lines between groups, but want to copy formulae down. Or vice versa.

https://support.google.com/docs/answer/181110
February 14, 2018 at 21:20 | Registered CommenterCricket
Hi All,

Pivot list author here. A general word of thanks for all the feedback, good grist for the mill!

Dino:

The different terminology is a conscious choice, rigid systems don't suit me personally and I could never get past the structure of GTD and into actually being productive.

Varya:

My life is rather chaotic with many very disparate responsibilities. Letting things be hidden by virtue of being on other lists helps greatly in focussing on what is currently doable.

mcogilvie:

I don't intended pivotlist to be a perfect system, more a series of building blocks the work with different situations. I'm currently re-working the main page to clarify this somewhat, concentrating on just the core and moving all the extras to an extensions page.

Seraphim:

Thanks for the link, haven't see that one before. I dislike actively scheduling things that are not time-dependent, but the first two steps are similar.

Don R:

You've got the gist of it. The change in terminology is a deliberate choice that came about from experience with our software product where people would take an existing term and not be able extend the meaning into a bigger concept.

Sabeer:

I'll be incorporating some Get Sh*T Done ideas into the next iteration of pivotlist, I really wish I had come a cross that blog a long time ago. On it's own GSD doesn't quite work for me as I have too many disparate tasks, but it is an excellent starting point.

Nico:

Fair call, I'm going to split out the basics so people don't get overwhelmed so easily. Everything beyond that section is optional, and I only use a few of the pieces now and then as appropriate.

Alan Baljeu:

I think I need to do a better job with explaining some of the concepts too. I find it fascinating that the bits I think are obvious seem to need the most explaining, and ideas I thought were complex many people get instantly.

MrBacklog:

We're looking into electronic versions; however like most methods old ignored tasks can accumulate quickly. We have a few ideas on that front, but no general solution yet.

I wrote about re-writing on the blog. https://pivotlist.com/2018/02/01/why-re-write.html

As to writing tasks directly to lists: that works fine if it suits your workflow; however I find dumping stuff into on unsorted list decreases the cognitive load so I don't get distracted from the present. It also works well in that my lists are often in different (physical) places, on my desk, the fridge, but I always have the unsorted with me to dump onto.

Cricket:

Pivots are only intended to be exclusive within a group, you can add secondary pivots to track state, importance that will each be exclusive to their own group, but may overlap with individual pivots of other groups. It's not part of the core method, I'm still working on how best to communicate that bit!
February 15, 2018 at 1:03 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel B
I just went back and it appears much clearer this time around. Well done Daniel.
February 20, 2018 at 18:22 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Reading through this more carefully now. It seems a lot of what he writes is very similar to what has been discussed here about organizing projects. While one approach is what Mark Forster did in dumping Welsh stuff onto his FFVP list, another approach is to build up a list outside of the main list with just those items, and the main list would reference that other list. Now Pivot Lists takes it a step further and suggests to move EVERYTHING out to other lists, and then just pick a list to work on for a period. This seems likely to work.

I have an intermediate idea in mind. I want to run with some of what's suggested and pull out things into separate lists, yet keep the "unorganized list" as a master list. In my case would still include things not pulled out into a separate list, and call out to each of these other lists, and would be processed typically, by simple scanning or FFVP or whatever.

Lists I intend to pull out: Shopping (groceries, etc.), meal planning (see my forum post; see also the Pivot List document on Workflows), work separated from home, and certain aspects of work separated one from another. Others, as usefulness shows up.
February 23, 2018 at 2:57 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
The thing I like about Mark's dynamic lists is they are ad-hoc, meaning they are created on the spot when you need them, and are intended to be temporary, in no-list fashion, discarded at end of day. This keeps them fresh and alive and relevant, while also keeping them simple and no-overhead. If you set up a bunch of standing lists, you now have a bunch of things you need to maintain and fuss over. It's possible this could still be low overhead, but many of us here have a tendency to over-think and over-organize. Standing side lists can become pets that need to be groomed and fed.

I got the sense that Daniel's system is closer to Mark's dynamic lists -- everything goes first into the main list, then you spawn off the pivot lists when the need arises, dynamically, without premeditation.
February 23, 2018 at 15:41 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
I suppose that’s a question for Daniel. Certainly they start organically. And he describes a process intended to clear out small lists as you work them. But what happens to those lists when they contain things that are never fully done? My impression is those lists become standing lists that are always around. I could be wrong on this this.
February 23, 2018 at 22:04 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Okay, what I proposed above doesn't work. It's too complicated in practice. I think to follow the system you need to go all-in.
February 26, 2018 at 17:32 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
I think you merge small lists into one of the other lists, if you cannot complete them. Since they are shmll and closed, they are easier to complete, and the drive to complete them is high, but there are many reasons why one might not get completed.
February 27, 2018 at 4:19 | Registered CommenterCricket
Alan Baljeu:

Duplicating items across different lists tends to create to much complexity, which it looks like from your later comment you found out :D.

Seraphim:

A side effect of my working style is that my lists tend to be very ephemeral (most exist on a scratch pad on my desk). Thus a long lived list is rare (with the exception of some projects that are long lived by nature, but I don't think about those if they are waiting on something/someone).

I hadn't considered that to be a feature, but I think it probably is an important part of why it works for me. I might write a blog post about holding the lists 'lightly'. The bit about regular review (of pivots, ie the actual lists) was meant to communicate that, but I think fails to make the point clearly.

Cricket:

Exactly, a small list with only a few items that can't be completed should be merged somewhere more appropriate at the next review. I often have a [future] list for stuff that can't be done now that is reviewed only weekly.
March 1, 2018 at 20:35 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel B
In a way, FFVP might be adapted to a similar effect. The thought is you scan through the list FFVP style, but pick out things related to your chosen pivot. You get those done, and Pivot Accomplished, you move to a new focus.
March 3, 2018 at 15:16 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Well lot of GTD, a little of autofocus and all on paper. Anyway very interesting about it simplicity but needs an update such as list of projects, and clarification...
March 22, 2018 at 12:24 | Unregistered Commenterjupiter

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