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Main | Only Five Days to Start of Challenge! »

Lenten Challenge Starts/Started at Midnight (Your Local Time)

Here is the starting list for the Lenten Challenge 2019. I will accept last minute entries and amendments up to 11.59pm March 5th (your local time). 

At the very last moment I decided to change my own entry to a new, and so far untried, no-list method. I have no idea whether I’ll be able to keep it going.

I’m pleased to say that we have 57 entrants, which I think is a record for this.

If you fail to keep to the challenge please let us know in the comments to this post so that everyone can see. Do include a description of your experiences if you want to. Progress reports are also welcome.

If you are unable to post, then you can email me (top right tab) but please only do this if you have to.

Remember this is a challenge and not a competition, so the only person you will be deceiving if you cheat is yourself! 


  1. Myself - 10 Task No-List
  2. vegheadjones - The Bounce
  3. nuntym - Task Tracking Light
  4. avrum - Daily-Weekly Narrative
  5. Seraphim - Serial No-List
  6. Divyana Adwani - Google Ecosystem
  7. Will - Simple Scanning
  8. Mike Brown - Serial No-List
  9. Gadgets - Simple Scanning
  10. Colin - Simple Scanning
  11. Paul B - ASEM
  12. Ville - Simple Scanning
  13. teckwyn - Randomizer
  14. MrBacklog - ABC simple scanning batching
  15. TMac - Simple Scanning
  16. Laby - Smile (Own Method)
  17. Eiron Page - Productivity Bingo
  18. Natalia - 4x2
  19. Brenda - DIT (Do It Tomorrow) and Dreams book Combo
  20. Jacqueline - Method to be confirmed
  21. Eugenia - Simple Scanning
  22. Fintan - DIT
  23. bryane - AF2/Deep Work Combo
  24. Paul MacNeil - Time Surfing
  25. Andreas Vlach - Own system
  26. Jordan Navarrete - AF4
  27. adam - Simple Scanning
  28. Pablo - Dreams
  29. Caibre65 - Own Method
  30. Alan Baljeu - Serial No-List
  31. stefanb - AF1
  32. Nia - Burner List
  33. Cricket - Every-Other-Day
  34. Clarablanco - AF2
  35. Bence - AF2
  36. flight16 - One-A-Day Randomizer
  37. tomcal - Serial No-List
  38. Ryan Freckleton - AF4 modified
  39. KMac - Dalo
  40. Cameron - Simple Scanning
  41. Stuart Tattum - Weekly & Daily MVPs
  42. Emma-Rae - Simple Scanning
  43. Sitkeys - Own System
  44. Jens - 5T
  45. Dino - Halving
  46. avrum - Own System
  47. Mario - AF1
  48. Christopher - DIT
  49. Diana - Simple Scanning
  50. Nordwind - T7P10 (Own System)
  51. Leon - Own System
  52. Silvia - AF4-3T
  53. Margaret1 - Serial No-List
  54. Chris Cooper - RAF modified
  55. Terhorst - Simple Scanning
  56. Erin - RAF
  57. dgbeecher - Simple Scanning


References (1)

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  • Response
    don't know where Mark Forster said this but I do know I read this sentiment on his site and I agree with it: you are almost always better off doing any task than you are checking the list for a task to do.

Reader Comments (58)

I'd just put "bunk off" and see whether it stood out.

It would be interesting to see how often it recurred.
April 18, 2019 at 9:23 | Unregistered CommenterWill
So I originally posted that i would use the ASEM system for the challenge and that is what I did for the entire time during the 40 days....that is, whenever I followed a systematic approach to managing my time. However, there were many times that I "bunked off" and did not follow any system whatsoever. So, perhaps the trial was not successful for me.

My observations of ASEM is that I liked the system for the most part, until I became fatigued.

There were also times when I really disliked ASEM ...especially whenever my options were down to doing some tasks for which I had high resistance.

I also found that the effectiveness of ASEM was diminished whenever I had a large number of tasks to do. So, it paid to be very discriminating when deciding to add another task and keep it to a short list.

Overall, I found ASEM to be a good system that i kept returning to every day. But, to try to use it every waking minute was not possible for me, and I still struggled with resistance.
April 22, 2019 at 19:28 | Unregistered CommenterPaul B
I completed the challenge, there are a few simple changes I am going to make so simple scanning suits me better, colour coding mainly, but am very happy with this system.
Thanks Mark
April 23, 2019 at 11:16 | Unregistered CommenterEmma-Rae
I completed the challenge, though it took me until near the end to remember the challenge was not switching systems. Then again, I pretty much always use something like simple scanning and autofocus whether it's on paper, note app, or in this case, Dalo[0].

I started using Dalo at the beginning of this year after having seen it previously mentioned in a comment on this site. Dalo provides a nice, dedicated app experience for Mac and iOS. There are two contexts: home and work. You enter tasks, and select them for focus. There is a context-specific view for your selected tasks. My personal failing is not completing tasks when they are completed -- it usually happens the morning of the next day, so I need to restart my end-of-day review.

I made a number of recommendations, including allowing people donate to support future development, and the dev just implemented hiding completed tasks. This release actually stopped me from looking for a replacement app, which had started on Saturday :). I was leaning towards MS To-Do, but there's no import feature. The backup is OmniFocus, but it's an expensive and bloated beast (IMO), though I may still try it.

April 23, 2019 at 17:02 | Unregistered CommenterKMac
Was mostly successful and consistent w/AF4 Revised...really loved the system, and even used the New, Recurring, Unfinished to structure my grocery list.
April 29, 2019 at 20:35 | Unregistered CommenterJordan Navarrete
I'm still using Serial No-List, but now that the Lenten challenge is over I'm planning to use a few tweaks to customise it. I was already using a few minor notation marks during the challenge (e.g. putting brackets round an item that was awaiting a response from someone else, using block capitals for an item that was a must-do-today).

I want to find a way to keep must-do today tasks easily distinguishable from tasks that can be done anytime in the next few days and from tasks that fall into the someday/maybe category (of which I can generate quite a few during one day!). This means I have to categorise each task as I think of it, but that's easy.

I'll draw a vertical line down the middle of each page so that I have four columns per day open to view. The first column will be for must-do-today tasks (top down) and for daily routine tasks (bottom up) (although most of the time I just do those from memory without having to write them down),the second column for tasks to be done sometime in the next few days,
the third column for project tasks and the fourth column for someday/maybe tasks.

Following the SNL system I'll work on today's page for as long as I want, then go backwards through previous pages, either working on a task there and then, or rewriting it on today's page if it's become urgent. Hopefully there'll be no tasks in the first column of previous pages, only undone daily routine tasks that can be ignored because they're renewed each day.

I don't know how this will work out in practice, but I think it's worth experimenting. Some columns will have only a few entries and others could have many, so it may not be practical in the sense that, where possible, I want to keep to only using one new page per day.

The thing I like most about SNL is that each day is a fresh start.
May 5, 2019 at 17:29 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret1
Margaret1 -

I tried something like that sometime back, for a week or two. I was putting recurring / maintenance items on the right-hand page, and project work and one-off tasks on the left-hand page. I was trying to see if it helped get more focus on getting the project work and one-off tasks completed.

It seemed to help at first, but pretty quickly became a distraction:

(1) I had to decide how to categorize each task before I wrote it down. This added more and more friction to the system.

(2) It felt disorienting to go back and forth between the two pages, even though they were both open and visible.

(3) These two tensions eventually caused the distinction between the two kinds of items to blur. At this point, it was only overhead with no real value.

I found something else, though, that is working pretty well, and gives both a sense of focus on the big things, and a sense of completion at the end of the day, like DIT. I wrote about it here:

It's very simple and doesn't create any overhead at all.

Anyway, thanks again for reporting on your progress! Let us know how your experimenting continues to play out.
May 7, 2019 at 16:57 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
I count myself as having completed the Lenten challenge successfully. ("I didn't change my system. Procrastination, prevarication and resistance aren't systems.") the method I used was officially described as RAF, Modified. The tweak was that items on the old list – the day before yesterday and earlier – were processed on FV principles as the most congenial way to Delete, Defer, Do.

I sometimes seemed to need a lot of thought about which list to be in and when to switch lists. Such decisions were necessary because the "old" list grew long, as is always the case with me.

Immediately after the end of the challenge, I adopted a variant of Seraphim's Serial No-list. It's boiled down now to having my list in two parts: the Today list, which I process via NLFVP, and the Old list (yesterday and earlier), processed via NL FV.

(In case anyone needs reminding: in FV, Final Version, a chain of selections is worked off before a new selection chain is created; in FVP, Final Version Perfected, new selections can be added to the chain immediately after each item is done.)

I like the simple logic of this: the current day's list is created afresh each day and is catch-all and open-ended after that; the old list is a closed list that is steadily cleared.

The old list can have old items lingering on it, because I can sometimes go a long time before switching to it from the new list, but I don't find that too oppressive.

One class of items that I remove from the old list daily is recurring tasks like exercise, check inboxes, shop, etc. They regularly appear in the Today list, so don't need to clutter the old list.

This seems to work well (so thanks, Seraphim).
May 8, 2019 at 17:46 | Unregistered CommenterChris Cooper

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