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Entries in Final Version (30)

Saturday
Mar312012

Final Version a great success!

The Final Version has now gone out to over 4,000 subscribers and the feed-back has been uniformly good. It seems to have really caught people’s imagination.

I’m now in the process of writing the second issue of the Final Version newsletter which should be out in a few days.

Other projects which are featuring large in my FV list are getting the booking opened and other preparations finalized for the Q & A session on 16th April and drawing up a schedule of further teleconfence calls and seminars.

Saturday
Mar172012

Free Q&A Session

There will be a FREE Q&A Session about the Final Version by teleconference call on Monday April 16th at 8 pm (UK Time). Numbers limited to 20. Pre-registration will be required. Details soon.

Tuesday
Mar132012

Final Version Instructions now issued

If you have signed up for the Final Version newsletter, check your email. The first issue, which contains the full instructions for the new system, was issued at 10.30 a.m. Queensland time today March 13th to 2,007 subscribers.

If you haven’t already signed up, then you can do so by filling in the Subscribe Email Newsletter box in the right margin. Some people are finding the sign-on instructions a bit difficult to follow since they don’t mention the Final Version (I don’t have much control over the wording) - just answer every question positively!

I intend to send out the instructions at least once a day to new subscribers who missed the first distribution. Please be patient - this is not an autoresponder.

Sunday
Mar112012

New thoughts on the Final Version

I’ve had a radical rethink about the marketing of the Final Version. Instead of releasing it by publishing a book, my plan is now to release it free of charge as instructions only in an issue of my newsletter. I may start a new newsletter for the purpose, so wait for further instructions before signing up if you don’t already receive it.

I will then run a programme of reasonably cheap teleconferences and/or seminars to fill in the reality behind the instructions and deal with questions and difficulties.

I haven’t decided on a release date yet, but since it no longer depends on my getting a book written there is no reason why it can’t be sooner rather than later.

Friday
Mar092012

Final Version Situation - 2

There’s not been a lot of progress since I last posted due to the fact that I have been travelling constantly and it’s not been helped by my lap-top breaking. I’ve now reached my location for the next month, a fairly remote part of Queensland, so I now have the opportunity to get on with the book without too many interruptions - apart from the expected birth of a grandchild sometime in the next few weeks!

In the meantime I am very grateful for the many suggestions which the readers of this blog have left concerning the marketing of the book once I have written it. Please continue to make these!

Friday
Feb242012

Final Version Situation

I’ve got to the point with the Final Version that I am ready to start writing the book in which the system will be described. I intend to do this over the next six weeks while I am on holiday. The book will only be as long as is necessary to give a full description of the system and the principles behind it.

During this period I will also be deciding what format the book will be published in. It is not my intention at the moment to have the book published by a conventional publisher. But I’ve made no further decisions.

Thursday
Feb232012

Another good question

Bernie asks in the comments for my post A Good Question:

Can you tell us how the Final Version improves upon DWM?

My answer

1. It doesn’t rely on expiry deadlines to provide the motive power.

2. It’s much more immediate in producing the right task at the right time.

3. It doesn’t leave you with an indigestible chunk of difficult tasks which have to be done or lost.

4. It deals with all tasks on the same basis.

5. It produces a much greater degree of psychological readiness.

6. It’s easier to keep the entire list under control.

7. It doesn’t allow tasks to build up resistance.

8. It works equally well with a short list as a long list.

9. It’s easy to extract a shorter list (e.g. for travel) and use the same methods to process the shorter list.

I’m sure I can think of some more if I try!

Wednesday
Feb082012

A good question

In the comments to my previous post Mauricio asks:

“I am excited about the Final Version. However, I have to ask, how is the Final Version superior / more conducive to productivity than Superfocus?”

The main difference is that both SuperFocus and AutoFocus tend to result initially in the minor/easy tasks being processed first, while the “squeeze” is only put on the more difficult tasks gradually. In the Final Version this is not the case.

An associated problem with SuperFocus/AutoFocus is that there is a tendency for the list to get packed with easy tasks which give an illusion of progress. What is actually happening though is that the easy tasks on a page get dealt with quickly, while the more difficult tasks only get dealt with a few at a time. So typically a new page will have 30-40 per cent of its tasks dealt with on the first couple of passes, but in later passes the proportion of tasks will fall dramatically. This results in a large number of active pages.

In the Final Version  there is no pay-off for packing the list with easy tasks, so the length of the list is dramatically reduced. The processing of tasks is much more even throughout the list, with the result that the list tends to be concentrated on a few pages (my current list has 4 pages, but there are only 2 tasks each on the first and last pages).

Also unlike SuperFocus/AutoFocus, the Final Version list is dealt with as one list. The page divisions are not significant (and in electronic versions are not needed at all).

Tuesday
Feb072012

The Final Version - first look

Here are some never-before-seen photos of the first and last pages of an actual FV list, or to be more exact the only actual FV list in existence.

The loose-leaf format is not essential. Any sort of notebook, paper or electronic will do just fine.

Monday
Jan162012

Consistency - 2

Some people seem to have misunderstood my post about consistency yesterday to be about using some system or method consistently, rather than jumping from one to another. Perhaps I didn’t make it as clear as I should have, but what I was actually writing about was producing consistent results.

Of course jumping from one method to another is a good way of ensuring that you won’t produce consistent results, just as jumping from one network marketing scheme to another is a good way of ensuring that you’ll never make any money from network marketing. But the method we use isn’t what I was concerned about. What I wanted to make as my point was that the test of any time management method is that it delivers consistent results.

That is why I followed up the post about consistency yesterday with one aboutWhat to look out for in respect of my new time management system. What that post was saying is that you will know when I have really succeeded in finalizing the system because I will start to produce consistent results as a result of using it. I gave several indicators of the type of consistent results to watch out for.

Sunday
Jan152012

What to look out for

I’ve posted several times that I am nearing completion of the development of the Final Version, and each time further problems have surfaced and the completion has been put off. This hasn’t been a question of procrastination - simply of getting it right.

So rather than post yet again to say that I feel I’m nearly there, I thought I’d give you some indicators so that you can tell for yourself how near I’m getting.

Watch out for these:

  • Daily blog posts
  • Revival and reorganization of my newsletter
  • A reduction in my personal activity on the Discussion Forum.
  • Changes to the website
  • A new programme of seminars
  • New initiatives (such as videos, teleconferences, partnerships, etc)
  • An increase in external interest

I’m not saying that all of these will necessarily happen, but when you see several of these signs then you will know that the day is nigh!

Until you do, you can be pretty sure that it isn’t.

Wednesday
Dec142011

Key Principles of the New System III: Getting Stuff Done

As you may have guessed from the silence since I last posted I’ve run into some problems with the “perfect version”. 

Basically there have been two problems which I’ve been endeavouring to overcome

The first is that there is always a tendency for important or difficult tasks to get shunted to one side. The new system needs to avoid this and, while keeping a modicum of flexibility, strictly enforce selection neutrality. However hard one tries to design a system which is procrastination-proof, procrastination always seems to find a way in.

This brings up the second problem which I have been struggling with. This has been to find the best possible way of getting stuff done once it has been started. It is very difficult to stop this being a slow process - whether or not the tasks are split down into smaller chunks. It’s very inefficient to start stuff and then not finish it. Apart from anything else, it wastes the time we spend on it before tailing off. But most important, we are crying out for results and not getting results impacts our lives and work.

As I’ve said before, projects are like houseplants. They need regular watering or they dry up and eventually die. So what I’ve been concentrating on is to make sure that the new system ensures that everything is finished once it’s started - quickly.

So what it all boils down to is: 

  1. Get stuff started
    and
  2. Get it finished
Friday
Oct142011

Final Version - Perfect at last!

I think I’ve now got the Final Version time management system perfect - which is what I said my aim was before going any further with it. It’s taken longer than I expected, largely because of the number of possible options I had to test out, or rather the number of possible combinations of options. As I can only test out one set of options at a time, this has all taken time.

What I want to do now is to prove that this new system is not a way of churning trivialities but of being extremely productive. So I intend to report regularly on my progress over the next month. I’m going on holiday abroad on November 14th, so let’s see how much I can achieve by then.

What would I like to have achieved?

1. I want to make some serious progress on writing my book about the new methods, planning how to distribute it, spread the word about it and make some money out of it. This will include making decisions about my newsletter and implementing them.

2. I am planning a major charity walk to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the start of WW1 in 1914. This will involve me in a) getting extremely fit (not easy at my age!) b) improving my French c) getting practical support d) getting sponsorship e) and probably a lot else I haven’t thought of yet. This is obviously a long-term project, but I need to keep moving on it now.

3. I am likely to be leading a major fund raising exercise over the next year. It hasn’t yet been given the go-ahead, but I need to be able to react quickly to any developments.

4. I have commitments to various organizations which I want to carry out efficiently, and some of them are likely to expand in the near future.

5. I am testing out various brain training methods to see what is most effective. This requires a constant effort over a long period.

6. I want to get all my systems and procedures as finely-honed as possible so I am not held up by things not working properly. I intend to draw up a list of everything in my life that needs attention and tackle them progressively over time.

7. And just generally keep right on top of email, phone, paper, household chores, etc, etc.

I think that’s enough to be going on with!

My aim is to report once a week until I go on holiday, and possibly when I get back as well.

Tuesday
Sep272011

Speed Update: Day 4

I’ve now taken action on 253 tasks over four days, making a daily average of 63.25 tasks.

There are 63 unactioned tasks on my list, which means that the number of days’ work left in the system is 1.00 days - the slight increase each day continues.

The oldest tasks (twenty-five of them) on the list date from yesterday.

Monday
Sep262011

Speed Update: Day 3

I’ve now taken action on 201 tasks over three days, making a daily average of 67 tasks.

There are 59 unactioned tasks on my list, which means that the number of days’ work left in the system is 0.88 days - a slight increase each day.

The oldest tasks (seven of them) on the list date from yesterday.

Sunday
Sep252011

Speed Update: Day 2

I’ve now taken action on 130 tasks over two days, making a daily average of 65 tasks.

There are 51 unactioned tasks on my list, which means that the number of days’ work left in the system is 0.78 days - a slight increase over yesterday.

The oldest task on the list dates from today.

Commentary

The average number of tasks actioned per day has increased from 61 yesterday to 65 today, but the number of days’ work remaining has also increased from 0.64 to 0.78 days. So although I did more tasks than yesterday, I added more tasks than I did.

Every one of the 100 tasks put on the list yesterday has now been actioned.

Now before anyone gets too excited about this, please note that I was achieving even higher speeds with AutoFocus when I first started with it. See http://www.markforster.net/blog/2008/12/19/future-developments-update-no-1.html

What eventually happened with AutoFocus was that the list gradually got longer and longer and as a result it took longer and longer for me to action the tasks which I was resisting the most. In other words there was a high speed of actioning easy stuff and a much slower speed of actioning the difficult stuff.

Another result of the list getting longer was that urgent tasks had to be dealt with outside the system.

For various reasons I don’t think this is going to happen with the Final Version. There certainly won’t be a problem with urgent tasks - that’s fully covered. It’s also much less easy for difficult tasks to languish. But what I do need to verify is whether the size of the list is going to stabilize at a reasonably small size. My earlier experience of testing the system encourages me to think that it may.

Saturday
Sep242011

Speed Update: Day 1

Today I managed to do 61 tasks off my new list, with 39 remaining in the list.

The number of days work left on the list is therefore 0.64.

The oldest unactioned task on the list dates from today (which is hardly surprising as the list was only started today).

One of the tasks I accomplished today was a walk of over 15 miles, which took me away from 11.50 a.m. to 7 p.m. as it required some travelling to get to the start.

Saturday
Sep242011

Speed of the New System

In my last post I reported on my surprise at the speed at which the Final Version is getting work done. (Yes, I know, it’s still me who does the work unfortunately).

I have decided that this is something worth monitoring. So I’ve picked on two key indicators to monitor how fast the system is working:

1) The number of days’ work left in the system. The tendency of all to-do lists is to expand faster than the tasks on the to-do list get done, and the number of day’s work your current to-do list represents is a good way to monitor this. It can easily be measured by dividing the number of unactioned tasks on the list by the average number of tasks actioned per day. So for example, if you have 200 unactioned tasks on your to-do list and you take action on an average of 20 tasks per day, the 200 tasks represent 10 days’ worth of work.

2) The age of the oldest task on the list. The tasks that have been hanging around longest tend to be the ones you least want to do. So monitoring the age of the oldest task is a good way of showing how well the system deals with the more difficult or challenging tasks.

I’m starting a new list in order to monitor how the list expands right from the beginning. I’ll post my first set of results tomorrow.

Friday
Sep232011

Get everything done fast

Since last reporting on progress with the Final Version on Monday, I’ve made a few minor changes to the system to fine-tune the balance.

The result of my latest test is a bit different from what I was originally expecting. I had been talking in earlier posts about this being a universal capture system which would filter out the dross and focus on what was really important. The implication being that quite a lot of the tasks entered wouldn’t get done.

But what is happening at the moment is that it’s all getting done. And not just done, but done fast. In fact so fast that I’m almost taken aback at the speed at which everything is happening.

No doubt I could put enough work into the system to break it if I tried. But it’s keeping pace at the moment quite happily with the speed at which new work arrives on my desk (or in my mind) without the need for any filtering or auditing.

Monday
Sep192011

Key Principles of the New System II: Universal Capture

The human mind is endlessly inventive.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the human mind is endlessly inventive at thinking up new things to do, especially when they are ways of avoiding doing productive but difficult work.

The result is that any attempt to make a list of tasks becomes subject to the law of expansion:

A to do list always expands faster than it is possible to get the tasks done

This would be relatively easy to counteract if it were not for another law, the seed-bed law:

Good ideas arise from a seed-bed of bad ideas

This is a very important law which is often forgotten. We compare modern novels with the glories of Dickens, Eliot, Austen, Balzac, Hugo and so on, forgetting that 90% of 19th Century novels were complete rubbish, just as ours are today.

Governments try to institutionalise “best practice”, forgetting that “best practice” can only happen if there’s some “worst practice” to develop the ideas for “best practice” from.

Unfortunately if you cut off the bad ideas, the good ideas disappear too. “Best practice” is a recipe for lack of creativity - and we see the evidence of this all around us.

This law is incidentally why I have developed so many time management systems. Some have been better than others, but each has brought new insights, stimulated new thought and provided a step-up to further development.

Anyway all this is by way of getting round to saying that all those “bright ideas”with which you fill your to do list will be at least 90% rubbish and - maybe - 10% gems. But if you don’t record the rubbish, you won’t get the gems either.

The ideal time management system needs to have a “universal capture” capability. What I mean by this is that you don’t need to do any pre-editing of tasks that you put into the system. Anything and everything that you think of can be entered and the system itself relied upon to filter out the rubbish.

Another aspect of the human mind’s inventiveness is that we tend to take on too much work because we can’t resist a good opportunity, or what seems to be a good opportunity. Never mind that we don’t have enough time to do it - we believe that somehow we will fit it in to our already groaning schedule.

This gives rise to another law:

Just because something would be good to do, or profitable to do, or enjoyable to do, doesn’t mean that we have to do it.

So not only does a time management system offering “universal capture” have to filter out the dross, it also has to filter out those good things which would dilute one’s focus.

The Final Version system automatically carries out this filtering in a flexible way. The system is designed to produce the right load for the time available, but it is also designed to ensure that this load consists of the right stuff. Not only that, but in the process goals will be clarified and worthwhile emerging new ideas exploited to the full.