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To Think About . . .
Within a sequence of decisions, your most hesitant and vague decision will have the greatest effect on the overall consequences. Alexander Cortes
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Progress Report

I’ve been using the technique I described in Procrastination Buster for most of this week now, and I’m finding it a very efficient way of processing stuff. Although it may appear to be very different from the techniques described in Do It Tomorrow, it is actually based on very much the same principles. It is essentially a method of converting an open list into a series of closed lists (in this case numbering two items each). The advantage compared with Do It Tomorrow is that it is more flexible and can be fitted a bit more easily into irregular time slots. The disadvantage is that some work items will take longer before they get dealt with than others. I’ve still got one difficult item which I put on the list at the beginning of the week and remains unactioned. That’s almost certainly a lot less items than would be left over with a conventional To Do list, but with Do It Tomorrow, I would have actioned all the items either the day they came up or the day after.

Here are a few pointers which have surfaced for me this week while using this method:

  • To Do lists always tend to suffer from list expansion - in other words they tend to grow faster than one can process the items. In order to avoid this happening it is important to keep the list well weeded by throwing out unnecessary items.
  • As a guide you should be able to complete at least one circuit of the list during the course of an average day (bearing in mind that you will be actioning about half the items on the list on each circuit). If you can’t do that, you should take some time to weed the list.
  • If you find yourself further from the end of the list at the end of the day than you were at the beginning, you are seriously trying to do too much! You need not only to weed the list, but look at your commitments too.
  • Just as with Do It Tomorrow, you don’t necessarily have to do the whole of every item. You can always do part of it and then cross it out and re-enter it at the end of the list. This achieves the little and often ideal which I recommend in my books for dealing with major projects.

I’d be interested to hear from you in the Comments or in the Discussion Forum if you try out this method - and how you get on with it.

Reader Comments (3)

Hi Mark
My curiosity is gnawing at me like a rat on stale cheese.....which of your systems do you prefer?....and why?
August 15, 2007 at 3:06 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
My situation is a bit different from most people's, because my job is to experiment with time management systems!

The system that undoubtedly works best for me is the one described in Do It Tomorrow. The reason is that it is easy to follow and everything can be fitted into it. It also more or less automatically forces one to keep one's workload well pruned.
August 18, 2007 at 9:56 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Hi Mark
Thank you for the reply. I concur that your Closed List System's simplicity and effectiveness is hard to beat! I must confess......sometimes I like to switch elements in my system just to freshen it up.....Sometimes if I feel bored overall, just changing one or two elements in the system itself helps to perk my interest back up. LOL! I think it takes my mind off of the blandness of some of my tasks and orients my mind on doing the work to test the effecacy of the system tweeks I'm experimenting with.....similar to changing chicken recipes during the lean years. The different recipe destracted me from dreading having to eat chicken yet again! LOL! Sometimes I feel as though I have to trick my mind into feeling entertained whilst doing the same old tasks. I'm fully aware of what I'm doing yet my simple brain usually takes the bait! LOL! Do you ever feel this way also? Or do you know why these obvious tricks actually work? It feels like a dichotomous split...I'm partly intelligent and rational and partly naive and childish. LOL! It's your theory of our rational vs primitive brain theory in action in my skull! How is it that we can trick ourselves yet we fully know exactly our motives????.
August 21, 2007 at 5:50 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go

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