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Entries in long list (26)

Sunday
Jul022017

High Volume, High Speed, Low Resistance - 2

One more characteristic of the system, which I forgot to mention yesterday: 

  • It does not use any form of pre-selection 

At the end of the second day of the trial the page count is as follows:

1-11 - 0

12 - 7

13- 17

14 - 24

15 - 13 (out of 13)

Total: 61

That means that 100 tasks were worked on today, including every one of the 56 tasks that were on the list at the beginning of the trial yesterday.

Notice too how the new system has consolidated the list left over from the previous system - which was spread out over 11 pages - down to only 4 pages.

Saturday
Jul012017

High Volume, High Speed, Low Resistance

Just to wet your appetites I’m about to start the final testing of the high volume, high speed, low resistance system which I’ve been working on for the last few months. The aim of this method is to enable you to do anything and everything, with minimum resistance. I’m very hopeful that I have succeeded.

Some of the characteristics of the system are: 

  • Urgent tasks can be accessed at any time without bending or breaking the rules
  • Whatever the size of the list, scanning for the next task takes minimal time
  • It is very suited to “little and often” working
  • Any size of list can be handled
  • Equal attention is paid to all parts of the list
  • The system itself provides momentum
  • There is no provision for dismissal as this is unnecessary 

I’m starting testing tomorrow with my existing list which is spread across pages of 31 lines each. The number of active tasks currently on each page is as follows:

1 - 1

2 - 0

3 - 2

4 - 3

5 - 6

6 - 5

7 - 6

8 - 1

9 - 1

10 - 13

11- 18

Total: 56

Please note: 

  1. This page distribution was produced by a different system
  2. The pages are only being recorded for test puposes. The system does not use pages - it is just one long list and therefore ideally suited for electronic implementation.

 

Sunday
Jun252017

Thoughts on the Long List (2)

I wrote about about the natural selection of tasks back in February this year, and it would be well worth your while reminding yourself what I said then. One of the most important things was:

There is no such thing as procrastination. What we call “procrastination” is just our minds working through the selection process.

What I want to look at in future posts is what happens when we take this principle seriously.

Sunday
Jun252017

Anchored Autofocus2

Until a few days ago I was using simple scanning for my experiments with the long list, but in the last few days I’ve been using a modified version of Autofocus 2 (AF2) to give me a bit more flexibility. So far this has been working very well - but it’s early days yet. I’m describing it now for anyone who wants to try it out - but please bear in mind that it has not been properly tested.

There are two ways in which this is different from AF2: 

  • There is no dismissal procedure
  • After you have done a task, you may do the next active task on the list in either direction from the task you have just done. You continue to do this until you don’t want to do either of the adjacent tasks. Then you return to the end of the list, perform another scan and repeat the process. 

Example:

Email
Sharpen Pencils
Prepare Planning Meeting
Arrange Group Photo
Call John re Project X
Voicemail
Check Proofs
Submit Expenses
Order New Front Tyres
Buy 300 copies of Secrets of Productive People

From the end of the list scan back to the first task that feels ready to be worked on, and work on it. Re-enter if necessary.

Email
Sharpen Pencils
Prepare Planning Meeting
Arrange Group Photo
Call John re Project X
Voicemail
Check Proofs
Submit Expenses
Order New Front Tyres
Buy 300 copies of Secrets of Productive People
Flowers for J
Voicemail

 

You now have a choice of Call John, Check Proofs, or rescanning:

Email
Sharpen Pencils
Prepare Planning Meeting
Arrange Group Photo
Call John re Project X
Voicemail
Check Proofs
Submit Expenses
Order New Front Tyres
Buy 300 copies of Secrets of Productive People
Flowers for J
Check Bank Balance
Voicemail

You now have a choice of Arrange Group Photo, Check Proofs, or rescanning:

Email
Sharpen Pencils
Prepare Planning Meeting
Arrange Group Photo
Call John re Project X
Voicemail
Check Proofs
Submit Expenses
Order New Front Tyres
Buy 300 copies of Secrets of Productive People

Flowers for J
Check Bank Balance
Voicemail

You now have a choice of Prepare Planning Meeting, Check Proofs, or rescanning. You decide to re-scan:

Email
Sharpen Pencils
Prepare Planning Meeting
Arrange Group Photo
Call John re Project X
Voicemail

Check Proofs
Submit Expenses
Order New Front Tyres
Buy 300 copies of Secrets of Productive People

Flowers for J
Check Bank Balance
Voicemail
Email

Note that as you now are at the beginning of the list you only have one task to choose from - Sharpen Pencils - or rescan..

Saturday
Jun172017

Thoughts on the Long List

While I’ve been semi-incapacitated recently (suspected Guillain-Barré Syndrome on top of the expected side-effects of chemotherapy), I’ve been working on an outline for a book on the subject of the “catch-all” list.

My theory is that a properly handled and practised list removes the need for prioritization, goal-setting, planning and deadline-chasing - real “autofocus” in other words.

It’s not dependent on any particular way of handling the list, though I’ve found simple scanning to be the easiest and most reliable for my own use. It’s more a change of attitude than a new system.

Typing is still very difficult for me so my intention at the moment is to write about this in dribs and drabs over the next few weeks (or possibly months). We’ll see whether the “long list theory” supports me in doing this in practice.

Monday
Feb062017

The Natural Selection of Tasks

When I first started developing Autofocus one of the ideas that was at the foundation of what I was trying to achieve was the natural selection of tasks. By this I meant that I wanted to find a method that would free our minds to naturally focus on what was important to us and leave the rest.

This never quite worked out with Autofocus or its successors. Recently I been spending quite a bit of time trying to work out what I was doing wrong.

Here are some of the conclusions I’ve come to: 

  • We should consciously interfere with this natural selection process as little as possible.
  • We need to rid ourselves of all ideas that we “should” be doing this, that or the other task.
  • If we don’t get round to doing a task, that’s a sign that we should let it die.
  • A prerequisite for natural selection is a large seed-bed of possibilities. This would imply that we should use a “catch-all” list and add every fleeting idea to it. 
  • We should rid ourselves of the idea that putting a task on the list implies any commitment to doing it. It does however imply a commitment to keeping it under consideration for as long as it remains on the list.
  • There is no such thing as procrastination. What we call “procrastination” is just our minds working through the selection process.
  • A method of weeding out tasks which are showing no sign of getting done is required. This implies no condemnation - it is purely housekeeping to keep the list manageable.
  • Our method of working the list should put no pressure on us to do any particular task or tasks. 

If you compare the above list with Autofocus you can see exactly why Autofocus ultimately failed to provide a long-term satisfactory answer.

The solution is not to make Autofocus more complicated or effective. It is to radically simplify it and remove even the faintest suspicion of compulsion from every part of it.

Current Method

What I have been working with over the last few days is a “Catch-all” list to which I add everything that I think of. I scan it continuously as one list from one end to the other, taking action on tasks that stand out and re-entering recurring and unfinished tasks.

At the end of the day (or beginning of the next) I remove pages on which there has been no movement during the day. This purely a housekeeping matter to keep the list manageable. It’s not a penalty or “dismissal”.

This is proving extremely effective. I’m getting a vast amount of work done without any of the usual heartache (or brainache) about what I should be doing.

Conclusion

As you will realise if you’ve been around my website for a bit, there’s nothing new about any part of this. In fact the difference is not so much in the method as in the mental attitude that goes with it. It’s a matter of learning to trust that your subconscious mind is quite capable of sorting through your tangled priorities without any interference from your conscious mind. In fact it does a much better job on its own.

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