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Discussion Forum > Lent Update: AF4 No List

After getting a bit disoriented with the length of my AF4 list and weeding it, I decided to try another tweak to AF4, hence "No List AF4". I feel like this is just a more rigorous policy of entry and a slight modification to the ordering of scanning the backlog and open list, so is still within the realm of the challenge.

The rules are the same as AF4 except for the following modifications:

- New tasks can only be added by dotting at the end of the open list
- When you come to the list after a while (or a new backlog is created) you can start working on the OPEN LIST first before the backlog.

I find bootstrapping with 5+ tasks to start with can be helpful, but with the second rule, you can bootstrap from one task at a time, increasing your task list.

I find it feels a lot like a rotating list system, but with more flexibility and less tendency to build resistance. It also seems to handle going through the night well.

Hope everyone's having a good lent!
March 26, 2017 at 4:57 | Unregistered CommenterRyan Freckleton

Interesting. I'd like to hear more about how this works out in practice.
March 26, 2017 at 23:08 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

Sure thing!

The biggest thing that I notice is that it makes follow-through a lot easier and more effective, at least for me. Once something gets started on the list, it's almost guaranteed to get continual attention that it needs. Having a set entry point tends to make me more reflective of what I add.

It feels like I'm flying. Distractions for the moment or in general seem to be set aside when they need to be. I feel like I'm in the "flow" most of the time, usually I don't even have to dismiss things.

I am habitually re-entering daily and less frequent recurring topics, which is consistent with having a good daily routine.

When I'm in the flow for a certain set of tasks, things oftentimes end up being dismissed and I don't get back to review them until that flow has passed.

I'll continue updating as I use this more than a week, but so far I'm quite happy with it. It fits the way I work quite well.

That's it for now.
March 28, 2017 at 17:08 | Unregistered CommenterRyan Freckleton

Thanks. I might try it - once Lent is out of the way of course!
March 28, 2017 at 19:04 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Hi Ryan,
I've never tried AF4 before, but as a way to have a more structured No-List System this sounds interesting.
I don't understand your insttuctions, though. What do you mean with 'dotting' in 'New tasks can only be added by dotting at the end of the open list'?
Also, do you enter new items one by one or in a batch of for example the next three items you are committed to do?
March 29, 2017 at 8:26 | Unregistered CommenterDino

Pending Ryan's answer, my understanding of it is that a dotted task is one that has to be done and cannot be left for later.

For instance:

. Write chapter
Tidy desk
. Pay builder's invoice
Check diary

The tasks Write chapter and Pay builder's invoice have to be done when your scan comes to them. The other three tasks can be done or not as you wish.

In Ryan's method the only way to get a task on the list is by dotting it so that it must be done when the scanning process next gets to it.

I think he envisages being able to add as many tasks as you wish at any time provided that you adhere to the above rule.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, Ryan!
March 29, 2017 at 12:26 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I was only adding items to the end of the open list by doing them one at a time, similar to how it's done in the rotating list methods. This meant I could only add items when I was at the end of the open list, and added them one at a time by working on them.

I've been trying the way Mark described this morning (entering with dots that require action) and it's working quite well! It seems to maintain the benefits I described earlier, while also providing more freedom of when to enter things. Some of the smaller things that were being ignored with my method are now being brought along with this new modification.

We'll see how it goes over the next few days, but so far I'm pretty excited and happy with it.

I'm continuing to be able to use my list without weeding it. I feel stretched in a good way, it seems to create a good balance between challenge and ease.

The disadvantage, compared to only entering-by-doing that I've been doing last week, is that some focus is lost, at least temporarily. Now that I've completed some of my tasks, the focus is returning.

I'm AWARE of the change in amount of focus I have available, which naturally makes me hesitate to add additional tasks with the dot method when I already have a lot on my plate, and more eager to add new tasks when I don't feel sufficiently challenged.
March 29, 2017 at 20:49 | Unregistered CommenterRyan Freckleton