My Latest Book

Product Details

Also available on,, and other Amazons and bookshops worldwide! 

To Think About . . .
If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign? Einstein
My Other Books

Product Details

Product Details

Product Details

Product Details

Click to order other recommended books.

Find Us on Facebook Badge

Search This Site
Latest Comments

Discussion Forum > The Eastertide Challenge

I'm not sure what the season following Easter, is called, analogous to Lenten. Pentecostal maybe? Anyway, I missed the Lenten challenge because I wasn't up to it at the time, but I am up to it now. So for the next 47 days I'm going to engage in actively doing things by system, and stick to it.

Anybody else?

I have a system in mind, but I plan to be flexible about the details until habit makes things concrete. For the start, it'll be an autofocus type system, following the little & often strategem.
Instead of writing everything down at the start, I'm only entering things as they come up. Thus the list will take a while before it reaches any length that actually engages any rules about pages because I only have 1 page.
April 19, 2017 at 0:20 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
I'll join.
April 19, 2017 at 1:03 | Unregistered Commenterflight16
I plan to start a 1-month challenge on May 1, or maybe half-month. PlannerPad didn't have enough room per day, and I just looked at two forms from Stever Robbins, and listened to David Allan interviewing Dan Pink. The angel on my shoulder is trying very hard to stop me from creating forms and writing it all out, at least until I've dealt with the backlog from the latest crash.
April 19, 2017 at 2:33 | Registered CommenterCricket
The period between Easter Day and Pentecost is called Eastertide.
April 19, 2017 at 11:35 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
For my Lent challenge, I gave up podcasts which, silly as it may sound, actually led to some good insights for myself on time and attention, and led to beneficial behavior changes (fewer podcasts!).

As for task-management, I'm floundering yet again with my systems. I've adopted bits of the Linenberger system (very clever) at work since we're on Outlook, while keeping a daily log in Evernote. But wait, I have a list of commitments in Workflowy and ... yuck.

For personal stuff, I'm managing out of my inbox with commitments in Workflowy, but then I don't check Workflowy and ... yuck.

I'm going with FAF for personal projects during Eastertide (thank you, Mark, for that information). I work well with a simple composition notebook, so I will keep that out and open at my work desk to jot in when I get ideas. I already know I will use some pages in the back to keep notes of bigger projects (I'm redesigning my web site, I'm taking a class, etc.).

For work...I'm going to use the Linenberger system, or at least the parts that make sense to me. It's a clever use of Tasks and I have learned some good stuff about Outlook. His system is based on urgency and closed lists, so we'll see how it does through June 4 (Pentecost Sunday, accd to the Google). I'll continue to use Evernote as a daily timelog, since I often use the day's note as a scratchpad to hold copy-and-paste work and I refer to the timelog for my weekly and monthly reporting.

I've stopped trying to use the same system for work and personal time. The office requires a different energy and rigor than my home life, hence my adopting two different systems.

Thanks for suggesting this, Alan. I'm finding these types of challenges to be quite rewarding.
April 20, 2017 at 17:09 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown
Hi, Mark and everyone:
I'm joining too. I wasn't active in this post the lasts months. I was experimenting a lot with my productivity, even with other ideas, but always come back to Mark's teachings. For me, he has this peculiar approach of working with the "subconscious mind" that makes his methods very powerful.
And your challenge , Alan, comes at the right moment for me, because last week I finished "Secrets​ of Productive People" and today I start rereading it and applying its ideas, specially the "Secret Productivity Method" from chapter nine. Even if I read the long discussion about it in this blog, and notice that FVP is an improvement, I notice that all Mark's methods has an invaluable learning quality, so even it's not the method for you, it worth trying it for the things you learn in the process.
It happens to me a month ago with DIT: I finally abandoned that method, but it was when I tried it that I understood the concept of "one day work" and how backlogs drain our productivity.
So now I'm in "Secrets", not just the chapter 9 method but all the stuff. I done some of the questions exercise applying the suggestion Mark gave on that old forum post when he advises to ask oneself: how I can use the 5T method to enhance my productivity? And asking this and trying the method today, I discovered that this method delivers what it promises: first, allows me to focus on the important things and from a higher perspective. Even if I had lots of minor tasks to do, my mind selected the correct tasks for a productive day. And, second, it makes me understand "with my flesh and my guts" the importance of systems for dealing with low level things.
I have others insights, but I prefer to continue applying this method and report on them the following days. This post is already quite long! Sorry, but this is the result of the incredible energy of Mark's writing.

Best wishes for all, friends, and a big hug for you, Mark, with all my gratitude.

P.D. Are we calling this the Eastertide Challenge?
April 21, 2017 at 3:09 | Unregistered CommenterPablo
Thanks, Pablo. Great post.
April 21, 2017 at 12:43 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I've cnanged the title to the Eastertide Challenge.
April 21, 2017 at 12:45 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Hi, Mark, Hi friends:

Here is my report on the Eastertide challenge before four days (more or less) of applying my system.
How I work? I decided to take the Eastertide Challenge aplplying the ideas and techniques of "Secrets of Productive People". The main approach is focusing each week on one part of the book. Even if I started the past Thursday, I take that and Friday as "launching days", so this would be my first complete week (so, this is not a report but a kind of initial statement; I tried to write it yesterday, but my internet connection failed). In this week I will apply the techniques and principles of the first part of the book, chapters one to ten. So, this means using the "Productive Time management" or "5T" from chapter 9, the questioning techniques and the system view, that is: identifying and improving my systems.
In addition to this purpose, as I was using "How to make your Dreams come True" as my main "autocoaching" method from several months ago, I decided to merge the two systems in this way: I start the day with a small dialog session where I focuse on my vision and present reality. After that, I use the 5T to decide what to do next. At the end of the day I do a kind of "evening meditation" (in regard of the stoics) and write a small dialog and the "what's better" list.
What I discovered up to now? I work as an insurance agent (I sell insurances) so I need to keep a record of the miriad of task I have to do and the ones I delegate to others. So, the 5T doesn't work to keep track of it, but Mark says that you can use reminders if you need, so the first thing the method make me realize is that all those things need a reminder system for them: I used for that the google calendar and inbox by google reminder system.
So this makes a great change in my approach. I noticed that my 5T list is more an "attention focus list" that works as a bridge between the high level of Dreams and the low level of my day to day reality. When I choose the 5Ts, my mind focused naturally on important tasks or things, and all the rest goes on my low level system of reminders. This approach makes a natural way of working with several levels of attention in mind without supercharging my mind with a lot of rules: I reached a level of flow never felt before!
And the rest: How are you dealing with the challenge, friends?
Have a productive and creative week!
April 25, 2017 at 15:33 | Unregistered CommenterPablo
Hi all - in another thread I'd mentioned that I am planning to do the Eastertide challenge using some of the rules of DIT but with variations that tailor it to my preferred way of working. For the Lenten challenge I used the Bounce, and that experience was very useful in teaching me three things.

(A) A catch-all list doesn't really work well for me because, left to its own devices, my brain produces dozens and dozens (hundreds!) of possible tasks every day ,from the sublime to the ridiculous, so my commitments (urgent and non-urgent) are mixed in with everything else, scanning feels cumbersome and there's just too much choice of what to do - and when faced with too much choice I often feel overwhelmed and end up doing nothing. So I want a system in which commitments, to myself and others, are kept on the working list, and I have a separate list for someday/maybe tasks and ideas.

(B) I want a system that uses a day-to-page diary or similar for my working list, and I'll use the DIT method of writing tasks on my list (put it on tomorrow's date unless is needs to be done today). I'll have a section on each page where I write 'must-do-today' tasks, and I'll have a task "Action daily checklist" (which is on a separate list to avoid having to rewrite it on the working list every day).

(C) In order to decide what to put on my working list and what to put on my separate catch-all list I need some way to filter my ideas/tasks as they arise. I think the best way to do this is to have a set timeframe in mind which helps me decide. My timeframe is going to be from now until mid-June, which fits approximately with the Eastertide challenge. Once that date is reached, I'll set another one, and so on. This doesn't mean I don't make plans and prepare for events beyond the timeframe - working on future events is part of my current commitments and I hope to work on them little-and-often.

So those three features form the basis of the system, inspired by Mark's ideas over the years. As for processing each day's list, there are many choices of how to do this, but perhaps using good old FV (as per Mark's latest blog) could be the way to go.

This all sounds fine and dandy - let's hope I can live up to it! I've always been better at planning what to do than actually doing it.

Best wishes to all.
April 25, 2017 at 21:14 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret1
Hi, Margaret.

Great post and great system. Looks very promising. Please, let us know how it goes. I like the point C of your approach. What I was experiencing, while doing the challenge, is that my "profound" or "subconscious" mind has a far better vision to decide what is important, if I put myself in the correct mood/point of view/perspective and give to it the information/experiences needed to decide -and don´ t force any decision. Thatˋs why I like your idea of a timeframe in mind.

Best wishes.
April 26, 2017 at 0:06 | Unregistered CommenterPablo
My workday system (using Linenberger's Outlook task system) is working just fine. I've added individual folders in the inbox for each workday, so I can move today's mail to tomorrow's folder. I'm getting along very well with this system.

My handwritten notebook-based FAF for home/personal tasks did not survive after I left the notebook at work a couple of days in a row.

So. I'll use Workflowy to keep my catch-all reminders list (easily accessible from home, work, and iOS), use for my increasing list of time-based reminders, but at home, I will use 3T without referring to the catch-all.

I was inspired by Pablo's description of his 5T use and its benefits; 3T simply fits better in the tiny slots of time I have to work from my desk at home. So I am now committing to using 3T at home for the Eastertide Challenge.
April 26, 2017 at 3:13 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown
I would like to join the Eastertide challenge using the FV Systematic Next Hour.

For Lent I used a Basic Scanning, even more basic than AF, and other than that I managed to stick with it for the entire period, it felt very slow.

So I am getting started right now.

Mark, I hope you are feeling better. I admire you for continuing to generate so many interesting ideas during this trying time. All the best for your recovery.
April 27, 2017 at 22:15 | Unregistered CommenterEugenia
Hi, Mark, Hi everyone.

This is my second report on the Eastertide Challenge, just after a complete week of implementing the "Secrets of Productive People" techniques and ideas. As i told last week, I decided to focus on the first part of the book and implement this three main things: the 5 task time management system of chapter nine, the "system mindset" and the questioning exercises. This is what I found up to now:
a) The 5T time management system: as I told in my previous post, I realized that the 5T method works for me more as an attention focus list than a simple task list, and so it created two interesting results: it pushed me to work through my reminders and routines systems very well, and at the same time it released my mind to thing on "high views".
But I noticed another curious thing around this method: the first days it worked very well, but maybe because those days were more or less "easy days". On those days, the 5T list comprises more or less the complete day, while my inbox system of reminders worked to remember me all my commitments. Then the week proceded to the friday and the work get a bit lost. What did I do then? As Margaret said, the timeframe is important, so when I was against crazy work, I narrow my focus and the timeframe implicit on my 5T method reduces to the next hour or two: now, the 5T focus on the next hour, and it only contains one or two tasks. When I could catch up with work, the mind relaxed, the focus opened his frame and I came back again to a "all day view".
b) The system mindset: I made explicit and work to my low level systems, and realized the things I need to do in order to improve them. I'm still working on this.
c) The questioning method: I work on my collection subsystem, and discovered some interesting aspects I need to explore and improve, not only on the "hard" part of it but a lot on the subconscious part too.
So, my challenge comes very promising and full of insights. I'm really hopeful for the next week.
The best to all of you and all my best wishes for you, Mark.
May 2, 2017 at 0:30 | Unregistered CommenterPablo
Pablo, That reminds me of Agile Results.

In the morning, pick three wins for the day. (Review the wins for the week while planning, so you act on the long-term wins.) At noon, pick three wins for the rest of the day, which may or may not be related to the wins you chose that morning. During the afternoon, you can reset as often as you like.

(When planning the day, look at the wins for the week. When planning the week, look at the wins for the season. And so on. Ensure that each longer term win is supported by action at the smaller levels. Adjust the long-term plans as appropriate.)
May 3, 2017 at 16:43 | Registered CommenterCricket
Hi, Cricket.

Yes, I think it has something to do with Agile Results or even other productivity approaches as ZTD by Leo Babauta, when he gives the advice of choosing three MIT (Most Important Tasks, I think), or Covey's approach. But I noticed that even it has connections, the small differences even in feeling produce a lot of different results. For me, when I read "Getting Results the Agile way" (Are you talking about that book?) and tried to implement, even it was a great system, I felt a bit rigid and too much "left-side brain" for me. Maybe it has something to do with all that goals an subgoals and goals for day, week, season, etc. Mark says in "How to make your dreams come true" that he started making a detailed plan, just to finisht it and discover he condemned himself to years of checking off items from a very long long list. What I discovered with Mark was a method (or a collection of ideas that competes, collaborates and enrich each other) that creates a balance between my subconscious mind and my rational mind in a way no other method before.
May 3, 2017 at 20:32 | Unregistered CommenterPablo
Hello, friends:

I'm reporting here just after two weeks of working on the Eastertide Challenge.

As I already wrote in this other post, I was applying the ideas of Mark in "Secrets of Productive People", in particular the 5T method of chaper nine. What I discovered up to now is that the best way of applying 5T is following the rules that Mark gives, only with one change: Mark says that you must work the list in the order you wrote, but I find more productive to use the FVP algorithm, even if I have a short list of five or less items. Most of the time the order I work the list equals the order I wrote, but some times I work in a different order, so I find that algorithm more flexible.

Another small hack I do to the list is that sometimes the list has more than five items: As I work through the day I find that I do one item and that work gives birth to one or more tasks that I need to do on the same day so I have to keep them in my focus. I write them on the list, even if those makes the list longer than five tasks, but I try not to write more than 7 items (maybe taking the idea that the mind manages 5 items plus or minus 2, ;-) )

The rest of my implementation goes on the systems side of things: as Mark says, one of the best things of a no-list system (and I see 5T like a no-list approach) is to make you improve your systems and routines, and that is what is happening with my own systems. I discovered that I am improving my calendar, appointments and reminders.

I'm very happy and excited with this implementation because I see that my way of working improves in a very fluent and "unconscious" way... I mean: sometimes I feel a kind of setback, but (as you can read in my posts on the trend I cited before) then I discovered that it was just the way to make a small (or important) leap ahead.

How the rest is going with this callenge?
May 16, 2017 at 19:09 | Unregistered CommenterPablo
Totally forgot about the challenge. I'm using what works best in the moment. I've also hired a personal coach, for a while at least, who helps me set weekly goals. Just a few each week, usually time-based, and working on them goes on my calendar. Three weeks in, and I've met each one, without anything else suffering. Fingers crossed.

I think it's working because a) I want to report success. and b) my goals are better thought-out when they're commitments to someone else. I don't commit to more than I believe I can do.
May 24, 2017 at 21:37 | Registered CommenterCricket
I am still using the Lineberger system, somewhat modified, at work. We're a Msft Office shop and his tweaking of the Tasks pane in Outlook has made entering, updating, and tracking tasks very smooth for me. I have not quite cracked the big-picture issue of my commitments; possibly a weekly reminder task with my commitments for me to review and update and keep freshened.

At home, it's more relaxed, as I want it to be. Of an evening, I use 3T. I also have numerous Followupthen reminder emails that arrive at 8pm to remind me to run a backup, process my backlog, take my pill, set out the weight bench for the next morning, etc. (These are examples of reminders, not all of them coming at once!)

We are prepping for a vacation so the top-of-mind tasks are shifting, as they should. Nothing written down, but as I remember to do so, I leave email reminders for myself in Followupthen and I'm assured that nothing really critical will get dropped.

This year's challenges have been great! I want to keep doing them.
June 19, 2017 at 14:39 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown
Hi everyone.

I was working all this time applying the 5T method according to Secrets of Productive People, as I decided when this challenge started.

What I discovered up to now? The 5T method helps me a lot with my routines and daily tasks and makes them explicit. Working with the ideas chapter makes me improve a lot of my proccesses.

I am very happy with the result, but now (today) I returned to FVP, so I see the differences betwenn a "no list" method and a "catch-all list" method... And I wait until Mark reveals his new system.
July 5, 2017 at 18:58 | Unregistered CommenterPablo