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Discussion Forum > Self-adjusting Systematic No-List

I think I may have hit on a way to get a systematic no-list that also regulates one's overall workload. It also meets all of Mark's most recent criteria: easy on the mind, no compulsion, very responsive to urgency while also systematic in addressing commitments.

I want to try it a bit longer - will post the details if it works out!
May 9, 2017 at 4:49 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Sounds interesting!
May 9, 2017 at 14:29 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
This is working pretty well.

I thought I'd give some clues and see if anyone wants to guess how it works. :-)

(1) It incorporates one of Jupiter's favorite systems.
(2) It incorporates no-list principles.
(3) It adjusts to your workload based on what you actually get done.
May 11, 2017 at 3:04 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Seraphim:

That would be DIT, I guess.

So you probably have an "Entry by Doing" rule for new tasks, but once on the list a task can be carried forward to the next day provided some work has been done on it during the day. If not, it lapses.

I used this for a short period way back, but I can't remember why I stopped.
May 11, 2017 at 17:19 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
That is interesting. I might be doing something similar.

I have tried DIT, but got behind as I can't seem to keep up yesterday's incoming tasks.

I tried FVP & NQ FVP, but I just seem to skip the scanning bit after a while as it seemed easier just to plough through the tasks on oldest first and to about half way through everything each day (sort of per Cricket's halves system).

Then something interesting happened as doing half of an open or closed list nicely cleared the work down over a week or so. i.e.a bit like atomic half-life. I have been fascinated by that and how it helps with time management.

I can see loads of time management blog, so just wondering if anyone has tried "half-life" to clearing tasks? It seems to apply nicely to clearing a backlog of emails.

It gets hard when there is resistance to a task or email, but so glad when I just clear it no matter what. Urgent things seem to disappear as I know it will be actioned in a few days anyway.
May 11, 2017 at 17:54 | Unregistered CommenterMrBacklog
MrBacklog:

Could you explain a little bit more how this works? I'm not sure understand what the advantage of this is.

For instance If you have a backlog of 31 tasks, why is it better to do 16 on day 1, 8 on day 2, 4 on day 3, 2 on day 4, and 1 on day 5, rather than 16 on day 1 and 15 on day 2 ? I'm sure you have an answer to this, but I don't quite see what it is !

Even less do I understand how it would work with an open list, which would be filling up as you empty it.

Here's my version of halving an open list;

http://markforster.squarespace.com/blog/2013/5/20/another-simple-and-effective-method.html
May 11, 2017 at 19:26 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Oh yes, I suppose Email is a good example of an open list as that fills up constantly.
These are the benefits I have found for me:-

1. It balances the workload automatically. If I'm on top of email then I will clear all of yesterdays emails anyway, so no problem. If I can't attend to email for a few days, e.g on holiday, or other urgent things crop up, then I get a build up of emails to clear. So to hit the "half life" target I naturally spend the right time on it. It flags up if I'm overloaded. I can now get a better handle on average what time it takes to keep up to date. NB most of my work comes in via email.

2. It helps me to stop dismissing emails I am resisting. I'm trying to condition myself to eliminate procrastination. By having an email that I must action there and then to hit the target, I'm more motivated to clear it. I'm seeing the benefits of not having old emails hanging around. I personally find that if I pre scan emails, then I'm likely to resist some of them. If instead I'm conditioned to just actioning the email on the first reading, that helps enourmosly. For emails that can't be actioned I drop them in an action next week or next month folder and I have diary notes to drop them back into the inbox.

3. I know that urgent emails will get picked up and actioned in a few days without fail, so I stop worrying about missing things.

4. When I have got to half way I can then work on someone else. As all my tasks can only come in via email, telecalls, post, meetings and projects, then I can rotate them and work them all on the same basis. That makes it easy to know what to do next. Quite like your plate spinning blog.
It is the quite clear when there are too many commitments.

5. I have been feeding in some of the closed list tasks. I had about 100 unactioned emails last eek so I declared a backlog and move them all out to another folder. I have been feeding in 10 or so a dat back into the inbox. Those are nearly cleared and I'm keeping up with new emails.

6. It is taking about 4-5 hours a day now to keep on top of emails so I know what time I roughly have now for other work. I'm currently now clearing a lot pile of post on "half life" basis knowing that will disappear in a week. I'm now working though telephone call notes. So, it helps me balance my commitments and confirm I have no spare capacity for anything else at them moment. It helps focus on the right things.

I feel now I actually have a plan to keep on top of work. Before I would just deal with the most urgent and things got missed. Now I can systematically action main areas of commitments and I have realised it is necessary to delegate work to get the balance right. Luckily I'm the business principle so have a team to delegate to.

Hope that makes more sense of it?
May 11, 2017 at 20:52 | Unregistered CommenterMrBacklog
Mark Forster:

Good guesses!

<< That would be DIT, I guess. >>
Yes, it has some elements of DIT. But like Jupiter's favorite system, it is like DIT with a cap on the number of items you put on your tomorrow task diary.

<< So you probably have an "Entry by Doing" rule for new tasks >>
I could never make any of the "Entry by Doing" systems work. I always need to write down all the stuff on my mind. So no, it doesn't have an "Entry by Doing" element. Although you could still use such a rule with this system if you wanted to.

<< but once on the list a task can be carried forward to the next day >>
No, in this system, there is no specific method for carrying work forward to the next day. In general, the system discourages / limits what gets carried forward.

<< If not, it lapses. >>
There is no mechanism at all for forcing anything off the list -- no dismissal or lapsing or anything like that.
May 11, 2017 at 21:53 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Here is another clue. In a separate post, I mentioned that I let too many dogs in through the gate sometimes. Or fail to manage the gate altogether.

This system has a very simple gate. The gate gets bigger when you meet your commitments. The gate gets smaller when you don't meet your commitments.
May 11, 2017 at 21:55 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Mr Backlog:

<< I tried FVP & NQ FVP, but I just seem to skip the scanning bit after a while as it seemed easier just to plough through the tasks on oldest first and to about half way through everything each day >>
That's perfectly within the rules for FVP and NQ-FVP. Sometimes I find it's the most effective way to work an FVP list. Mark said something similar somewhere -- the idea is to do the root task -- the first task on the list -- and only dot additional items if they really jump out at you.

<<Then something interesting happened as doing half of an open or closed list nicely cleared the work down over a week or so. i.e.a bit like atomic half-life. I have been fascinated by that and how it helps with time management. >>
I could see how over time you have fewer and fewer backlog items every day, until you get to the point where new incoming work equals the number of items left over from the previous day. Then you'd establish a kind of equilibrium.
May 11, 2017 at 21:59 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Seraphim:
The suspense is killing me.
Please spill the beans!
May 11, 2017 at 22:02 | Unregistered CommenterMrBacklog
Yes I suppose getting to an equilibrium would be the ideal goal of any system.
I.e. a fully working DIT.
I'm hoping to see if sticking to this over a long period of time achieves clearing backlogs and automatically limits over committing.
May 11, 2017 at 22:34 | Unregistered CommenterMrBacklog
Seraphim:

I give up.

Yes, please spill the beans!
May 11, 2017 at 23:05 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
OK, I posted it here!
http://markforster.squarespace.com/forum/post/2672135

I've only been using it for three or four days, so there are probably some unanticipated negative side effects still lurking somewhere.

But so far, I do like how it is working out. It's giving me a really strong focus with a lot of flexibility and responsiveness. And it adjusts automatically based on how well I keep up with my commitments.
May 12, 2017 at 0:26 | Registered CommenterSeraphim