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Discussion Forum > RAF(?) is the best in handling new tasks; DWM is the best for recurrent tasks; FAF is the best in balancing both. Why not combine them all?

Please take note that I am plagiarizing from multiple of Mark's systems to explain what I have been using for the past couple of weeks.

1. Start a new list. Don’t use an existing list.This is very important, otherwise you will overwhelm it before you’ve even started.
2. Add other tasks to the end of the list as needed or as they occur to you throughout the day. Allow the list to build up gradually.
3. Work the list by scanning it, taking action on those tasks that feel ready to be worked on.
4. When you’ve worked enough on a task. cross it out. If it’s unfinished, re-write it at the end of the list with a bullet point • before it. Do the same with tasks that will recur the same day or within the next two weeks.
5. When you finish for the day, draw a short horizontal line in the margin immediately after the last task on the list.

Starting from the beginning of the list, work as in rules 2-5 for the FIRST DAY.

1. Extend the first of the two short line end-of-day markers (see rule 5) so that it goes right across the page. Write "1" on this line. Subsequent days, number the next lines consecutively up to "14", then start over from "1".
2. Start working from that line (i.e. ignore any tasks before it for the time being)
3. When you reach the end of the list, go back to the beginning of the list. You now work only on the unmarked tasks (i.e. tasks with no bullet point •; these tasks are to be ignored for now) before the long horizontal line you drew at the beginning of the day:

a. Scan them and DELETE any unmarked task you no longer want to do at all
b. Scan again and DEFER any unmarked task you don’t want to do now to your schedule/calendar (do not just re-write them at the end of the list without taking any action on them)
c. DO all the remaining unmarked tasks in order

4. Continue working the rest of the list as in rules 2-5 for the FIRST DAY.

1. Re-write DEFERRED tasks to be added to the active list as new tasks (i.e. unmarked).
2. All active recurrent tasks older than 14 days are either DELETED or DEFERRED.
3. Keep on processing the list as outlined above in FIRST DAY to THIRD DAY, with some additional rules:

a. As preparation for the next steps, consider yesterday and today as one "day", while considering the other tasks in between two lines as separate other "days".
b. Once you have done a task that stood out, you are "trapped" in the day you have found that task. Keep on scanning and doing tasks that stand out in that day as outlined in steps 2-4 of the FIRST DAY until no other tasks stand out.
c. When you finish scanning a day you were trapped in with no task standing out, you no longer proceed automatically to the next day and repeat the scanning procedure outlined just above. Instead, you scan forward ignoring the page structure until you come to a task that stands out as ready to be done. You may skip over several days before this happens. You then repeat the step just before this one.


As mentioned, I have been using this method for a couple of weeks and I find it really good. There is some list sprawling but not as bad as in any of the AF's I have tried since it just limits things to two weeks old. In fact currently my list has no recurrent task active older than five days.

Why two weeks deadline for the recurrent tasks then? It was what I determined to be the "sweet spot" for handling recurrent tasks when I was developing a different system, FDWWM. You guys may want to look at your schedule and determine the best number of days for your recurrent tasks deadline if you want to use this method.

On the other hand, this way of handling recurrent tasks takes pressure off the DEFER function of RAF, and it also takes advantage of the "clumping" feature of FAF, which is where, as Mark described,

"tasks of similar priority and/or time requirement tend to get clumped together... result of [which] is that these clumped tasks tend to get cleared together when there is a suitable time available to do them.... The clumping also means that you can look at pages on the list and identify what the common features of the remaining tasks are. This makes it easier to consciously or subconsciously identify when the time is ripe to do them."
September 3, 2017 at 20:33 | Registered Commenternuntym
Sounds crazy-complicated to me. 14 days? Lots of dotted undone tasks spread over several pages? (Hope I don't have [fort]nightmares!)
September 4, 2017 at 8:02 | Registered Commenterubi
@ubi: The "crazy-complicated" may be because of how I presented the method, but it's just basically

1. New tasks live for two days, upon which they are deferred, deleted, or done on the third day.
2. Recurrent/Unfinished tasks live for 14 days, upon which they are deleted or deferred on the 15th.
3. List is processed by skimming through until a task stands out, upon which you focus in the day that task was found in until no more tasks in the same day stand out, then rinse and repeat.

As for the 14 days, I did mention: "You guys may want to look at your schedule and determine the best number of days for your recurrent tasks deadline if you want to use this method."
September 4, 2017 at 9:43 | Registered Commenternuntym

Thanks for clarifying. I use my calendar for appointments/events, and a Tickler file for other 'recurrent' tasks/reminders that are not be done today or tomorrow, so the Real AutoFocus system works well for me as Mark designed it.

I wasn't able to find the original description of Flexible AutoFocus (FAF). It isn't listed in the TM Systems tab above. Does anyone know where it was first described on this site?

Please post a follow-up in a fortnight or two - sounds like you've just completed one 14-day cycle of your new system.
September 5, 2017 at 1:43 | Registered Commenterubi
Thanks, Mark.

Are you still using Real AutoFocus (?)?
September 5, 2017 at 16:30 | Registered Commenterubi

Not at the moment. I'm experimenting with something else. I hope to write something about what I'm doing soon.
September 6, 2017 at 12:03 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I need a System for deciding which of Mark's many wonderful inventions to use. :-)
September 6, 2017 at 21:14 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
@ubi: I lowered the number of days to seven. I found that (at least personally) seven days plus the two of regular RAF is more than enough days for the recurrent/unfinished tasks.

@Mark Forster: Nice, a new system! Can't wait to look at it!
September 7, 2017 at 3:17 | Registered Commenternuntym