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Discussion Forum > The "More than OK" system

You can use a list of any length for this system. There is no need for pages so this can be electronically done, too.

1. From the end of the list, scan up for a task that is OK for you to do, and do it. Once done for now, cross it out and rewrite at the end of the list.
2. Go to the start of your list. Remembering how you felt about doing the previous task, scan down and choose the task that "stands out" as something you'd want to do more than the previous task. Do it, and again cross it out once it is done, rewriting it at the end of the list if needed.
3. From the last acted upon task, keep on scanning and acting down the list as you did in step 2 until you reach the end of the list.
4 Go back to step 1. If anytime you had to do an urgent task, go back to step 2 instead.

------

This is the culmination of my short foray into the “Standing out for No” process. It turns out that this kind of scanning, instead of being the "main" way of processing a list, can be used to help out the "Standing out for Yes" process by, in a sense, "kickstarting" it into gear. So yes, I may be wrong with some of the things I said previously about “Standing out for No” vs "Standing out for Yes". However, “Standing out for No” still has some major advantages that I tried to exploit using this system.

So here are the reasons for the different steps of this system, as well as my observations in the small (two full days) time I have used it.

1. At least personally, it is easier and faster for me to look at a list and choose a task that is "OK to do" than a task that "I want to do", especially if I start from the end of the list, probably because more urgent tasks are near the end of the list, and the criteria are less stringent.
2. A comparative criterion ("Which task do I want to do more than the previous task I did?") is easier and faster than an absolute criterion ("Which task do I want to do?).
3. Unlike FV and FVP, the comparisons are not just mental (preselection) but also partly experiential (the experience of the task I just did vs how I imagine the next task would be), again making the process faster and easier.
4. The partially experiential comparisons of the selection process makes the system feel dynamic, always on the go. It is not only fast: it FEELS fast and has momentum.
5. Urgent tasks do not disrupt the system. In fact, it looks for them by first scanning up from the end of the list, and takes advantage of them by using them for first comparisons to kickstart the process even if the previous comparative cycle was disrupted by one.
6. On the other hand, since usually, though not always, the first task in the comparative chain is only partially wanted to be done ("OK to be done"), the next tasks selected are usually surprisingly numerous before you reach the end of a comparative cycle. The system thus handles all parts of the list well.
7. You can use this process on a list of any length, whether from scratch or an old one. It also seems to consolidate a list well, i.e. lessens the number of pages for the whole list.
8. The speed, ease, momentum, flexibility, and reliability of the system means that I can have full confidence in the system, resulting in little resistance in adding anything into it and doing my tasks.
November 4, 2017 at 6:53 | Registered Commenternuntym
That sounds like AF1?
November 4, 2017 at 7:32 | Unregistered CommenterMrBacklog
Not really. AF1 is scanning one page at a time.

http://www.markforster.net/autofocus-system/
November 4, 2017 at 13:18 | Registered Commenternuntym
What I am liking about this system is that you can use any action to break through resistance, and it is impossible for you to be not doing anything anytime.

For example, you are reading this, right? Why not pick up your list and scan down from the beginning, asking yourself, "What do I want to do more than reading that post from Mark Forster's website?"
November 4, 2017 at 13:32 | Registered Commenternuntym
nuntym:

<< "What do I want to do more than reading that post from Mark Forster's website?" >>

The answer to that is obviously "Nothing"
November 4, 2017 at 16:20 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
This is surprisingly fresh and interesting. I await further reports on its effectiveness.
November 4, 2017 at 16:23 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Mark: Then rule 4 gets triggered, and you scan back to an OK task and restart the process.
November 5, 2017 at 1:09 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Hi nuntym,

This looks like an excellent system, well done!
November 5, 2017 at 9:41 | Unregistered CommenterLeon
Thanks people for replying.

And yes I got the joke Mark :p

Well I have to report that the effectiveness of the system suffered a bit until I clarified to myself, with some help, what "want" meant, then it's back to its full effectiveness.
November 6, 2017 at 18:07 | Registered Commenternuntym
I like how this system starts with doing something "more than OK", rather than a long series of comparing.

I often get paralyzed thinking "but this other thing is more important." This gets the ball rolling with a "good enough" choice, and promises me that once that's done, I'll do something even more important.
November 6, 2017 at 19:51 | Registered CommenterCricket
Moreover, that "other thing" will of necessity be picked up by this system in short order.
November 7, 2017 at 21:08 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
I had been using Simple Scanning and other ways of using "standing out" on a long list, like I had said in another thread, but I have been having times where not one task will "stand out" despite going through the whole list from start to finish, so on a whim I went back to this system.

At the first time I scanned from the end for something I am OK to do I immediately picked one, in spite of the fact that just previously I cannot find any one task to "stand out" from the very same list while scanning beginning to end, then end to beginning when I did not pick up anything on the first scan. Personally, that validates what I was saying before, that 'it is easier and faster for me to look at a list and choose a task that is "OK to do" than a task that "I want to do"'.

After the initial task, as per the original instructions, I scanned from the beginning of the list for a task that is comparatively better than the task I just did, but I had changed the criterion from what I "want to do more than the previous task" to what is "more OK to do than the previous task." I had noticed before I switched to pure "standing out" that to instruct my subconscious to compare using the same wording I used in choosing the first task instead of switching to "want more" (even though the two statements "want to do more than the previous task" and "more OK to do than the previous task" are technically the same) or using a "purely wordless standing out" made the process easier for me.

I then noticed that the tasks I was choosing were some of the oldest tasks I had in the list, tasks that I had been avoiding when I was using "standing out". I was a bit baffled by this until I took a closer look at the tasks I was choosing: they were tasks that were not necessarily easy, but were definitely rewarding to do.

When I instruct myself to look for things that I am "OK to do" I do not necessarily pick tasks that I really like to do, but tasks that are "meh, I can do that" as well as "Oh yeah I'd really like to do that!" tasks. Therefore, when I start to compare the previous task to the next tasks, it is not the ease of the tasks I am comparing to (because that easiness was not necessarily there to begin with!) but the experience of the rewards of the previous task to the possible rewards of doing the next task.
November 19, 2017 at 23:10 | Registered Commenternuntym
Nuntym:
Yes, I have similar thoughts - "I'm ready to do this" works better for me. I suppose you could use many words for the same thing. As long as things are being done then it is working.

It has had the effect for me of picking out lots of quick things to do as that make me feel productive.
Then I'm more ready to do the longer tasks. That seems to work quite well.
November 20, 2017 at 9:59 | Unregistered CommenterMrBacklog
Nothing standing out describes me. Even when something stands out, I don't trust myself. Maybe there's something more important to do. (Yeah, doesn't make sense, but I'm human.)

I wonder if that's why Randomizer works so well. It chooses a task and asks if you're ok doing it, not Which task are you excited about? or Which task is best to do now? (from a list of roughly equivalent items).
November 23, 2017 at 16:00 | Registered CommenterCricket
Cricket:

Standing out does take practice like everything else in life, and practice does inevitably involve making mistakes. But once you have done the practice it seems the most natural thing in the world.

And you've written today in another thread about how your brain makes you take time off after an intensive work period - even when you are consciously thinking you should still be working on something important. So which is "you" - your conscious thoughts or your unconscious overruling of your conscious thoughts?
November 23, 2017 at 18:30 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I wish it were my conscious thoughts, but having just finished a crash (or maybe not -- I deleted the video game, then came here) I have to accept that if I deny the power of impulses I, and everyone who relies on me, will suffer.

Accepting that the impulses are powerful does not mean letting things go. It means I need to work harder on things to reduce their damage, including mental health. An alcoholic who accepts that they have a problem will not drink, and will have a plan if those around them are drinking (eg company party). One who doesn't accept that they have a problem will have a drink or two or more.

For now, Standing Out doesn't work for me, to the point where practicing it too much creates problems. Other systems, such as goals and "ok to do" give me much better results. Not perfect, but so much better than Standing Out that I don't think it's worth the learning curve. The only times Standing Out has worked has been when on vacation or when I'm already in the middle of a productive streak.

It would be nice if my Executive Function were stronger and I were less impulsive, but wishing won't make it so. The best I can do is set up systems that replace the parts that are lacking. The routines and systems I established early, thanks to my parents, are great. I was a high achiever, and often do admin jobs in my guilds -- ones that are new to me, with lots of moving parts, and firm deadlines. Jobs no one else wants. New routines, though, are hard to establish and they stay fragile even after months of use.
November 23, 2017 at 22:55 | Registered CommenterCricket
Cricket, I've made plenty of good use of the "standing out" idea, but it still goes wrong sometimes. When it goes wrong for me, it goes wrong in the same way you describe. The "reactive" things tend to stand out -- the sparkly, addictive kinds of things -- or simply the easy things -- rather than the deeper intuitive things. This tends to happen when I'm under stress or pressure, or simply tired.

Fabio's discussion of the two brain systems was very helpful for me:
http://markforster.squarespace.com/blog/2017/7/19/real-autofocus.html?currentPage=3#comment21770282
November 24, 2017 at 0:59 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Seraphim:

<< This tends to happen when I'm under stress or pressure, or simply tired. >>

An alternative view would be that it's working very well if it's preventing you from attempting the deeper intuitive things when you are under stress or pressure or tired.
November 24, 2017 at 1:25 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Cricket:

<< New routines, though, are hard to establish and they stay fragile even after months of use. >>

See my answers to Jupiter at http://markforster.squarespace.com/forum/post/2695192#post2695402
November 24, 2017 at 1:45 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark, you've got a good point there.

But when I'm under pressure, I can usually get better results by getting away from my list and email and all the pressures, and taking a few minutes just to think about what I really need to do. In other words, I go "no list". And this usually gives me the clarity and focus I need even in the midst of the chaos and reactivity. Standing Out can do that too, but it's too easy for me to let it go on Auto Pilot and start cherry picking.

If I find I can't get anywhere with no-list (too tired, or day is too fractured, or whatever), I get better results with Randomizer than with Standing Out. If I go with Standing Out, it's too easy to wander aimlessly. With Randomizer, I often find a bunch of smaller but valuable things to which my response is, "yeah, I guess I *could* do that now", and get it done. Sometimes it's even enough to get No List back on track.
November 24, 2017 at 2:50 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Seraphim:
<<start cherry picking>>
Yes, this thought is certainly where things go badly wrong. I think it is one's mindset that causes this problem. Snap out of it and just do the tasks one after the other and productivity goes through the roof!
<<yeah, I guess I *could* do that now>>
The perfect though, do that day after day!

I'm sure time management systems work perfectly if the user has these doing thoughts and follows them through consistently. It success as simple as that?
November 24, 2017 at 11:17 | Unregistered CommenterMrBacklog
Apparently (unless he changed it somehow) Mark Forster in his latest system will use these approaches which were touched upon in this forum earlier this month:

http://markforster.squarespace.com/blog/2017/10/28/thoughts-on-the-long-list-a-better-way.html#item21797563

1) Go through the list ignoring every task until you get a feeling that you want to do one now.

2) Go through the list doing every task, until you get a feeling that you don't want to do one now.

The second approach can solve the problem of "nothing stands out" but as Mark mentioned the main problem with using these is balancing speed (the first approach) and comprehensiveness (the second).

I guess we'll have to wait for Mark's new system.
November 24, 2017 at 16:42 | Registered Commenternuntym
Quite often nothing particular stands out for me either, which is actually quite good in my view as it means I'm not really resisting doing any task at all. That is great as I'm really in the "flow" and tasks are getting done.

Therefore, you could view it when working like that is that every task stands out as ready to be done as soon as I first look at it.

If you get into that state of pure "doing", then happy days! Why worry about the definition of standing out when the purpose is just to get on with it?
November 24, 2017 at 17:44 | Unregistered CommenterMrBacklog
I suspect people's are misunderstanding the phrase "standing out" in a way that causes most of the trouble here. When I hear "Okay to do" as a list scanning objective, I take that to mean:

Do all tasks that stand out as something I am okay to do".

"Stand out" when used in isolation means to me:

Do all tasks that stand out as something __ to do. Where the blank could be "I want" or "I am ready".

So when I hear "stand out" is not working, I think you merely need to come up with a better blank filler, because I KNOW you are all capable of noticing whether a task fits. If nothing fits, change the blank to something that picks the right stuff.
November 24, 2017 at 19:38 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Alan: <<So when I hear "stand out" is not working, I think you merely need to come up with a better blank filler, because I KNOW you are all capable of noticing whether a task fits. If nothing fits, change the blank to something that picks the right stuff. >>

Or it could be that the "blank filter" is not blank enough, or there is another filter after the blank filter, or "standing out" does not actually work.

As Mark Forster has been trying to explain, in "Standing out" one has to let the unconscious/subconscious mind do the heavy lifting. If done right, not only will the subconscious/unconscious fill the blanks for the criterion question, but will do the choosing for us, both in ways better than the conscious mind could ever do.

Now if people are having problems with "Standing out" then I see three possibilities: (1) the "standing out" process is bogus, or they are not letting the subconscious/unconscious mind work, by either (2) using premade criteria (the blank question isn't actually blank) or (3) not trusting the selection process, by not letting the subconscious/unconscious do it, or we second guess its choices.
November 24, 2017 at 20:20 | Registered Commenternuntym
<<Or it could be that the "blank filter" is not blank enough, or there is another filter after the blank filter, or "standing out" does not actually work.>>

You misunderstand me. I am not talking about a blank filter needing to be blank. It should NOT be blank. It is a spot for you to fill in, deliberately and consciously . "Standing out" is not a magic process that sometimes does not work, it is simply selecting the things that fit your criterion.

If you deliberately choose your substitution, the only question afterward is whether you are satisfied with the things you chose. If not, adjust how you choose. Usually the filler is vague subjective criteria, but you can make it more objective and less vague if that helps. At some point, being able to put words to it becomes unnecessary, you just know by doing what things to pick.

Mark might about "want, undefined", or "feels ready" being the blank fillers, but if those don't work, change the blank. (Actually, Mark probably wouldn't use my language, but that's beside the point; this is my advice.)
November 24, 2017 at 21:22 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Alan: <<You misunderstand me. I am not talking about a blank filter needing to be blank. It should NOT be blank. It is a spot for you to fill in, deliberately and consciously . "Standing out" is not a magic process that sometimes does not work, it is simply selecting the things that fit your criterion. >>

Oh I understood what you were saying. However, as per Mark's definition, you are incorrect.

<<c. (Recommended) Forget about the question altogether and just do what stands out - which will allow your mind to train itself to do the right thing.">>

http://markforster.squarespace.com/forum/post/2693317#item2693337

<<Tell your unconscious mind to make tasks stand out that you want to do now. Very important - don’t attempt to tell it what you mean by “want” - that’s something the unconscious mind can identify much better than your conscious mind can.>>

http://markforster.squarespace.com/blog/2017/7/25/standing-out.html

Now the thing is, this is per Mark's instructions, if it works with your own, go for it!
November 24, 2017 at 21:51 | Registered Commenternuntym
I am aware of this difference, and the purpose is to resolve this stasis.
November 24, 2017 at 23:11 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
In that case I highly doubt this solution; it reminds me too much of the "search for the perfect question" that happened to FVP.

But as I said, if it works...
November 24, 2017 at 23:53 | Registered Commenternuntym
nuntym:
<< Now if people are having problems with "Standing out" then I see three possibilities: (1) the "standing out" process is bogus, or they are not letting the subconscious/unconscious mind work, by either (2) using premade criteria (the blank question isn't actually blank) or (3) not trusting the selection process, by not letting the subconscious/unconscious do it, or we second guess its choices. >>

There's another possibility, suggested by Fabio's post.

http://markforster.squarespace.com/blog/2017/7/19/real-autofocus.html?currentPage=3#comment21770282

When the "inner drive system (SMA)" is functioning well, Standing Out works really well.

Very pertinent: "stress moves the balance in favour of the external drive system (PMA overactive and/or SMA under active)."

The "external drive system (PMA)" is more responsive to external stimuli, thus more reactive to external pressure.

When the PMA system is dominating, such as when under stress, the tendency is to follow the path of least resistance -- and those are the things that will stand out.

The thing that interests me here is trying to find more effective ways to manage myself under conditions in which the PMA system is dominant. Trying to follow "standing out" hasn't given me good results in those conditions. This is a pretty big problem for me, since I many days split up by too many meetings, and the bits of time in between meetings can easily go to waste.
November 25, 2017 at 2:40 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Seraphim, that makes sense.

ubi, I agree it should not devolve into a "search for the perfect question". It's not really about perfecting the question to me, it's about getting moving on things you want done. I feel if you're stuck on "standing out", you realize this yourself, and have the ability to adjust how you approach things to get the ball rolling again. My discourse was merely an approach to doing that, not a way to perfect anything.
November 25, 2017 at 5:34 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Seraphim:

<< If I find I can't get anywhere with no-list (too tired, or day is too fractured, or whatever), I get better results with Randomizer than with Standing Out. If I go with Standing Out, it's too easy to wander aimlessly. >>

Well, if you are only using Standing Out only when you are too tired etc, it doesn't surprise me in the least that it doesn't work very well.

Though I'd be interested to know what you mean by "better results" in those circumstances. Surely the best result would be to take a break and have a rest? A randomizer wouldn't allow you that choice.
November 25, 2017 at 20:26 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Alan Baljeu:

<< So when I hear "stand out" is not working, I think you merely need to come up with a better blank filler, because I KNOW you are all capable of noticing whether a task fits. If nothing fits, change the blank to something that picks the right stuff. >>

Good point!
November 25, 2017 at 20:37 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
nuntym:

<< Now if people are having problems with "Standing out" then I see three possibilities:

<< the "standing out" process is bogus >>

This of course is possible. All I can say is that it works for me and some other people have reported that it works for them. But I still haven't found a system which allows it to be used to its fullest extent.

<<, or they are not letting the subconscious/unconscious mind work, by either (2) using premade criteria (the blank question isn't actually blank) or (3) not trusting the selection process, by not letting the subconscious/unconscious do it >>

My own experience is that it works best the more one lets go of conscious control. But never forget that it is under conscious control. It's like a boss giving a subordinate guidelines for a project and then delegating the day to day running to him or her.

<< or we second guess its choices. >>

It's important to realise that "standing out" is not some magical voice from above which tells us what to do. It is much more like the way in which a top tennis player intuitively knows what the opponent is going to do and gets into position to counter it. In other words it is the product of experience and practice.

Now would you say that such a tennis player would second guess that sort of choice - even though with even the best player the choice would often be wrong?
November 25, 2017 at 20:55 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Seraphim:

<< This is A PRETTY BIG PROBLEM for me, since I many days split up by TOO MANY MEETINGS, and the bits of time in between meetings can easily go to waste. >>

[my emphasis]

Which raises the question of whether you are actually looking at the right problem.
November 25, 2017 at 20:59 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark said, "Well, if you are only using Standing Out only when you are too tired etc, it doesn't surprise me in the least that it doesn't work very well. "

Reminds me of the Inner Child.

If I ask Mom for a cookie, she'll say no. If I ask Dad, he'll say yes.

If the Inner Child is ascendant, don't let her ask Dad (aka use Standing Out).
November 26, 2017 at 23:28 | Registered CommenterCricket
Mark wrote:
<< I'd be interested to know what you mean by "better results" in those circumstances. >>

"Standing out" leads me to "cherry picking" when I am tired -- only going for the easy, lightweight, break-oriented tasks.

"Randomizer" often gets me to consider tasks that don't stand out. Tasks that may be a little more challenging and a little higher resistance. When Randomizer chooses them, I often find myself responding, "Well, sure, I guess I *could* work on that a bit now, couldn't I?" And then get something done. Sometimes it even gets something to break loose that may have been stuck. Sometimes it even gets me engaged enough that I forget that I am tired. :-) That's what I mean by getting better results.


<< Surely the best result would be to take a break and have a rest? A randomizer wouldn't allow you that choice. >>

Sure, sometimes that might be the best thing to do. Generally, if I feel I need a rest, then I get up and walk around or go have a coffee and then come back. I don't wait for the list to prompt me to do that. I don't use the list unless I want to try to get something done.

I guess I've got away from using any particular time management method to guide all my waking hours.


<< Which raises the question of whether you are actually looking at the right problem. >>

Well, of course. We've discussed this many times. The issue with "too many meetings" and "too much email" is a systemic issue at every place I've ever worked. I'm always finding better ways to manage my own boundaries and mitigate these problems - but I don't know if I have enough personal control over the situation to remove the problem entirely. If you have suggestions along those lines, as always, I am very open to hearing them!

In the meantime, it is what it is, and I need to find a way to be effective despite the challenges of the environment.
November 27, 2017 at 4:20 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Sounds like an amazing system. But I would have to read it few more times to get a clear idea. Thanks Nuntym!
December 11, 2017 at 16:35 | Unregistered CommenterRoy Moore
I'm having a good time using this this type of scanning process! I have made a couple of alterations to suit me. (I hope you don't mind nuntym). I've taken out the questioning part, which I do not really need. I select based on what stands out to me at the time and then do some work on it:

1. If a task is not already selected (with either an upward or downward pointing chevron) then scan upwards from the end of the list and select a task (that stands out) to work on (using an upward pointing chevron). After working on the task, score through it and re-write at the end of the list if necessary. Then move to step 2.

2. If a task is not already selected (with either an upward or downward pointing chevron) then scan downwards from the start of the list and select a task (that stands out) to work on (using a downward pointing chevron). After working on the task, score through it and re-write at the end of the list if necessary. Continue working down the list (on tasks that stand out) until reaching the end of the list. Then return to step 1.

3. Page management: To close a page, put an 'X' in the top corner of the page. A circled 'X' indicates that all previous pages are also closed out.

Just thought I'd share as I'm really enjoying working in this way!
December 14, 2017 at 14:48 | Unregistered CommenterLeon
@Roy Moore: You're welcome! :D

@Leon: <<I hope you don't mind nuntym>> I don't! :D I do even think what you did are improvements to the system itself.
December 15, 2017 at 17:39 | Registered Commenternuntym