My Latest Book

Product Details

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

To Think About . . .
What may be done at any time will be done at no time. Scottish Proverb
My Other Books

Product Details

Product Details

Product Details

The Pathway to Awesomeness

Click to order other recommended books.

Find Us on Facebook Badge

Search This Site

Discussion Forum > Stop writing down routine mundane tasks you are very likely to remember to do?

Last night I returned from a short business trip, and had seven unactioned tasks "above the line" (still using Real Autofocus [RA]). It was late and I was tired, so I deleted five, reentered one (against the rules), and deferred one. To my amazement, my list now had only one item!

This morning I managed to do all my routine stuff without writing them down, as I was in a hurry for the train and still a bit jet-lagged. I didn't forget anything important. Typically, I would enter 10-15 morning-prep tasks, or run through a checklist.

So I'm wondering if it might be good mental exercise *not* to write everything down. Will it really cause more stress or prevent flow? Will I miss the frequent feeling of reward from not having something dotted then crossed off?

I'm going to experiment with only adding items I deem necessary, such as

• a creative idea I don't want to forget
• a critical small task that would "blow up" if forgotten
• main project tasks
• other tasks/routines that I want to record being done

The last two aren't absolutely necessary, as I'm likely to do them anyway. But my RA list does capture daily activity, and I sometimes look back on the crossed-off pages to recall when I was working on something. I don't note the actual date/time when I do a task, but the RA rules ensure that everything dotted and done happens within a 48-hour window, so my dated start-of-day divider lines provide the approximate time. The RA list serves as both an activity log and a reminder system, but I don't really need to log routine and small stuff.

April 27, 2018 at 15:59 | Registered Commenterubi
There are pseudo routine items that only appear to be routine items because they are constantly re-entered into the list. I stopped re-entring them. For example: read rss-feeds, empty physical inbox, vacuum the office room, catch up on various social media accounts, etc etc pp

I only re-enter those in the list when I catch myself thinking "mhm, I really should vacuum this room " or some such.

Also, I've found my life to be a clear division between "working the list" and "not working the list", when I am not working the list, I nevertheless accomplish some routines. For example kitchen chores, these all happen routinely in combination with using the kitchen, like lunch breaks. Or reading books in the evening, is just something I do (routinely).

Yes, there is an art to it. Do I put "brush teeth" on the list? Probably not, but where does it start?

The better you use your Autofocus-type of list, the clearer these boundaries become. But they seem to be constantly fluid as well.
April 27, 2018 at 16:25 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher

I like the idea of being off-list but still engaged in getting things done, and will follow your suggestions.

Do you dot the next logical task before going off-list? I plan to do that. I use a pencil, so I can erase the dot if circumstances change.
April 27, 2018 at 16:41 | Registered Commenterubi
<<Will it really cause more stress or prevent flow? Will I miss the frequent feeling of reward from not having something dotted then crossed off?>>

In Dr. David Schnarch's "Passionate Marriage", he encourages readers to approach the theory/exercises in his book with an open (but critical) mind. He suggests, if they don't work, to continue your search for something that better suits your principles and life circumstances.

I have found most productivity authors, coaches, and yes, therapists are too hyperbolic in their predictions and stated consequences of not following their systems.

David Allen can repeat the phrase "mind like water" all he wants. I found classical GTD caused more stress than it relieved.
April 27, 2018 at 18:39 | Registered Commenteravrum
The principle I've always recommended is if it helps you to have it on the list have it on the list and if it doesn't don't.

That of course will vary from person to person.
April 27, 2018 at 19:05 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I do better with them on the list. Things that have been habits or routines or part of a batch for months often silently drop. I often use a weekly grid for my routine tasks, but equally often realize on Wednesday that I haven't made the grid, or haven't checked things off, or want to choose just a few things to focus on.

I even have a list of things to do before bed, stuck to my mirror. Brushing my teeth has been a firm habit for decades. My mouth just feels wrong if I go to bed without brushing, so I do everything on the list first. Even so, I often forget to read it! I need to rewrite it occasionally, to keep it fresh, and ask the tough questions about the things I'm not doing.
April 27, 2018 at 21:07 | Registered CommenterCricket