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Discussion Forum > AF4 in Bulk

Hi everyone,

this is kind of a counter topic for "AF4 in Brief". Because you won't find "brief" here. I went a little crazy last night (happens alarmingly often lately) and create the most elaborate documentation of Mark's AF4 demonstration ever (524 pages, 3,4 mb). It shows every single step. And I mean really, really low level. It basically shows how Mark's eyes moved during using the list - or at least should move according to the rules. ;-)

I'm not sure if it's gonna be of use for anyone, but you can take a look at it:

Perhaps some people will understand the rules better if they are spelled out so graphically. Perhaps I just wasted some time, but I feel good about it. ;-)
September 6, 2009 at 9:33 | Unregistered CommenterAndreas Hofmann
Just noticed I dropped the task "Name of Firefox Extension" early on. Since I don't want to edit 520+ pages and it never got actioned anyway, I'm currently uploading a version that leaves it out completely. Looking at the sheer size of that document, there will probably be some more errors.
September 6, 2009 at 9:41 | Unregistered CommenterAndreas Hofmann
I uploaded the fixed version.

I strongly recommend watching this on a big screen and putting your PDF reader into fullscreen mode (Ctrl+L for Adobe Reader). It should be treated like a powerpoint presentation.
September 6, 2009 at 9:51 | Unregistered CommenterAndreas Hofmann

Your little craziness will save me from mine.
September 6, 2009 at 9:54 | Unregistered CommenterJiru

You are a bona fide nut ;-) Actually, stepping though that document made it so very clear. It was like having the demo in 2 minutes! For someone who did not attend the live demo, this has got to be the best explanation of the system yet.
September 6, 2009 at 10:09 | Unregistered CommenterMike
Wow! Andreas, you are indeed a total fruitcake!!!! :-)

I very much agree with Mike!

For some reason I had the idea that is was only possible to jump up and down twice between the two lists but I now see this can be done many times as long as you action at least one item of closed list in the first pass.

Thanks for this super efficient demo. The system really makes a lot more sense to me now and I think I will also give this one a go and I'm actually looking forward to it now (before your demo I was quite skeptic about AF4, thinking I would be dismissing like crazy).


September 6, 2009 at 10:25 | Unregistered CommenterCruisader
Mark could do worse than host this thing. It makes the system SO clear. Despite all of the ways we have described the system in words, nothing touches this for clarity. AND, it MUST be correct as it is an exact recording of what went on.
September 6, 2009 at 10:28 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Thank you very much for this! The key to reading the PDF is to display on screen so that one complete page is visible. Then press the "next page" keyboard shortcut (right arrow in Preview for OS X) and keep an eye on the -> arrow :)


September 6, 2009 at 10:56 | Unregistered CommenterRob...

Yes, one page at a time is the key. Most PDF readers offer a fullscreen mode which does that automatically.

I find it most comfortable to to use the mouse wheel or just hold the "down" key. At least in Adobe reader, I don't know about other programs. I usually use PDF X-Change Viewer, but it flickers in fullscreen mode, Adobe is way better.
September 6, 2009 at 11:01 | Unregistered CommenterAndreas Hofmann
Thanks, Andreas.

This is fascinating, and very useful as an overall perspective on the day's activities!
September 6, 2009 at 12:41 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Cumming
Thanks Andreas, this is just great! I think my understanding of the rules was correct from your initial description, but this helps to clarify things even more!
September 6, 2009 at 13:03 | Unregistered CommenterNicole
Wonderful demo! Thanks for taking the time to put it together.
September 6, 2009 at 13:22 | Unregistered CommenterKen

I was very busy Friday, so was unable to follow Mark's progress. I read the rules and thought I understood them, but, it turns out, I had the same misunderstanding that Cruisader mentioned, above, and was equally skeptical.

Your demo is, by far, clearer than any flow chart or set of rules. Kudos to you!
September 6, 2009 at 14:36 | Unregistered Commentermoises
September 6, 2009 at 15:37 | Unregistered CommenterAvrum

You are an inspired and busy man....many thanks for this, it works brilliantly. As others have said it is excellent to see how the list changes and grows over time, and the level at which Mark is working.

When you have 5 minutes...I'd certainly love to understand how you created it. I'd imagine that you used the firefox extensions to show all the changes, and then laid out one page in ?Word?, and copied on each time? It's the type of thing that it's always interesting to see how someone does (in less time than it would tkae me).

September 6, 2009 at 16:01 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

I used SiteDelta in the beginning, but realized that it was not good enough, because it only really saved a backup copy when you manually viewed the changes. So I wrote a small script that saved the backups for me. The creation process was pretty much like you described it. I used OpenOffice Writer instead of Word, but a lot of copying&pasting was involved. Its really great when you realize you made a mistake 20 pages ago and you must change them all. ^^
September 6, 2009 at 16:20 | Unregistered CommenterAndreas Hofmann
Great. This should leave no question about AF4 unanswered.
September 6, 2009 at 16:54 | Unregistered CommenterAndreasE
Though I read through Mark's directions 3 times, I still was a little fuzzy on a few points. After seeing your demo, it is clear as it can be. Thank you, Andreas.
September 6, 2009 at 16:58 | Unregistered CommenterJonlat
Andreas, thanks for your pdf file.
Many thanks.
September 6, 2009 at 19:42 | Unregistered CommenterRainer
Andreas...A really clear and fantastic tutorial, well done.
September 6, 2009 at 20:13 | Unregistered CommenterLeon
Very, very helpful.

Thanks, Andreas.
September 6, 2009 at 20:31 | Unregistered Commenteracedia
Thanks for the pdf file. Ingenious.
September 6, 2009 at 20:31 | Unregistered Commentermark h
Andreas H,

Thanks for your hard work. The pdf file is fantastic.
September 6, 2009 at 20:54 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina
Fantastic! Thanks so much! :)
September 6, 2009 at 21:07 | Unregistered CommenterJon
Thanks for this. Very clear. And for the 1st time, I can see that AF (all versions) is really a TIME MANAGEMENT system, not just a good to-do list. Guess I'm a little slow to coming on board with this...but this demonstration just really brought that home to me. A light went on, so to speak.

Brilliant demonstration. Brilliant system.
With much appreciation!!!
~Beth L.
September 6, 2009 at 21:12 | Unregistered CommenterBeth L
Great piece of work, Andreas. This should definitely be hosted along with the instructions for AF4.
September 6, 2009 at 21:32 | Unregistered CommenterFrank
Adding my voice to the choir ~ This pdf demo made my understanding even clearer. What a great idea!
September 6, 2009 at 21:43 | Unregistered CommenterSarah J
Thank you Andreas,

Your PDF was like stepping through code. It really helped me see how AF4 addresses several problems that have been creeping up on me since trying AF Revised. Thanks!
September 7, 2009 at 2:19 | Unregistered CommenterCorl DeLuna
Thanks from the AF AKH fan number one. So far I couldn't have a look at AF4. I used Foxit Reader and the way that worked best for me was clicking in the arrow beside the number of page. Excellent job!
September 7, 2009 at 4:34 | Unregistered CommenterSilvia
>> I'm not sure if it's gonna be of use for anyone, but you can take a look at it: <<

Thanks, Andreas. That was certainly very instructive for me. Not just regarding AF4, but also on how Mark works his AF list with repeated tasks.

Analysing his "Email" task that was in column 3 at the start of the day, just after where he left off the day before - p 5 of 526

I see Mark passes "Email" multiple times as he cycles through the Active List and Backlog; sometimes doing (D), doing & immediately readding (DR), skipping (S) or just adding (A) - pp 16(DR), 36(S), 170(D), 196(A "Check Site Visitors"), 224(D), 306(A "Wash Up"), 501(DR), 522(D) ... ("Email" was readded before end of the day)

I can imagine Mark doing & immediately readding if he didn't manage to clear his inbox to zero. And when he managed to get his inbox to zero he didn't immediately readd the "Email" task.

However, I'm wondering what criteria/stimulus makes him add "Email" tasks, when he don't have it on his list. Is it time? After more than 1 hours perhaps? Or is it just intuition?
September 7, 2009 at 4:49 | Unregistered Commentersabre23t
September 7, 2009 at 8:21 | Unregistered CommenterEric G

<< However, I'm wondering what criteria/stimulus makes him add "Email" tasks, when he don't have it on his list. Is it time? After more than 1 hours perhaps? Or is it just intuition? >>

The truth is I just forgot to re-enter it. A recurring task like "Email" should go straight back on the list.
September 7, 2009 at 10:48 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Andreas, I had some questions from Mark's description, and this answered them all, AND excited me to try it out. I could FEEL how it worked from the demo (which only took a couple of minutes to go through. I think this should be included with the instructions Mark, for visual learners like most of us.
Oh, and I wouldn't play up the 500+ pages element - that almost made me not open it...although I was curious. It's so intuitive to work through the PDF.
One more thing: my day with AF4 today was the closest I've been to 'flow' for a very long time. I think AF4 captures the strengths of AF1, while allowing you to get to the end quickly when you need to (before thrusting you into the 'harder' bits again).
Andreas, thank you.
Mark, you're brilliant.
September 7, 2009 at 10:51 | Unregistered CommenterBen

Having taken two days off from AF, I've only just got round to looking at your pdf. It is truly fantastic and I cannot imagine how much work it took you!

As suggested by several people above, rather than just provide a link to the file I would like to host it on this site. Can I have your permission to do so?
September 7, 2009 at 10:51 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Wow! Andreas, you'r a genius! Thank's a lot!
September 7, 2009 at 10:54 | Unregistered CommenterChristian G.
That's really cool - thanks for that. It actually answered a question that I hadn't realised that I had - but no doubt would have run up against in practice shortly.

September 7, 2009 at 13:41 | Unregistered CommenterLucy

Of course you can host it yourself. In that I'll let you know when I update the PDF. I'm currently waiting for an email with some corrections and will upload a new version after I received it.
September 7, 2009 at 14:00 | Unregistered CommenterAndreas
What a great PDF! What I didn't get was : was page 316 blank for some reason? And why are all items even if not re-entered counted as actioned? It seems to me that some items don't get re-entered, not because you don't want to do them but because you realise you cannot do them in the near future. Surely you would want to possible review them later - kind of SDMB?

If you would normally take days going through the lists. The closed list could be weeks old if you are only picking off the odd thing? And the active list in this time could be growing (I find about 1/2 of my AF items get done on the first pass and others get picked off over time). But your working the open list from the oldest item. So today I added:
empty bins
clean bedroom
clean bathroom
check car oil (this one is urgent)

But these items will be done last on the list, or am I misunderstanding? Its hard to skip to them as they are so close at the end that I would then have done a pass and then be forced to go back to the close list.

Is my closed list weird? My closed list is either big jobs or items I am dragging my heels on. I know I _should_ do them, I kind of need to do them. But who has a task list only of items they want to do. Life is not that way. When I read the PDF it made me not want to use my current list on it. But I thought the idea was to allow backlogs in there?
September 7, 2009 at 14:56 | Unregistered CommenterAmber
Andreas: I too have to add my voice to the enthusiastic chorus: FANTASTIC! I was SO looking forward to Mark's "day" but had to go out of town! Now back, I clicked through your pdf: WOW SOooooo helpful!! Kind of like a time-lapse photo or something! Or an animation "flip-book" ... Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. THANKS SO MUCH !!
September 7, 2009 at 15:13 | Unregistered CommenterBev
Great demo, 524 pages says more than 1000 words.
September 7, 2009 at 15:25 | Unregistered CommenterDamien

<< What I didn't get was : was page 316 blank for some reason?>>

No, the blank page was not intentional. It will be fixed with the next upload.

<< But these items will be done last on the list, or am I misunderstanding? Its hard to skip to them as they are so close at the end that I would then have done a pass and then be forced to go back to the close list. >>

They won't be done last unless you do everything that's before them on the list before you get to them, which you certainly don't need to do. You can do one task from the backlog then go through the open list until you reach these tasks, then do all or some of them. Using the "little and often approach", this whole process could be done in a few minutes.
September 7, 2009 at 15:37 | Unregistered CommenterAndreas
I lost count, but by flipping thorugh the PDF you can see that Mark cycled through his lists many time in that one day. I'd guess that he was through both lists (i.e. the open list) within an hour or not much more. With the basic "common sense rule" you could certainly do items out of order if they were urgent.
September 7, 2009 at 15:47 | Unregistered CommenterMike
Thanks Andreas. Brilliant!
September 7, 2009 at 16:13 | Unregistered CommenterSteveH

<< Of course you can host it yourself >>

Thanks, I will do so in the near future.
September 7, 2009 at 16:39 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
That's really helpful, thanks Andreas.
September 7, 2009 at 18:12 | Unregistered CommenterSimon
<< Thanks, I will do so in the near future. >>

Then make sure you download the latest version.

I just uploaded a new version which fixes several errors and adds the remaining passes of the demo. I replaced the old version, so the link in the first post is still valid.
September 7, 2009 at 19:48 | Unregistered CommenterAndreas
Quick question: I don't remember seeing that Mark dismissed any items. Did he? If so, about what page was that on. Maybe I just missed it...
I wanted to see how that part happened.
Beth L.
September 7, 2009 at 20:17 | Unregistered CommenterBeth L
p. 235 shows the closed list going on-notice (yellow). p. 303 shows them being evaluated for deletion or being re-added at the end of the list after considering why they weren't done already.
September 7, 2009 at 20:21 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
Ok. Thanks. I see what confuses me. If I high-light an on notice task yellow (on pen and paper) and then do it later, how can I then make it green?

Kinda sounds like a dumb question. But maybe I am still missing something and there is an obvious answer here??

September 7, 2009 at 20:28 | Unregistered CommenterBeth L
I don't think Mark uses a marker for done tasks.

But I don't think it should be a problem to just use a green marker over a yellow one. The other way around would be more difficult, I guess.
September 7, 2009 at 20:32 | Unregistered CommenterAndreas