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FV Forum > Losing Momentum Overnight

I believe one of the most valuable features of FV is the "laddering effect" of working a chain from the task you most want to do to the one you least want to do. This builds momentum to tackle high-resistance tasks. However, if I finish the day in the middle of a chain, I find that momentum is lost in the morning, and it's hard to resume the chain in the middle. It can be easier not to even look at the list!

The FV instructions have this to say: "If you find that your preselected list is no longer relevant (e.g. if you have had a long break away from the list), then scrap the preselection and reselect from the beginning. A shorter way to do this is to reselect only from the last preselected task which you haven't done yet."

What do people think of the idea of doing this "shorter way" routinely every morning? Instead of scrapping the current chain, just resume the preselection process with the partial chain and add any tasks as normal, to rebuild the bottom rungs of the ladder, as it were?

I believe Mark intended for the current chain only to be scrapped after days away from the list, but what about overnight? Would this be a better way to rebuild momentum in the morning?
May 17, 2012 at 20:19 | Registered CommenterDeven
I propose to keep the list. Review all the items you have selected to refresh your commitment. Then start from the last active item and pick any extra stuff you want to "do before".
May 17, 2012 at 20:24 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Alan Baljeu:

<< I propose to keep the list. Review all the items you have selected to refresh your commitment. Then start from the last active item and pick any extra stuff you want to "do before". >>

I think you're proposing the same thing as me? (But the review of existing preselections is a good idea that I hadn't specifically thought about.)

My question is whether this should be done automatically EVERY day, or just sometimes?
May 17, 2012 at 20:36 | Registered CommenterDeven
I go both ways - sometimes I continue the existing chain the next morning, sometimes I undot everything and start over. No definite reason why I choose one vs the other. It just depends what new tasks & priorities/urgencies have popped up since I made the list. I tend to undot on Friday afternoons before I leave work so I start Monday with a fresh start.
May 17, 2012 at 21:22 | Registered CommenterLillian
There are risks and benefits. Used too often, we'll never work our way all the way back up to the top of the page. Used too little, and we'll have to spend time working our way up through the lower priority tasks near the top of the page before starting the next chain.

That's one of the things that didn't work for me. If the task is pre-selected, I'm reluctant to merely write it at the end of the list. I want to make progress on it! It was a heady feeling to make progress on several old jobs, but that time was stolen from priority jobs. When making the first chain of the week, it's easy to select all sorts of things I want to do more. The top of the chain is loaded with low-priority jobs. Subsequent chains were better focused, but I had to modify the question to include "before the previous dot AND starting the next chain, which will probably include more important jobs."
May 18, 2012 at 1:09 | Registered CommenterCricket
For me - the same as Lillian, it depends. I have no rule for it, just cancel the dots if they became irrelevant after some time/in the morning. I find also beneficial to make shorter ladders in the afternoon/evening to be able to finish it.
May 18, 2012 at 8:36 | Unregistered CommenterDaneb
Cricket >>If the task is pre-selected, I'm reluctant to merely write it at the end of the list.<<

I don't understand what you mean? If it's pre-selected isn't it already dotted somewhere on the list to be worked on?
May 18, 2012 at 13:40 | Registered CommenterLillian
I'm pretty sure Mark said he is very liberal about extending his chains, especially at the start of a day, and that he has never scrapped his preselection. I extend the chain whenever I feel like more urgent things demand my attention, which is often the case at the start of a new day. I'm not terribly fast, rarely more than a chain per day (and partly because I started with a long legacy list from AF/DWM), but I'm happy with my progress.

If a chain has lingered too long, I kill it off quickly by doing a very small amount of work on every item. Going into it, that feels like it will be a pointless exercise, but I am always pleasantly surprised by the results. I often end up with some key decisions made in those few minutes, opening the way for good progress on the next chain. I also tend to work longer than intended on a few of those items, leading to getting quite a bit done. There is probably some reverse psychology involved, freeing myself up to let go of the outcome by saying it will only be a little bit of work.
May 18, 2012 at 16:15 | Registered CommenterBernie
I'm leaning toward extending the chain in the morning IF the first task to be worked (last in the chain) has resistance, and resuming the partial chain as-is otherwise. I'm not so sure about scapping the existing chain and starting from scratch, and I certainly wouldn't cross out those tasks and rewrite them if I were scrapping the chain. That would be a good way to postpone a high-resistance root task indefinitely.
May 18, 2012 at 17:55 | Registered CommenterDeven
<< If a chain has lingered too long, I kill it off quickly by doing a very small amount of work on every item. Going into it, that feels like it will be a pointless exercise, but I am always pleasantly surprised by the results. I often end up with some key decisions made in those few minutes, opening the way for good progress on the next chain. I also tend to work longer than intended on a few of those items, leading to getting quite a bit done. There is probably some reverse psychology involved, freeing myself up to let go of the outcome by saying it will only be a little bit of work. >>

Yeah, this is another option, and perhaps a better one? I had a leftover chain one morning that I made a dash through like this, working 5-10 minutes on each so I could start a new chain. Perhaps this is the best way to start the morning to build momentum? (There's a good argument to be made for doing a dash on a full chain too, for the same reason...)
May 18, 2012 at 17:57 | Registered CommenterDeven
Deven >>not so sure about scapping the existing chain and starting from scratch, and I certainly wouldn't cross out those tasks and rewrite them if I were scrapping the chain. <<

I don't either. When I scrap the existing chain, I just put a dot of white-out on each dot :) and wait for it to dry. That gives me a little bit of time to read through the list to get re-familiar with all the tasks without making any decisions yet.
May 18, 2012 at 18:14 | Registered CommenterLillian
Lillian,

Yes, I meant pre-selected. Some low-priority tasks get pre-selected / dotted in normal FV, especially near the top of the page while the benchmark is low. As I climb the chain back up, I might realize I don't want to work on them. The rules say I can do very little work -- verging on no work -- and recopy them to the end of the list, but a few years ago I did that too often. Half my active projects got recopied on to the new list each week, with no progress on any of them. Maybe this hesitation on my part is part of why normal FV didn't work as well for me.

Bernie,
<<Going into it, that feels like it will be a pointless exercise>>

Exactly!

<<but I am always pleasantly surprised by the results. I often end up with some key decisions made in those few minutes, opening the way for good progress on the next chain. >>

Trying very hard to open my mind to it. It's hard to say if it's a habit I can unlearn, or something fixed that I should accept and work with. Will experiment next week, keeping your experience in mind.

<<I also tend to work longer than intended on a few of those items, leading to getting quite a bit done>>

Do you find that eats into time that should be spent on more important projects?
May 18, 2012 at 18:30 | Registered CommenterCricket
Lillian:

<< I don't either. When I scrap the existing chain, I just put a dot of white-out on each dot :) and wait for it to dry. That gives me a little bit of time to read through the list to get re-familiar with all the tasks without making any decisions yet. >>

Wouldn't it be better to just leave the dots and start your preselection process from scratch, since you may dot the same tasks again? Then you can just white-out the ones you decide to skip this time.
May 18, 2012 at 18:34 | Registered CommenterDeven
Deven, when I feel like I need to create a new chain (as opposed to extending an existing chain), it's easier for me to answer the question when I'm starting with a clean slate. Whiting-out the dots gives me the clean slate.
May 18, 2012 at 18:49 | Registered CommenterLillian
Fair enough, it just seems silly to white out a dot and then turn around and re-dot it, but I guess the clean-slate thing could affect the preselection process.

Generally speaking, I'm thinking you might be better off running a dash (e.g. 5 minutes per task) to finish the current chain and then start a new one, instead of whiting out the dots, but that's up to you in the end.
May 18, 2012 at 19:59 | Registered CommenterDeven
For the last week or two, I've been working with the same chain, extending it multiple times per day.

The reason is work has been crazy and personal life has been crazy, my inboxes were generating new work MUCH faster than I could keep up, and I was in firefighting mode.

So, at the beginning of the day, I'd do my usual "reset" routine -- check voicemails, check work email, check personal email, dumping all new tasks into FV. I'd then find the last dotted item on my FV list, and start dotting new items till I reach the end -- the "partial reset" that Mark discusses. And I'd work a little bit.

Then I'd have a meeting, or a phone call, and then another meeting. During that time, everything would change. My inbox would have forty new items in it. So I'd do another "reset": clear my inboxes, moving all new tasks into FV, find the last dotted item, and make dots of new items that need to be done first, start working, etc.

Then another interruption, meeting, phone call, whatever. Over and over again like this for days, weeks actually, about 2 weeks.

I kept up with all the urgency, but my list grew from ~600 tasks to over 1000. I didn't worry about it, however, since FV was keeping me going with the urgency, and all the other dotted tasks would be there waiting for me when all this craziness finally settled down. (And it has started settling, thus my presence back here on this forum!) :-)

So, I haven't done a full scan of my list for awhile, but that's OK. As I work through the older dotted items, so many of them were completed already, or are clearly no longer needed, that it is going very quickly. It all still feels relevant. And the list is quickly getting back down to a more-manageable ~700 items or so. LOL And I expect to do a full new chain this weekend sometime.

Bottom line: FV as written is working great, and the partial-reset rule is one of my favorite features of the system. That rule deals with urgency and temporary overload masterfully.
May 19, 2012 at 1:56 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Cricket,
<<
<<I also tend to work longer than intended on a few of those items, leading to getting quite a bit done>>
Do you find that eats into time that should be spent on more important projects?>>

Sometimes, yes, though for me the benefits normally outweigh the costs. A chronic problem of mine has been paralysis due to all the competing priorities and urgencies, so that starting *anything* of relative importance and working on it for any significant length of time is a step in the right direction. If it turns out to be "too much" time, well, that's better than having spent the same time on a low priority or pure avoidance. Too often, that was what I did until a deadline forced all available time into the next-due project.

Mark's systems have been helping me sort out these priorities better, and FV particularly gives me a feeling that it is okay to work on Project X for a while, since the others are waiting in the chain in their rightful place. If I am worried about spending too much time on something, I can set a timer before I start. It's a learning process for sure, but going in the right direction.
May 19, 2012 at 5:26 | Registered CommenterBernie