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  • October 23, 2019, 04:43 PM
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Messages - markf [ switch to compact view ]

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That's very good advice from mike (brownstudy). Another way the same technique can be useful is with insomnia. If you tend to lie in bed worrying about things, you can have a notebook and pencil beside your bed and just jot down a reminder to yourself to take it further the next day. That way you have parked it safely and can go to sleep again.


Hi, Tomos. As you know, the idea of a Will Do list is that, unlike the usual type of To Do list, you are aiming to complete it every day. In actual practice this becomes "complete it every day on average", since it's impossible to balance exactly the amount of work that comes in on any given day with the amount of time you have to deal with it the following day. Where this shows up is usually in the Task Diary. I recommend writing tasks in a page-a-day diary. If I don't complete these tasks during a day I will leave them in place and the next day be actioning two pages in the diary. My aim is to complete both. This provides a useful check because you can see at a glance how many days you are behind. My rule is that if I haven't caught up after three or four days, I will carry out an audit. This auditing procedure is essential to the whole process. There are three questions: 1) have I got too much work? 2) am I working efficiently? 3) am I leaving enough time?


I understand app103's struggles and I have been there myself. Something I have tried to stress in my time management books is that using time management systems to a) force your way through a massive work load, or b) force yourself to do stuff you don't really want to do, is not a good idea. That's why I start both "Get Everything Done and Still Have Time to Play" and "Do It Tomorrow" with chapters on cutting one's commitments and focusing on what is really important in your life and work.

A useful way of re-framing the question is to stop thinking about "procrastination" and to start thinking instead in terms of your to do list acting as a filter. I've always recommended that if you use a to do list (I'm not very fond of them myself) that you don't write it out again each day but keep the pages until they are complete. That way you can see clearly which items you have done and which you haven't. I've been doing this recently myself because I was interested in what did and did not get filtered out. So the first sheet on my list originally had 28 items on it. Now it has 4 left uncompleted. The other 24 have been crossed out.

Doing it this way allows me to compare which items have been actioned and which haven't. What are the differences? What are the characteristics of the ones that haven't been actioned? What I found was that generally speaking the reasons for things remaining unactioned were valid ones. For instance, "Mow Lawn" hadn't been actioned because it has been raining here every spare moment I've had in which I could have done the chore. Another two hadn't been actioned because the projects they were part of were a long way in the future, and there had been more pressing things. And the remaining one related to a project about which I felt no enthusiasm at all. So why am I doing it? A good question!

Being able to compare things directly in this way makes you more aware of the contents of your "filter". You can identify the unconscious criteria which you are applying so that some things get done quickly and others sink to the bottom and never get done. This is all useful knowledge.

Mark Forster

Dear Sylvia

We always tend to follow the path of least resistance. So the question you have to ask yourself is "Why is it easier for me to go to bed too late, than to go to bed at the proper time?"

Once you've answered that question, set about changing all the reasons you gave in answer to the question so that they no longer apply.

So for instance if one of your answers was "I haven't defined what the proper time to go to bed is", then define a time. And so on with all the other answers you gave to the question.

If you do this exercise thoroughly you should end up making it easier for yourself to go to bed on time than to stay up late.

Good luck!


In reply to Nudone

Yes, a lot of people have a problem reconciling "How to Make Your Dreams Come True" with the two other books. All I will say is "Does it really matter?" If the books were each by a different author you wouldn't have a need to find an inner consistency, you'd just take what was useful to you and move on. I suggest you do the same here!

In response to Tomos.

Start a file entitled "Scrappy Bits and Pieces".  :)

In response to Urwolf and Nudone.

There's a saying "Don't try to teach pigs to fly. You won't succeed and you'll annoy the pigs!" I think it's very true that we should concentrate on our strengths rather than our weaknesses (or the things we enjoy v. the things we don't enjoy). In my book "How to Make Your Dreams Come True" I recommend a "What's Better" list, in which at the end of the day you list everything that has been better about that day. The definition of "better" is entirely up to you. The idea is that you will be focussing on the growth points in your day, rather than the problems. And what you put your focus on will tend to grow.

However experience has taught me that if you can't deal with the routine things of life efficiently, they will start to choke your creativity. When you have mountains of unpaid bills, unanswered queries from your clients, urgent demands from the taxman, and ultimatums from your nearest and dearest, it's very difficult to concentrate on anything - whether you're good at it or not!

I think we already have about three hours worth of questions for the interview!

In answer to Hugo's question, I tend to use paper. I just find it faster, more convenient and less impersonal than trying to enter tasks on a computer. That's my personal preference, but my methods will work just as well on a computer.

And by the way my website has a discussion board on it. So you can continue to ask questions long after this assignment has passed away!

Thanks for your welcome. I will have a look at the forum daily for the next few days and see if there is anything which I feel I can usefully comment on.

Ok, Mouser! I'll do as you say...

The 2nd assignment should be work on a project for at least 5 minutes a day. The idea is that you set yourself a small daily goal (I'll work on my project for at least 5 minutes) rather than a big one (I'll work on my project for three hours). That way, you are much more likely to do it. Once you've started you may or may not go on to do much more work than 5 minutes, but either way you have chalked up a success and kept the project alive. When you keep moving on something it tends to create its own momentum. When you stop moving, it tends to die.

I think the summary is a very good one. I wish I could sum it up as succinctly!

The paragraph on the Wikipedia article beginning "However some critics of time management methods consider..." was written by me. The following paragraph is not!

Finally, my website is in the process of being relocated at the moment. If you can't get through to than try In fact, look at it anyway - it's much better laid out!

Actually my 5 minute rule is completely different from David Allen's 2 minute rule. His rule is in order to help you separate things you should do immediately from things you should do later.

My rule is in a completely different context. You work at the Current Initiative for at least 5 minutes.

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