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Title:Blog - Get Everything Done
Description:time management, personal organisation, self development, final version, autofocus, superfocus, fv
Keywords:orster
Body:
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Get Everything Done
All about time management and personal organisation
Home
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TuesdayAug042015
London Bridgathon Progress Report
Tuesday, August 4, 2015 at 16:53
Just to let you know that with 47 days still to go we have already raised pound;810 ( pound;891 with UK tax rebate) for the Bridgathon.
Many thanks to everyone who is supporting us - it #8217;s a wonderful effort so far. But we still need more than pound;600 to meet our target, which I #8217;m hoping we #8217;ll go zooming past.
So plenty of scope for more people to give - we depend on you!
Mark Forster | Post a Comment | Share Article
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ThursdayJul232015
A Message from Mark's Daughter Anna
Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 15:49
Most of you don #8217;t know that my dad was diagnosed last year with Non-Hodgkin #8217;s Lymphoma. Thankfully, the treatment he received at the Leukaemia amp; Lymphoma unit at University College London Hospital saved his life - a world turned upside down is once again right side up. On 20th Sept I #8217;m doing a sponsored walk across six London bridges with my dad, to raise money for the unit so patients can benefit from the research, treatment and services offered by UCLH and have the best shot of survival. I can #8217;t thank them enough for what they did for my dad, but the least I can do is walk over a bridge or two (or six). If you can, please sponsor us. It #8217;s for a really worthy cause.
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/marks_team
(To support us by sponsoring this event use this link, not the Donate button in the margin).
Update on Monday, July 27, 2015 at 11:22 by
Mark Forster
We #8217;ve had a fantastic response so far with over pound;500 being pledged - many thanks to everyone for their generosity. Still plenty of time to go before September 20th!
[I #8217;ve temporarily removed the Donate button in the right margin to prevent people from mistakenly using it to donate to this Appeal. Anyone who has done so can rest assured that I will pass the money on to the Appeal with no need for further action from themselves. - Mark]
Mark Forster | 12 Comments | Share Article
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TuesdayJun302015
A New Method of Learning [Experimental]
Tuesday, June 30, 2015 at 19:02
I don #8217;t know how many of my readers have used Spaced Repetition System (SRS) software to learn facts. They are most commonly used for foreign language vocabulary, but can be used for any type of fact that you wish to learn.
Personally I have always found them to be quite effective, but they suffer from some severe negatives which in the end have always lead me to abandon them after a period. Because they put the emphasis on the facts which you are having difficulty learning, you tend to end up with a huge number of difficult words which you have to plough through each day. The list tends to get longer and longer until, if you are not careful, you find yourself ploughing through vocabularly at almost every spare waking moment.
That #8217;s frankly not the way I want to spend my life.
So how about a gentler and easier method which is even more effective?
You will probably think the method I #8217;m going to propose is crazy, but I #8217;m finding it has worked very well so far. I haven #8217;t been doing it for very long, but I #8217;d be interested in the results that other people get if they are bold enough to try it out too on an experimental basis.
Like all my systems I #8217;ve designed it for paper and pen. I suggest if you want to try it that you use paper and pen at first, and then only if you find it works start worrying about how to make an electronic version.
For the purposes of the explanation I am assuming that you are an English speaker wanting to learn French vocabulary.
The system is based on spaced repetition, but with the difference that all the vocabulary items are revised at each interval.
The intervals are:
On the day of entry
The following day
One week later
One month later
One year later
I use a loose-leaf binder with a sheet for each day #8217;s vocabulary. All I have to do when I #8217;ve finished revising is put the date of the next revision at the top of the sheet and re-file it so all the sheets are in date order.
THE PROCEDURE
The First Day
On today #8217;s sheet collect vocabulary as you come across it in the traditional two-column format. That is to say, French in the left-hand column and English in the right-hand column. Make no attempt to learn it until you have finished collecting it for the day.
Then you go through two phases: 1) pre-learning 2) learning.
Phase 1. Pre-learning
Cover up the right-hand column (the English) and test yourself on the meaning of the French words in the left-hand column. DO NOT CHECK YOUR ANSWERS. If you can #8217;t get any answer, just go on to the next word. Then cover up the left-hand column and test yourself whether you know the French for the English words in the right-hand column. DO NOT CHECK YOUR ANSWERS.
Phase 2. Learning
Do exactly the same, but this time move the covering card down after attempting to answer each question so you can see whether you got it right. Do it both ways as in Phase 1. That #8217;s all. You only do it once. Don #8217;t repeat it, regardless of how many you got wrong.
This Phase 2 on the first day is the only time in the entire process that you check your answers.
Subsequent Revisions
These are all carried out in the same way as Phase 1 on the first day. In other words you test yourself without checking the answers.
CONCLUSION
Although the process may sound crazy, it is in accordance with the most recent findings on how we learn. A pre-learning test increases learning ability. Not checking one #8217;s answers makes the brain work harder so that it remembers better on subsequent tests.
Mark Forster | 14 Comments | Share Article
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WednesdayJun102015
Dotting Power
Wednesday, June 10, 2015 at 13:08
In the FV/FVP Forum there has been quite a lot of discussion about the selection of tasks (which is done by putting a dot before the task).
I want to write a little bit about how to control this selection to one #8217;s best advantage.
First of all the good news is that the process is controllable. In fact it #8217;s possible to exercise quite a considerable degree of control without prejudicing the principle that selection should be done by intuition rather than consciously.
For instance, take the question of how you can ensure that the early tasks on your list get actioned. This can be done very easily by instructing your mind to select no tasks at all, except really urgent ones. This will take you back quite quickly to the first task on the list. How do you instruct your mind to do this? In the same way that you instruct your body to walk faster, walk slower or stand still. You just do it!
You can then instruct your mind to give preference to earlier tasks and lay off selecting recently entered tasks. That will keep you working in the early part of the list, but without having to stick rigidly to a pre-selected order. You instruct your mind in the same way you #8217;d instruct your body to walk fast for a short time and then slow down. You can leave the mechanics of doing that to your body to sort out!
Or if you instead want to clear recently arrived minor tasks, instruct your mind to keep selecting tasks towards the end of the list. The point is that you have a large degree of control over which part of the list you are going to be working in.
You can even fine tune it so that you are paying attention to both ends of the list, but not the the middle. Why would you want to do that? Well, take a situation in which you are clearing some old tasks, but some of them need several sessions to get them cleared.
One the whole though, I prefer most of the time to allow my mind to select whatever it wants without any special instructions. But I know I can take more control as and when I need to.
A few things to watch:
The more dots you put on the list, the more inflexible the list becomes. Just instruct your mind to select less dots rather than more. You can fine-tune this until you get the list at the right balance between flexibility and direction.
Keep the list well-weeded. It #8217;s a good idea to have a task on the list called #8220;Weed List #8221;. Be ruthless!
Don #8217;t forget #8220;little and often #8221;. The list is very good at multiple sessions on tasks. You just keep re-entering them at the end of the list.
If you need to do tasks in a certain order (i.e. you need to do x before you can do y), remember that dotted tasks are done in the reverse order to list order. So if they are already in reverse order you can dot both tasks, but if they are in the right order on the list then only dot the one you want to do first, and you can then pick up the second one on the next scan.
If you have an urgent task, just write it at the end of the list. It will be picked up on the next scan (i.e. when you #8217;ve finished the task you are working on at the moment) and will then be the next task to do.
If you know that you don #8217;t want the next scan to select anything, then skip the scan altogether - or just skim it to make sure.
Try and avoid special markings, groupings, tags and similar devices. They all add to the administrative load of running the list.
And finally use pen/pencil and paper unless you are completely addicted to electronic means. It #8217;s far faster and you are not dependent on energy supplies, connectivity or having enough money to pay the bills. It #8217;s also better for the planet!
Mark Forster | 9 Comments | Share Article
tagged FVP
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TuesdayJun092015
Follow Up to the Productive Day Challenge
Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 11:48
The purpose of yesterday #8217;s Productive Day Challenge was not to show how superior I am to other people. I am naturally disorganised, lazy and procrastinating - and I have no godlike powers of any sort. Far from it.
The purpose was to show how much one person can achieve in a day using a powerful time management system. And the message is that anyone can do the same if they use exactly the same methods as I did. You can easily verify it for yourself by writing out a similar list and putting the methods to work. But you do need to use exactly the same methods. I #8217;m not claiming that the methods I used are the only methods that can achieve the same sort of results, but what I am saying is that if you use any variation whatsoever on what I did then you are not using the methods I used to achieve the results.
Apart from a couple of items, everything I wanted to achieve during the day was already on my normal everyday list, which has about 60-70 tasks on it. I worked off this list in the normal way. So I did not make any special preparations for the Productive Day, nor did I work in any way different from a normal day.
During the day I did not feel any resistance or sense of pressure. I just carried on working the system according to the rules. When I wrote the definition of what would make me consider the day to have been productive, I had a pretty good idea already of how much I could do in a day. So I had no real doubts that I could get everything on the list done. At the end of the day I didn #8217;t feel tired or exhausted. I felt just the same as I feel at the end of a normal day. In fact this was a normal day.
Things I didn #8217;t do
I didn #8217;t bother to ask the question mentioned in the rules. Experience is showing that it #8217;s quicker and just as effective to select the tasks without asking the question. Just go for what feels ready to be done.
I did not use electronic means. Paper and pen is faster and has less administrative overload.
I did not use any special markings or groupings. These all add to the administrative overload - better off without them.
I didn #8217;t worry about finishing. I knew that the list was within my capability, so I just relaxed and got on with it.
I didn #8217;t let #8220;inbox zero #8221; slip. Building up backlogs is the best way of bogging yourself down. I emptied all #8220;inbox #8221; tasks (email, Evernote, paper, comments, and doing the dishes) multiple times during the day.
I didn #8217;t try to mark up ( #8220;dot #8221;) too many tasks at once. The fewer the dots the more flexible the list.
I didn #8217;t confine myself to what was on the Productive Day list. I actually did quite a lot of other tasks as well. I also exceeded my target amount for several tasks which were part of the Productive Day.
Mark Forster | 20 Comments | Share Article
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SundayJun072015
The Productive Day Challenge
Sunday, June 7, 2015 at 23:30
What I am going to do is define what I would need to have done in order to consider tomorrow (Monday) to be a productive day. I will be using FVP as my time management system.
I am going to use my list as it is - which has most of the tasks on it already. I #8217;m not going to cheat by moving them all to the end of the list.
I #8217;ll report back on how many of the tasks I succeed in doing.
So here goes - I would consider tomorrow to be a productive day if:
I have zero inbox at the end of the day in
Email Paper Evernote Inbox Doing the dishes
I have walked at least four miles [5.17 miles] I have done 100 press ups I have done The Plank exercise for at least 90 seconds [110 seconds - ai yai yai!] I have sold our unused car for scrap [got pound;60!] I have, as Press Officer, edited the photos for yesterday #8217;s Croquet Tournament, Friday #8217;s Golf Tournament and last week #8217;s Golf Club Dinner. I have done at least one day #8217;s Glossika French lesson [2 days #8217; Lessons] I have listened to at least one chapter of Genesis and St Matthew #8217;s Gospel in the original languages [2 chapters Genesis, 1 Exodus, 2 St Matthew] I have sorted out my regular donation to the Bursary Fund I have invited L to take part in September #8217;s Charity walk I have checked whether R has decided to take part in the walk. I have emailed an update to those who have already agreed to take part in the above Charity Walk I have said the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary I have telephoned my dentist re work needed I have read at least something in the Qu #8217;ran and the Hadith I have notified my bank about my forthcoming trip I #8217;ve written a second draft of my paper for the Finance Committee about Running a Legacy Campaign I sorted out a new contract for my smart phone I #8217;ve sent details of my expenses to my financial adviser I have revised my plan as Press OfficerI have revised my plan for publicity for my new bookAnd I nearly forgot #8230;I have kept up to date with the comments on my website [17 replies written today]
Update on Monday, June 8, 2015 at 23:33 by
Mark Forster
Finished! Time for a glass of Poit Dhubh to celebrate.
I #8217;ll post a follow-up tomorrow sometime.
Mark Forster | 20 Comments | Share Article
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SundayJun072015
A Few More FVP Stats
Sunday, June 7, 2015 at 12:27
Here are a few more stats in addition to my last post.
After one week of FVP ending on Saturday evening:
Saturday: 95 tasks entered, 44 remaining
Friday: 93 tasks entered, 13 remaining
Thursday: 74 tasks entered, 5 remaining
Sunday-Wednesday: 341 tasks entered, 10 remaining.
Mark Forster | Post a Comment | Share Article
tagged FVP
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SaturdayJun062015
FVP Statistics Updated
Saturday, June 6, 2015 at 23:03
After one week using the FVP method, how have I done?
Total number of tasks entered: 603
Total number of tasks completed: 531
Total number of tasks remaining: 72
The first 149 tasks have all been actioned.
Work done yesterday (Friday):
No. of tasks entered during day: 91
No. of those tasks actioned during day: 52
No. of those tasks unactioned at close of day: 39
No. of tasks actioned from previous days: 37
Total tasks actioned during day: 89
Note that the number of tasks currently remaining on the list (72) is less than the number of tasks I succeeded in doing yesterday (89).
Mark Forster | Post a Comment | Share Article
tagged FVP
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FridayJun052015
FVP Statistics
Friday, June 5, 2015 at 10:57
I started my present FVP list during the evening of 30 May, a bit short of a week ago. So I thought it would be a good idea to show how my list has developed - particularly in view of some concerns which have been voiced about whether difficult tasks would ever get done using the algorithm.
I #8217;ve used the same algorithm all the time I #8217;ve been working this list. I have however varied the question. I started with #8220;What is more exciting than x? #8221; and then changed it to a questionless sort in which tasks were dotted according to whether they #8220;stood out #8221; or not. Currently I think this questionless sort is superior to using a question.
Anyway, here are the statistics:
Total number of tasks entered: 441
Total number of tasks completed: 376
Total number of tasks remaining: 65
I am using a notebook with 31 lines to the page. The pages are not relevant to the sort, but the distribution of unactioned tasks may be of interest.
Number of tasks remaining per page (with cumulative total):
Page 1 0 0
Page 2 0 0
Page 3 0 0
Page 4 3 3
Page 5 3 6
Page 6 2 8
Page 7 5 13
Page 8 4 17
Page 9 4 21
Page 10 2 23
Page 11 2 25
Page 12 10 35
Page 13 9 44
Page 14 15 59
Page 15 6 65
A couple of things to note about this:
1) The first 93 tasks on the list have all been actioned in less than a week.
2) No pages except the last one have more than half their tasks unactioned. (The last page only contains 7 tasks at present).
Yesterday #8217;s tasks (4 June)
I kept a record (by using a different coloured ink) of what tasks I entered yesterday and what tasks I completed.
No. of tasks entered during day: 74
No. of those tasks actioned during day: 40
No. of those tasks unactioned at close of day: 34
No. of tasks actioned from previous days: 22
Total tasks actioned during day: 66
Note that the number of tasks currently remaining on the list (65) is slightly less than the number of tasks I succeeded in doing yesterday (66).
Mark Forster | 4 Comments | Share Article
tagged FVP
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WednesdayMay272015
A Day with FVP
Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 23:45
Here #8217;s what I managed to do today using FVP. The tasks are in the order in which they are written on my list rather than the order I actually did them.
Phone upgrade
Reading in the Hadith
#8220;Penguin Book of Greek Verse #8221;
Voicemail
Tidy Office
Do the Dishes
Make Tea
Take Pills
Check Diary
Prayer
Prayer
Blood Pressure
Breakfast
Computer Housekeeping
Lunch
Push Ups
Paper In-Tray
Bring Wheelie Bin In
#8220;Harry Potter agrave; l #8217; eacute;cole des sorciers #8221;
Website Comments
Read Blogs
Glossika French Day 29
Prayer
Record Weight
Computer Housekeeping
#8220;The Iliad #8221; (in Greek)
Glossika French Day 29
Computer Housekeeping
Computer Housekeeping
Email
#8220;Harry Potter agrave; l #8217; eacute;cole des sorciers #8221;
Computer Housekeeping
Push Ups
Push Ups
Computer Housekeeping
#8220;Harry Potter agrave; l #8217; eacute;cole des sorciers #8221;
Email Backlog
Email
Email Backlog
Glossika French Day 30
Book of Genesis (in Hebrew) - one chapter
Wash Up
Gospel of Matthew (in Greek) - one chapter
Book of Genesis (in Hebrew) - one chapter
Glossika French Day 31
Glossika French Day 32
Book of Genesis (in Hebrew) - one chapter
Gospel of Matthew (in Greek) - one chapter
Email Backlog
#8220;Harry Potter agrave; l #8217; eacute;cole des sorciers #8221;
Reading in the Hadith
The Plank
Find Mislaid Timer
Write This Blog Post
One thing I #8217;d like to draw attention to is the effectiveness of the system in hammering home projects which require cumulative repetion over a long period. There are several examples of this in the list. I #8217;ll mention only two. #8220;Harry Potter agrave; l #8217; eacute;cole des sorciers #8221; (the first volume of the Harry Potter series in French) had four sessions and there were three sessions of push ups. Keeping projects like these - reading, language training and fitness training - going day after day with multiple sessions per day really produces results and FVP is excellent at this.
By the way, the idea with the Harry Potter book is that once I #8217;ve finished it in French, I #8217;ll then use the French edition as a crib for the Spanish edition, then the Spanish edition as a crib for the Italian edition, then the Italian edition for the German edition, and the German edition for #8230; who knows which language? Maybe Dutch, maybe Modern Greek. Russian might be too much of a stretch.
Mark Forster | 15 Comments | Share Article
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ThursdayMay212015
The Final Version Perfected (FVP)
Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 11:58
This is an amended version of the instructions for the Final Version (FV) time management system. It contains an improved algorithm and a new question.
(Chinese Traditional version by Catus Lee - external site) Introduction~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Here are the long-awaited instructions for the Final Version Perfected (FVP) time management system. I don rsquo;t know if it rsquo;s the best time management system ever devised. What I do know is that it is the best time management system that I have ever used myself. It rsquo;s shown itself to be even more resilient, responsive and quick than the Final Version.
FV and now FVP are based on my earlier time management systems, particularly the extensive range of AutoFocus and SuperFocus systems developed over the last five years. These were unique in that they were constantly developing with the assistance of a large band of commenters on my web-site. Anyone who has tried one or more of these systems will recognize the strong family resemblance that they have with FV and FVP. The most striking resemblance is that they are all based on one long list (either paper or electronic) which can be used to capture just about every possible action that springs into one rsquo;s mind. There is a minimum of special markings or annotations.Such a list depends on an effective algorithm to process it. There are three main requirements which have to be kept in balance. These are urgency, importance and psychological readiness. Traditional time management systems have tended to concentrate on the first two of these. The neglect of psychological readiness is probably the reason that most people don rsquo;t find time management systems particularly effective or congenial.The most distinctive feature of FVP is the way that its algorithm is primarily based on psychological readiness - this then opens the way to keeping urgency and importance in the best achievable balance. The FVP Algorithm~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The FVP algorithm uses the question ldquo;What do I want to do more than x? rdquo; to preselect a chain of tasks from the list. What exactly is meant by ldquo;want rdquo; in this context is deliberately left undefined. There may be a whole variety of reasons why you might want to do one thing more than another thing and all of them are valid.The chain always starts with the first unactioned task on the list. Mark this task with a dot to show that it rsquo;s now been preselected. Don rsquo;t take any action on the task at this stage.This task then becomes the benchmark from which the next task is selected. For example, if the first task on the list is ldquo;Write Report rdquo;, the question becomes ldquo;What do I want to do more than write the report? rdquo; You move through the list in order until you come to a task which you want to do more than write the report. This task is now selected by marking it with a dot and it becomes the benchmark for the next task. If the first task you come to which you want to do before writing the report is ldquo;Check Email rdquo;, then that becomes the benchmark. The question therefore changes to ldquo;What do I want to do more than check email? rdquo;As you continue through the list you might come to ldquo;Tidy Desk rdquo; and decide you want to do that more than checking email. Select this in the same way by marking it with a dot, and change the question to ldquo;What do I want to do more than tidying my desk? rdquo;. The answer to this is probably ldquo;nothing rdquo;, so you have now finished your preselection.The preselected tasks in the example are:
Write reportCheck emailTidy desk
At this point ldquo;Tidy Desk rdquo; represents the task you most want to do at the moment. Do it.Note that as in all my systems, you don rsquo;t have to finish the task - only do some work on it. Of course if you do finish the task that rsquo;s great, but if you don rsquo;t then all you have to do is re-enter the task at the end of the list.
Now what are you going to do next? ldquo;Check email rdquo; is the previous task you selected, but that isn rsquo;t necessarily the task you most want to do. What you can say though is that it was the task you most wanted to do up until you selected ldquo;Tidy Desk rdquo;. This means that you only need to check the tasks that come after ldquo;Tidy Desk rdquo; in the list.
So what you do next is to ask yourself ldquo;What do I want to do more than check email? rdquo; again, but you check only the tasks which come after the task you have just done (Tidy Desk).
Once you have worked your way back to the first task on the list and done it (this may never happen!), you take the next unactioned task as your root task.
That rsquo;s it! You rsquo;re now ready to go. Everything else is further examples and explanation.
A Longer Example~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~In this example for ease of understanding no new tasks are added while working on the list. This of course is unlikely in real life. Your initial list of tasks:
Email In-TrayVoicemailProject X ReportTidy DeskCall Dissatisfied CustomerMake Dental AppointmentFile InvoicesDiscuss Project Y with BobBack Up Put a dot in front of the first task: middot; Email In-Tray Voicemail Project X Report Tidy Desk Call Dissatisfied Customer Make Dental Appointment File Invoices Discuss Project Y with Bob Back Up Now ask yourself rdquo; What do I want to do more than Email? rdquo; You work down the list and come to Voicemail. You decide you want to do Voicemail more than Email. Put a dot in front of it. middot; Email In-Tray middot; Voicemail Project X Report Tidy Desk Call Dissatisfied Customer Make Dental Appointment File Invoices Discuss Project Y with Bob Back Up Now ask yourself rdquo; What do I want to do more than Voicemail? rdquo; You decide you want to tidy your desk. middot; Email In-Tray middot; Voicemail Project X Report middot; Tidy Desk Call Dissatisfied Customer Make Dental Appointment File Invoices Discuss Project Y with Bob Back Up There are no tasks you want to do more than tidying your desk, so you have the following dotted tasks: EmailVoicemailTidy Desk Do the Tidy Desk task. Your list will now look like this: middot; Email In-Tray middot; Voicemail Project X Report middot; Tidy Desk Call Dissatisfied Customer Make Dental Appointment File Invoices Discuss Project Y with Bob Back Up Now start again from Tidy Desk (i.e. the last task you did). and ask yourself ldquo;What do I want to do more than Voicemail? rdquo; The only task you want to do more than Voicemail is Back Up. Do it. The list now reads: middot; Email In-Tray middot; Voicemail Project X Report middot; Tidy Desk Call Dissatisfied Customer Make Dental Appointment File Invoices Discuss Project Y with Bob middot; Back Up There are no further tasks beyond Back Up, so there is no need to check whether you want to do any tasks more than you want to do Voicemail. You just do it.
The list now reads:
middot; Email In-Tray middot; Voicemail Project X Report middot; Tidy Desk Call Dissatisfied Customer Make Dental Appointment File Invoices Discuss Project Y with Bob middot; Back Up There is only one dotted task left on the list and that is Email. You now need to check whether you want to do any of the tasks more than Email. So ask the question ldquo;What do I want to do more than Email? rdquo; You already know that you want to do Email more than In-tray, so you start scanning from the first task after the task you have just done (Voicemail). You decide you want to do Make Dental Appointment more than you want to do Email, so you dot it and change the question to ldquo;What do I want to do more than Make Dental Appointment rdquo;. The answer is ldquo;Discuss Project Y rdquo;. As this is the last task on the list you do it immediately, and then do Make Dental Appointment immediately too. There rsquo;s no need to scan because you already know that you want to make the dental appoinment more than you want to file invoices. The list now reads: middot; Email In-Tray middot; Voicemail Project X Report middot; Tidy Desk Call Dissatisfied Customer middot; Make Dental Appointment File Invoices middot; Discuss Project Y with Bob middot; Back Up So the tasks on the original list have been done in the following order so far: Tidy DeskBack UpVoicemailDiscuss Project Y with BobMake Dental Appointment These tasks have been done in the exact order of what you want to do most at the time. There may be a huge number of factors affecting what you want to do most, but you can allow your brain to sort them out for you below the level of consciousness simply by asking the question ldquo;What do I want to do more than x? rdquo; and applying it in the way shown above. If you are having trouble following the example above, then I suggest you write the list out on paper and work through it by hand. Additional Tips ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The best way to sink any time management system is to overload it right at the beginning. FVP is pretty resilient, but at this stage you aren rsquo;t. So build up the list gradually. My advice is to start off with the tasks and projects that are of immediate concern to you right now, and then add more as they come up in the natural course of things.Tasks can be added at any level, e.g. Project X, Plan Restructuring, Call Pete, Tidy Desk.
If at any stage you find that a task on the list is no longer relevant, then delete it. If you find that your preselected list is no longer relevant (e.g. if you have had a long break away from the list or some new factor has come into play), then scrap the preselection and reselect from the beginning. [Afternote July 3rd - I now don #8217;t do this. I simply cross out any tasks which need re-prioritizing and re-enter them at the end of the list.]
If one or more very urgent things come up, just write them at the end of the list and the algorithm will automatically select them next (assuming you do actually want to do them of course). Similarly if something already on the list becomes very urgent, then just cross it out and move it to the end of the list.Remember that the aim of any time management system is to help you to get your work done, not get in the way of doing your work. So don rsquo;t be afraid to adjust priorities as and when you need to. However don rsquo;t overdo this - stick to the rules when possible as they will ensure you deal with your work in a systematic way. Why It Works~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~At the beginning of this article I said there were three factors which every time management system needs to address: urgency, importance and psychological readiness. Let rsquo;s see how FVP deals with each of these.
Urgency. Because of the nature of the preselection process, urgent tasks tend to get selected because generally speaking the human brain wants to do things that it knows are urgent. If things come up that are particularly urgent they can be added to the preselected list at any time.
Importance. Generally speaking the human brain is a bit less keen on doing important stuff than it is on doing urgent stuff. This is particularly the case when the important stuff is difficult. However the FVP preselection process ensures that the entire list is kept under continuous review and your brain will start to flag up that it wants you to get on with stuff it thinks you might be neglecting. If this doesn rsquo;t happen, then it rsquo;s likely to be because you would be better off getting rid of it altogether.
Psychological Readiness. This is where FVP really enters new dimensions. By using a pre-selection process, the brain is softened up towards the selected tasks. But this isn rsquo;t all. The selection process is based on what you want to do. This colours the whole preselected list so that even tasks which seem like chores get affected.
Mark Forster | 122 Comments | Share Article
tagged FVP
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FridayMay082015
The Perfect Time Management System
Friday, May 8, 2015 at 12:11
For millenia the best minds in the world have been searching for the perfect time management system. Finally, after twenty years of thinking about little else (or at least that #8217;s how it felt), I have at last managed to invent it.
I hope this will be an incalculable boon to humankind. Imagine, no more frustration at not being able to trust yourself to achieve what you want. Imagine, always being able to decide to do something and know that you will do it. Imagine, being able to unfailingly steer the optimum path through all the clashing priorities of daily life.
The system is very simple. Once you know it you will be hard pressed to think why it would take one person five minutes to think up, let alone twenty years. Yet, as far as I know no one else has ever thought of it before.
Here are a few characteristics of the system:
It #8217;s a #8220;universal capture #8221; system, i.e. you can enter any task or project without any pre-editing or prioritizing.
It #8217;s equally suitable for pen and paper or electronic means.
It can deal with any size list, from the smallest to the largest.
No matter what order the tasks are written in, it will always give you the optimum path through them.
It has no problem with urgent tasks.
It encourages #8220;little and often #8221;.
You can attend meetings and write down tasks and queries straight into the list.
Resistance becomes a thing of the past.
You can enter provisional tasks, i.e. ones you haven #8217;t decided definitely whether to do them or not.
You can brainstorm straight onto the list
It requires no randomizers or other equipment.
and so on.
I #8217;ll be writing more about this in a week or so #8217;s time.
Mark Forster | 77 Comments | Share Article
tagged FVP
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TuesdayMar032015
quot;Secrets of Productive People quot; now available for pre-order
Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 12:42
My new book Secrets of Productive People: The 50 Strategies You Need to Get Things Done is now available for pre-order in print and Kindle versions on Amazon.co.uk for publication on 27 August.
The Kindle version is also available on Amazon.com.
Mark Forster | 7 Comments | Share Article
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WednesdayFeb112015
Daily Rituals
Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 17:09
There #8217;s an interesting interview on the Evernote blog with Mason Curry, author of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.
I particulary liked his description of Maya Angelou renting ldquo;tiny, mean rdquo; hotel or motel room in order to do her writing, and surrounding herself with a dictionary, a Bible, a deck of cards, and a bottle of Sherry.
Back in the far-off days before computers that #8217;s probably exactly what I #8217;d have surrounded myself with, except I #8217;d have had a bottle of whisky rather than sherry.
Mark Forster | 6 Comments | Share Article
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MondayAug042014
What my new book quot;Secrets of Productive People quot; will be about
Monday, August 4, 2014 at 9:27
The main focus of the book will be the idea that productivity is the product of creativity and efficiency.
It #8217;s the creativity part that tends to get neglected, as if productivity were just a matter of churning out as much work as possible.
I want to help the ordinary person - that #8217;s you or me - to be able to approach the sort of results that the really productive people of history such as Newton, van Gogh or Henry Ford have achieved, albeit on a smaller scale. The message is that this sort of ability can be learned. It #8217;s a matter of practice applied to correct methods of practice. The book will show you how.
Mark Forster | 30 Comments | Share Article
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SundayJul272014
New book on its way!
Sunday, July 27, 2014 at 8:36
I #8217;ve just signed a contract with Hodder #8217;s to write a book in their new Secrets series. It will be called Secrets of Productive People: 50 techniques to get things done, scheduled to be published Summer next year.
Mark Forster | 15 Comments | Share Article
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FridayJun132014
quot;From the Hipster PDA to Desktop Files quot;
Friday, June 13, 2014 at 7:09
There #8217;s an interesting article on various vehicles for to do lists on Danny Schreiber #8217;s Zapier blog, which mentions a couple of my systems.
I hope he #8217;s corrected the spelling of my name before you all write in and correct him!
Mark Forster | 1 Comment | Share Article
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MondayMar312014
How to Get the Most Out of the quot;Spinning Plates quot;
Monday, March 31, 2014 at 13:04
This is a follow-up to my previous post The Spinning Plates Method of Project Control, in which I shall be making observations about how best to work this system. It #8217;s not intended to be a static post, but one which I shall keep adding to (newest on top).
Being up-to-date
What does it mean to finish a task in the sense of having no work outstanding as stated in the rules? It doesn #8217;t mean #8220;finished for good #8221;. Basically the sense is that you are up-to-date with the work on the project. You can be up-to-date with a project long before it is finished for good. If you have a project which you expect to take three months, then you are up-to-date as long as you are on track with the schedules and deadlines relating to that project.
So a very important part of running the #8220;Spinning Plates #8221; is being clear what you mean by being #8220;up-to-date #8221;. You may need to have a different definition of this for each project. Sometimes these are set for you, but more often you will need to define them yourself.
If you have a project to read #8220;War amp; Peace #8221; you might have a goal of so many pages or chapters a day - or you might simply be happy to read #8220;something #8221; every day without defining how long that is. It #8217;s up to you.
For Housework, you might have daily chores, weekly chores (each on a different day of the week) and monthly chores. As long as you are on schedule with these, you are up-to-date.
Electronic Implementation
For electronic implementation, there is no need to have more than the one active column. The columns across the page in the written version look pretty and provide a historical record, but they are not strictly necessary. All you need to know is whether at the end of a pass there are any arrows or crosses in the column. And of course you can use any symbols you like (or colour coding) in place of the ticks, arrows and crosses.
Minor Tasks
It is a good idea fairly early on to add a task called #8220;Minor Tasks #8221; to your list. You can then keep a separate sublist of small necessary tasks which don #8217;t fit into any of the existing projects on the main list. However this must not become a place where you add everything you haven #8217;t yet succeeded in putting on the main list. Remember that like every other task the #8220;Minor Tasks #8221; task must be completely cleared before you can add any more tasks to the main list.
You are therefore advised to use the following rules with respect to the #8220;Minor Tasks #8221; sublist:
1) Don #8217;t add any tasks which are too big to be done in one go.
2) Don #8217;t add more tasks than you can do in one go.
3) Make the #8220;Minor Tasks #8221; sublist a closed list, i.e. no new tasks can be added to it once it has been started until all the tasks on it have been done. I also recommend you do the tasks in the same order they are written.
Size of Tasks
I #8217;ve tended to refer in the instructions to #8220;task #8221; and #8220;project #8221; more or less interchangeably. This is quite deliberate because the system simply treats a project as a big task. Whether a particular entry is a big task or a small task is up to you.
It #8217;s sometimes a good idea to combine small tasks into larger tasks as you go along. So for instance if you have a project to sort out your office, you might start with a task #8220;Sort Desk #8221;. Once the desk is sorted, that is retitled #8220;Tidy Desk #8221;, and you start another task #8220;Sort Pamphlet Racks #8221;. That again becomes #8220;Tidy Pamphlet Racks #8221;. After you #8217;ve done this with a few more office-sorting jobs, you can combine them all into one task #8220;Tidy Office #8221;.
Remember that although you can combine existing tasks, you can only include tasks in the combination which are already on the list.
The best time to do this sort of editing, combining and retitling work is when you are rewriting the page because you have filled all the available columns.
Mark Forster | 12 Comments | Share Article
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SundayMar302014
The Spinning Plates Method of Project Control (Experimental)
Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 12:13
Here #8217;s a video of the right way to get projects going and keep them going:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k44uoVm0lPI
First, get one project up and running properly
Take necessary action to keep on top of project
Then get the next project up and running properly
Take necessary action to keep on top of both projects
Then get the next project up and running properly
Take necessary action to keep on top of all three projects
Repeat until you have reached the maximum number of projects you can keep on top of
At that stage you either have to stop adding more projects, or remove old projects to allow for new ones.
Note the priority is always to make sure the existing plates are spinning properly before adding a new one (though in the video the performer is deliberately adding a bit of drama to keep the audience engaged).
How can we actually do this in practice when we are dealing with real-life projects rather than spinning plates?
We can use a rotational list method. This one is designed for use with a notebook and pen/pencil. I #8217;m sure it can be adapted for electronic use, but I haven #8217;t as yet tried to do so.
I emphasize that this is an experimental method, which I haven #8217;t tried out fully myself yet. You are welcome to have a go, but don #8217;t expect polished perfection!
It has two phases: I - Build-Up; II - Control.
Phase 1 - Build-Up
Click image for full-sizeStart with two tasks and write them on the first two lines in your notebook. Work on them on turn. When you finish a task, cross it off the list if it #8217;s done for good. But if is a recurrent task leave it where it is.
When you #8217;ve finished both tasks, add another task. Rotate back through both the previous tasks (if they #8217;re still there) to make sure nothing new has come up for them, and then work on the new task. Once there #8217;s no more work left on any of the tasks already entered you can enter another new task. Check back through the old tasks for anything new that #8217;s come in and then work on the new task. Proceed in this way adding a new task every time you #8217;ve cleared any work on all the old tasks. If there #8217;s any work left outstanding, then you can #8217;t add a new task. You have to keep rotating through the list until all the work is cleared.
You will probably find that your list grows very quickly at first and then slows down considerably. Once it #8217;s grown to the point that you are having trouble getting your work done quickly enough, you are getting near the limit of how much work you are capable of doing. That means you can #8217;t take on much more work without endangering the work you have already got on your list. You are at liberty to remove any task at any time to reduce the workload, but you can only add a new task (or restore an old one) when there is no outstanding work.
Phase 2 - Control
Click on image for full-size
So far we #8217;ve only talked about what happens when you have work in progress on one or more tasks at the end of a pass through the list. This is quite normal and nothing to worry about, but while it #8217;s in effect you can #8217;t add any more tasks.
However there are two ways in which you may actually fail at doing a task:
1) You may come to a task and, without any satisfactory reason, decide you don #8217;t want to do any work on it at that time. If this happens the task has been failed. Satisfactory reasons might include wrong time of day, wrong weather conditions, necessary pre-condition not met, work task during leisure time (or vice versa). Unsatisfactory reasons include not feeling like it, high resistance to task, pressure from other more urgent tasks, low energy.
2) You fail to get a task completed in time for a deadline. This applies even if the deadline is self-imposed. Again the task has been failed.
At the end of a pass in which one or more tasks have been failed, the number of tasks on the list has to be reduced by the number of tasks which have failed. The tasks removed do not necessarily have to be the tasks that failed.
Note that this is not a punishment for failing a task, but a way of consciously reducing your workload control so that you can get back on track.
Related Post:
How to Get the Most Out of the #8220;Spinning Plates #8221;
Mark Forster | 19 Comments | Share Article
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SaturdayMar292014
How to Have Wonderfully Creative Ideas
Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 22:54
Easy, peasy.
1) Write out a list called #8220;My Top 5 Ideas for [specify subject] #8221;
2) Put the list away where you can #8217;t see it.
3) The next day, write out a fresh list for the same subject. Don #8217;t refer to the old list. It doesn #8217;t matter whether the items on the new list are the same or different.
4) Repeat every day, until you get inspired to put some of the ideas into action.
5) Every week or so, re-read the old lists to see how your ideas have progressed, and maybe have another think about some of them.
Some suggested titles:
- My Top 5 Ideas for Making More Money
- My Top 5 Ideas for Being Healthier
- My Top 5 Ideas for Being a Better Son/Daughter/Father/Mother/Husband/Wife/Significant Other/Friend
- My Top 5 Ideas for Improving the Invoicing System
- My Top 5 Ideas for My Next Holiday
Yes, your #8217;re right. That was My Top 5 Ideas for Top Five Ideas Lists list.
Perhaps I #8217;ll write another one tomorrow!
Update on Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 8:08 by
Mark Forster
Second Day #8217;s List:My Top 5 Ideas for Keeping My Office TidyMy Top 5 Ideas for Books I Want to ReadMy Top 5 Ideas for Being a Better FriendMy Top 5 Ideas for Improving the Systems in My BusinessMy Top 5 Ideas for Things I Want to Do Before I Die
Update on Monday, March 31, 2014 at 8:44 by
Mark Forster
Third Day #8217;s List:
My Top 5 Ideas for Being a Better Friend
My Top 5 Ideas for Getting Fit
My Top 5 Ideas for Losing Weight
My Top 5 Ideas for Birthday Presents for my Wife
My Top 5 Ideas for Improving My Website
This will be the last example I write on the website. I hope you get the idea!
Mark Forster | 13 Comments | Share Article
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Copyright ©2001-2015, Mark Forster. All rights reserved.

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