MARK FORSTER

I am loving his system. Is there anyone who would like to talk about it?

Syndicate content

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

It seems to be a system of lists, am I right?

I went to his website and could not get to the templates without downloading them.

I think this is based on lists but he says don't use to do lists?

Can you show us one of our templates?

Nope, not templates

I use my own modified version of his system. Foster is constantly tweaking his system, but in a nutshell:

Get a notebook. Any notebook, but he uses your basic cheap spiral bound letter-sizish one. (I think he's in England, so it's probably an A4.)

Write down everything you need/want to do, one item per line. Continue to write stuff down as it occurs to you.

Every day draw a line beneath the last todo on the page, put in the date, and continue adding stuff.

Read through the list of todos until you find something your gut/intuition tells you is the thing you should do NOW.

Do that thing for as long as you feel like doing it. (For example, spend 20 minutes reading your history text book, or do one load of wash, or make three cold calls.)

Cross the item off the list. If you didn't actually finish the todo item, add it back onto the end of your list. (Many tasks will always be re-added, like recurring chores. "Check your e-mail," for example.)

Then read over the list again and pick your next task.

His system has gone through several versions, mostly varying on how you read over the list and how you choose which old tasks to eliminate from your list because clearly you aren't going to do them. Like, Always start from the top of your list; start reading after the item you just did; after you do a task from the 'old' list, start reading from the 'new' list (the stuff below today's start line); etc,

The main problem he's working on is how to balance getting the 'older' items on your list done (which are likely to be IMPORTANT but not URGENT) rather than doing all the easy stuff BUT at the same time being sure newly added URGENT stuff actually gets done in time.

My variation: I use 3X5 cards instead of a notebook, and I add in 'deadlines' if appropriate.

That's Autofocus

It sounds like you are describing Autofocus, his latest system. He has another, also quite popular system, "Do it Tomorrow", with book versions selling on Amazon quite well. I have not seen an Autofocus book yet, but I imagine no book is necessary for such a simple system.

Personally I feel that the older method is better than the new one.

What is the name of the older method?

Can you describe how it works?

"Do it tomorrow"

As mentioned above, it is called "Do it tomorrow", sorry if my wording confused you. The most interesting idea from that system is probably the idea of deciding in advance everything you can "reasonably" do in one day, and no more, even if you have time to do more.

I just collect different interesting ideas from that method as well as others, I don't actually follow the method as such, I am more of a GTD guy. To read more about it try the author's web site: http://www.markforster.net/do-it-tomorrow/

For more on his Autofocus system, try http://www.markforster.net/autofocus-index

Autofocus has several versions, it is a work in progress. Personally it sounds like what I used to do before I met GTD. It can be effective, but I find it very messy, especially if you need to keep track of many details.

Sometimes I use a kind of hybrid GTD/Autofocus system, for those times when I don't feel like doing the weekly review. Basically I organize my life with GTD, and on lazy days, I deal with everything new on a single page of paper (essentially planning and doing from the Inbox, a GTD taboo). Sooner or later the mess that accumulates from things not finished right away force me back into GTD good behavior. :-P

Can you show us how you implement the system physically?

I am a visual person so seeing somebody's notebook, planner, card system, folders, binders or hybrid digital/analogue helps me tremendously for understanding systems.

Another thought

I think it's a system that is mostly for people whose life isn't appointment driven.

Take me. I work as an Admin Asst. While I do have tasks that need to be done on a schedule (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) outside of a standing weekly planning meeting I pretty much have NO scheduled-to-an-exact-hour appointments.

My job is to deal with a never-ending influx of tasks -- doing everything I can myself and, probably more important, seeing to it that my boss gets everything he needs to do done, and on time.

A running list (well, three: my work tasks, my boss's tasks, my personal life tasks) is THE core of my organizing needs.

When you explain it, I get it.

I like your way of DIYing his system to your advantage.

I pretty much like to set up things that way too, however, I need big deadline reminders so I don't panic.

The way he explains his system is very confusing.

I don't see the difference between a to do list and his lists, if people have lists of things that need to be done and on time, it might as well be called to do list.

Would it be possible for you to show your set up, I would love to see how you prioritize?
Do you use color coded instructions, underline, highlight, or use color coded cards?

Autofocus

I don't see the difference between a to do list and his lists, if people have lists of things that need to be done and on time, it might as well be called to do list.
As I see it, the system is an information dump and to do list. However, the difference is how the to do list is reviewed.

Instead of formally prioritising each item, a person would skim down their list giving each item an informal priority in their mind. When they get to the "gotta do it now" item they do it.

Would it be possible for you to show your set up, I would love to see how you prioritize? Do you use color coded instructions, underline, highlight, or use color coded cards?
Although I'm not the person you asked :) ....

I use a slightly similar system.

In an A5 notebook, I rule up a 2cm margin on the left of the page.
Then I write down everything I have to do as it occurs to me, breaking the item into actions (which I indent) if I know what the actions are.
Then I go through the list and note any due dates in the margin.
Then I go through the list a third time with a highlighter and highlight the "urgent and important" items.

This is my master list of tasks.

Each day I go through the highlighted items and add them to my daily to do list, and cross off anything I completed the day before.
I also add onto the master list any new work items that have come up.

On Friday afternoon, I go through the list again and create next week's list

I'm not ignoring you -- Tuesdays are my BUSY day

There's really nothing to "show." No templates, no planner with dividers, nothing but three stacks of index cards, each 'bound' with one of the elastic pony tail holders.

I do use colors and a few other tricks. I'll have to tell you about them tomorrow, though.

I did not mean to be pushy, Susan, I keep forgetting to use :)

I completely understand about busy days, your latest description is easy to visualize :)