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[personal profile] sarahmichelef
AF Book 6/22 It's been about 5 months since I started using the Autofocus Task/Time management system - I'm pretty sure I posted a link to it back in February.  I'm still totally loving it.  I've gone through a couple of permutations of how I keep my list - work and personal all mixed up, on facing pages, one on each end of the book.  Now I'm back to the barest-bones implementation of the system - everything all mixed up in one book.  I don't even keep track of dates except the date I started and closed pages, and I could probably ditch those too.

I won't say that I'm a million times more productive than I used to be using this system, or that I stick to it faithfully all the time.  It works at its best when you have a lot of unscheduled time and can make your own decisions about what to do when - in other words, pretty much my entire life.  There were definitely times in the last month when I was operating on near-crisis mode (summer school will do that to you) that I hardly used it at all.

Two common "criticisms" are that it doesn't handle projects very well, or items with urgent deadlines.  In fact, it handles projects perfectly well and very flexibly.  On the pictured pages, there are multiple entries for "LJ/FB paper".  I need to work on that paper, and I have a list of related tasks either in my head or written down elsewhere.  (In my case, stuff like that goes into Journler.)  Urgent items... well, it depends on your definition of "urgent".  I put things on the list as soon as I know they need to be done (unless it's something with a way-far-out deadline like the paper I want to write for next year's ASA conference, whose deadline will be somewhere around 1/5/10) and have not had a thing slip through the cracks.  Items with longer-range deadlines, or things that are time dependent go in a calendar with popup reminders; those reminders are not to do the item right then and there but rather to put them in my AF list so they can enter my consciousness.

The notebook, in case anyone is wondering, is a Picadilly medium notebook.  Do not love - I've been using it since Feb.; it's already held together by duck tape on the outside and packing tape on the inside and it's only 1/3 full.  Shell out the $$ for a real Moleskine if you're going to drag a notebook everywhere with you.

Date: 2009-06-27 07:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] irihs.livejournal.com
You've inspired me to try the Autofocus system. Or at least a loose version of it. I actually waited until he came out with v.2, to see if that would be even better, but looking through the post about it, it seems a bit complicated for my needs, so I'm going to stick with the original for now.

It feels really freeing to just write *everything* down, with no rhyme or reason, and the big pull for me was exactly that. I get so bogged down with details that I think I'll be more organized (though no guarantee on more productivity) with a disorganized list that has everything, vs. a zillion scraps of paper that get lost.

So thanks for the inspiration. Even if I'm kind of ignoring the "system" in favor of just scanning the entire (several page) list this weekend, because 1 week before travel means I really do have more high priority items than usual. I suppose the fact that those items are scattered randomly throughout the entire list means that I did a successful, non-structured brain dump, though? Right? ;-)

Date: 2009-06-27 07:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] irihs.livejournal.com
Oh, and I shelled out for a real Moleskine, even though I have avoided them because they people who worship them annoy me so. But the only choice for a decent notebook with lined paper in the size I wanted was Moleskine or Picadilly, and I remembered your warning.

Of course I was a complete doofus, and started using it upside down. Though I have to say, I do prefer having the bookmark poke out of the top, as opposed to the bottom. But not being able to tell front from back may just mean I'm not cool enough to use one of these little hipster icons. Oh dear!

Date: 2009-06-29 05:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alphasarah.livejournal.com
I laugh at you a little bit. But yes, Moleskine = totally worth the extra $$. And really... who cares if you are cool enough to be a hipster, really? ;^)

Date: 2009-06-29 05:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alphasarah.livejournal.com
You are instinctively doing AF2, just by the way. His description of AF2 as posted so far really is for people who are familiar with AF1. Here's my version of AF2 for dummies.

On day 1:
1) write everything that occurs to you down.
2) work from the back of the list towards the front, checking off and re-adding as appropriate, using the "standing out" method (basically... something grabs you and says "do me!")
2a) every time you do something, go back to the last item on the list and start reading through for something to grab you

On day 2:
1) Look for the first "block" of un-checked tasks. Draw a line under that. Those items are "on notice" (Mark's term) - if you don't do them today, they get dismissed tomorrow.
2) Read the whole list.
3) Proceed from #1 above.

On day 3:
1) Find the line you drew yesterday and dismiss and un-checked tasks above it.
2) Draw a new line below your next block of un-checked tasks.
3) Proceed from #2 above.

All days thereafter will look like Day 3.

The "standing out" process is ... weird and I think it can take folks a while to learn let go of the "but there are urgent things!" mentality. In part AF2 is an attempt to answer this... but honestly, I found that even AF1 worked fine as long as you made it through the whole list once a day.

While jumping in the week before vacation may not be ideal, here's what I've found: you can always come up with an excuse not to start something. ;^)

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