Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.

Photo by TheDreamSky

Have you ever looked at your list of things to do and realized a) it had expanded beyond its usual capacity and b) there was no way you were ever going to get through it?

It happens to all of us, and I am no exception. My task list last week went from a usual 20 items (excluding the daily repetive stuff like “scoop the cat box” and “exercise”) to 63.

At the same time I was hyperventilating from this, and going through my email in a desperate attempt to ignore the huge list, I saw that Mark Forster had released the rules for his long-awaited Super Focus system.

I know Mark’s systems are good for me to blast through a lot of tasks. So I decided to give this a shot and see how it works, reporting back here.

Rules of SuperFocus

SuperFocus’s rules can be found on Mark’s blog at Rules for SuperFocus. I will summarize them here:

Start with a notebook. On every page, draw a vertical line. Enter your tasks on the page. If they are urgent, they go in the right most column. If not, the left. Keep adding things to the list, onto further pages, using the same format.

Process the list by scanning the items on the first page. If there is something that “grabs” you, do it either in its entirety or in part. If you are done with the task, draw a line through it. If not, draw a line through it and re-enter it in the second column of the next page.

You can move onto a new page only when nothing grabs you on the page you are on, and all items in column 2 have been actioned.

There are some other rules to this system, particularly to do with dismissal, that I urge you to read on his article.

My Experiment With Superfocus

I laid out my 63 tasks on three pages, dutifully putting most of them in the left-hand column. There were some urgent tasks, and I considered how urgent they were before putting half a dozen in the right hand column.

Then I went to work.

I knocked 5 tasks off the list straight away. Then I tackled some things I had been putting off for a month or so. Then I did some urgent tasks.

I cycled through three pages the first day, working the urgent tasks before moving to the next page. On my third visit to the first page, I realized nothing “grabbed” me, and I dismissed the remaining 8 tasks.

Onto page 2, which became my first task page.

The end result was that after day three, I had brought the task list down by two thirds, back to the normal range. Some of the tasks that were on the lists were ones I wasn’t committed to doing right now — or at all, and I just needed the push to be honest with myself about that. But the majority were completed by action I took.

Why Don’t I Use This All The Time?

Mark Forster’s systems are always ones I turn to when I need to get a lot done in a short period of time. SuperFocus is no exception to that.

But I won’t use it all the time.

To me, running a list like this is like sprinting. It’s great for a short period of time, but I can’t sustain it for long. I got a lot done, and it was good. But I was exhausted, and looking at the list kept me working on things when I should have been unwinding.

If you need to get a lot done quickly, check out SuperFocus. And let me know below if you think there is something better, or your experiences with Mark’s systems.

Photo by TheDreamSky