Doing Things Super

I’m always looking for a better way to get things done, and keep track of what I need to get done. In the past I’ve used a lot of systems to handle the parts of capturing and completing tasks. I started first with reading a lot of blogs and getting hooked on some systems like the Hipster PDA which was what I tried for a while. I then moved along to something else using a Moleskine notebook, and then shortly for a while using a set of cards which I had written down things on and carried around with me at all times. I switched whenever a system seemed to stop working or just have a big enough backlog pile so as to make it obvious that it is not working for me to actually get the things completed.

I think that there are a few things about a todo system which are important. Ubiquitous capture is very important. That means that it must be available at all times, and the easiest way to do that is to make it paper-based. I have a smart phone with me almost all time so it might be acceptable for a todo system to use that, but I definitely haven’t found anything that works well that is electronic. Also, I’ve accumulated a number of notebooks from various manufacturers which I can use for my various works. Making it easy to capture is the reason that I have abandoned using most GTD systems, because they either require a lot of work putting things in order. This reason was also why I stopped using a system which I brought up with myself which was project-based, but would require me to update the correct card every time.

In the last few years, I’ve been using a set of systems which I read about from Mark Forster. I started working based on AutoFocus shortly after I discovered it. I was happy with the fact that the way to capture tasks in the system is just to open it to the last page and write down the task on it. With a marker for the last open page, it is basically the perfect ubiquitous capture - always available and no thinking required. I also like it because I don’t have to do the tasks in any particular order. One of the problems that I was having with the GTD system was the order of contexts, where I had to sort everything into different zones. It was very easy to go overboard, especially because I have at least three contexts which are mentally separate, but in the same physical location. It’s the nature of working on a thesis, running a consulting company and doing housework in the same place. AutoFocus was the first system where I could just take a look at a number of tasks, and do the one that I feel like working on at the time, which is a good thing for whatever context that I’m on.

Since then, Forster has revised his system four times, and then made a major change to it, adding a urgent list in the SuperFocus system. This is the system that I’m using now at work. It works fairly well and I’m thinking of working it into my personal system sometime soon. The urgent column works very well for items that need to get done right away. It seems like not many people know about these systems and they’re working okay for me so far. It’s easy to pick out something that needs doing that I can do right away, add a new task whenever I need to, and also to remove tasks which I will never do. One of my only complaints is that it’s a little hard to understand from scratch, even though it only uses one notebook. Maybe I’ll post an example of the working soon.