How to Be Incredibly Productive

I’ve tried every productivity method I could find. Franklin Covey, Now Habit, Getting Things Done and others. It usually started out well, then I slowly began procrastinating and would become less productive. This time it’s been different. My productivity has increased, and I get excited and enjoy using the process.

I first learned about Mark Forster a year ago but didn’t really get the Autofocus method. Recently I was trying to figure out how to work on large tasks in small bites and feel like I was making progress even though the task remained unfinished. That’s where AutoFocus shines, so I decided to give it another chance.

The day I started using it was one of the single most productive days in a long, long time. It sounds crazy, but it’s actually fun to see the backlog get smaller. Seeing the list size reduce encourages you to keep at the tasks, tackling the big ones a little at a time. The closer you get to finishing them all, the more your enthusiasm grows.

The second component to ultra productivity with Autofocus is It’s a free, online todo list that’s simple, fast and keyboard-friendly. The two are a match made in heaven. The only part I didn’t like about Autofocus was manually rewriting tasks that weren’t completed in one take. With, you work on a task for however long you feel like it, and if it’s not done, you just drag it down to the bottom of the active list.

Here’s a screencast I made to show you how I use it. Enjoy!


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  1. Dan – Thanks for the vid. How do you add that line on checkvist to separate the two groups of items?



    Comment by Jeff Korhan on May 1, 2010 @ 12:52 pm
  2. Jeff,

    I made an item with all dashes. Simple, yet effective :)

    Comment by Dan on May 1, 2010 @ 9:47 pm
  3. Dan —

    I’m a checkvist fan, which is how I came across this, but I guess I don’t understand the two-list system and why it’s any better to sweep through one or the other list, and why that makes one so productive. Am I missing something? Thanks.


    Comment by John on May 18, 2010 @ 11:35 am
  4. @John Thanks for asking. I had the exact same question when I first heard about the two-list system. If you already get everything done on your list, then it won’t increase your productivity. But that doesn’t happen with me. I had to try it before I understood why it works so well.

    My previous experience was that items would stay on my list perpetually because I kept putting them off. The genius of the two list system is that it forces you to address every item on the list at some point. You can’t let them sit there forever. It also takes advantage of our tendency to delay one task by doing a comparatively easier task in its place. You’re still getting a task done and it seems easier compared to the other less pleasant tasks. Another benefit is that you can see your progress. It encourages you to use a “little and often” approach, by encouraging you to work on tasks for as long as you want, then moving them down if they’re not done yet. This makes large tasks move through the system and you’re encouraged by your own progress.

    The top list can only get smaller once you’ve drawn the line, and it’s motivating to see it shrink. Your momentum helps you tackle the last few tasks that are the most difficult. And even out of two hard tasks, one is easier than the other.

    Hope that makes sense.

    Comment by Dan on May 18, 2010 @ 12:21 pm
  5. Dan —

    Thanks, that does make sense. Thanks. As always, the problem is having the discipline to use the system one sets up in order to get the tasks done, whether that involves going through the two lists so that it “forces” you to address every item on the list at some point, or something else. That’s always been my problem, anyway.


    Comment by John on May 19, 2010 @ 4:16 am
  6. You’re absolutely right. In the end, it comes down to discipline. In my experience over the past few weeks I’ve found it easier to discipline myself to follow the Autofocus system rather than my former attempts to discipline myself to complete all my tasks.

    To your productivity!

    Comment by Dan on May 19, 2010 @ 10:11 am

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