Autofocus - a simplified time management system

for us to get everything done

Autofocus is a system that proposes to use a single master To-do list. The organization and the way of processing the To-do list are done in such a way that the right tasks are done at the right time. Although, everything will be done without prioritizing the tasks by their importance.

Autofocus is based on the original idea that the “right task” to be done would emerge intuitively by working the list

The author said about it’s “One’s vision” system:
"The Autofocus system … encourages a “little and often” approach and an intuitive sifting of possible actions, it is an ideal system for riding the crest of a wave - and also for spotting likely waves as they approach!"
Mark Forster

How was created Autofocus Time management system

The Autofocus Time Management System was launched in early 2009. The one who created this time management system is Mark Forster (born 24 November 1943) a British business coach specialized in time management and personal organization. He is best known for some of its books on time management:
  • Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management
  • Help Yourself Get Everything Done: and Still Have Time to Play
  • How to Make Your Dreams Come True. Help Yourself
  • Secrets of Productive People: 50 Techniques To Get Things Done (Teach Yourself)
Over time Mark Forster has created several versions of the Autofocus time management system but its concept of the Master List remained unchanged.

The basic principles of Autofocus Time Management System

Lack of concentration caused by boredom, inattention, interruptions, distractions a major problem in all aspects of time management. Mark Forster considers that an efficient remedy in this regard is consistent use of a master to-do list. From this starting point we get to the following:
writing the list
writing the list it focuses the attention
scanning the list
scanning the list provides a framework
selecting the task
selecting the tasks directs the attention to one subject

The Autofocus time management system consists of creating a master list that takes into account all the activities and tasks of care and goes through the head. Therefore, in this master to-do list will appear 4 types of tasks, namely New, Recurring, Unfinished and Old
These will be included in the processing cycle as follows:
  • Start by working on new tasks
  • Continue by working on recurring tasks
  • Next, you deal with the unfinished tasks
  • Finally, clearing old tasks
  • Repeat the cycle
One of the reasons why the method works so well is that it offers a framework that balances the rational and intuitive parts of the brain. This way we make balanced decisions in a non-stressful way.

Applying the Autofocus Time Management System

Adapted to the above, the Autofocus Time Management System has the following application mode once the master to-do list is written:
  1. Read quickly through all the items on the page without taking action on any of them.
  2. Go through the page more slowly looking at the items in order until one stands out for you.
  3. Work on that item for as long as you feel like doing so
  4. Cross the item off the list, and re-enter it at the end of the list if you haven’t finished it
  5. Continue going round on the same page in the same way. Don’t move onto the next page until you complete a pass of the page without any item standing out
  6. Move onto the next page and repeat the process
  7. If you go to a page and no item stands out for you on your first pass through it, then all the outstanding items on that page are dismissed without re-entering them. (N.B. This does not apply to the final page, on which you are still writing items). Use a highlighter to mark dismissed items.
  8. Once you’ve finished with the final page, re-start at the first page that is still active.
Mark Forster, The Autofocus Time Management System
Detailed instructions on how to work with Autofocus are presented on the Mark Forster web page.

Benefits of using the Autofocus Time Management System

Intuitive and easy to use, Autofocus Time Management System offers remarkable benefits over personal productivity.
  • Simple to implement
  • Effective avoidance of procrastination
  • The additional motivation, given by the fact that we are aware of what we have already achieved
  • Eliminating stress from the planning process
  • Increasing the speed of performing routine activities

Related: To do list is the key element in time management