I tried it today and I love this approach.
In my job, I have to write a lot, and my main issue with GTD-based systems was the focus on the outcome, not the process. The most important next actions in my project lists were always process-based actions like "write X" or "work on Z" - the necessary sub-steps would not be clear until I started. So I had a lot of unfinished tasks, which is very frustrating: I kept doing other things instead, that were easier to cross of the list. Sadly, these are usually the least important bits: I do not get paid for "clean windows" (check), but for "find ideas for a great talk next week". Another reason to change to Autofocus is the simple fact that I already implemented parts of it: I always skimmed through all the projects first to decide what to do next.
By the way, I am using rescuetime.com for almost a year now to track my progress. I spend way too much time in OF, and not enough in Word or Text Edit.
For me, the autofocus approach is a helpful addition: It helps me focus on the "do" part, and it is much more rewarding for process-based actions (checking them done and then re-entering it is great!) Especially in long-term-projects, checking things off feels great, and motivation is the biggest concern for me at the moment.
But still no reason to fiddle with paper: OF is highly adaptable.
This is what I changed today:
First, I weeded out unnecessary contexts, now, it is: "1 work" "2 errands" "3 private / home", ":-)" (for pure fun activities like reminders to contact friends, working on holiday plans etc - things I do when I need motivation). The numbers are for speedier quick entry.
Then, I changed the view bar to group according to "changed" and to sort the actions after "added".
I deactivated the project column, after rephrasing some of the next actions. I enjoyed it a lot to simplify the next actions.
For example: I want to create a poster. Before, it was more granular, like "collect pictures on HD", "Write poster text", "put it all together in keynote". Now, it is "work on poster (note: use Arial)".
A problem I found (in OF 1.6) is that with these view settings, adding a next action is a problem: often, OF would add a blank action or jump to the top of the list after a delay. So I use the quick entry window almost exclusively to enter new tasks. I changed the quick entry window prefs, so it is faster (close after pressing enter).
I already checked off and re-entered a few actions. Feels great, and I am glad I do not depand on Paper for this. Cmd-C / Cmd-F, how I love thee.
Mark Forster suggests to "highlight" items that he dismisses. I simulate this by flagging them before I click on complete.
Changing the display prefs also helped: I want my list look more like a list, so I changed the colors and fonts. Everything is now large, readable, with a higher line spacing, simple (and blue), with the only exception of due actions.
For project planning, if necessary at all, I use a minmapping application: I just want to know, to which projects my resources are already committed. The deadlines are in a separate ical Calendar, ideas for the project (and workflow etc) are in a mindmap or in separate files, all the next actions are in OF.
The biggest change is the habit: Now, I have to start at the bottom of the Neverending List, because there is no option in OF to reverse the list order.
So when I open OF, I select my context and scroll all the way down. Then, I work my way upwards.
Experiences so far (day #1):
Adopting the "Autofocus" principle has simplified my planning enormously. I want to spend less time fiddling with projects and creating imaginary plans and "ideal" workflows. Instead, I want to see a sharp increase in the time I actually spend working, and typing.
I will post an update in a few weeks, to see how this is going.
In the meantime: Thanks for the post! For me, it was the right idea at the right time.
Last edited by M_N; 2009-02-21 at 05:50 AM..