How amazing would it be if you didn’t have to adhere to deadlines and dates and instead you could just work on the tasks that are most important or interesting to you right now? The American software developer, Marc Andreessen, has developed a personal productivity method, which is based on this exact idea.
How this principle works in practice and how it can be done in awork, is what this article is all about. Who knows, maybe the Marc Andreessen-method is the productivity hack you’ve always been waiting for? If you would like to try the method, you can simply load the corresponding awork task bundle into your own awork.
How does Marc Andreessen’s productivity hack work?
Marc Andreessen is likely to be known by many people interested in technology. Among other things, the American entrepreneur and software engineer was involved in the invention of the world wide web. Meanwhile, he also sits on the board of directors of Room to Read, Facebook, and Oculus VR.
On his personal blog, he gave his perspective on New Work, AI and also productivity. In one of his favourite articles, he pleads against time schedules and instead for working with only three to-do lists. In essence, there should be no deadlines! 😱
It gives Andreessen the freedom to work on matters that seem the most relevant at that point in time. He has also created a way to make your own productivity visible, using an anti-do-list. Sounds like a method one should take a closer look at, right?
No more than three to-do lists for all tasks
Andreessen uses three essential lists for his method: a to-do list, a watch-list and a later-list. In the to-do list, he collects all the tasks that he MUST complete. These may be obligations, as well as things that just have to be done. Optionally, the list can be divided into different time periods (e.g., today, this week, next week, next month).
He adds to-do’s that he needs to keep an eye on to the watch list. These could be tasks that are to receive feedback or input from someone else, or that you must continue working on in some way.
The later-list is a collection of tasks that you can complete whenever you feel like it or have time for it. Andreessen’s policy (if a task does not fit into one of these lists):
“If it doesn’t go on one of those three lists, it goes away.”Marc Andreessen about his productivity method
Three to five tasks for each day
The three to-do lists are the cornerstone for the Andreessen Productivity Method. The second step is a ritual one should maintain every evening: having a look at the lists and choosing tasks for the next day.
Every evening before going to bed, Andreessen picks out three to five to-do’s to work on the next day. Taking an oldschool approach, Andreessen writes these tasks down on a card. If he can strike off all tasks from the list, he knows it was a successful day.
The anti-to-do list
In addition to the three to five set tasks on his card, Andreessen has added another building block to his system. He calls it: the anti-to-do-list. Essentially, it includes all the additional tasks one needs to do over the course of the day. Andreessen writes these things (anything useful, one finishes by the end of the day) in his anti-to-do-list. For this he uses the back of his to-do-card.
The purpose of visualising these additional tasks is to make your own productivity visible. Ideally, one succeeds in completing the scheduled to-do’s while collecting a whole pile of finished tasks in the anti-to-do-list. The amount of completed to-do’s might make you think to yourself: “Wow, what a productive day!”
So much for the theory. 😉 For our tastes however, Andreessen’s method is too far removed from our digital world. That is why we have thought about how we could bring Andreessen’s concept to awork.
Lists and tasks in awork
As you probably already know, you can create as many lists for each project as you like. In doing so, your tasks can be shown in various lists at the same time or only in one task list. You also have the option to provide your tasks with subtasks.
And so, awork offers the best way to transfer Andreessen’s classic task card and three list system to digital. If you don’t have an awork account yet, you can simply create an account for free. For up to three projects, awork is always completely free. 😍
Step 1: a project with the three most important lists.
Once you are logged in to your awork account, you can create a new project for the Andreessen method and add our awork task bundle with the touch of a button. Among other things, the task bundle includes the three main lists of the Andreessen method: the to-do list, watch-list, and later-list
First, you should divide all of your to-do’s among the three lists. In the task bundle you have a task in each list, respectively. Within them, it is described once again which to-do’s belong in which lists.
For example: you put all the tasks that are eventually to be completed in the to-do list. There is no way around completing these tasks (e.g., answering a specific e-mail, creating and sending an offer, or writing a draft for a client project). Collect all tasks, which you need to complete within the next month, and place them in the to-do list.
Step 2: your today-list
Every day, Andreessen focuses on three to five tasks from the lists. He decides which ones they will be the night before and then writes them down on a classic index card. Within our awork task bundle, we have added an additional list for this: the today-list.
Every evening, you should sit down and choose three to five tasks, which you would like to complete the following day. You can add the tasks to the today list in a flash.
Step 3: the done-list
The following day, your productive workflow starts. You can concentrate fully on the tasks that you picked out the day before. If you have completed a task from the today-list, you can mark that to-do as “done”. Alternatively, you can use a done-list. In this case, you move each completed task to the done-list.
The done-list is an extension of Andreessen’s anti-to-do-list. Because every time you complete something that is not on your today-list, it can also be put on your done-list. Have you answered a pile of e-mails? Put it on the done-list! You had a long phone call? On the done-list it goes! At the end of the day, the done-list will be filled and you can clearly see what you have done.