Complementary Tools: Mark Forster's Final Version(s)

@greatandrandom: One thing to help with choosing what to do could be something like Mark Forster’s Final Version (of Autofocus):

You could limit it to just your Beeminded goals or add the other things you do as well. Up to you exactly what tasks you put in it.

For tracking things like when a goal will reach an eep day, you could put the date in brackets at the end of the line. Same with indicating which tool needs to be used (Android app, Rescue Time, etc.). Just don’t let it get too complex. Plain text that fits on one line. Some people have developed complex tools or online apps to do this, but I think the vast majority of those using this system favor good old-fashioned pen and paper just as it’s described.

When it’s all in one place, it makes choosing the right task to do easier. The task can be a goal or a project. Final Version just helps you choose the right one at the right time. It isn’t an incentive tool like Beeminder, it helps you choose what to do next.

I agree that custom text box in the Beeminder email that explains the data construct for tracking your goal in Beeminder is a great idea. The goal statement likely isn’t enough to capture nuances like a half point for flossing and a whole point for brushing. Maybe limit it to the first x lines of your fine print in your goal contract.


I use Mark Forster’s Final Version for my daily todo list. I’ve found that it works best for me if I use a paper list, keep my chains to 2-3 items, and start over daily. (Obviously this means that I’ve got project lists elsewhere…)

Fun fact: it was Mark who introduced me to Beeminder.


I gave FV a look and I absolutely love the idea! I am definitely going to implement it into my lifestyle/work. For anyone interested this is a direct link to the system itself. Thank you very much for bringing it to my attention!


I’m surprised if that’s the canonical link for Final Version (though it does look like a nice exposition of it). @pjh, can you confirm?

Ridiculous but true. Mark released FV exclusively on his mailing list, and seems to have subsequently pointed folks at the mailing list archive for the instructions.

There’s also the Final Version Forum which has good discussions if you scroll back through history. Not currently very active.


UPDATE: Mark Forster has posted an amended set of instructions for his final version system, namely “FVP: the Final Version Perfected


Sorry for the necro, but how do you actually Beemind this? Is it automated somehow?

1 Like

I just manually enter the number of tasks in each time I finish a chain.

Oh cool! Do you find it more useful than Beeminding pomodoros or something like it that is directly time-based? I am experimenting with FV for the first time and I am not sure how it should relate to my existing pomodoro goals.

(Feel free to fork this thread if you think that’s better)

1 Like

I’m still experimenting myself. I’m actually working on a blog post with Mark Forster about all this, so stay tuned for more of my thoughts on this. What I like most is having a task list that doesn’t let tasks get buried and go out of sight out of mind.

As @philip just pointed out, Mark Forster just amended Final Version:

Cool! Can’t wait for the post.

I know that for me I need the beeminding to be automatic. I’ve only been able to use pomodoros since @maggied hacked up strict_workflow for Beeminder (thanks again for that!).

I think I hit bad timing on my FV experiment because the FVP post came pretty shortly after I started. I don’t think I’m ready to switch off of FV yet, just due to lack of experience.


FV and FVP behave quite differently. You may find it easier to beemind FV because the chains of selected tasks are ‘fixed’, whereas the chains in FVP are ‘fluid’. (my terms)

For beeminding FV chains, I use a copy of the tocks script and use the comment to record the number of tasks in the chain. @dreev’s ‘count’ aggregation method is slicker and more recent.

FVP more closely describes my actual method of working an FV list, but I haven’t yet figured out what I should beemind, because each chain may never finish, and the number of tasks in the chain isn’t known at the outset.

@drtall: FV[P] is orthogonal to beeminding pomodoros or tocks. Mark endorses doing “little and often” to make progress on a particular task, which seems perfect for having an item like “do a tock on X” in the list.

Possible proxy values:

  • Clock time spent working-the-list
  • Count of tasks crossed out
  • Daily goals of ‘writing the list’ and ‘working the list’
  • Times that I actually do cross out the top-most item
1 Like

You know what, I think you’re actually right!

The computer programmer in me struggles with FVP because I like the guarantees that FV offers in avoiding starvation for each task. Someday FV will say “you must work on X now” for every X.

But in reality I’m doing a lot of deleting+re-listing and building strange chains just to avoid a specific task rather than asking the FV question on pairs of items.

I started trying yesterday and it feels a lot less burdensome. It feels more like a todo-list manager than a procrastination cure.

1 Like

Thanks for the link to Andreas’s implementation. I’ll give it a whirl tomorrow; it looks promising.

It is so weird (and arguably correct) to not be able to see the entire list. It leaves no option but to follow the rules, including the strictly pair-wise comparisons. (Which is something that I perhaps have never actually done with FV or FVP, being all too aware of other items on the list in front of me.)

His implementation makes it difficult to re-start the selection from the top of the list, which Mark recommends [update: formerly recommended] you do at least daily, partly (I suspect) to avoid starvation and partly because of preference/priority changes. I usually make a fresh FV list each morning anyway.


Yeah, I think this is the essential feature for me. I cannot be trusted to view the entire list!

Indeed, there’s a thread about this feature here:


Me too.

1 Like

I’ve only used FVP and don’t know about FV, so maybe that’s why I’m confused but I’m not clear on “chains” and “pairs” in this context.

I’m using FVP with Todoist, where I add a tag called “next” to represent the dot next to the item. I’m having variable success with the system but it definitely helps on days when there is more to do than I could possibly achieve. I’m interested in how to tie this into beeminding, though (not via todoist, which insists on your selecting a specific project rather than tracking todos across projects).

I’m also using Complice, which is working well for deciding what consists of being productive On This Day. It has pomodoros but I only use pomodoros intermittently and don’t want to be locked to Complice’s timer (I also use manual timers or 30/30 on my iphone) so that doesn’t really work for tracking.

I would love to keep everything automated but not really seeing how when it comes to todo lists and FVP…


I may have used unorthodox language, but the concepts exist in both FV and FVP:

  • chain the current list of dotted tasks, which in FV was immutable and in FVP can be added to, according to the rules iirc
  • a notional (or actual) question gets asked of each pair of potential tasks: which would I rather do first?

In the absence of automation, one thing you might want to beemind is the meta question "how well did I use my todo system today?’


No, your language isn’t unorthodox, I’m just not as proficient with the system(s) as you are. I’ve just started using Andreas’ implementation and the concept of pairs is really obvious now. I just hadn’t seen the todo-items in pairs as I worked my way down the list.

The chain is presumably anything that has gotten a “do this next” at any point from my first time down the list, which makes sense but isn’t really quantifiable (I could “finish” a chain by picking one thing only on the list and stubbornly sticking to it). From your initial comment, this might be because FVP is more fluid (and I’ve never used FV).

I like the idea of “Clock time spent working-the-list” but then, that pretty much gives me permission to ignore the list, whereas what I’ve been doing is seeding the list with “break activities” (read reddit, check beeminder forums, sob inconsolably about unreasonable deadlines) and thus I have to stick to the list and trust my own guilt to keep me from re-adding Play Skyrim every five minutes and returning to that task.

A pomodoro system (25 min on list, 5 min off) would work as well, but then I could immerse myself into a task (spending 40 minutes) where I’m now pushed to take a break that I don’t actually want or need yet, or not want to pick a task because it’ll take 15 min and I only have 5 min left on this round.

If I were more consistent about how broken down my tasks are (“Work on book” vs “Research accident for chapter one”) then counting tasks would work. I could assign them a point value but this is getting too complicated now.