Doing It Tomorrow

Here are some of my thoughts on time management after experimenting with Do It Tomorrow (see also the overview and time management principles):

  • Finishing off a closed list with today’s work feels good. It helps me to get relevant stuff done in time.
  • I liked setting my email and paper backlogs explicitly aside as official ‘backlogs’ and planning to process them (little and often). It took away the pressure I felt from the big stacks of papers on my desk and the long list of emails in my inbox.
  • I often have emails and other stuff that I would like to do something with, but initially I don’t know exactly what. As a result, I postpone them, think frequently about them, and, after some time, force myself to do something. Then I often find that the actual action is quite easy to do – realizing I’ve wasted time and energy on worrying about it ;-) Focusing on doing stuff tomorrow helps me to find the smallest, simplest next action that could possibly work. The trick is to think of the first tiny step I could do to get started or make progress and make it a recurring tasks for the next day(s).
  • I’m good at procrastinating on answering ‘difficult’ emails. I have found out that it becomes much easier if I split the work into first writing a rough draft version (where anything is good enough for a draft) and finishing it the next day. I feel much less resistance to taking a minute to ‘just jot down my ideas’ than to writing the ‘difficult’ email. The weird thing is that the ‘rough draft’ usually turns out to be a nearly finished email…
  • Sometimes, I prefer to go with the tasks I feel energy for. Last week for instance, I planned to spend two or three pomodori on end-of-year bookkeeping tasks, regarding it as a recurring task. After I started however, I continued doing it – I felt motivated to finish most of the (boring) work. This helped me to get a feeling of accomplishment and leaves me more time for enjoyable stuff in the rest of the month.
  • I also prefer to have time for unplanned things each day, things that come up and/or things I feel energy for. A Will Do list can help to get both the important things done and leave time for unplanned stuff.
  • I’m not sure doing tasks tomorrow works for all my stuff: some tasks that I don’t do rightaway (i.e. today or tomorrow), end up being invalidated or changed after some time by new information. If I would have done the task right away, it would have been suboptimal, like buying at a price that’s too high or bugging people about issues that would otherwise get resolved automatically. Real options thinking would be useful here.
  • I’m keeping the Will-Do lists for planning and doing tasks at home. There it helps me to get all kinds of not-yet-urgent tasks done that I would normally postpone forever. By making a small, feasible list every day, I get things done, without stress.
  • For my business, I’m also looking at the new Autofocus system Mark Forster is currently beta testing; I like the name ;-) and it looks interesting. Furthermore, I’m working on my “project management” system, to keep track of all my different projects and to make sure that imporant stuff happens.

So there’s no easy solution for time management. Do It Tomorrow contains a lot of useful ideas, but in the end you’ll have to keep on reflecting what works and what doesn’t work for you, and grow your own system.