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Whakate to Compare DIT and GTD

The life design website Whakate has announced that it will be carrying out a comparison between the principles of David Allen’s Getting Things Done and my Do It Tomorrow.

Whakate will explain the fundamental differences and how we can decide which one is more appropriate for the way our work is concentrated and the amount of control demanded by our lives.

Reader Comments (3)

Here's my current view of the matter.

David Allen (page 8 of his Getting Things Done book) states that many of us have jobs that have too much flux and are too indeterminate to allow us to "maintain some predetermined list of to-dos." He specifically denies that "daily to-do lists" are adequate "to deal with the volume and variable nature of the average professional's workload."

Yet, despite this indeterminacy and variability Allen does endorse setting 1-2 year goals (the 30,000 foot level) and 3-5 year goals (the 40,000 foot level). It should be noted, however, that Allen devotes very little attention in his book to how one goes about planning and executing at these higher levels.

I would argue that it's all about planning one's commitments. In many ways, the further you go out into the future, the greater the variability and indeterminacy. Allen is correct that there is always a danger in overplanning. But, for me, the bigger danger has always been in the other direction. I do better when I have a plan.

I came to DIT from GTD. What I discovered was that with GTD I did my planning weekly and this was insufficient. I needed to drill down to create a more finely-grained plan, or I would wallow in overwhelm and not get much done. DIT fills the vacuum that GTD left open by providing a daily (or close to daily, in its latest incarnation) plan.

I also create a yearly plan, based in large part on the book Your Best Year Yet by Ditzler.

So, how do I compare GTD and DIT? My answer is that it's all about planning one's commitments.

I use the latest version of DIT to plan daily or near-daily. The key insight that I got from DIT is to plan my commitments by creating a closed list. The fundamental principle is to work from a pre-planned list and minimize doing other actions that are not on the list.

I use GTD to plan weekly. I have found that there is much greater indeterminacy in my weekly plans. I have a standard GTD list of projects, actions, and someday/maybes. I review these weekly to assess their status. I pull some of them out for special attention and keep a short list of them close at hand during the week when I am creating my near-daily lists.

The key GTD insight is that one can have "as soon as possible" commitments, where "as soon as possible" is an indeterminate time. No sense putting them on the calendar, because "as soon as possible" is not a date. Just add them to your system and review them once a week until you decide that now they are possible or you decide to discard them.

I use Ditzler's Best Year Yet (BYY) to plan yearly.

(I also created a five-year plan back in 2005. I look at it weekly. In 2010 I will decide if it's worth continuing this practice. In the meantime, I start each weekly review by examining both my five-year and one-year plans.)

To summarize, I use DIT to plan daily, GTD to plan weekly, and BYY to plan yearly.

What I've learned from using DIT, GTD, and BYY is that there is actually _less_ uncertainty and variability in my daily plan than in my other plans. Sure, unplanned stuff is coming at me every day. But, overall, I can do a lot better at predicting what I will get done today than what I will get done this week or this year.
November 27, 2008 at 16:11 | Unregistered Commentermoises
Thanks, Moises, for such a clear and detailed description of the way you plan. I'm sure it will be helpful to many visitors to this forum.
December 1, 2008 at 20:27 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
David Allen's later books spend more time at the 20k and higher levels.

Like Moises, I use a mix of systems. I've just discovered this blog, but the focus on "rubber and road" is missing from other systems. I use GTD, Covey and FlyLady to decide what needs to be done, A blend of Mark's systems to decide what to do this minute, and the Pomodoro method to do what I've decided to. Details vary with season (kids in school, summer, travel), but Mark's low overhead and ability to capture todos without thinking about which list or category is nice.
August 25, 2010 at 1:13 | Unregistered CommenterCricket

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