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« Oliver's Busy Day | Main | Autofocus Beta testers »

Autofocus compared to DIT

Some people have commented that they are thinking of staying with Do It Tomorrow rather than change permanently to Autofocus because one is more certain of getting important tasks done quickly.

I’m certainly not going to quarrel with anyone who uses DIT - it’s still an excellent system - but my own experience has been very different.

With DIT the maximum number of tasks I ever processed in one day would have been around 35-40. Of those probably 5 or less would have been “same day” tasks. There would also frequently have been days on which I didn’t get through the list and had to carry tasks forward to the next day.These would probably average out at about 5 tasks. So the speed of movement for DIT would have been something like this:

Day 1                        5 tasks

Day 2                      30 tasks

Day 3 onwards         5 tasks

Total:                      40 tasks

With Autofocus the spread is different. Taking a typical day last week, the breakdown was:

Day 1                      25 tasks

Day 2                      30 tasks

Day 3 onwards       11 tasks

Total:                      66 tasks                   

Autofocus not only is capable of dealing with a higher volume of tasks than DIT, but also has a faster average response time per item (1.3 days, as compared to 1.5 days for DIT).

Reader Comments (6)


I'm sorry but I don't understand your calculation. Most importantly, it's missing the information how many tasks you added to your list at any given day on average (of which you then carried forward 5 the next day to the second day after they were entered).

I can't see how your DIT performance could go down to only 5 items from day 3 onwards. I'd rather suspect that it would stay constantly at 30, or even 35 (if you entered 35 each day as your example suggests looking at the numbers of day 2 and your text, and carried 5 over on average, while completing 5 leftovers, again on average). I see no reason why it shouldn't, if you keep completing the same quota of tasks you wrote down the day before. Given DIT works well (and your text implies that), the completion rate should equal the number of new tasks in the long run, shouldn't it?

Or do all these numbers only refer to tasks that were entered on day 1? But then the term "Day 3 onwards" doesn't make sense.

The same goes for the Autofocus numbers. In that case, I can't even find a good estimate from the information in the example. But again, I don't see why your performance should go down to 11 items a day.

January 11, 2009 at 20:07 | Unregistered CommenterAlex W.
Sorry, Alex. I phrased this badly. What I meant was that of the 40 tasks I entered into the DIT system on one day, 5 got done the same day, 30 the following day, and 5 later than that.

Similarly with Autofocus, on the day in question I entered a total of 66 tasks that day of which 25 got done that day, 30 the following day and 11 later than that.

Hope that makes it clear.
January 11, 2009 at 23:03 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Yes, it does. And now I see that the example can also be read "of the 40 tasks created on the first day in DIT 5 were completed on the 3rd day or later".

Thanks for the clarification, Mark.

January 11, 2009 at 23:22 | Unregistered CommenterAlex W.

another thought came to my mind in the meantime:

AF clearly encourages the 'little and often' approach compared to DIT (which in turn seems to encourage the completion of a task on your list more).

Could the difference in number be connected to the completion grade of the task, i.e. you accomplish more of the same task in DIT while working on more tasks, but with lesser results in AF?

In the end, could it be a draw?

January 12, 2009 at 22:14 | Unregistered CommenterAlex W.

"Little and often" is one of the principles of DIT, so as far as that is concerned I have been treating tasks exactly the same in DIT and AF.
January 13, 2009 at 11:48 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I'm not worrying too much about the number of tasks completed but what I have noticed is that my actual productivity has increased massively. If I work for two hours under AF I feel that those two hours are productive. Under previous systems, item resistance would have caused me to procrastinate or slow down. Even the fact that I knew I "only had to do x" before I was finished for the day was not enough of an incentive. If a job should have taken an hour it might have taken me two because I did not want to be doing it. Therefore I was only 50% productive. With AF that same job would only take an hour - because I would want to do it - and I would be 100% productive. Trouble is my "working" day has increased because I want to be getting stuff done ....... :-)
January 14, 2009 at 0:39 | Unregistered CommenterChristine B

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