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« Italian version of "Do It Tomorrow" now on sale | Main | Is DWM closer to DIT or AF? »
Wednesday
Feb102010

A couple of options for DWM

Here are a couple of options which I have been trying out for DWM, which have the aim of ensuring that you can keep the important stuff moving. You can use both of them at the same time if you wish:

1) The Current Initiative.

This is similar to the Current Initiative in DIT and is designed to be “The thing that you do first every day”. The idea is to select one project to which you want to give special treatment for a while.

The method is to write the selected project in BLOCK CAPS on your list. Every day when you start work on your list, your starting point is that project. You must do some work on it before moving on to any other task. Apart from these rules, you treat it like any other recurring task.

Once you have completed the project or got it sufficiently up and running, you can select a new Current Initiative.

2) Next Pass Mark-Up.

At present when you scan through the list you can either pass by a task or do some work on it. The “Next Pass Mark-Up” adds one further thing you can do, which is to mark the task up for action on the next pass through the list.

You then must take some action on that task on the next pass, unless it is physically impossible to do so.

Unlike the Current Initiative, under which a project remains Current Initiative until another one is chosen, the Next Pass Mark-Up does not remain with the task if it is re-entered.

This is not intended to be a method of prioritising tasks, and therefore tasks can only be given this designation as they are considered for action during a normal pass through the list.

The mark-up should be used very sparingly, otherwise the list may be slowed down and resistance increased.

The recommended method of marking a task for this purpose is to draw a small circle in front of it:

○ Call Bill Smith

This can then be filled in when you start work on the task, so that your current place on the list is marked (like the normal dot):

● Call Bill Smith

And finally the task is crossed out in the normal way when you finish working on it:

● Call Bill Smith

Reader Comments (18)

Is the intent of the "Next Pass Mark-Up" to highlight an important or time-sensitive task, but in doing so, you are committing to do something on it imminently, as opposed to "sometime soon"? If it's really THAT important, prove it by taking action the next time round?

I see how this could be useful, but I suppose I don't fully grasp the shortcoming that it's meant to address.
February 10, 2010 at 16:47 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
Like Brian, I too am curious about a whole new element in the method for reading through the list. Mark, please elaborate on what prompted you to add this new element, the "Next Pass Mark-Up."
February 10, 2010 at 17:12 | Unregistered CommenterGorham
I don't know. Feels like it takes the "Autofocus" out of the system. If something is so important, it will stand out and should be done immediately.
February 10, 2010 at 17:40 | Unregistered CommenterJCDescy
Could it be that several of that "Next Pass Mark-Up" items would build a short closed to-do list or will-do list for the next pass, without having to write that to-do list down explicitely? If yes, that would indeed be DIT, and not AF.
February 10, 2010 at 18:09 | Unregistered CommenterRainer
<<Feels like it takes the "Autofocus" out of the system.>>

Actually, without Mark's suggestion, I abandon the system all together and focus on the "special treatment" task. For example, yesterday I spoke to a group of 20 somethings about marriage. The last thing on my mind, yesterday AM, was working a list! However, with the The Current Initiative in place, I no longer have to worry about lingering anxiety about the 'special treatment" project looming in the background.

I like it!
February 10, 2010 at 19:22 | Unregistered CommenterAvrum
I've been using the pass thru method on my first pass each morning for those absolutely drop dead must do items. Works a treat.
February 10, 2010 at 20:10 | Unregistered CommenterMan of Kent
Brian:

<< I see how this could be useful, but I suppose I don't fully grasp the shortcoming that it's meant to address. >>

This is an option for use by those who feel they need it. If you don't need it, don't use it.
February 10, 2010 at 21:57 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Rainer:

<< Could it be that several of that "Next Pass Mark-Up" items would build a short closed to-do list or will-do list for the next pass, without having to write that to-do list down explicitely? >>

It's not the intention that these tasks should be the only ones done on the next pass.
February 10, 2010 at 22:00 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark Forster wrote about "Next Pass Mark-Up" items:
>> It's not the intention that these tasks should be the only ones done on the next pass <<

Ahh, I think I now see the purpose of this next pass items. It is to prevent such items from slowing down your first pass through the DWM list. If that that is right, I see now where I should be using it. ;-)
February 11, 2010 at 3:42 | Unregistered Commentersabre23t
No, sorry, I don't get it. It *does* seem like a method of prioritising tasks to me. I see no other way to interpret this.

@Avrum: I think that lingering anxiety you are talking about is merely a lack of trust in the autofocus part. For example: today I got up and knew I wanted to add statistics to my electronic implementation of the system. OK, I admit, I didn't look at the list. If I would have looked that would have been the entry that would have jumped at me. So if you already know exactly what you want to and should do, then yes, you don't need a system like this at all. Just do it.

I think the important part about autofocusing is that you basically know what's on your list. Simply reading (not working through) the whole list first thing in the morning is essential to me.
February 11, 2010 at 10:19 | Unregistered CommenterJCDescy
The Current Initiative works great for me! I actually introduced an entire Will Do list to AF and still use it now. It helps me do all those little tasks that have to be done, but usually don't stand out until they're about to be dismissed (backing up files). I've also put stuff on this list that I tend to do too often when working the DWM list (email). It's basically a fixed order checklist. A simplified version would look like this:

WILL DO
Current Initiative
Check diary for upcoming deadlines and appointments
E-mail
DWM
<lunch>
Email
DWM
Backup
Print Will Do list
February 11, 2010 at 11:31 | Unregistered CommenterSanne
I've more or less been doing both of these already, albeit in an electronic format. If I have a large number of tasks and I'm not sure I'm going to be able to pass through the list, it is very reassuring to know that I'm going to get through all the things which MUST be done today, else face dire consequences.

In practice I find I do have a sort of automated prioritising, but one I am okay with:

- I work on my current initiative first
- then my "next pass mark-up" (or equivalent) items
- then anything that's come up in my 'tickler' (reminder) system for today (if anything)
- then work through the DWM list as normal
February 12, 2010 at 19:46 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Walters
Just a question for those using pen and paper...

If I understand DWM correctly, at some point will we have two book/diarys in action concurrently?
e.g. for a 100 page diary, when we reach day 71, then new entries will go into page 101... correct?

In that case, using a loose leaf version would keep this to one diary.
February 28, 2010 at 0:31 | Unregistered CommenterMark
Yes.
February 28, 2010 at 2:01 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Mark:

Could you please not use just your first name,but add some differentiator to it. Although I always post as "Mark Forster", having someone called just Mark might confuse people. Thanks!
February 28, 2010 at 21:59 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Dear Mark,

Just wondering how you are doing with DWM? It has been sometime since you posted so, I'm just curious.

Best, Will
March 17, 2010 at 13:30 | Unregistered CommenterWill Thomas
Hi Mark Foster
I loved the idea of one list for everything so I've adapted DWM (or not) to just put expiry dates next to each task in the margin, either for a month if its a new idea or for 7 days if its something I'm working on. Each night when I run through my end of day checklist I just cross out stuff that expired today. It means that when I think of a task to do, usually when I'm in the middle of something else, I can just stick it at the end of the list with an expiry date and get back to what I was doing. It also means I can use which ever type of stationery, or fancy planner that has taken my fancy this month! Thanks for sharing your brilliant ideas, they help me become way more productive than I ever thought possible!
Cheers
Val
March 19, 2010 at 18:28 | Unregistered CommenterVal Smiles
I like the Current Initiative concept. I find long-term projects don't get done since everything else is more important.

I add an Elephant Bites section for things that I want to do every day but keep dropping off the end of the day. Music practice affects only me.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
How to Eat an Elephant, Remedial: Ignore the salad.
August 25, 2010 at 1:03 | Unregistered CommenterCricket

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