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« A couple of options for DWM | Main | Day 7 »

Is DWM closer to DIT or AF?

Please note: This post assumes a knowledge of both the “Do It Tomorrow” (DIT) and the Day-Week-Month (DWM) time management systems. If you don’t have this knowledge please don’t bother to read it!

One thing that’s becoming increasingly clear to me as I work the new DWM system is that it is not just close to DIT, but actually is DIT.

To see this, let’s examine the statistics which I published in my previous post on February 5th:

Feb 6. 0 (36)

Feb 7. 0 (46)

Feb 8. 0 (50)

Feb 9. 0 (40)

Feb 10. 1 (43)

Feb 11. 16 (62)

Feb 12. 25 (42)

Remember that in DIT you enter all tasks by default under tomorrow’s date with the idea that you take action on them tomorrow. There are however two important exceptions to this. One is that you can enter urgent tasks “below the line” so that they are done today instead of tomorrow. The other is that you can allow yourself to get behind by 4 or 5 days. If you get further behind than that you are supposed to audit your commitments.

If you look more closely at the statistics qyoted above you can see that DWM has kept completely to these principles, except that it has moved the entry point one week into the future. February 12 was where tasks for “tomorrow” were added, and February 11th was today’s list. February 10 consisted of one task which had got behind one day. The 17 tasks shown as already completed on February 12 were the equivalent of DIT’s urgent tasks entered “below the line” today.

Feb 6. 0 (36)

Feb 7. 0 (46)

Feb 8. 0 (50)

Feb 9. 0 (40)

Feb 10. 1 (43) = DIT’s “Behind by 1 day”

Feb 11. 16 (62) = DIT’s “Today”

Feb 12. 25 (42) = DIT’s “Tomorrow”

The only real changes to DIT, apart from the method of entry, are:

1) There is now no need to make a distinction between “same day” tasks and “everything else”.

2) The rather nebulous audit procedure in DIT has been changed into an automatic dismissal process.

I’m sure you will be asking “What about DWM’s 1-month entry point?”

Well, all the 1-month entry point is really doing is adding a pre-screening process to DIT. Instead of relying on the audit to weed out unnecessary tasks, there is now a process by which anything can be added to the list but is weeded out automatically if it no action is taken on it within one month. It also means that anything that gets on the 1-week list has had at least some preliminary action taken on it. There will of course come a time when unactioned 1-month entries co-exist on the same page as new 1-week entry tasks, but there is unlikely to be much confusion between them.

Reader Comments (32)

I was under the impression that DIT considered what would be finished on a given day. Was I wrong?

DWM only insists that you do *some* work, not that you finish any.
February 8, 2010 at 17:34 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Baljeu

Yes, you were. "Little and Often" is one of the principles of DIT, see p. 19 of the book.
February 8, 2010 at 18:54 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Yes, you still have to finish the task after it is re-entered or it will be dismissed. So far it's working for me, but I haven't had any tasks show up on it's true date yet. The 10th will have the first task on it that I haven't actioned yet, so I better get to work if I don't want it dismissed!
February 8, 2010 at 19:33 | Unregistered CommenterJim (Atlanta)
I'm confused now as to what the FIRST entry date for a new task is (in DWM). Is it a Week from tomorrow, or is it a month from today?
Example -- I realize I need to buy a new coffee maker. Today is February 8. Does that entry "Buy New Coffee Maker" go on the March 8th list? Or on the February 16th list?
February 8, 2010 at 19:43 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
You enter new tasks on March 8th (one month).
February 8, 2010 at 19:51 | Unregistered CommenterChris
You say that in comparing DWM to the principles of DIT - "DWM has kept completely to these principles, except that it has moved the entry point one week into the future"

This is very similar to what I am doing. I'm entering all my new and recurring tasks one week from today. I have one week to do or dismiss tasks and have a greater degree of flexibility in choosing when to do them, than DIT allowed. By not entering new tasks one month ahead, means in effect I have chosen not to take advantage of the one-month pre-screening process.

So I agree, this is more DIT-like than I first thought!
February 8, 2010 at 20:16 | Unregistered CommenterLinda
Sorry, Mark: I'm not following this. What prevents a DWM user from working on a non urgent task the same day they enter it?

(I do this a lot, so I may just have completely misunderstood DWM.)
February 8, 2010 at 20:38 | Unregistered CommenterWill
In DIT I would have made a decision that the task was non-urgent when I put it on tomorrow's list rather than today's. DIT didn't 'force' me not to do the task today.

In DWM I would have put the task on +30 and trust that it would be less likely to stand out if I still considered it non-urgent.

Have I got this right Mark?
February 8, 2010 at 21:12 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Angus
I see correlation, but not sameness. You write:

Feb 10. 1 (43) = DIT’s “Behind by 1 day”
Feb 11. 16 (62) = DIT’s “Today”
Feb 12. 25 (42) = DIT’s “Tomorrow”

The rules of DWM say that things you work on today (5th) move to Feb 12. Me, I'm likely to continue working the items on the 12th, which makes the 12th a today list. Are you suggesting that although you select stuff for the 12th and write them on the 12th, you tend to focus you work on the 11th and before? That you don't work much on the 12th items?
February 8, 2010 at 21:39 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Will - As I understand it, nothing would prevent you from writing a non-urgent task on the Mar 8 page and working on it today - except another task that's considered more urgent (by whatever definition) than the new task.
February 8, 2010 at 21:42 | Unregistered CommenterLillian
I have implemented DWM electronically, and chose to dump all open tasks at the one-month point (Mar 2 for me). I now have come to realize that sooner or later, each day's list is going to approximate 1 days work. Work I either received and entered at the one-month point or else work that I've worked on at a certain date and reentered +1 week. Right now, my own system is heavy on Mar 2 and sporadic between now and Mar 1.

I do see how eventually this will resemble a DIT list built from a week ago and a month ago, combined. Interesting.
February 8, 2010 at 21:45 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
So far everything is working well for me. My only question is this, how do you know if you are completing a day's work in a day's time, like with DIT?
February 8, 2010 at 22:35 | Unregistered Commenterjim dandy

I think it's automatic over a monthly average. If you don't get it done, it's dropped and therefore not part of the day's work. Mark's post shows how you can see this a week out.


That was what I thought. If we're right, it seems a stretch to call it DIT. Perhaps "DIT (or today if it stands out)"?
February 8, 2010 at 22:56 | Unregistered CommenterWill
I came to DWM through Autofocus and I tend to see this new system through that lens. I work the list electronically and have worked it now for eight days. I am seeing some nice balance. Since I am doing this on my Touch, I see my tasks as a straight list, divided and sorted by "Expiration" date. The top of the list are items that I have started and unfinished (or will need to repeat), but for various reasons am not working as consistently (maybe by necessity) as the items just below this top group. This second group which comprises more than half of my total list and generally extends over two days (six and seven days in the future) are those items that I just started or have consistently worked on since first entered. The bottom part of the list are either the brand new items or those I have not started (and may never start). In AF, the list never changed. DWM seems to be working well because the list is constantly rearranging and moving items to different parts of the list automatically depending on how often we work on it. BTW, I try to work through my list several times a day.
I am going to get "Do IT Tomorrow" and see how that helps the system.
February 8, 2010 at 23:50 | Unregistered CommenterChris

<< Sorry, Mark: I'm not following this. What prevents a DWM user from working on a non urgent task the same day they enter it? >>

February 9, 2010 at 0:47 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Jim Dandy:

<< My only question is this, how do you know if you are completing a day's work in a day's time, like with DIT? >>

The same way as you do with DIT - because you are not getting behind on your work. DIT allowed 5 days grace. DWM allows 7 days grace, but for someone working a 5-day week it's the same.
February 9, 2010 at 0:50 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

<< The rules of DWM say that things you work on today (5th) move to Feb 12. Me, I'm likely to continue working the items on the 12th, which makes the 12th a today list. Are you suggesting that although you select stuff for the 12th and write them on the 12th, you tend to focus you work on the 11th and before? That you don't work much on the 12th items? >>

No, I said that the 12th in effect also includes the "below the line" items which used to go on today's page (the 11th in the example). I also said there is no longer a need to make the distinction between "same day" and "everything else".
February 9, 2010 at 0:55 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Note to self: read more carefully. Note to Mark: My fault. You did write that and I overlooked it.
February 9, 2010 at 1:48 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Baljeu


Then, although the effect may be the same as DIT (or any other effective system, if there is one), it seems to me that DMW has a very different core mechanism. In DMW, "Tomorrow" doesn't seem to feature heavily. You just put every task on a list and do it when the time is right. Maybe tomorrow. maybe some time this week. Maybe today. Maybe later.
February 9, 2010 at 6:39 | Unregistered CommenterWill

Yes, but my point is that that is effectively what happens with DIT too.
February 9, 2010 at 8:35 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

I can see clearly two different features from DIT:
1.) You work on task which stands out. i.e. use intuition and mind trick
2.) Adding new tasks to 1-month = in technical terms. "front-end" -processing

DWM can be visualized as moving "conveyor belt", where you mainly work on tasks at other end and add new tasks into another end.

Great stuff. Thanks Mark!

February 9, 2010 at 9:47 | Unregistered CommenterVp

You got it!
February 9, 2010 at 12:09 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Thanks for this note, Mark - I don't have a really good feel for DWM yet, as I've not yet done even a complete week on it, but this gives me more understanding of why, despite that, I really like it!

I'm looking forward to the point when I've been working the system for a month, which I think will help my understanding. In the meantime, I have the weird feeling that it's almost reprogramming my mind ... but hey, if it gets stuff done ...
February 9, 2010 at 13:44 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth
What about the DIT principles of 'closed lists' (p.26) and 'reducing random factors (p.30) - how do these link to DWM? It seems the opposite to me...
February 9, 2010 at 20:47 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Walters
Daniel Walters:

Regarding the fifth DIT principle, "closed lists": Each day, there are only two open lists in DWM, today + 1 week and today + 1 month. All other pages are closed lists (the ones closer than the 1 week mark permanently so) and can only shrink.

And considering the sixth DIT principle, "reducing random factors", Mark writes on page 30: "it means that we are doing something that we didn't plan to do". In DWM, like in DIT and AF, you write everything down first, and decide whether to do it or not later, when you come back to the task through working the system. You could say by writing it on the list you planned to do it and by actioning it you executed the plan. So it's not exactly a random process.
February 10, 2010 at 0:22 | Unregistered CommenterAndreas Hofmann
Andreas - okay, I concede! I guess because I was thinking of doing DWM electronically so would have only one list with 'due' (expiry) dates. But if I consider each clump of tasks with the same date as being a separate list, then that makes sense...
February 10, 2010 at 6:24 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Walters
Daniel Walters:

I guess that's why Mark likes the idea of using a diary so much. ;-)

I'm 100% digital, too, but additionally to sorting by expiration date, I also group the task by day. Days expiring today are highlighted red, those expiring tomorrow yellow. It recreates the closed list effect quite well.
February 10, 2010 at 8:10 | Unregistered CommenterAndreas Hofmann
I just bought the book Do It Tomorrow and I'm super happy. So much great advice. Thank you Mark. I think DIT seem far better than GTD and Autofocus, which I've tried a lot. Got many AHA! experiences during the read...

One thing DIT does better than DWM is that you can easily go back in your daily calendar later on and see what tasks have been planned and checked off during each day. You can also focus better on the present, instead of flipping pages. DIT is so far more logical and easy to understand.

Well, it's great fun to see the process of developing a new system. Thanks.
February 13, 2010 at 0:33 | Unregistered CommenterMattias Lindberg
Re dong this electronically: I have used ToDoList ( for many years; it's a fabulous and free program. As I've tried both Autofocus and the latest DWM, it's working very well. It's highly customizable, for example, you can filter the view and see only those tasks that start within the next week, which is perfect for DWM.
March 4, 2010 at 19:17 | Unregistered CommenterMaureen Curran
I keep listening to the news speak about getting free online grant applications so I have been looking around for the best site to get one.:)
May 10, 2010 at 21:36 | Unregistered CommenterMarkty
Je me sers d'un agenda : la semaine sur pages de gauche et bloc notes sur pages de droites. Je tire un trait au milieu de la page de droite ( bloc notes) et donc je note mes listes en dessous du trait à compter d'un mois à partir de la date d'aujourd'hui. Je n'ai pas beaucoup de place, ce qui me limite à environ 6 todo en dessous , 6 todo dispo au-dessus que je laisse vide. Et je continue ainsi page après page en fonction des idées. La demie-page du dessus est dispo pour les urgences les choses importantes, objectif etc. : pour la semaine et en-dessous ce sont mes listes à faire. Au lieu de me mettre la pression si je ne fais pas tout, je me laisse la possibilité de reporter les choses non faites en fin de liste si je le désire (quitte à fractionner davantage les tâches). C'est en quelque sorte un le mélange entre AF4 ET DWM avec une limite de todo par semaine.

Je suis pour l'instant entrain de le faire donc je vous dirai par la suite. ça me semble pour ma part , plus simple ainsi. Et les reports sur fin de liste je peux très bien les mettre en rouge de sorte de ne pas louper le coche une seconde fois.

Et si jamais je n'ai pas fini une tache (non urgente bien sûr), je la reporte à la semaine. Et si ça n'est pas fait elle se retrouve en fin de liste. Quelque part ça booste pour avancer.

Qu'en pensez-vous ?

J'ai mis dans liste : "apprendre anglais" ;-)

Bonne soirée.
November 3, 2010 at 23:14 | Unregistered Commentereoline
Bienvenue, eoline, et bon chance avec tes études anglais! Je ne comprends qu'un peut ta systeme. Est-ce-qu'elle fonctione comme Do It Tomorrow ou non?
November 4, 2010 at 2:18 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu

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