My Latest Book

Product Details

Also available on,, and other Amazons and bookshops worldwide! 

To Think About . . .
We should not be so taken up in the search for truth, as to neglect the needful duties of active life; for it is only action that gives a true value and commendation to virtue. Cicero
My Other Books

Product Details

Product Details

Product Details

The Pathway to Awesomeness

Click to order other recommended books.

Find Us on Facebook Badge

Search This Site
Latest Comments

Discussion Forum > DIT with Little & Often and 3-day Dismissal

I've already described how I modified DIT here and how it worked for me here: I've had a few questions from forum members that I wanted to address here. I'd love to hear your thoughts on an approach that works so well for me:

I applied little and often to all tasks, not just projects, because it works for me better than any other approach at beating procrastination. However, I do not HAVE to spend just a little time on something -- only tasks that I'd rather not do and/or that will be deleted from the list otherwise.

I only add tasks/projects that I'm willing to action in the next few days. That means ideas or someday/maybe items get added to However, must-do projects that aren't due for a few months DO get added to tomorrow's list. The beauty of DIT is that it allows you to work ahead and be on top of your work. The great thing about this approach is that I don't have to action these projects every day. If I choose, it can take me as long as four days to get to a project again before it's deleted from the list.

Deleting is negative enough that it's motivating for me. Tasks that I deleted I haven't yet done (mostly because I keep forgetting). This is further motivation for me to keep tasks alive by doing anything on them before they're more than 3 days overdue. This is how I am keeping up with routine tasks now. Things like laundry, meal planning, working out, etc. are routine tasks. I could add them to the main list, but I like having a list of tasks to do in order each day, much like the checklists Mark describes in DIT. One thing I've realized is that I use my routines to try to establish new habits. This is fine, except I try to establish too many at once. Deleting those I don't consistently do helps, but even better would be to create a routine based on what I'm already doing. Then I can slowly add new habits. Those that aren't maintained get deleted -- no fooling myself into believing I'll "get to them" eventually.

There's no backlog with this approach, but I had one when I started. I dated time-sensitive tasks so that they were on my DIT list with plenty of time to complete them. I had several projects I wanted to complete by Christmas, for example. Everything else is tagged @backlog and will be added during weekly planning as I'm willing. I don't have a separate backlog time at the beginning of each day.

One person asked me about focusing with this approach. Doing many things little and often doesn't preclude focusing. I spent hours on a couple of projects this weekend. But unlike the past when I would let everything else go while I worked on them, I was able to keep those balls in the air, too. Focus can also be maintained with time blocking which I use as well.

I'm delighted that so much of what I've learned here has come together in a system that works for me. Even the personal testing I've been doing the past year is something I learned from Mark. I'm very thankful! But now I have to get to my next routine task. :-)
November 18, 2013 at 12:59 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie Wilson
This is very interesting, Melanie. It's great to hear that you have found a system that suits you.

I've been thinking of possibly trying to develop something rather on the same lines. But I'm going to have to wait until I've fully tested my current "Jefferson Nickel" system.
November 18, 2013 at 19:29 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
This older post about DIT, for digital use has some interesting ideas
November 18, 2013 at 19:58 | Unregistered CommenterErin
Mark, I enjoy your tests. Are you testing a modification of AF? I feel like I'm getting the fun of AF without the overwhelm. I'm hopeful it will continue to be effective for me and I would love to see what you think at a later date.
November 19, 2013 at 4:11 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie Wilson
Thanks, Erin. I'm using ToDoist and just using Due Dates rather than contexts. The only thing that I don't like is there's no default due date setting. If there were, I'd set it for tomorrow.
November 19, 2013 at 4:13 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie Wilson

Basically what I'm testing is a slightly modified version of AF1. The only new rule is that unfinished tasks have to be re-entered with a dot, and some action must be taken on them every time you pass them.

I'm not clear about the actual mechanics of how you work your system. Do you scan all tasks as one list, or do you make some differentiation between the days? How do you keep "tomorrow's list" separate from the rest? Am I right in thinking that you have four days worth of tasks, i.e. three days being worked on and tomorrow's list? What do you do with re-entered uncompleted tasks? Can you work on them again the same day, or do you have to wait until tomorrow?

(Later) I've just re-read your description of your system on your blog to see if I could answer any of my questions myself - I can't! However it strikes me that one could more or less fill your description by using AF1 but deleting any tasks over four days old (current day + three day's backlog). That's easy to do if you put the date in the margin at the beginning of each day. Would I be right in my understanding of that?
November 19, 2013 at 10:30 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark, yes you have it right except I add new tasks to tomorrow's list. You may have understood that. But I can definitely see working my approach as a pure AF list. I am using Todoist for my tasks and when I click on "Today" this is what I see:
3 Days Overdue
2 Days Overdue

If I don't action the tasks in the "3 Days overdue" list today, I delete them (not mark them complete, but delete). If I do any little action on them, I redate them for tomorrow. If I weren't doing this digitally, I would use a dated daily journal OR I would date each page of a notebook. The problem with doing it on paper is the temptation to go back and look at deleted tasks. To avoid that, I would tear the page out and throw it away. Does that sound radical?

Since beginning this approach, I have deleted two tasks that I haven't yet done. One isn't that important at all and I probably only think of it because of writing about this approach. The other IS important and keeps coming to mind, producing stress. This is a GOOD thing in my opinion, because it reminds me that I need to take care of these kinds of things in a timely fashion so they don't cause stress.

I have realized another big advantage of this method for me: it makes me plan ahead. Last night, my family wanted me to watch a show with them. That was a good family time. In the past, after having some down time at night, I would have thought, "Oh, I should just call it a night now." But instead I realized that I had tasks on my 3-day overdue list that would be deleted if I did that. It took me very little time to move them forward and then I could get ready for bed in peace. Previously, I would have gotten up the next morning feeling lazy and overwhelmed.

One other minor tweak I have made is to mark any tasks that MUST be done on a certain day as top priority. What tends to happen is that I get especially concerned with tasks on the 3-day overdue list and may not pay sufficient attention to tasks that must be done today. On a paper list, those tasks could be starred.

At any rate, I think anything that forces you to "do or delete" will make AF or DIT work for those of us who think we can do it all. ;-)
November 21, 2013 at 19:16 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie Wilson

"The problem with doing it on paper is the temptation to go back and look at deleted tasks...I think anything that forces you to "do or delete" will make AF or DIT work for those of us who think we can do it all."

Ideas for crossing out tasks permanently:

• An Artline EKSC-4 Secure Black Marker ( )
• Low-bleed, low-scent, chisel-tipped black or white marker
• Black or white crayon or oil pastel
November 22, 2013 at 5:55 | Registered CommenterMichael B.
Michael B : titanium dioxide white paint. does great cover job. & then the paper gets to be white again.
November 23, 2013 at 1:14 | Registered CommentermatthewS
Great tips, guys. Thank you.
November 23, 2013 at 1:50 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie Wilson

"titanium dioxide white paint"

Ha! A coat of primer first, though.
November 23, 2013 at 7:00 | Registered CommenterMichael B.