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Discussion Forum > DIT help

Maybe I'm just slow but I don't understand DIT. I've read the book, and I've looked through these blogs, but I can't get my head around it.
Can someone lay out the steps for me? I'd love to try it but don't get it yet.
Thanks!
April 3, 2016 at 18:43 | Unregistered CommenterTommy
Tommy:

Every piece of work that comes in today goes on tomorrow's list, unless it's so urgent it must be done today.

That's basically it.
April 3, 2016 at 20:08 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
You can find a brief summary of DIT here:

http://members.optusnet.com.au/~charles57/GTD/dit_nutshell.html

Hope that helps.
April 4, 2016 at 8:23 | Unregistered CommenterAndreas
Tommy:

Decide on when you are going to start DIT and declare this Day 1.

On Day 1 do the following:
Take all your inputs such as email, task lists, loose papers and group them altogether as Backlog. For example save all your email in a folder called 'backlog', put all your loose papers in a wallet file labelled 'backlog' and write all your tasks on one list called 'backlog'.
Any tasks that come in on Day 1 get written in your diary on Day 2 - they will be done tomorrow (don't be tempted to do them today, Day 1 is for getting the DIT system up and running).

At the end of Day 1 put a line under the tasks you wrote down to do tomorrow. This is now a closed list and cannot be added to.

On Day 2 do all the tasks you wrote in your diary to do on day 2. Any new tasks that come in on day 2 go in your diary on day 3. At the end of day 2 put a line under the list of tasks on day 3.

On day 3 repeat what you did on day 2 and keep doing this every day.

Clearing your backlog is your current initiative. Spend some time every day working through all those emails, bits of paper and tasks. Do this first thing every day until the backlog is cleared. It may seem daunting at first but you will get through it all eventually.

Make sure you get all incoming tasks done the next day and your backlog won't grow. Once you clear your backlog you can use the current initiative to start a new project that takes you forward, but focus on clearing your backlog first.

Hope that helps!
April 4, 2016 at 10:23 | Unregistered CommenterDAZ
And don't forget there is a Quick Start Guide at the beginning of the book, right before page 1.
April 4, 2016 at 10:56 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Your backlog is a closed list and cannot be added to.

Once you cleared your backlog, choose something else as your Current Initiative.

(BTW, Mark, I found the "you have to do something" bit in the chapter on the CI one of the most funniest things I've ever read on time management.)
April 4, 2016 at 14:43 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher
Christopher:

<< chapter on the CI >>

For those to whom this means nothing (and even I had to think about it), this refers to Chapter 10 of "Do It Tomorrow" on The Current Initiative. The chapter commences on p. 130 of the printed edition.
April 4, 2016 at 15:50 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Tommy:

Do you understand it better now, or have you got some specific questions?
April 4, 2016 at 15:51 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mark

I've read DIT several times and have been a reader of this forum for several years. But there is an aspect of DIT that I've never really understood.

My situation:

I have annually or quarterly recurring client projects. The clients decide themselves when the work is ready to come in to me. It's not unusual sometimes to receive several weeks of work within a few days. Under DIT I should declare a backlog and carry out the audit procedure. But this glut of incoming work is matched over the year with periods of low amounts of new work coming in and is entirely normal within my profession. All work will be done within acceptable time limits.

I understand that the 3 or 4 day time frame is there to reflect average fluctuations in workflow. Should I alter the average so it fits the reality of my work better?
April 4, 2016 at 18:03 | Registered CommenterCaibre65
@Caibre65:

Let's say today at 10:11 pm the client X calls and says: "Wow, another year passed and again our stash of work is ready for you, Mr. Caibre65! I send you an email with all of it in it!"

Let's further say at 14:23 pm you decide to tackle the last task on your Will Do List, which happens to be email. You get to the email client X sent you.

You save the attachement with "all the work for client X" in it to your hardrive at wherever that stuff goes. You add to tommorows list: "all the work for client X" and then archive the email and proceed to finish your work for the day.

Tommorow when you are doing your work you will encounter "all the work for client X" as an entry on your list. Work on it as much work as it is needed per day to accomplish this overall task on time. Then re-enter the task on the list for the next day. Repeat until you have finished that project in total.

If you can't get enough work for the day done on "all the work for client X" and complete the rest of the list or vice versa - you finish the other items on the list but can't get enough done for the day on "all the work for client X" - THEN do the audit.

DIT is not saying you can only work on projects you can complete on one day.

Hope this helps!
April 4, 2016 at 22:27 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher
Caibre65:

Christopher has given one possible answer to your question.

You can also divide the work into packets and schedule these forward in your calendar so the work load is evened out over the period up to the deadline(s) for it to be ready. This can give you a clearer picture of what needs doing when.
April 4, 2016 at 23:25 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I also suggest you take a serious look at the section on commitments. My problem (as pointed out by the system...one of its inherent benefits) is too much to do. Each Monday I do a reset. I have my list of commitments and fill Monday with activities to support my commitments which include routine items and due dates.

Without commitments any systems will fail because you have no discretion on what to put in the system. You'll just dump everything into it.

The way I handle my current too-heavy workload is with a task backlog. I could probably get better at delegating but don't have many to delegate to.

I actually use DIT in Workflowy. It's an outliner that uses a nice tagging system. Makes it very easy to implement.
December 5, 2017 at 12:59 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge
George:

Interested to know how you handle the too much work problem.

I expect you will have certain tasks that you just can't get round to, as too many other perhaps more urgent newer things take up your attention? At some point those older ones will become urgent.

Also when the task list gets really long (which it tends to when you have too many commitments), how do you then keep track of what is urgent and what is not? I loose track and it all just seems to get worse due to the inefficiency. People chase you and that just wastes more time managing that as well.

Would be interested in your thoughts and anyone else when faced with that problem.

I have my own ideas and would like to compare notes! I solved the problem earlier this year, hence MrBacklog name is not really appropriate any more.
December 6, 2017 at 17:47 | Unregistered CommenterMr Clog
Mr Clog,

A long list doesn't work for me as my primary tool. I still use a grasscatcher, but rarely work from it.

When I'm behind, I look at everything and quickly ask "Is it important? What is the minimum I need to do to keep up? How long can I ignore it?" If the resulting list doable, (being pessimistic) then do it. If the list is not doable, repeat the process!

Creating a trusted short list is the most urgent and important thing I can do when I'm behind.

It's better to finish several projects well enough than do one perfectly and not finish the rest. If it's only worth doing if it's perfect, then it probably isn't worth doing at all.

Keeping most projects on track (not ahead, but on track) and one very behind is usually better than everything a bit behind. You will be more relaxed. Fewer people will be mad at you.

It's better to delegate or reschedule or redesign or drop earlier than later. You will save more time. Other people will have more time to adapt.

If you're behind, don't wait for people to chase you. At at time you choose, tell them you're behind, and when they can expect it to be done. That way, they won't interrupt you. Email or fax, so you don't get caught in a conversation.
December 6, 2017 at 19:47 | Registered CommenterCricket
Forgot a question: What is the minimum I need to do to set the plate down gently or delegate it?

Also, What are the consequences? Is there a sweet spot? Minimum work overall to avoid the worst of the consequences overall?
December 6, 2017 at 23:54 | Registered CommenterCricket
Cricket:

In summary: you are prioritising by the importance of the task and then focusing on those alone.
Yes, entirely logical and no doubt the right way to do things!

However, I have been trying a different approach recently with good results. I did a similar prioritising approach, but I found I never seemed to catch up. I think I was spending maybe 20% of my time managing my work, communicating timescale expectations, dealing with chasers from clients etc.

More recently this has worked: -
1. a little bit of delegating.
2. a little bit of reducing commitments.
3. deal with incoming stuff as it comes in without particular regard for importance.
4. deferring a task only when it is the right thing to do
5. zero procrastination.
6. balancing time between the general tasks, so email, post, telecalls, projects, reminders, etc are all given an equal share of time.

Result is working at more or less 100% on "doing" task rather than organising, so I'm actually on top of my work for once. Previously working 80% on "doing" tasks and 20% on organising everything was not sustainable.
December 7, 2017 at 10:36 | Unregistered CommenterMr Clog
Cricket and all:

As I have frequently written in the past:

"The question is not whether something is important. It's whether it should be done at all."
December 7, 2017 at 10:48 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Good point. Similar thought process to "defer"
Therefore, add to the list: -

7. delete a task only when it is the right thing to do
December 7, 2017 at 11:56 | Unregistered CommenterMr Clog
Reducing commitments is key! Some of it is cutting them entirely. Some of it is redefining them. I often hope to do a lot more than is actually necessary.

Another thought about letting people know that something will be late (or never). I said to email or fax, so you don't get caught in a conversation. Sometimes, though, the best action is to discuss it. Often, the two of us can come up with a better plan than I can alone.

About 10% of my time on planning and reviewing is the sweet spot, for now. The process is getting faster now that I'm getting used to it, and have weeded out parts that were less useful than expected. Most days, it's under 15 minutes. With weekly and monthly planning, it's about 3 hours a week. A good list of goals for the month makes planning my weeks easier. A good list of goals for the week makes planning my days easier. Trusting that my list for the day is important. If I don't trust the list, I won't follow it!
December 7, 2017 at 15:10 | Registered CommenterCricket
@Mr Clog

"Interested to know how you handle the too much work problem." - either reduce commitments which essentially puts things into a backlog or try to delegate more; I am surprised sometimes how things I never do never seem to matter...which is essentially Mark's point a few replies above.

"I expect you will have certain tasks that you just can't get round to, as too many other perhaps more urgent newer things take up your attention? At some point those older ones will become urgent." - I'm reallly trying to subscribe to "little and often" and am surprised sometimes by how much I can do 10 minutes at a time; at the beginning of the day I will review my list briefly and move the more urgent tasks to a shorter list to focus on (i.e. things that really need to be done before noon especially on a Monday)

"Also when the task list gets really long (which it tends to when you have too many commitments), how do you then keep track of what is urgent and what is not? I loose track and it all just seems to get worse due to the inefficiency. People chase you and that just wastes more time managing that as well." - I do a reset each Sunday to "weed out" the list based on what I am truly committed to; if you think about it...if you don't do it you aren't committed to it...if you do then some part of you was committed to doing it...just make sure you are clear on what you are committed to

A couple of closing thoughts...
-sticking with the same or similar system and getting things done is probably the most important thing for anyone; I've dug a pretty huge hole at times focusing on "how" rather than "do"; sometimes I like to change things up a bit but most always within the teaching of MF (i.e. throwing random into the mix where I use a random number generator as Mark has pointed out)
-In 25 years of doing I've never been more effective than using the teaching of MF (thanks Mark!)
-In the spirit of my first closing thought above on changing things up at times, I'm thinking of using DIT on time sensitive things and FV on non-time sensitive; time sensitive things (calls you promised to make, paying bills, following up on delegated items, etc.) seem to be better suited to a closed list - they must be done. Then you can turn your attention to the FV list. It allows me to carry a longer list of items (FV list) and feel good about completeing my DIT (time sensitive) closed list. Still following all of the other rules like little/often, weeding out, etc. DIT and FV have been the most successful task completion methods for me. Thoughts?
December 10, 2017 at 23:54 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge
George wrote:
<< I'm thinking of using DIT on time sensitive things and FV on non-time sensitive... Thoughts? >>

I've had trouble with that kind of approach. It's easy to guess wrong about what things are really time-sensitive and what things aren't.

It reminds me of the saying, it's easy to make money in stocks, simply buy when they are low, and sell when they are high!

I suppose the premise of Simple Scanning is that the things that are time sensitive will emerge by themselves without any special notation or separate listing.
December 11, 2017 at 6:33 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
George:
<<Interested to know how you handle the too much work problem." - either reduce commitments which essentially puts things into a backlog or try to delegate more; I am surprised sometimes how things I never do never seem to matter...which is essentially Mark's point a few replies above >>

I wonder if your definition of reduce commitments is different to mine. I mean it to permanently remove certain tasks, rather then let them build up in the backlog.
e.g. if you clean the windows - get a window cleaning instead.
The idea being that after a period of time reducing commitments would ensure you are always up to date on your work.
I suppose that is one of the most important thing with any time management system. If you take on too much, eventually it will all go horribly wrong - working excessive hours, no holidays, etc = burn out!
December 11, 2017 at 11:30 | Unregistered CommenterMrBacklog
George:

<< I'm thinking of using DIT on time sensitive things and FV on non-time sensitive >>

If you have genuinely non time-ensitive tasks, then you don't need FV or any other system. Just do them in the order you wrote them down.

The only problem you will face if you do that is that you will quickly discover that there is no such thing as a genuinely non time-sensitive task.
December 11, 2017 at 15:58 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Mr Backlog:

<< I wonder if your definition of reduce commitments is different to mine. I mean it to permanently remove certain tasks, rather then let them build up in the backlog. >>

If you read Do It Tomorrow you will find that I spend quite a bit of time emphasizing that there is a big difference between tasks and commitments. A commitment is made either to yourself or to someone else. If you have entered into a commitment then you must fulfill all the tasks relating to that commitment. All tasks are part of one or more commitments, whether consciously entered into or not.

That means that you cannot reduce your work by reducing tasks. You have to reduce commitments, not tasks.

Another important point I make is that a commitment is as much about what you are not going to do as about what you are going to do.
December 11, 2017 at 16:05 | Registered CommenterMark Forster