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Do It Tomorrow by Mark Forster

Jun 20, 2012

do it tomorrowI hate time management books.  I hate the fact that no matter what they tell me to do, I inevitably give it a go for a day or two and it doesn’t work and then I’m back to square one (or worse).

This all revolves around the fact that the classic time management process is to prioritise our tasks, and do the most important ones first.  It sounds clever, but we all know that more important (and urgent) things come across our desk every day, if not every hour.  So the priority one items always get completed, the priority two items sometimes get completed, and the priority three and four items never get done.  Which is exactly where we were when we started.

The approach by Mark Forster in his book “Do It Tomorrow” is radically different – and requires a completely different way of looking at things.  You have to be willing to not do things immediately.  Nine times out of ten the reason we are rushing about is that we put it off too many times in the past.  It’s not the item which is urgent, it’s our management of it that is deplorable.

Here then are some of the key concepts in this book by Mark Forster:

A normal to-do list has no relation to a day’s work.

The reason it sounds impossible to achieve everything you have to do in a day is because “to-do lists have destroyed the connection between the work that comes in during a day and the work that we do during a day.”

There is a distinction between ‘real work’ and ‘busy work’.

Busy work is comprised of the things you do to avoid doing ‘real work’.  (This absolutely applies to many of us.)

Categorising tasks saves massive time.

By immediately recognising whether emails (or tasks) fall into one of three categories, you can substantially reduce the amount of work you have to do in a day:

  • Immediate
  • Same Day
  • Tomorrow

The “Do It Tomorrow” concept does not mean to put it off until tomorrow and then never do it, but to actually set many things aside and complete them tomorrow, if they are not urgent.

By working on several types of things for five minutes only every day, you can achieve great things.

By following this process I’ve already written three blog posts, reorganised my loose papers, and read several chapters of a book I’ve been meaning to read for ages.

Create a real list, not an idealistic one.

If you create a ‘real’ list of your to-do’s for the day (i.e. the things you can and will and must get done that day) and be realistic about the others, then you will accomplish everything on your list, and it doesn’t matter what order you do them in.

Do the least urgent tasks first.

This means we will be the most thankful for these when the time comes – and less stressed.  Which is exactly the point.

What do you think?  What are your time management issues?