A Time Management Strategy That Actually Works: Do It Tomorrow

time management strategy

Let’s be honest; any strategy for managing time that actually works is probably worth a go.

This one is because it’s simple, effective and, crucially, non-threatening. You’ll do the stuff that matters without having to rely on huge amounts of self discipline.

Based on Mark Forster’s book Do It Tomorrow, this time management strategy is, essentially, to do just that.

It’s based on the principle of deferment (I had to check that is an actual word:)

What it means, in a nutshell, is you do whatever comes in today, tomorrow.

Tools

You will need a daily diary, preferably a page per day one. It can paper based or digital -- you just need to use the thing.

How It Works

  1. Today, whenever a task presents itself, write it down in your planner under tomorrow’s date.
  2. At the end of today you’ll end up with a list of tasks to work on tomorrow.
  3. Tomorrow, work on each task for as long as you want to. You don’t need to see each task through to completion, but you must do something about every item on your list, even if it is only a small chunk of the task.
  4. Tick it off, or put a line through it when you’ve done as much as you want to.
  5. Whatever tasks you worked on but didn’t complete get carried over to the following day (along with whatever comes in during that day).

Below is an example from my own planner. As my handwriting is universally acknowledged as illegible I've produced a (slightly) easier to read version:

do it tomorrow
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Why It Works

You have a finite list to work through. Conventional to do lists are simply an ever growing list of tasks that may or may not get done. This time management strategy organizes and limits your randomly appearing tasks so you know what you’ll do when.

You’ll actually get everything done. What usually stops you from overcoming procrastination? Knowing you can do as much or as little of each task as you choose reduces the resistance you feel towards it. I’ve done this for years because it works.

You’ll only do what matters. Writing things down and doing them the next day stops you from falling into the trap of doing the unimportant. If you put it in your planner there’s a subtle but crucial difference -- you’ll respond to what matters rather than react to what doesn’t.

It fits in with real life. How much time have you actually got to do your tasks? From experience, I’d recommend tackling your task list in one go, but that’s not always possible. Whether you’ve got a few minutes or all day free do as much as your available time dictates.

What Doesn’t It Do?

Your work! This time management strategy provides you with the most effective structure to do all your work, but there’s no way around it... you still have to do it.

FAQs


What about something that is same day urgent?

Do it. But only if it really is. And, really, most things aren’t.

What if I miss a day or more? I’ll build up a backlog of tasks to do.

List all your backlog tasks. Draw a line under them to establish a limit. Then add ‘process backlog’ to your next day’s task list (see above image). Apply the same principle:- do a bit daily until it disappears -- and it will.

Do I need to prioritize the tasks on my list?

It’s up to you. If something needs to be completed sooner rather than later you may want to do it first, or more of it. But this time management strategy hinges on the fact that you something about everything. Learn how to prioritize your work.

Where can I learn more about ‘Do It Tomorrow’?

Here.

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