Do It (Tomorrow)

My name is Bill, and I'm bad at GTD.

doittoday.jpgMany, many factors account for this -- let's call it a character flaw. But the biggest is probably this one: My utter inability (or maybe it's just an unwilingness) to see beyond what's right in front of me. This one failing has knocked the pins right out from under every GTD implementation I've ever looked at, and I've looked at 'em all. You know in the cartoons, when somebody's confused and words start circling his head? That's me with a new GTD app. Projects? Next tasks? Near-term goals? Far-term goals? Why, you're just talking gibberish!

doittomorrow.jpgThis may be why I've embraced Do It (Tomorrow), a dead-simple to-do app for iOS. (Free for the iPhone; a $1.99 universal version adds cloud sync.) Do It (Tomorrow) builds on -- or maybe it takes away from -- the work done by earlier apps like Put Things Off, a simplified sort-of-GTD client that allows you to schedule tasks for today or shove them off indefinitely. The trouble is, even that feels like too much work to someone like me. Here's the uncomplicated beauty of Do It (Tomorrow): It offers two choices: Do it today, or put it off for tomorrow. That's it. In reducing the vista of available time, it allows me to focus on only those things that really need doing right now, or close to it. Do It (Tomorrow) embraces the functioning part of my brain, which can see about 36 hours ahead, and doesn't bother with the rest. It's simple, good-looking and -- for me -- supremely functional.


  1. I’ve had success with something similar, and even more immediate. My 5 minute to-do list. I have a dry erase board right next to me. I don’t write anything down that I can’t get done in 5 minutes or so. If I have a larger task, I break it down into smaller bits. All day long I’m adding new things, wiping completed stuff off, branching out with other little micro-tasks. It’s been a huge boon to my productivity.

  2. Can you throw in an edit explaining what GTD is? Because I am wholly unfamiliar with that term.

  3. GTD = Getting Things Done, it’s a way to organize your projects and tasks so that you get them done on time without having to stress about it. Doesn’t work that well for me, but it’s one of the most popular methodologies in the productivity world.

    Is there any good android alternative?

  4. You just sold this to me. I’m already in love with it. I get too overwhelmed to even keep up with my planners. I love that I can just make a list as it pops into my head and then I have the option of doing it now or doing it later. Much more intuitive for me. If I were good enough at managing this stuff with the more detailed planners I probably wouldn’t need one.

  5. I use the analog version. Every time I find out I need to do something, I write it down. If it has a deadline, I write that down too. If I do something on the list, I cross it off.

    That’s really the whole of my personal time-management system, and it has served me very well.

    1. Stunning in it’s simplicity, I also find this system to be most effective. Otherwise, GTD, DI(T) et al, seem to be as useful and life enhancing as Facebook games…

  6. This wouldn’t work for me. My problems extend past getting things done into remembering that I have to do things at all. To fix this, I’ve been using the iPhone’s calendar for appointments (and making liberal use of the alarms), which helps, but it’s not easy or fast to use, and it isn’t to-do list friendly.

    Then I found 2Do. I don’t mean to sound like a born-again Christian or anything, but it has seriously helped. Pricey ($6.99; I got it for $4.99 on sale), but very helpful. Schedule to-do items for whatever day you want, defer them, set alarms or e-mail reminders, make checklists, etc. About the only thing it doesn’t do well is load up particularly fast (I have a 3G, though, so it’s old) and do appointments/events (I just kludge them as to-dos, so that’s fine).

    I know that some people might be fine with a simpler, cheaper app (like Do It (Tomorrow)), or even a pad of paper, but I need all of the help I can get. 2Do has worked for me.

  7. I’m so not even going to try this. Not because I’m a cynical bastard, but in spite of it. I hate calendaring, but I use it… reluctantly. I hate to do lists and and only do stuff which enters my brain and stays there and pops up when I absolutely must pay attention to it. I have heard that the most effective people are the best time managers. Well, woopty frickin doo, good for them. I’m as disorganized as spaghetti and it’s not going to change. I could try this app, but it wouldn’t change. Oh well, but thank you for the protip.

  8. I hate using todo programs. But I need a todo list.

    So instead of using a todo program, I just set my mail client to display my unread messages together (sort -> unread) and just send emails to myself – thereby creating a todo list that I will always check.

    There’s a few apps that do this (ie note 2 self on the mac app store) but they’re expensive when you consider how easy it is to write up your own script :)

  9. I was similarly unsuccessful with GTD and every other tasks-management system I tried. Adding a task, categorizing it, and so on was too labor-intensive for me to use it consistently. I ususally ended up with a mess of Google Tasks, e-mails to myself, and scraps of papers scattered about. Finally I hit on a solution that works for me.

    1) Dropbox. On every computer I own, and on my smartphone.
    2) In the dropbox folder I have a file called whiteboard.txt.

    This file is my short and long term todo list, as well as a scratch pad. I can jot things on it in no particular order and reorganize them later. I can create headings and subheadings as I see fit. And it’s bone simple. I generally add things on the fly from my phone, and then look at my whiteboard file again when sitting in front of a computer. If something needs a date/time reminder, I add it to Google Calendar as well.

  10. A little bit more complex but way more rewarding: EpicWin, which gives you an RPG character and XP for completing tasks. Weird, but it feels really good to get a “Studded Leather Pocket Protector” or grow a level after completing a project.

  11. I can make this yet one simpler. It’s just a list. You add new things if you need to do them. You cross things off when you finish them, or if you decide you don’t need to do them after all.


  12. The key to GTD is having one “inbox” that all those scraps of paper and emails and everything get funneled into. That way you don’t have to think about which jacket you left that business card in.

    Categorizing tasks (by project, context, whatever) makes things simpler, not more complicated. With one big flat list that you add to whenever something occurs to you, you’re looking at BUY MILK and PICK DYLAN UP FROM SOCCER PRACTICE in the middle of a business meeting. This clouds your mind, stresses you out, and distracts you from those tasks that are relevant to the meeting. Likewise, when you’re picking Dylan up you’d probably rather ask him about the game than be worrying about REVIEW QUARTERLY TPS REPORTS (CONFIRM PROPER COVER SHEET FORMATTING.)

    YM, as always, MV.

  13. Kevin Bacon’s words to live by… “We plan ahead, that way we don’t have to do anything right now”. It always comes down to bacon in one form or another doesn’t it?

  14. It’s not very good feature writing to use an obscure acronym abbreviation so many times without at least spelling it out once in the lead paragraph of a story. Also, it personally irks me when people use abbreviations when there is plenty of space to use real words, as on a blog where column inches are not much of a factor.

    Actually, your editor should have known better, and corrected it before publication.

    1. Baron Karza, point taken about writing style, but couldn’t you just get an Acroyear to Google it for you?

  15. i always heard that if you envision the thing being done, then youll be more compelled to do it

  16. I understand the confusion with unfamiliar acronyms, but GTD became so ubiquitous in the tech industry that, like SQL, few people would think of spelling it out any more.

    It’s worth reading the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen to get his perspective on the most stripped down, uncomplicated way to keep track of the loose ends.

    I can’t claim to adhere to the recommended structures in the formal system, but I did get some very useful tips about relying less on my own memory and attention. I’m a convert at least to the commitment to ubiquitous capture, using portrait-ruled index card pads and Evernote.

    For more complicated or specialized projects I sometimes write a custom database application, but that’s at the risk of scope-creep as I’m my own worst client.

  17. My name is Biglig, and I’m bad at open heart surgery.

    You know in the cartoons, when somebody’s confused and words start circling his head? That’s me with a new scapel. Cardiopulmonary bypass? Postperfusion syndrome? Blood? Why, you’re just talking gibberish!

    OK, that snark was wholly unjustified, but if you don’t understand what a project or a next action is, then you need to stop trying new GTD implementations and go and read the book repeatedly until you do. :-)

    This does look like an interesting app for one aspect of my own GTD implementation. I’ve found that when you’ve got a lot of projects and actions (and most GTD people have a lot because GTD works by getting ALL your stuff out in the open) it’s useful to have a way of flagging the one or two things that you care most about to make sure you give them more of your attention. I’ve been using whiteboards for this but they don’t sync between offices so well.

  18. Just one more pissy comment complaining about abbreviations not being spelled out in their first reference in an article.

    Carry on.

  19. GTD?
    Just stop wasting your time blogging about how bad you are at it (whatever “it” is – the fact you think you have a snappy TLA for it, speaks volumes in itself) and musing over apps to help you (= more procrastination) and just do something. Start with the best app of all – a piece of paper and a pen. Write down the things you have to do today and then do the first one. As you go along, add things to the list, maybe for tomorrow, or the week after. Tomorrow, look at today’s piece of paper and transfer undone things to a new one and carry on as before. Repeat daily.

    Jeez! Who needs an “app” to get things done? Same people who buy “self-help” books, I guess.

    Yes, I am feeling snarky today – and stop looking at your navel.

  20. What happened to LTUFYDS? Ever heard of Google, you folk complaining about the “GTD” abbreviation?

    As for GTD, I already did, and now I’m GO.

    * LTUFYDS = Looking Things Up For Your Damn Self
    * GO = Goofing Off

  21. I have tried various solutions in this vein over the years, from whiteboards and notebooks to computer calendars to simple apps like this (on Android in my case).

    My experience has always been that I spend a few minutes setting each new thing up with some tasks I need to do, and then I never look at it again. I have an 8.5×11″ whiteboard somewhere around here that has a list of things I needed to do at university in 2007 or so. I have small Moleskine notebooks that have headers for to-do lists and date lists, but no content, even though I carried them around for weeks before realizing it was pointless.

    These days, it’s getting easier to keep track of this stuff when you can sync to the cloud. I have a Simplenote account that’s synced between my laptop and my phone, so I always have access to a bunch of random text in case I need it (this is quite useful and I have lots of stuff in there) but I don’t normally (if ever) use it for to-do lists and the like.

    I feel it takes too much effort to manage to-do lists and calendars and so on. Then again, I have so little to do (out of school and unemployed) that I really have no need for to-do lists and calendars at the moment :)

    However, even when I did have things to do, I rarely found myself in a position of not getting things done on time. I sometimes forget about things, but most of the time I’m able to keep track of what I need to do in my head. Actually doing things one needs to do is another matter, but no app can really help there :)

  22. Well I think the main thing is that what works for people is so diverse.

    I use paper, but I bury myself in it and end up with a wad of paper in my purse I end up just throwing away, usually never having looked at it past the point it started giving me the fear and loathing feeling when I see it there.

    Currently there’s some paper like this on my desk.

    What does it want from me!!!?

  23. Though I appreciate such a system, I am not a disciple of GTD. One of the features of GTD is that one can clear their mind – not have a ‘nagging feeling’ that they have forgotten to do some task.

    In reading about Do It (Tomorrow), I was reminded of an idea from the past weekend. I was driving past the local hardware store and felt a tug. Was there something I needed from there? This happens a lot – you are somewhere, a drug store for example, and you have a feeling there is something else there you need to pick up but don’t recall.

    Assuming I am able to keep the things I need to get done in a list, the task list app that would be super helpful for me would be one that could recognize my location and relate it to items on my list. (And there are, inevitably, location based advertising opportunities here).

    To just have items on a list is not that helpful unless you think (or something alerts you) to look at the list. Time based reminders become so much clutter, whereas location based reminders would make more sense for me.

    Is there such an app or service?

    1. Holy crud! That is seriously the best app idea I have heard. I have a friend who developed an app for iPhone I wonder if they’d be interested in that, or anyone here. It’s a great idea. It seems like it could totally work too.

      After all with all the “check in” features and with the Google maps, why couldn’t it do something like that?

      Seems like when you put an item in you could attach it to a location at that point for simplicity, or to a category like “post office” or “home and garden store” and it could use the search the map just like you would yourself and sent an alert if you are within say, 10 miles of the place associated with that task.

      Paging google?

    2. Sorry this is so late; you’ll probably never read this. Sometimes I go through my old comments and see things I should have replied to, but they’ve already scrolled off of the main page. I miss that ‘recent comments’ bar on the side.

      … Assuming I am able to keep the things I need to get done in a list, the task list app that would be super helpful for me would be one that could recognize my location and relate it to items on my list. (And there are, inevitably, location based advertising opportunities here).

      …Is there such an app or service?

      Yes. 2Do, the app I mentioned above, does this. You can tie locations to tasks, and if you allow your phone to use its GPS (can be a battery drain, I hear) then it will alert you when you’re near a location that has an associated task.

      1. I do review my comments now and then, so thanks for your suggestion – I am on Android, so hope for 2Do to check “Android Version of 2Do” off *their* list :-/

  24. Oh I didn’t know about the system. Yeah, I don’t do it because I think I can get a clear mind.

    I do it because I forget to do things and then suffer consequences from their not getting done.

    These can be social or financial. I’ve actually lost thousands of dollars just from forgetting to get forms in on time, etc.

    Or otherwise ten thousand things I should have done descend on me at around midnight when I can’t do most of them, and they keep me up all night.

    The next day I’m tired, and I probably forgot most of them.

    So I’m not worried about getting a clear mind free of nagging doubt so much as trying not to screw myself over because I seem to have a terrible ability to organize tasks innately.

  25. Some where up there if made a comment about bacon. But the truth of it is, I am a GTD adherent. If you can make it through David Allen’s book Getting Things Done, you are halfway there. The writing style is dryer than James Bond’s martini.

    The key to the system is pretty much writing everything down and sticking it into a system that you have confidence in, I use Evernote. I can add to it or read it on my iPad, PC, and phone. The things are categorized not by time but by context so there is not much to put off. The system allows for a someday/maybe file and a waiting-for file. As with all systems it requires commitment to use and review. It works for me.

Comments are closed.