Hello everyone;

I was looking at previous postings for some sagely advice to better improve some of my skills and I came across something called a "delta file", which seems to be something that you use to track things you want to improve.

In that instance, I would like to get some advice as to how people use this. I want to make something that I place in my day planner that I can look at frequently but I want it to be a tool that will drive real change in my managerial style and not just be some fluff in my planner. Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

James Gutherson's picture

My interpretation was that this was a list of things to change or things that were different from your ideal. (Delta in mathematics standing for among other things 'difference between two values').

I have something similar though it doesn't have a name. It's just high level list of things that I want to change. In GTD terms it lives in my sometime/maybe project list and is evaluated weekly to see if anything can be bought into an active project. The weekly review is the key.

Have a look at the following articles from the David Allen (GTD) Website:

CalKen's picture

Thanks very much for the useful information. I even browsed the website and found more useful information in it. I will look into incorporating this idea with the reference given in the thread. Thanks again!

wendii's picture


mine's called wendii's omg what a great idea !!eleventy!!!! file. Whenever I have an idea, or see something that inspires me, or that I can use somewhere else, or something we could do if only I could get permission, I write it down, or print it out.

Time goes on and some ideas become more possible, and I have my inspiration there to start me off.


Dani Martin's picture

Mark encouraged me to start a Delta File about 5-6 years ago. He said it's where I need to put everything I'd change when I'm in charge. Most of the things in my Delta File are examples of what NOT to do. For example, poor communications, bad agendas, etc.

Now that I'm "kinda" in charge, I will often review it and do a gut check. I'll read through the items and think "Am I doing that to my team? Have I sent an email like that?" I've found it very helpful in keeping grounded and remembering what life is like on the other side of "they."

tlhausmann's picture

My delta file started fairly recently. I started calling great ideas "To Do" items and discovered inadequate resources to address the accumulated pile. As such, now I just post the ideas to the Delta File.

I also liked wendii's characterization of the file. I laughed out loud.

CalKen's picture

Thanks everyone for your kind inputs. I am currently playing with a Delta file system after looking at the David Allen website.

One question I had, and this is one that I have wondered for some time now. Is it useful to place a date that the item was entered into your list? The reason I ask is that I could see the benefit of seeing how long it has been on your list, but at the same time I could also see that it may place undue pressure to do things on your list just because they have been there a long time and not because they are important. Any ideas?

WillDuke's picture

I felt just the opposite. If the date was too long ago, I'd be more likely to dismiss it as something not pertinent any more.

jhack's picture

I see the delta file not as a "I'd like to do someday" list, but as a list of what I intend to do when I get to the next level.

"When I'm a VP, I'm going to make sure I do skip levels."

That's the kind of thing that goes in my delta file.