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09 Jun

Let the system do the job

Datum: 2010-06-09 10:59

If you are in the habit of using a to-do list, it prob­a­bly most­ly con­sists of tasks you’ve real­ized you have to do and there­fore wrote on the list. They are tasks you will car­ry out soon after that and then cross off or delete.?? But you have to keep even less infor­ma­tion in your head if you let the to-do-list gen­er­ate new tasks on its own.?? 

We all have tasks we per­form on a reg­u­lar basis. It may be tasks that you decid­ed to do at pre­de­ter­mined inter­vals long ago, but which are eas­i­ly for­got­ten amongst all the oth­er more recent or urgent tasks. Each week, the first Mon­day of each month, once every six months et c, we do a spe­cif­ic task.

??A typ­i­cal exam­ple is the whole thing with main­te­nance of stuff. You know, when we are in the store and are about to buy that wid­get or gad­get, the sales­man says Sure, and at least once every three months it’s very impor­tant that you… (lubri­cate, upgrade, make back-ups, dis­as­sem­bly, put to rest or some­thing like it)”. 

We might think, OK, every three months; well, that shouldn’t be too hard to remem­ber?”. No, but in addi­tion to that we already have a gad­get that need to be adjust­ed every six months and anoth­er thing that must be replen­ished every two weeks or so, and …

Recur­ring task

In order to avoid hav­ing to remem­ber that we need do this or that once every six months, and to not have to remem­ber that we have to do it again in the next six months, and maybe next month, and next week as well, let the sys­tem gen­er­ate new upcom­ing tasks and do the job for you . Use the con­cept of recur­ring task”. This you can do whether you work with your to-do-tasks dig­i­tal­ly or if you have them on a sheet of paper.

Dig­i­tal to-do-list…

In most dig­i­tal sys­tems for han­dling to-dos (Out­look, Remem​berTheMilk​.com etc) you can add a recur­ring task, either at a fixed inter­val (for exam­ple every day, every Thurs­day, the fourth day in every three months or Octo­ber 6th every year) or x days/​weeks/​months/​years after it was last com­plet­ed. When you check it off the list, the pro­gram cre­ates a new task auto­mat­i­cal­ly with the due date cal­cu­lat­ed by the inter­val you’ve chosen.

…or on paper?

If your sys­tem for to-do-tasks is on a sheet of paper, I see two pos­si­bil­i­ties. The first option is that you get a tick­ler file, and then you can put a note with the task in ques­tion in the fold­er that rep­re­sents the next time you want to do the task. After you’ve com­plet­ed the task, move the note to the fold­er for next occa­sion, and so on.?? If you don’t have a tick­ler file and have a to-do-list on paper (and you don’t cre­ate a new list every morn­ing, but keep it over time), mark the tasks you want repeat­ed with a code, a sug­ges­tion being RE2W” for recur­ring every two weeks” or RE4M” for recur­ring every four months” or some­thing like that. When you’ve com­plet­ed one of these tasks, you’ll see that it’s marked with a code and there­fore you cre­ate a new task right away, an iden­ti­cal task with a due date equal to the time inter­val you’ve chosen.

Some exam­ples

Speak­ing for myself, my recur­ring tasks are relat­ed just as much to my work­day as to my pri­vate life. A selec­tion from my list:

  • Make an appoint­ment for chang­ing tires to snow tires (a set date every year) 
  • Get start­ed with plan­ning mail­ing Christ­mas cards. 
  • Reg­is­ter VAT- and income tax return
  • Lubri­cate the axle­trees on the stroller (every three months), change the oil in the lawn mow­er (May 1 every year), refill the potas­si­um per­man­ganate in the water fil­ter (Decem­ber 1 every year)
  • Tasks appear­ing due to the end of a month: e‑mail account state­ment to the account­ing firm, dou­ble check cash flow bud­get, com­pile trav­el expens­es for the month that passed et c
  • Week­ly review (every Fri­day): update the to-do-list, sort out the pile of good-to-have-mate­r­i­al, have a look at the vision, update the project overview
  • Replace month­ly con­tact lens­es (day 9 of every month)
  • Make a back­up copy of the mate­r­i­al I have on web­sites, such as the list of Done!-subscribers (one month after the last backup)
  • Take a look at the roof tiles and replace those which are cracked (annu­al­ly)

Option­al homework

If you want to, think about what things you should do at reg­u­lar inter­vals that you often for­get to do. Add those as recur­ring tasks on your list.

How do you do it?

How do you do to effort­less­ly remem­ber to-do-tasks you have to car­ry out at recur­ring and reg­u­lar intervals?

Answer by com­ment­ing below!