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09 Jun

Let the system do the job


Date: 2010-06-09 10:59 Comments: 0 st

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, RememberTheMilk.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!

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