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Recurring tasks in GTD

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  • Recurring tasks in GTD

    In my work landscape, I have a huge number of recurring weekly tasks and a smaller but still significant number of recurring monthly tasks (I work in HR if you're interested). How do people handle recurring tasks using GTD? In the past, I used to use recurrent tasks in Outlook, but I found it really overwhelming. I created a paper list that I print out each week and monitored this separately from my other tasks. Now, partway into my GTD implementation and about to shift into what I consider as full as I plan to go this weekend, I am trying to determine how much it makes sense to keep the huge list of recurring tasks separate like that. Yet I'm afraid that putting my routine work (since there's such a high volume) into my Outlook tasks with my other projects and tasks will dilute my attention a lot when I look at the list. I've thought about creating a separate category for the tasks or putting them on my calendar or just keeping them as they are for now and seeing how that goes.

    Does anyone else have a large volume of recurring tasks/repititive processes and track them in GTD? If so, any clever tricks to share?

    Thanks,
    Davinia

  • #2
    Recurring tasks in GTD

    For those recurring items, I keep a weekly checksheet next to my Next Action list (I'm paper-based). The checksheet has 8 columns: task, and Monday-Sunday. When I complete a task, I check it off. I usually refer to it daily, but certainly during my weekly review on Fridays. It also has the bonus of giving me a great feeling of accomplishment, when I can look at it and see all those "X"s everywhere!

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    • #3
      How do you handle monthly recurring tasks?

      Originally posted by mmr
      For those recurring items, I keep a weekly checksheet next to my Next Action list (I'm paper-based). The checksheet has 8 columns: task, and Monday-Sunday. When I complete a task, I check it off. I usually refer to it daily, but certainly during my weekly review on Fridays. It also has the bonus of giving me a great feeling of accomplishment, when I can look at it and see all those "X"s everywhere!
      How do you handle in your system bi-weekly, monthly, yearly etc. recurring tasks?

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      • #4
        I keep a separate category called '-Repeat' with anything that repeats less than weekly (daily & weekly stuff is on checklists). At the weekly review I move any upcoming repeat items to the appropriate context, e.g. @home. Once I've checked the item off and it has its new due date I move it back to the repeat category.

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        • #5
          I use my tickler file. I'm a SAHM so my recurring tasks are things like "clean the house." If I clean the house on Saturday, I put my index card in my tickler file for next Saturday. Daily routines like making the bed and washing dishes I just have certain times that I do them (from the FlyLady and her routines - www.flylady.net). Clearing off my desk every morning is a part of my routine. Doing a load of laundry every day is a part of my routine. But those things are never on my Next Actions lists. Next Actions lists, to me, are for non-routine items that I'm not supposedly in the habit of doing.

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          • #6
            Anything bi-weekly, monthly, yearly, etc, goes into my tickler files. But I find for the daily to weekly tasks, the checksheet works best for me -- everything in one easy-to-find (and easy to evaluate!) spot.

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            • #7
              Thanks for all the ideas everyone! It's so interesting to read about how different people approach similar problems and use GTD techniques in such personalized and diverse ways.

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              • #8
                I use Sciral Consistency (www.sciral.com) to track recurring tasks. It's especially good when I'm trying to establish new habits, but it also helps make sure that I exercise regularly, water my plants, keep my boss updated on my progress on projects; basically anything that I need to do on a repetitive basis.

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                • #9
                  I put EVERYTHING recurring on my calendar, even if it's daily -- this way I can see how much time I have for anything in between the recurring tasks (tasks that NEED to be done -- that's why they are on the calendar in the first place).

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by alsa
                    I put EVERYTHING recurring on my calendar, even if it's daily -- this way I can see how much time I have for anything in between the recurring tasks (tasks that NEED to be done -- that's why they are on the calendar in the first place).
                    The problem is my tasks don't really have hard deadlines associated with them. They need to happen roughly weekly, but tend to drift within a few days depending on what else is going on. So when I put them on my calendar, I often have to move them to the next day etc. because they don't really NEED to get done that exact day.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by gshochet
                      I use Sciral Consistency (www.sciral.com) to track recurring tasks. It's especially good when I'm trying to establish new habits, but it also helps make sure that I exercise regularly, water my plants, keep my boss updated on my progress on projects; basically anything that I need to do on a repetitive basis.
                      That looks like an interesting tool. I will download it and experiment with it at some point.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by davinia
                        The problem is my tasks don't really have hard deadlines associated with them. They need to happen roughly weekly, but tend to drift within a few days depending on what else is going on. So when I put them on my calendar, I often have to move them to the next day etc. because they don't really NEED to get done that exact day.
                        This is exactly the kind of task Sciral Consistency (http://www.sciral.com/) was designed for. For each task, you define a window, not an absolute date. I use 6-8 days for most weekly tasks, 25-35 days for most monthly tasks.

                        Before the window opens, the task has a blue box. During the window, the box is green, until the last day, when it turns yellow. Overdue tasks are red. Thus, you can see at a glance which tasks are overdue and how consistent you've been. Very simple, but very useful.

                        Katherine

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                        • #13
                          I think on the Palm side, your Datebk5 is your best friend for this -- you can assign tasks as floating events, and they will drift to the next day if you don't accomplish them on the day they are due -- when you do check them off they can occur again a certain specified number of days starting with the day ON which you checked them off, not from when they were due. I hope it make sense.

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                          • #14
                            Tip from the 43FoldersWiki

                            "When I make to-do lists in text or word-processing files, I'll use the trademark symbol (®) to flag items that are recurring tasks, in case I later want to transfer them to a Sciral Consistency file. These tasks are clustered when the WP or text file is sorted. GH 6 Aug 2005"

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                            • #15
                              I too have several recurring tasks (only a handful) and I have no desire to clutter up my Outlook calendar or tasks list with things like "download podcasts", "water plants", etc. I don't use a paper-based tickler, since most of my stuff is all electronic, so the tickler idea wouldn't work. Or would it? How about some kind of electronic tickler, I thought.

                              Before I lost too much time in thinking about how I could implement such a thing (e.g., a text file with the tickles, plus a script to give me a popup window every day with that day's tickles), I remembered that I have a piece of software already in use that can be adapted quite nicely to this purpose.

                              For years I've been using sticky or post-it notes on my computer (I started with the 3-M post-it version, but have since moved to Stickies http://www.zhornsoftware.co.uk). Both programs are free (Windows based for sure - unknown about other platforms).

                              Anyway, when I have something that needs to be in my tickler file, I create a new sticky note, say "download transactions and pay bills". The stickies program allows me to put a sticky to sleep for some amount of time; you can even set up a recurring schedule. Then, when the right date/time arrives, my sticky pops up, reminding me that I have to do something. I set them to come up first thing in the morning, and I make the sticky "always on top", which forces me to deal with it.

                              I've been using this system for several weeks, and I'm quite pleased with it. It's free, uses software I'm already making use of, and offers a no muss, no fuss way of remembering things at the right time.

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