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  • how to work everyday tasks into GTD?

    Hi all,

    I've been trying GTD for the past few weeks, and it's going pretty well so far.

    Here's my question:

    How do I fit tasks like paying bills, getting the dog groomed, buying groceries, etc. into the system? These things that happen every week or so are not really 'projects', are they?

    Help!

  • #2
    I am wondering the same thing...

    and beyond that I have numerous tasks that are actions every single day. It doesnt make sense to keep adding them as actions to be completed and then as soon as it's completed it would need to be re-added as an action again.

    Thanks for asking this question and hopefully we'll get some answers soon.

    Comment


    • #3
      Two words: Tickler File.

      Others may disagree with me, but I think it is important to write down those little tasks, however repetitive it may seem. To me at least, the whole genious of the GTD approach is that writing these things down gets them off your mind and into the proper bucket where they will be dealt with accordingly.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by blythe
        Hi all,

        I've been trying GTD for the past few weeks, and it's going pretty well so far.

        Here's my question:

        How do I fit tasks like paying bills, getting the dog groomed, buying groceries, etc. into the system? These things that happen every week or so are not really 'projects', are they?

        Help!
        Paying bills - Never makes my NA list because I apply the 2 minute rule to it. When the bill arrives, it goes into my home inbox which is next to my computer. E-banking rocks for this because you can schedule payments to occur in the future. I always have my computer on when I'm processing, so logging into my bank account and scheduling a payment which will meet the payment deadline. I note on the bill when the payment was made and file it.

        Groceries - We just keep a grocery list in the kitchen. As we think of things we need, it goes on the list. We don't routinely put grocery store on my NA list because it is just part of our household routine. However... if we have a busy weekend coming up, my wife often makes a home to-do list for the weekend. Sometimes grocery store or other specialty shopping will show up on that list.

        Dog grooming - There would probably be an NA to make an appointment, which would then become a calendar item.
        Last edited by Bill; 10-24-2005, 02:26 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          I put them in my system when they need to be done. Groceries, for instance. I have a paper planner and I have an entire section devoted to my menu and an ongoing grocery list. That way, when it comes time to fix meals, I know what I have ingredients for (menu) and if I run out of something, I write it down where it will be with me when I shop groceries.

          I do my "weekly review" of this section on Thursdays when I plan my menu and make my official grocery list. That is when I add "Groceries" to my errands list. Then when I arrive at the grocery store, I just remove the grocery list page from my planner and I have everything I need while I'm in the store.

          Grooming the dog - if you have a standing appointment, put it on your calendar. Otherwise, remind yourself with the tickler file and then put it on your next action list to call for the appointment.

          Paying bills - I have a "Bills" file similar to Read/Review and whenever I have money to pay the bills (aka payday), I pay them. I may not do it the same day that the money arrives - that's simply when the task gets added to my next action list so it gets done. Bills like the mortgage payment that have a paybook go in the tickler file to remind me to pay them (whether I have the money or not, LOL!).

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks very much for all of your advice.

            I will probably use the Tickler File (how I hate that name!) to remind me to buy groceries on a certain day of the week, take the dog to work (I'm a vet) on a certain day of the month, pay bills several times a month, etc.

            Comment


            • #7
              I agree with jrdew that it's important to make note of those weekly or daily tasks. Since I use Outlook to make my DIY dayplanner, I simply create recurring tasks so that I don't have to write them over and over again. I update my recurring tasks once a year when I print out my new calendar pages. If a new recurring task comes up before that time, I put it on my calendar manually.

              Regarding bills, I note the due date on my calendar and then make another note to mail the payment on the calendar a few days before the due date. The bill itself goes into a file folder labeled "Action". When I see "mail utility bill" on my calendar, I know to go to the "Action" file.

              Dog grooming appointments get noted on the calendar. Since it only takes a second to call and make the appointment, I have never needed to put that on my NA list.

              For groceries, I have a preprinted list in my planner, and I highlight an item whenever I run low on it. Since I hate grocery shopping, I don't set aside a particular day for it. I just do it whenever I have the time & energy or when I conveniently pass a grocery store on my way home from someplace else.

              For miscellaneous things that you want to remember to do every day, you can do some kind of coding system. For example, I put a gold star on my calendar whenever I have done my exercise routine for the day. Stars on previous days serve as a reminder to earn a star today.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by blythe
                How do I fit tasks like paying bills, getting the dog groomed, buying groceries, etc. into the system? These things that happen every week or so are not really 'projects', are they?
                I set them up as routinely repeating tasks in Life Balance. This feature was a major reason I switched from my previous tools. Routine tasks automatically show up on the Next Actions lists in whatever contexts I specified for them and stay there till I do them. It basically automates the tickler file and integrates it with all my other actions and projects.

                I like the Life Balance model of how these things work. Most can be done comfortably within some range of dates. LB uses both a lead time and a repeat interval, puts the task on the actions lists at the beginning of the lead time, and it rises in priority over time. If it's lower on the list but I have the time and opportunity, I do it "early"; but if it rises to the top I know I better do it now.

                For something like dog grooming (say, getting my own hair cut), I pop up a reminder every so many weeks to call for an appointment. The number is in the note field. Some people might just look in the mirror, notice they need a haircut, and add it to their NA list. Not me. I need a reminder. <rolling eyes> Then I make the appointment itself a Next Action scheduled in the calendar.

                For groceries, I have the routine interval set based on historic need. If it pops up and I don't want to look at the task for a few more days, I adjust the interval (the equivalent of taking a reminder out of Monday's tickler folder and putting it in Wednesday's). Some people have a strict routine to shop every week on the same day or whatever, but I do not.

                Bill paying is different, since these have hard deadlines. I set them up to be paid automatically whenever possible (Waste Management, why not??). The rest are tasks in Life Balance scheduled by calendar and repeating through the date-specific calendar mechanism. They have lead times, which puts them on my Next Actions list ahead of time.

                I do not put all routine tasks in my system. I don't list "Take a shower" or other obvious daily chores that I never forget. Cleaning falls into this category too. I just do my share every morning, whatever most needs doing, to help maintain a basically clean house all the time.

                Some recurring tasks don't need reminders, but I have them in there anyway because it is satisfying to check them off, and to have a record of them. Exercise falls into this category.

                Whenever I get a new appliance or tool, like recently a new coffeemaker, I read the manual for maintenance requirements. I find they work better and longer when you do the maintenance the manufacturer demands. So these tasks all go into the system too.

                I used a symbol with all these repeating tasks to identify them easily in the Next Action lists (~Buy groceries). I was shocked at how many I have. But the reminders appearing every so often help me remember to clean the hummingbird feeder, change the oil, clean out the dryer vent, replace the HEPA filter in the vacuum cleaner and the furnace, decalcify the coffeemaker, wax the cars, get the carpet cleaned, review investments, etc. etc. etc. It's the function of the tickler file, but I like that I don't have to check the tickler file each day, and I don't have to move stuff between tickler and NA lists. All I do is review my NA lists.

                There are other tools that support repeating tasks with even greater sophistication.

                Comment


                • #9
                  &quot;I'm not stupid to have to read the manual...&quot;

                  Originally posted by andersons
                  Whenever I get a new appliance or tool, like recently a new coffeemaker, I read the manual for maintenance requirements. I find they work better and longer when you do the maintenance the manufacturer demands. So these tasks all go into the system too.
                  That's exceptional! I know very few people that read appliance manuals. The others just keep trying and experimenting and then complain about the poor quality of devices. If you tell them to read the manual first they will always answer that they are not stupid, they have no time, the manual is unreadable and the appliance should be easy to use and foolproof.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Guess I'm stupid 'cause I have to read them!

                    Originally posted by TesTeq
                    That's exceptional! I know very few people that read appliance manuals. The others just keep trying and experimenting and then complain about the poor quality of devices. If you tell them to read the manual first they will always answer that they are not stupid, they have no time, the manual is unreadable and the appliance should be easy to use and foolproof.
                    Must admit, I didn't used to. I've been converted. A friend convinced me to treat things with care and maintain them. Sure enough, things work better and longer. Live and learn! I do remember that in the early days of imported electronics in the US, the manuals were unreadable. But they have gotten much better.

                    And I've even gone one step further. If I'm thinking of buying something, I try to read the manual BEFORE I buy it if I'm concerned about the maintenance. I start with Amazon and the internet, but I'll even take the manual out of the package and read it before deciding to buy.
                    Last edited by andersons; 10-27-2005, 01:35 AM. Reason: heading

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                    • #11
                      I've been known to sit on the floor and read the manuals on the various models I am considering buying. Not so much for the maintenance, but more for understanding the features and what I am getting.

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                      • #12
                        I use Sciral Consistency for these types of tasks: repeatable yet flexible, the kind of tasks that you want to develop some kind of consistency. It's at www.sciral.com . I run it separately from my usual PIM, but since those tasks are always awkward to handle in either a calendar or NA list, I don't mind having them in a separate place.

                        I do use the calendar for paying bills, since there's a due date associated with it, but I must have 100 tasks listed in Consistency.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          reading the manual

                          I work out of town 4 days a week, and don't use alarm clock at home. Husband needs daily alarm. We got a new alarm clock, with two alarms, CD, radio, etc. Two days in a row it alarmed at 6:30 PM instead of 6:30 AM, making husband late, so he asked me how to fix it (I am 125 miles away at time, I may be farsighted, but NOT 125 miles worth). I say "Read the instructions, they're next to the clock."
                          He replies, "I don't have time to read the instructions."
                          Me: "But you have time to be late?"
                          When I got home 2 days later, he'd read the instructions and fixed the clock

                          Moral: Even when you don't have time to read the manual, it is still faster than solving problems that result from NOT reading it

                          Rachel

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                          • #14
                            checklist

                            Why not a checklist, for those little tasks that need to be done every day/week/month?

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                            • #15
                              Personally, I hate putting routine household tasks on my to do list because they are of such an "ongoing" nature. Laundry, groceries, cleaning the kitchen etc. would take over my task list and distract me from what I rely on my to do list for, namely managing my business.

                              I do however add personal non-recurring items to my list because they only need to be done once or twice and are easy to incorporate.

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