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  • Recurring tasks - Again

    I KNOW this query has been covered in earlier threads – in fact I think I may have contributed to those threads myself, but I cannot recall the solution.

    I have just completed a major overhaul of my GTD system, and I have EVERYTHING captured in project lists. (The sense of completeness has to be felt to be believed! Also, my organiser is suddenly a very beautiful thing, surrounded by an aura of peace and possibility. I mean it!).

    I have updated the Next Action lists for most of the active projects, (another pleasure - it means that I have taken over the steering wheel in things that matter most to me). But here is my query. In a purely paper based system (customized Filofax) what is the best way to make sure that repeating tasks are carried out? For example, my work projects include – read financial pages every day; update staff work schedule daily (rather than the twice weekly as before).

    Apart from writing them down every day in my diary for the rest of the year, I can’t think of any other way to get these actions to hit me right between the eyes first thing every morning at the office.

    Any tips?

    Thanks

    Busydave

  • #2
    Daily action checklist?

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    • #3
      Recurring tasks - Again

      One option for recurring routine tasks is to use a checklist to be placed in your tickler file. First thing each morning open your tickler file and you will be reminded to perform these tasks. After you have completed the daily tasks, put the checklist in the following day's folder. This way you avoid the effort of writing it in your planner each day but you can have confidence that the tickler file will capture these open loops.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Recurring tasks - Again

        Originally posted by GJR
        One option for recurring routine tasks is to use a checklist to be placed in your tickler file. First thing each morning open your tickler file and you will be reminded to perform these tasks. After you have completed the daily tasks, put the checklist in the following day's folder. This way you avoid the effort of writing it in your planner each day but you can have confidence that the tickler file will capture these open loops.
        That's what I've been doing. It's worked pretty well so far!

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        • #5
          Thanks everyone;

          This looks like a perfect reason for having a tickler file system in operation. Currently though I don’t use one - I’m still kinda waiting to see if enough reasons accumulate to justify one.

          My Filofax has a two pages per week format, with a bookmark (detachable black plastic ruler). Maybe I will write the daily recurring items on a single sheet and let it sit between the two pages that make up the week – and then transfer it forward each time I move the weekly bookmark forward.

          Alternatively, MacKenzie covers the topic of the ideal day: the model seems to acknowledge and accommodate the realities of daily recurring tasks – sign post, return calls, meet staff, as well as leaving clear chunks of time to tackle main projects. I think the idea may be a bit old-fashioned now, but I may just try to tweak it to cover the realties that are part of my own day.

          Thanks

          Dave

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          • #6
            Dave -

            Try the following (borrowed from one of Filofax's competitors - Franklin/Covey)

            Put your Daily Recurring Tasks ON your pagefinder. Franklin has ones that are specially designed to hold a narrow piece of paper (and so does DayTimer, I believe).

            The only challenge I believe is that all three companies drill their holes in slightly different locations, so I don't know if another company's pagefinder will fit. You may have to jury rig something using post-it's or your labeller.

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            • #7
              Does it need to be in your planner book?

              If the tasks are work-related, do they really need to be written down everyday? Maybe just print out a Word document in a checklist form and keep it in your inbox (if you don't use ticklers).

              Stuff I need to deal with the next morning I leave out on my desk before I leave the office. And it's there staring me in the face when i get there in the morning.

              Or--keep a "Routine" checklist(s) in your Filofax's Notes section, and just put down in your calendar, "10 am -- Daily Routine." Turn to the Notes section, and away you go.

              Many are the ways and the paths. You need to find what works best for you.

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              • #8
                I keep a list on my PDA (in Shadow, although it wouldn't have to be) that gives me my "agenda" for the day. I use checkboxes, and then clear the checkboxes each morning for a fresh start. Mine goes something like this:

                Synch PDA
                Check voicemail and email
                Process Inbox
                Prepare Daily List
                Calls
                Next Action Work
                Clear Desk
                Backup Computer

                It helps keep me on track and get the little routine things done that might get forgotten if I get involved in something. Some days it goes by the wayside - but I find that if I'm not feeling particularly motivated, starting off going through this list can help get me back into a productive mindset.

                Caroline

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                • #9
                  Sorry - I didn't read carefully enough to see that you had asked about a purely paper system.

                  Before I started using the PDA, I had my list on a 3x5 card in "portrait" view - you can print it using your printer, or simply write it longhand. I laminated it for durability, but that's not necessary.

                  When working at my desk I kept it in one of those little holders designed to keep papers upright while referring to them while typing so it was always within view. It can be easily removed and carried with you, as well, if necessary.

                  Caroline

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                  • #10
                    If there is a weakness in DA's description of GTD, I think recurring items must be it. I'm consistently surprised at how many times it comes up around here. Of course, that's not to say that those pernicious daily recurring tasks aren't *my* achille's heel as well...

                    I do use a Palm myself, and it works very nicely for me most of the time, but this is one instance where, for me, nothing seems to work. I tried a daily list as mentioned by Caroline, using HandyShopper2 instead of Shadow (I own Shadow, but I heart HS2). But I never looked at it. I checked my lists all the time, but my daily stuff? Skipped.

                    So I moved to a paper-system, just for this one aspect. I wrote out my daily repeating tasks in a small piece of paper, and then taped it inside the cover of my Palm. This gave me a constant reminder of my daily tasks, with the idea that I'd look at it every time I opened my Palm. The same would hold (and used to, when I used a Covey planner) with the plastic-bookmark version. It's always there, so you always have it in front of you.

                    Which is exactly the problem. In a disturbingly short span of time, it became part of the landscape: I stopped seeing it there. My daily recurring list, instead of being a constant reminder of repeating tasks, was just a yellow blur -- an amazingly invisible yellow blur.

                    Despite doing quite well with my projects and lists, I'm really discouraged by my abilities to perform my regular tasks right now (perhaps due to a 2am work session last night, the effects of which are quickly overtaking my grip on reality), but can't find it in my heart to blame the medium. They're all good: notecards, bookmarks, tattoos, checklists -- the real question for me is how to make those annoying, consistent, neverending tasks become routine?

                    I'm not sure this answers your question (I'm not sure this is even in English anymore) -- but it is something I'm noodling over myself right now.

                    Oh, and congratulations on your massive achievement! May your filofax continue to provide that warm, comforting glow.

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                    • #11
                      Thanks again;

                      Rich, believe it or not, I have an abandoned Classic-size Covey organizer at home, complete with page finder as you described. I dropped it in favour of the smaller Filofax because every time I opened it in a public place, I felt that I suddenly looked like some sort of a supervisor or stock controller!

                      I will check the Filofax website for a similar product. Alternatively, I might, as you say, jury-rig a solution by following Caroline’s excellent suggestion and creating a laminated page finder. Also, Caroline, I have a small notice board on the wall at the front edge of my desk: a short color printed list of daily tasks placed there should be sufficiently eye-catching to get my daily attention.

                      Terceiro, you have described exactly one of the key reasons for my original post – what method could I possibly use that would not eventually sink back into the background? How can I be sure that it will hit me right between the eyes at the critical time each morning? Maybe another spin on this is: how can I be sure that I will continue to attach sufficient importance to the list so that as soon as it catches my eye I will commit unreservedly to completing it? (“Phew! Thank God I noticed that list, my day would be thrown into chaos if I missed those tasks!”).

                      Maybe it’s a case of ensuring that the benefits are immediate, and of continuing value to me. The two items I mentioned in my first post would have a cumulative benefit for me if consistently done. Hopefully, after a period of time, I would have a nagging sense of incompleteness if I overlooked the daily tasks list, and this sensation would drag me to the list.

                      I think the other class of daily actions to consider are those that comes under the drip-drip heading. It has been pointed out in various books that if you write two hundred words per day (about ten typed lines) you would have drafted a seventy five thousand word novel in one year. If you read a new subject for 20 minutes per day, you will have completed over 120 hours of work by the end of one year, which may be the equivalent of a year at college. However, the daily actions required may become a little drab and uninspiring.

                      Writers on goal-setting say it is essential that we review our list of goals at least once a day. This will remind us why we have committed to carrying out the piece-meal daily steps that we have prescribed for ourselves.

                      Me_brown1110, I think your solution is a clever use of GTD – we should be constantly emptying out our in-boxes, and if I keep returning the daily tasks list to the in-box (because this IS the right place for it to go in order for your solution to work), then it will inevitably keep coming to my attention. A subtle and disciplining tactic!

                      Thanks to this thread I now feel confident enough to generate recurring next actions for projects that are meaningful to me – and this of course means that their engines are switched on and they are moving forward.

                      Thank again

                      Dave

                      P.S Terceiro, yes, the Filofax is not only still glowing but is now magnetic – I am irresistibly drawn to it when any new idea hits me. It seems to be guaranteeing its own completeness!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Radig the messages above, I have to ask a question: Do you need the list in hand (Filofax)? If not, then why not generate a list in a wordprocessor, printout and place in your tickler file? Each morning you empty the file as 'new business' and it would be 'in your face'.

                        I think Jason W. had a trick to make sure he used the tickler file each morning - place a $20USD in random.

                        I have been doing this for my daily / quarterly / yearly checklists and it seems to work.

                        Anything that is required in hand I have a section in TimeDesign (similar to Filofax/Covey/Daytimer) that I reference on the calendar page as required.

                        Tab 1 - Reference , checklist labeled Computer Room Shutdown Procedure

                        Calender - 1CR Shutdown

                        I have to check the emergency shutdown procedure at random or when there is an equipment change to make sure everything is covered.

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                        • #13
                          Aderoy

                          Thanks. Your mention of a tab got me thinking. What if I had, say, a separate red tab at the front of my organizer with “daily” written on it, which would be hard to overlook?

                          But then as I flicked through the organizer to find the best place to locate this red-tabbed divider I realised that I ALWAYS open the Next Actions section each morning. So far, I always have the @office page first, but what it the first page was always @daily?

                          I think it’s worth a try …

                          Dave

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Busydave
                            But then as I flicked through the organizer to find the best place to locate this red-tabbed divider I realised that I ALWAYS open the Next Actions section each morning. So far, I always have the @office page first, but what it the first page was always @daily?
                            It's just all about remembering to put the briefcase in front of the door before you go to bed, isn't it?

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                            • #15
                              My main system is computer based using ActionOutline (mentioned in another thread) but my daily work is paper based. At the end of each day I print out a template checklist sheet from Word that has my 10-15 daily recurring tasks prefilled and about 30 free blocks to fill in tasks manually. I have a similar one for the week. Each template includes "Print and fill new template" as one of their tasks.

                              This has worked wonders for me. My work is centered around the computer and having a separate physical checklist helps focus me during the day. Adding a recurring tasks is as simple as adding it to the template. Having this daily plan also helps me to front load some recurring tasks that might get procrastinated otherwise. I have tested several combinations of Palm/software based systems but here I think paper and pencil are the best.

                              So busydave, my system is a bit like filling in the tasks for every day ..

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