Repetitive Tasks — How to Plan and Record

Every now and then, when I’m procrastinating, I search for GTD (short for David Allen’s Getting Things Done). Yes, I’ve read the book, and I use many of his suggestions.

David is quite clear about which tools you should use: Whatever works for you, but don’t spend all your time playing with the them. Get things done!

Bloggers have problems with the last part. One hopes the time they save by actually getting things done balances the time the spend looking for, and playing with, and blogging about, the systems they use, or are trying to use, or might use.

My current problem is what I call “revolving tasks”. These are things that need to be done once a week, but not on a fixed day. It’s no big deal if they slip a bit. Yes, I like to keep track of them. Marking them off gives a sense of accomplishment, and that way I know when I did them last.

Being repetitive, there could be a lot of re-writing, so a computer makes sense. Sciral’s Consistency is a good start, but I don’t want to turn on the computer every time I want to check off a task. Marking it off on a printout, then entering “done” on the computer, means twice the work to keep track of things. Agendus  is another option. It’s on both Palm and Windows, and syncs nicely. Thinking Rock isn’t too bad, and is a flavour of Open Source, but doesn’t go on the Palm. I like Thinking Rock’s Pocket Mod adaptation. It take 8 report pages of your choice, then turns them upside down and shrinks them so they fit on a single page, which you fold into a booklet.

Overall, though, I don’t like the computer or PDA for my lists. There’s something about rewriting “Read Tolstoy” every time I consolidate my lists that makes me either read the thing, or decide not to and scratch it off. Entering things on the Palm is just too fiddly. Turning on computer = not good for getting things done.

So, what’s a girl to do?

Solution: Graph Paper.

I take a group of tasks which are done on roughly the same cycle, such as weekly. Tasks go down the side. Dates go across the top. If they’re weekly tasks, each column is a week. I put the more important ones together — cleaning the fish tank and paying the bills shouldn’t slip as much as dusting and filing the paid bills.

As I finish each thing, I write the date finished in the right square. That way, I can look at last week’s column to see what was/wasn’t done, and even whether it was Monday (time to do again) or Friday (let it wait). Empty squares stand out — it wasn’t done at all that week.

I have a similar list for daily and for monthly.

Yes, I have to recopy when I run out of columns, but by then things have changed enough I want to change the order and even the tasks anyways.

If I really wanted, I could do it up in Excel, but why bother?

Cheers!

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2 Responses

  1. You may give a try to http://www.gtdagenda.com

    You have three types of checklists for repetititve tasks: weekly, monthly and yearly.

    Dan

    • Looks interesting. I don’t like having to turn on my computer to check or update it. Turning on the computer before I’m done my day’s list gets in the way of doing things, and checking them off on a printed list then entering them on the computer is entering things twice. Also, our internet goes down just often enough that it would get frustrating, and that’s not how I need to feel when planning and doing.

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