Task Charts for Recurring Tasks

In a discussion over at David Seah, I described my current way of keeping myself organized and motivated, and possibly even balanced (which was the original goal of his form).

As requested by another commenter, here are the two forms I use right now. Most of the stuff I do each day repeats either daily, weekly or monthly, or something in between.

Truthfully, these forms are only reasonable facsimiles. I use graph paper and do it all by hand. Pencil and paper reinforces that they are tools to serve me, not tools to be perfected for their own sake. I can add, remove, and change tasks as I like. I don’t have to turn on the computer to celebrate finishing a task (aka make a checkmark). I don’t have to turn on the computer in the morning to see what I should do next. I don’t have to turn on the computer to print out another copy.

You see the pattern? Turning on the computer before I’ve done a good chunk of work is a sure-fire way to ensure I don’t earn any checkmarks.

But I don’t print neatly enough to be worth scanning. My actual sheets are in pencil, which won’t work on our scanner.

The first chart is the Daily Chart.

The first few columns are easy. I try to do those things first in the day, but the x is earned as long as they’re done before the next meal. Supper means I got it on the table on time. Yes, I need the the promise of a checkmark to get supper organized early. Putting laundry away can be earned any time. Happy face if laundry is totally up to date.

The Self-Improvement columns get minutes, but I don’t total them. If I look at totals, I say, “I did so much yesterday, I can afford a day off,” or I promise myself, “I’ll skip today and double tomorrow, promise.” For many things, regular short work is best. Also, regular short builds a habit, which is what I want. P, L, G and W give more details: Pilates class, Lesson, Guild Meeting, Performance, Walking with the moms. Again, I want to see trends. Most of my time singing is at the lesson, which is not good, but better than nothing. Most exercise is walking with the moms, so I need to make an extra effort to get the kids to school on time so I don’t miss it.

Weekly, monthly and project, I record the time and what I did. I can later look and see the balance. I’m curious how many hours I have to put in to keep the house as I want it, and what the ratios are. I spent two years believing that I could have a “standard” week, with so many hours in each category. What I found is that my weeks are too uneven for that. Appointments come in bunches. Also, if I run out of time, weekly physical has to take priority. An extra week between cleaning the bedroom is nearly as noticeable as between mopping the floors.

The second chart is the Weeky Chart, but it’s actually weekly and monthly. Just ignore the hash marks. Excel said the field was plenty wide for the data, but the PDF program thought otherwise.

I try to balance work in three areas: physical housework, desk-work, and room cleaning (what FlyLady calls zones, but more and smaller). I merge the two weekly ones on the daily chart. Fish and groceries are at the top because terrible things happen if they slip too much. I usually put too much time into physical and zones, so I expanded the Desk section, to make it more noticeable. It seems to be working.

I shade in the cell each day I finish the task, and half-fill the cell if I at least made some progress. Some tasks, like paying the bills, have to be totally done to count for full. Others, like cleaning a room (there’s always more to be done) need about 30 minutes. If a row has too many empty cells, I highlight it.

Sciral Consistency does this on the computer. Sciral says some tasks “Don’t have deadlines or rigid time intervals associated with them, [but,] in order to gain and retain their benefits, you must perform them on a regular basis over a long period of time.” It’s a nice program. You can prioritize, sort and group tasks, and set minimum and target times for each level. However, see the above comments about the computer. Even if I printed out a working copy, I’d still have to enter all the data later, to get the full benefit. Sciral also has nice yearly calendars for don’t-break-the-chain systems.

Full circle here: Sciral is where I read about David’s Compact Calendar.

So, those are the planning tools I use on a daily basis.

Questions?

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One thought on “Task Charts for Recurring Tasks

  1. Thanks for your compliments regarding Consistency cricketB.

    I would like to mention that Sciral recently released Consistency for the iPhone. So if you are an iPhone or iPod owner the following no longer applies.

    I don’t have to turn on the computer to celebrate finishing a task (aka make a checkmark). I don’t have to turn on the computer in the morning to see what I should do next.

    Yay!

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