tracking recurring tasks?

Does anyone have a good way of tracking recurring tasks? I've been looking at a program called Sciral Consistency, but I'd prefer a good paper solution. None of the ways of dealing with todo lists (electronic or paper) seem to handle repeating daily or weekly tasks very well.

-Kenny

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Good question - depends

Looking at the application, I'd say it depends on the urgency of the tasks.
The app was designed to track tasking that is (in the words of Stephen Covey) “important, but not urgent.”

I find the concept interesting and I think the application fills a valid niche. So, we are looking for an analog/paper equivalent, yes ?

How about this:

  • For each task, use a generic checklist - like pp 69/70 from the DIY 3 Classic Core
  • Put the task title / description at the top
  • On the line with the checkbox, put the next due date
  • When you perform the task, check the checkbox and then put the next "due-date" on the next blank line.

Depending how you set up your planner, it may add a section or sub-section to it.

Comments ?
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"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Recurring task in paper planners

For recurring task I write a `recurrence tag' after the task description, like `(1W)' for weekly tasks or `(2M)' for bimonthly tasks. Example:

"Backup notebook (2W)"

After checking off the task I schedule the follow-up immediately.

Juergen

I used to do something

I used to do something similar in that I would schedule the next recurrence after completing the the current task. What I do now though is maintain two physical checklists, one for daily/weekly and the other for monthly/bimonthly/quarterly etc.

On the daily/weekly I have one checklist for those activities that get done every day and further checklists for Monday, Tuesday etc. for those actions that need to be done on that specific day of the week. I don't have a weekly checklist simply because my weekly actions are tied to a specific day rather than any day of the week.

The monthly checklist is similar in that there is a monthly list for those actions that get done every month and then checklists for January, February etc. Actions that are scheduled say bimonthly get recorded under the particular month, e.g. February, April, June and so on. If the action is fairly time specific like last the Thursday of the month I annotate appropriately. I do not put these actions under the Thursday checklist as their frequency is monthly but can accept it could be done.

I have then laminated the two lists and punched them for my binder/planner with the addition of a making a cut from the edge to the punch hole so they 'zip' in and out like a pagemarker/ruler making them easy to move from one day to the next in my planner or to take out to work on. The checklists get reviewed daily.

When an action is completed, I mark it off using an OH projector pen which washes off later allowing reuse.

Bob H.

recurring tasks

I've never liked the way digital planners handled it either. Seems to get what I wanted, I had to schedule it like an appointment instead of a task.

In paper, if it is truly recurring, I just build it into my planner. I only print out about 3 months at a time, so if something changes, I don't have to redo or scratch out a whole years worth. But, I have a check box on Wednesdays and Saturdays for taking out the trash. At times when I've been better at minding my health and fitness, I've had check boxes for daily exercise and water intake. I have check boxes for giving my dogs their flea and heartworm medicine and check boxes for my own medicine.

If such a thing were digital, I could then truly graph or track how 'good' I'd been. But at least as I flip through my planner I can flip through and get an idea.

The bad thing with this, is that if for example I miss the dogs heartworm medicine, it doesn't autoforward to the next day. I just have to be good about my weekly review.

-kmorris

Recurring Tasks

This is actually one of two things that I still track digitally. I have Agendus on my Palm handheld, and it tracks recurring tasks beautifully. The task shows up on my todo list on the day it's due (or earlier, if I've set it up that way), and when I complete it, the next instance shows up.

The other thing I haven't figured out how to go analog with is my schedule. I have meetings at work that get rescheduled so frequently, that even our corporate calendar can't keep up!

Use pencil

and get a BIG eraser

:)
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"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Tickler file

Two ways:

* A notecard written in obnoxious red ink dropped into the tickler file sitting at my elbow. For frequent tasks, I'll write the day of the week on the top of the card, so I re-file it properly when done. Monthly tasks like mortgage payments just stay in the "month" portion of the tickler, and get moved forward each new month.

* As notes on my paper DIY calendar -- typically only weekly recurring items need to show up here, and I just jot them on the day heading. On Tuesdays, I have to pick up my daughter from class, so I have a note written to myself about this sitting on the "Tuesday" heading.

That's it! All the years of electronic nagging and beeping and alerts, and I've found that paper and pens just does the trick for me.

WeekDate

Have you seen the WeekDate calenders? I'm scared that the potted meat filter will catch me if I give the URL, but just add a com to the end of the name.

I can't remember who pointed me towards them (whether it was in this or another forum) but I have one for 2008 and I LOVE it!

It was designed by a woman who got fed up with not having a coherent way to record regularly recurring tasks.

Cool stuff!

I had forgotten about the weekdate system! Wish I had remembered it before 2008 began. I don't need something like this, but my wife, I believe, would love it! I need to show it to her. (homeschools, and a fair bit of extra-curricular activities to boot!)

Thanks.

On a related note, somebody here did something sort of similar, and I remember a few of us trying to "Circify" it with top and side rings... Was the Nay Nay? Don't remember...

-Jon

very cool system

Again, not one for me, but my SO is interested. I am a windows person, she is a Mac person, and she is afraid that any templates I might make for her would, well, not be pleasing to look at every day. :) So, we'll either get the week date system, or she'll make her own templates and we'll circafy it together.

I'll be looking up that top and side ring system too.

-kmorris

WeekDate disappointing

Oh, I'm the SO that was so interested in the Weekdate. A local store had them in stock, and I just went to look at it. It's rather large. Too long for my purse. :(

The format is great, and I like the concept, but I thought I would warn people that this particular thing is bigger than you'd think. It's bigger than a checkbook, which was what I was expecting.

Oh well, in the spirit of DIY, I'll try to make one up of my own.

WeekDate wall calendar

Neat site! Looks like the WeekDate wall calendar would be good for the household activities(school project due dates , who is going to which activity, business trips). I've found that if I keep all of this information just in MY planner, then I am the only one who is taking responsibility for it. If it is out in the open for everyone to see, then at least they could take responsibility for the action (but mom still does all of the organization). Of course, I would stick it on the refrigerator since everyone is guaranteed to go there. I just might try building one this weekend, using the circa system to bind it altogether.

refigerator?

I kind of forgot that most people have frigs where you can put something, and actually see it! (Ours fits under the counter). I guess that's why I didn't look at the wall calendar. Maybe now's the time to get ourselves that second frig (for our stair tower), just to hang this calendar from. ;-)

(Quick image of our kitchen--well, half, at least: LINK

-Jon

Foot-notes ?

Ankle notes ?
shin notes ?
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"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

dem notes...

..connected to de knee notes, an' de knee notes connected to de thigh notes..

-Jon

what a small fridge

Where do you fit all of the useless condiments?

On the ledge outside the window ?

No smell that way. Inside :)

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"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

useless?

Let's just say that the fridge requires diligence. No such thing... everything has a place, and must be in it.... or it's tossed... :-) (or not bought, is more like it)

-Jon

Autoforwarding on paper

Kmorris mentioned the issue of tasks not autoforwarding to the next day if you don't do them on the scheduled day. My solution to that problem might also help with recurring tasks.

I cut down a post-it* note to whatever size I need, write the task on that, and stick it on the day I want it done, or the first day I need to notify myself about it. If the task doesn't get done that day, I simply transfer it to the next day.

For a let's say weekly recurring task, perhaps you could transfer the note to the following week once you've completed the task for each week. (The problem with that, though, is that while it would remind you to get a task done, it wouldn't work so well with recurring appointments that need to be blocked out every week to avoid scheduling conflicts.)

*or generic equivalent

Simple and elegant - I like it !!

Sticky-Note Tasking !!
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"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

this does sound pretty good

how long do your stickies last? Do they ever come unstuck and fall out letting you forget a task?

but pretty simple means it might work pretty well

-kmorris

stickiness

I haven't had a problem with notes falling out yet. But don't worry anyway, you'll be able to tell when a sticky is losing its stickiness well before it drops out. I have one that's loosening up, but that one I move every day, and have been for weeks now. (It's got its own purpose, not a task I keep putting off...) So far, the stickies have been holding on securely for quite a long time -- many weeks (that's as long as I've been using them) and they're still going strong.

Stickies hang on to the Moleskine

There are still stickies (post-it notes) in my 18 month planner that have survived the past 18 months of misuse and abuse..........

Super Sticky!

Post-it now makes Super Sticky notes. Oh are these wonderful. You can pull them off a desk and tack them to a piece of paper a bunch of times! Oh how I love my Super Sticky post its

Post-It for recurring tasks

I have used the Post-It Arrow Flags for a long time to track recurring tasks in my planner. I write on them with a Fine Point Sharpie. I would say that each tag lasts through at least 60-90 moves (2-3 months for a recurring daily task) before it looses it stickiness. This is by far the best solution I have come up with. The only problem is that I don't get to 'check off' a completed item. Since I just move the items to the next day or week, at the end of the day my To-Do list might be blank.

Thanks for the tip!

I love this idea! And I love the colors, too! Thanks!

sporter
"To fly, we must have resistance."

Use book flags

My solution to the recurring task problem was to use post-it book flags, the transparent sticky type. They are already small and colorful, yet the transparent part doesn't cover up stuff in my planner.
-Sarah

If you google the

If you google the following

"power systems tools" weekly/monthly planning

you will get a link to a great little paper worksheet for tracking recurring tasks. I've been using it for a year or so and like it a lot. It works great as long as I remember to check it every week. It's for ADHD peole, and they also have other worksheets and planning pages. I've looked for years on the net for a good paper tool for tracking recurring tasks, and this is the best--make that the only one I've found.

You can make up your own in Excel or buy theirs, and it's very flexible and customizable. I like the way they highlight the target date and you check off the box--neat little way to
see what you've already done and what remains to be done.

I made one with six months per page and printed it out landscape, punched holes in the short side, and folded it over in my planner.

And how much did it cost ?

All the stuff here is free.
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"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

I googled "power systems

I googled "power systems tools" weekly/monthly planning. You know what the first link was? This post! HA!

I have something like this set up for our home cleaning schedule. I have a list of things that get done weekly, biweekly, monthly, bimonthly, quarterly and annually. For the weekly, biweekly, monthly and bimonthly tasks, I number the weekends on the calendar 1 - 8, so every week, the weekly items get done, Weeks 2, 4, 6, & 8, the weekly and biweekly items get done, etc. For the quarterly items, they are done the first weekend in January, April, July and October. The annual stuff normally gets done in June.

I don't think I'd admit to that level of organization anywhere but here! :-)

Thanks Glenda - an ADHD pointer

Thanks Glenda for the tip... there are some interesting ideas in their forms there at thepowerplanner (add com). And they actually give you enough of a look at their forms to get an idea of what you might be buying (or partially cannibalizing for DIY). Their ideas on developing systems is an interesting take... for those of us who are just ADHD enough to make a difference. (hmmm... I guess there are a couple ways to take that last phrase, huh?)

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"We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence then is not an act,
but a habit." - Aristotle

Planner for students

I'm eagerly waiting for their kids' planner. My son has ADHD (9 yrs) and I'm trying to encourage him to use his planner everyday. I tell him that his mom has to use a planner everyday and she is very old so he will need to learn this skill now and use it for the rest of his life. Any ideas on how to get kids organized now (and not necessarily down my road of obsessive-compulsiveness with planning)?

Mine is 8

and I keep a list on the fridge of everything he needs to do each day, separated by time frame (i.e. morning tasks, afternoon tasks, and bedtime tasks). He gets to check them off (with a marker that prints a star), and I check them over.

It really reduces stress on both of us - I don't have to remind him to do everything, and he doesn't get stressed out trying to remember if he did it!

We used to keep one in his bedroom, too, with morning and nighttime tasks, but it was too much to keep track of.

We also keep the family calendar on the fridge at his eye level, and he checks it every morning and every night, which helps in the getting ready for tomorrow and making sure he has everything for today.

I try not to create OCD in him, just train him to work around his ADHD. He needs to be an effective adult, not a calendar-bound child, IMHO. That means only working on one or two habits at a time, and when those are fully ingrained, then work on another. This has been really hard for my calendar-based multi-tasking self... But no kid is going to be great at planning, and ADHD kids less so. Eight and nine is too young to be forced to carry a planner, but not too young to learn to use one. Hence the fridge-thing. Organization lessons without making him look "special" or "freaky" by being the only kid with a planner!

If you'd like, I can make a DIY version of our fridge list.

Great Point!

"Eight and nine is too young to be forced to carry a planner, but not too young to learn to use one."

This is a fantastic observation. My girls (8 and 10) both have assignment planners that they were given at school - they fill in homework, due dates, upcoming events, etc. Not too much detail - just reminders of what to get done and stuff to tell the parents. When they were younger we used the fridge checklist for thier chores as well.

My 10yo asked me to build her a logbook/planner for her swim training - her competition season is almost over and she wants to plan and track her off-season training regimen. Fitness/aerobic stuff, laps by stroke, etc. I love that girl!

Reese

I see your point(s)

Thanks HS and Reese for the feedback. My son also has a school-required planner that he has trouble remembering to use. I was hoping to quietly replace his school planner with the power planner but see that it might cause issues if he thinks he needs to carry it around with him for his at home tasks. I like your idea of breaking up the tasks by time frame. I hope to have time this weekend to put together a circa-fied version of the WeekDate calendar mentioned in previous posts and find a way to include the kids' lists.

Holy Moly!

I just built one of their forms (well, very similar) for my own use.

I may order one of their forms for the daily planning.

I like the weekly/monthly planning too.

Thanks for a great resource.

t.

Printed stickers

Back when I was keeping my to do list in my planner/diary, I used to print my regular to do items onto plain stickers and stick them into my planner.

At the time I was using some A4 sheets of stickers that could be used in a photocopier. So I could change a copy of my monthly 'master list' in pen, photocopy the list onto the sticker sheet, and cut it up for use in the planner. It just saved me having to type it up.

:) Although this kind of over-eagerness explains why I've eased up on mega-planning now. :)

Simple Xcel

I made a spreadsheet in excel which I put on my frig for my daily at home recurring tasks (dogs daily meds, walks, water plants, etc.).

Landscape page
Left column is task
Top row is the date
make a check mark when the task is done for that date

I think you could make something like this for daily, weekly or monthly tasks! Oh yeah, for things I only have to do once a month, I make that square on the spreadsheet darker so I know that is the day I have to do that task!

not sure if that helps anyone - I think someone else made something like this - was it called a habit tracker or something??

Recurring tasks tool

Yahoo calendar has great options for recurrences, better than Gmail and better than the iPhone/iPod Touch. And you can set two reminders, with lots of options for that also, to go to your email or mobile device.

I've set up my recurring tasks there as all-day events. Then use the Event List view to print out a list of tasks for the coming month. I'm still looking at all the options, but it looks promising. For appointments I use a paper planner, and I'll stick my event list into the planner.

I've come to the conclusion that paper lists, moving stickies around, etc, are too fiddly and not reliable enough if you really need to do these things for your business or financial matters. A good electronic solution seems more reliable--set it up once and it just keeps reminding you. I've also set up some of these in my cell phone, but I know I'll be changing phones in a year or so, and may not be able to transfer it all over. And if I lose my cellphone it will all be lost. I feel much safer having it all on Yahoo.

Recurring and Repeating Items...

A PDA and WIndows solution to repeating items that works well is LIFE BALANCE by LLAMAGRAPHICS. Its way of handling repeats is excellent.

Tried that

Hi.

I tried that a while back--the version I used wasn't all that awesome for repeats, but there were lots of request for change so maybe the later version does it better.

However, it isn't the cheapest tool in the kit.

If you love PDA, it might be cool, but it was too hard for me to use the tiny screen after a while. My eyes are getting old.

shris

homemade matrix

I used the oOo template and created a modified action items page. At the top I put a description section. After this, I have multiple lines to describe repetitive tasks. I use this to document all the reports I do daily at work. Below this, I inserted a spreadsheet to track completion of my listed items. It is 31 cells wide and the same amount of rows as my list. I just X off each item as I do it. I found that I can track my monthly repetitive tasks this way.

- Steve

Context makes a difference

When I worked in an office, I used checklists all the time, and I still use checklists for specific clients, similar to your spreadsheets.

Nowadays I'm self employed and have a monthly checklist that I put in each client's binder and use check marks and underlines. For example, for a task that needs to be done once a quarter, such as
Payroll forms J___ A___ J___ O___
(for January, April, July, October). Then I put a check mark in the appropriate blank if I did it that month. That way the client can look at the checklist and see what I've done. And I can have a standardized monthly checklist that works for all my clients and just needs minor customization. Lots of people who are new to running their own business need reminders like this even if they want to do these things themselves, so they can go through the checklist and see what needs to be done and when, if it's not a regular monthly event.

Recently, however, I've been waking up in the middle of the night wondering if I forgot to do some task that has tax consequences, like filing a sales tax form. The forms and checklists are at the client's office, so when this happens I don't have any way to quickly verify what I've done. I generally make notes in my appointment book of what I've done, but sometimes I get rushed and don't write everything down. So I feel the need for some sort of record of what I've done and also a reminder I always have with me so I can just quickly check my own records. I've found that setting up the recurring events in either Google or Yahoo calendar is helping. The email reminders are godsends,and I'm developing my monthly task lists based on the Yahoo event lists. I paste the Yahoo event list into Word and print it out and stick it in my planner. Then as I complete something I cross it off and jot down the date I did it. This has given me peace of mind as I feel more confident that I won't forget anything. I hope eventually to have standardized lists for each month in Word that I can print out, including things like Get a Flu Shot, Buy Halloween Candy, Renew CPA License, Take Care of CPE, etc, in the appropriate months.

I used to trust my memory, as it seemed I had total recall for details. But last year I had a head injury and some amnesia, and I just don't trust my memory any more.

I agree with Steve about the spreadsheet. I used to have a somewhat complicated payroll to do every week and in order to get it done without forgetting anything I had a detailed checklist set up in Excel. It really gave me a sense of control and it helped me get from a good enough job to perfect, so people could rely on my performance.

What I have never understood is that there are a lot of people out there who look at checklists and just don't like them. They don't want to use them. And they think they can do these complex tasks without help, and they usually forget something. I've found checklists to be my best friends for detailed, demanding, complex tasts and for things that are critically important, where it's not acceptable to make mistakes.

It's really an interesting process, even an art, to develop a checklist and to format it so that it's usable and useful.

Wow

I'm a CPA too. I am good with spreadsheets and I've created almost all of my DIY planner using Excel because I couldn't find anything that fit my needs exactly. I am still working out the best way for me to handle tasks. I am good about making lists but the GTD way of putting everything on one list with no priorities and no due dates has been hard for me. I frequently find myself staring at my loooooong list and feeling overwhelmed. Whether I want to or not, I can't seem to move anything forward without prioritizing. Also, I feel that I can't function without making a daily to-do list. Consequently I am yet to find checklists that work for me on a personal level. The checklists and spreadsheets I make for my business work beautifully. But personally not so good. Any tips?

Re: wow

Krista,

Here's an approach that I've been using for several weeks, so far with good results. Like you, Excel is my GTD list-keeper.

Before I leave the office, I (1) review the next actions list, (2) identify my priority items for the following day, (3) place asterisks in the columns next to the items and (4) filter on the asterisk field.

Then I print the filtered list.

any chance?

any chance you could share the oog file? :)

my artwork | my blog

Sure Thing Sara

Sara, here is the link to the monthly tracking template I created. I thought I replied to this yesterday but it never showed in the comments.

Steve

Admin to the rescue :)

Two things: Because of the link, the Spam Filter gotcha. It's a very nasty filter, sadly necessary. Reference: DIYPlanner's War on Spam

Secondly, templates do not "appear" automatically. They must be reviewed and "approved". BTW, very nice template. You should see it up now.
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"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Any way to get that in a 3x5

Any way to get that in a 3x5 size? Nice Template!

Try reduction

I have had good results printing Classic size onto Hipster cards, but they do not all scale.
Contrarywise, the template creator was kind enough to post the OpenOffice-Draw file, so you could try editing it down to a Hipster version.
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"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)