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Recurring but not date-specific tasks

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  • Recurring but not date-specific tasks

    OK, I've bought the concept, bought the book, and set up the folders and all, and I'm coming to the conclusion that there's a hole in the system that regular old to-do lists take care of but GTD doesn't.

    What do you do about tasks that should be done fairly regularly but aren't date-specific and don't have obvious visible triggers or drop-dead dates? At work, this can mean things like reviewing and signing off on attendance records; at home, things like balancing the checkbook and various kinds of household and automotive maintenance (e.g., changing the oil in your car). Eventually most of these things WILL become obvious and acquire deadlines if you don't do them, but for the sake of a stress-free life you want to get them done before that happens.

    There's a question about this in the FAQs, and the response is, IMHO, pretty lame, along the lines of "Gee, yeah, it's hard." I think the solution proposed is that you do create some sort of date-specific next action or pointer to the task, but I'd be interested to know whether anybody has come up with a clever solution.

    Thanks . . .

  • #2
    I use checklists for the items you have mentioned. I slot them into a checklist depending upon how often I want to review a particular item. For example, my monthly checklist includes an item to check the sticker on the windshield to see if I'm due for an oil change. My weekend chores checklist includes things like record receipts into checkbook and clean litterbox. On my context lists, I have a recurring reminder to review particular checklists at the appropriate interval. I use the due date function to tickle the checklist to my attention. I have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual checklists (plus a variety of checklists for reference, such as items to pack for a trip). I keep my checklists in HandyShopper because you can set it up specifically to make a checklist complete with a box to check off when done and then you can reset the whole list and start over. However, you don't really need a special program to make a checklist. You can just jot a checklist on a piece of paper. The creative use of checklists helps you to keep next action lists manageable. IHTH.


    • #3
      At first I need to agree with you that the system looks like have that hole, when you spend more time in it you discover, there is no hole (so far...).

      I also do checklist for many of my items that I want to check, I have toast list at work and at home (things to do other than tv to do when I am exausted: fill the stapler, fill the water bottle, empty the vacuum container) also I have Daily list, Weekly list, Monthly lists, with things I want to make sure I do daily, weekly (this list is mostly my WR list, I have all the WR, plus reconcile the bank statement, pay bills [I only pay bills on Friday and works great for me]) as well as things I need to do every month. My monthly list requieres to me work for a little over half a day and therefore is in my Tickler file (the complement to the lists)

      I put in my tickler EVERYTHING, DA is right you can use that baby for everything, I have notes for clean my dog toy (I do it every 3 weeks or so, therefore I just put it in the system when show up in the Tickler file, after done, the same piece of paper goes to the tickler 3 weeks for that date) clean the car, monthly planning list, backup schedule for work and for home, bills (if I check the mail today, I just get the bill and dump it on the friday folder, I did not even open the envelopes) things I want to buy (after I made my research goes into my tickler for a 4 weeks incubation process, I have save my self a bunch of money with this DA idea).

      One of the hardest things of GTD is stop thinking in the traditional way, and think in the GTD way, we think in TODO Lists, we think that we need to give attention to everything when they show up, we do not have a time to stop and think.
      I read also everyweek a chapter of Ready for Anything (There are 52 chapters... one per week in the year... DA is a genius without a doubt) this week was talking about push the clutch to change gears and be able to go faster... People in the traditional system tend to think that they need to push the gas pedal and are trying to get arround in the 1st gear at 7000rpm and complaining about the speed they are going but did not take the time to push the clutch change to second gear and see the difference.

      I hope this lines helps with what I was trying to explain, but remember that you can have many lists, I have tons, many people have tons of lists, and in case of doubt... put it in the tickler file. Have a nice day!


      • #4
        You are right, Apinaud, the tickler file rules! I have tickler folders for papers and use due dates on my Palm tasks as an electronic tickler.


        • #5
          tickler causes problems

          I really like the concept of a tickler, it seems elegant and practical but I think it requires that you have a very predictable life or maybe I just don't get how to use it. It makes sense if I restrict it's use to certain classes of actions, like small chores, particular exercises or things to mail. But if the items are one-of-a-kind or complex they are liable to get lost. Few of my days unfold as planned, so if I use a tickler, I end up with problems of losing items or fusing too much with re-scheduling. Let's say I file an item by the date I hope to take an action on it, that day comes and I am busy with other things and don't get to it. I may lose the item if I don't take it out and re-position it within the tickler. That re-positioning (re-scheduling) sometimes means taking other things out of the tickler, consulting the calender etc. and repositioning them within the tickler.
          Now let's say I file a reminder but not the item itself, that works a little better. I will not lose the item but I still have to do a lot of juggling if I don't get to the item on the designated day. A third problem, let's say I put something in the tickler for a certain date and then I need the item for some reason before that, I have to try to remember what day I put it in for and then do a lot of hunting to find it.

          Am I missing something the pragmatics of the tickler system?


          • #6
            fao Jamie


            The Tickler can also be used to trigger a project. So, if you have a multi-step one off task that does not to to start until 4 weeks hence you can put in your Tickler for say 3 weeks time. When the time comes, simply create a new Project on your projects list and an appropriate Next Action in your Contexts list.

            The "Tickle" can either be binned or become Project Support.



            • #7
              Sorry took me so long to reply... (but I was getting some things done!)

              The way I use the tickler file took me a little to figure it out, my Tickler file is a Personal Post Office (this came from GTDF!), what gets into my tickler do not need to get done that day, is simply that the day gets into my system.

              My WR are ussually Fridays afternoon after lunch, in general is a quiet time for me therefore works great, many times things get into my tickler in those fridays before my WR.

              At the beggining I was ussing the Tickler file as the remeber tool, therefore if I was due of a payment I put it on that day. After work a while in the system I discover that was a mistake, my tickler file is a personal Post Office, all the items get there just change from there to my system.

              I have 2 tickler files, one for actual papers, that jump directly into my inbasket (this tickler is at home), we are a paperless business therefore my tickler at work is in outlook. This is the only thing for what I use Outlook tasks, my projects/nas are in Life balance, my lists in memos...

              Many of my electronic tickler files, got into the system and get crossed out, therefore can be automatic repeated in the schedule defined by me, and I just got those into the system (clean car, download free itunes song, clean dog patio, clean dog toys, etc)

              My tickler is a great tool, if you want ideas, explain us how you use your and we can try to help us telling what we will do in your situation...

              have a nice weekend!