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hard-landscape tasks on non-daily timeframes

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  • hard-landscape tasks on non-daily timeframes

    First, thank you to David Allen for sharing his system and to the rest of you for forming this community.

    My question is:

    Do any of you have suggestions on how to handle tasks that are hard-landscape on a non-daily timeframe, especially those that recur, more especially those that recur on a every-few-days or weekly basis?

    The background is:

    I have used a calendar for years, and it's an epiphany to get my ASAP actions out of there! My question is WRT this sentence:

    The way I look at it, the calendar should be sacred territory. If you write something there, it must get done that day or not at all.
    (p. 41)

    I love this criterion, but I find there are still some time-specific actions, especially recurring actions, I need to get into my system that I'd like to obey a similar rule on, but on a time scale other than one day. For example, I want to be reminded to water a certain set of plants once per week. I feel like I can't assign it to a specific day in the calendar because if I didn't get it done on Tuesday, it would still be worthwhile to do it on Wednesday, so it is not hard landscape on a daily level. It is, however, hard landscape on a weekly level because if I don't get it done weekly the plants will die. However, I'm afraid of clogging one of my next actions lists with a recurring action that would desensitize me to the list entirely because I keep doing it but it keeps being frequently present on the next action list, and since this task takes longer than two minutes, using the tickler file for this purpose would wind up placing the recurring action into a next action list.

    Similarly with longer-term things like calling Mom 1x/month, requesting a credit report 3x/year, restaining the deck annually, and inspecting for termites every 3 years, although for these, perhaps a tickler file solution would be OK, since they are sufficiently seldom to prevent desensitization to the next action list.

    Thanks in advance for any wisdom you may have to share,

    Tim Heilman

  • #2
    If you're using an electronic system (ie. Outlook), you can set up recurring, dated tasks.

    But, it sounds like you're using paper, so maybe this will help. Drop a 3x5 notecard into the tickler for, say, Monday: "water plants (+7)". On Monday, when you review the tickler for that day, you can either (1) water the plants immediately, or (2) write "water plants" on your next action list. Then, the "+7" tells you to drop the 3x5 card into your tickler 7 days from now.

    (by the way, the tickler approach outlined above will work for electronic systems too if you don't like the idea of using dated tasks)
    Last edited by jknecht; 06-14-2007, 01:26 PM.


    • #3
      Woops! I should have read your post more carefully, timheilman. Ignore my previous suggestion. Sorry

      For "regular" items, I think most people use checklists. Where people keep these checklists and how they stay on top of them to ensure everything gets done? Well, I don't know, and I think that's a big part of the reason I don't use them.

      Me? Unless it's something I do every day, I put it on my "next actions" list -- but I don't put it on there until the first day I want to do it (see my previous suggestion that I just told you to ignore).
      Last edited by jknecht; 06-14-2007, 01:40 PM.


      • #4


        Thanks for your response. I'll try what you suggest and monitor whether I become desensitized to the next action lists.



        • #5
          Hi Tim,

          Recurring items that are non day/time specific and as a result dont end up on the calendar are really like any other Actions. They are something you want/need to be reminded about doing and they are something you havent made a decision about doing so, they belong on a list!

          You have a couple of good suggestions already as to which list you put them on.

          My preference and the way I handle them is the Checklist. I run two checklists one Monthly and one Weekly and those lists simply go into my Tickler file I review the Weekly list each Thursday during the Weekly review and the Monthly list on the last Thursday of each month again during the Weekly review.

          I find it forces me to make decisions on a couple of levels. Firstly, do I still need to be doing whatever is on the Checklist, and if it is still relevant then when am I going to do it? Once those decisions are made I simply put them into the hard landscape of the calendar. Very occassionally they will end up on a context Next Action list if I havent committed to a specific day / time but I tend to do that less than I used to I've found that by reviewing the Checklists either monthly or weekly they stay current. They are in Excel so they are easy to edit.

          For once off things that you think you might need reminding of sometime in the future just throw it on your Someday/Maybe list.

          Hope thats helpful.


          • #6
            Yep, checklists!

            Daily, weekly and monthly checklists are great for those little (or big) things that you know you should be doing regularly, but still need a reminder for. To avoid having my checklists turn into to-do lists I like to phrase my reminders as questions like "Watered plants this week?". That way if you happen to remember to do it anyway you can just go "yep, done that!" and tick it off. Asking yourself the question tends to get you in a good habit, and after a while you should start to automatically check those weekly things off without having to use the checklist or think about them (which is the important part).

            Again, those things that are less regular like "request credit report" fit best in the tickler file. If need be make a note on the note for when it needs to be re-filed, e.g. "request credit report (refile 3 months ahead)". For those tasks that are outside the next year like "inspect for termites every 3 years", either write a note "inspect for termites 2010" and drop it in the end of the year, and keep doing so until 2010 rolls around, or make a separate file for future years that you review at the end of each year.