‹ Geoff Ruddock

Thoughts on managing recurring tasks

Sep 17, 2014

Most people use some combination of a calendar and todo list to organize their lives, whether it be a paper organizer or one of the myriad task list apps that pop up every day in the App Store. Personally I use a combination of Google Calendar and Todoist. Working together, these two do a pretty good job of keeping me organized. That said, the one type of task I have found awkward to manage are those tasks that you’d like to complete on a regular basis, but aren’t particularly time sensitive. Stuff like changing your bed sheets, backing up your computer, or cleaning up your itunes library.

They don’t belong on your todo list. It doesn’t make sense to clutter up your todo list with an endless stream of recurring tasks that aren’t relevant to your day-to-day goals. A cluttered todo list reduces your effectiveness, so you should be striving to keep it as clean as possible.

Neither do they belong in your calendar. These tasks don’t need to be done on a specific day or at a specific time. Treating these tasks as calendar events just clutters up your calendar with events that you probably won’t respect, and makes it more likely you’ll lose track of something important.

The solution: Augment your organizational system with an app specifically designed for recurring tasks. The two best such apps are Radar (iOS, $1.99) and Regularly (Android, Free). Radar is an iOS app that is specifically designed to handle those recurring tasks that don’t quite fit into either your calendar or your todo list. For Android users, Regularly has similar, although it isn’t quite as aesthetically pleasing.

These apps let you add recurring tasks and specify how often you want to do them, measured in number of days, weeks, or months. Then they keep you on track with a list of upcoming tasks and push notifications when they are due.

What is great about using Radar is that you aren’t imposing false deadlines on tasks that are in reality quite flexible. If you don’t feel like dusting out your PC today, you can just do it tomorrow. But Regularly will make sure you do it every six months. When “Call Mom” pops up, you don’t need to immediately do it, but you know to plan on doing it at some point over the next couple days. Radar/Regularly really starts to shine when you begin to add a bunch of tasks with longer horizons, such as checking your stock portfolio or changing your air filter. I have a list of around 30 semi-regular chores and tasks, so every week that I check the app I just do a couple things to stay on the ball.

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