Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Getting Control of Repeating Tasks in the New Year

The New Year is a good time to make those grand plans and resolutions. This year, make it a time when you will get control of all of the routine tasks in both your personal and professional lives. From replacing the filter in heating/cooling system to buying the spouse’s gift at anniversary time, we all have tasks that come around the same time every week, month, quarter, or year. If you are like most people, those tasks will number in the hundreds. Hoping you remember each one at the right time is an exercise in futility and a huge stress producer.

One of the biggest productivity boosters for me over the last 30 years has been recognizing repeating task as soon as they appear and putting them in a system. Thirty years ago that system consisted of each task being written on an index card. The task was written in the middle of the card and instructions for when it needed to be done again were written at the bottom. The cards were then thrown in the tickler file.

Over twenty years ago, the system evolved into one continuous list of repeating tasks organized by month. It was stored electronically so that adding tasks and reprinting the list annually were easy.

Today, repeating tasks are housed in Outlook. Enter a task, click the “Recurrence” button, and set the repeating pattern, and I never have to hope I remember to do that task again.

The repeating task system keeps the routine aspects of my life running, keeps the stress level low, and frees my attention for bigger things.

The following podcast is one that appeared on the Eye on Education blog. You can also read about your choice of three systems for handling repeating tasks in this post.

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