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productivitymashup.com

Productivity hacks weekly in bite-size chunks. Just up your alley if you're at least slightly geeky or a tad bit obsessed with Evernote or WorkFlowy!

Recurring Tasks and Space-Time Continuum

Frank Degenaar

A definition of "space-time continuum": 

"In the space-time continuum of General Relativity, events are defined in terms of four dimensions: three of space, and one of time, with one coordinate for each dimension; we continuously "move" along the time dimension."

All your ducks in a row

Imagine that all of your tasks in life laid ahead of you on one straight line. You tackle all of those tasks one at a time without wasting any effort - no restarts, no mistakes. All green lights. We simply do the perfect set of activities each day, one after the other. Why can't our paths to success and  happiness  be lined up in this way, one doable task at a time? I'm sure you could tell me a couple of reasons why this would not be the most ideal - especially the fact that we often learn from and grow as a result of our mistakes. But can we get our lives to line up something like this? Just a teeny tiny bit? Sure... it depends on your prioritization system. It also depends on what you want out of life.

Here's one aspect of things lining up for us: Recurring tasks. They're mostly a required part of our routine... and then there are those tasks or activities we choose to make part of our routine. We're going to take a super quick look at the idea of recurring tasks, and how one might slot them into your task-management system... but just to peek into another perspective, watch the following 1-minute Star Trek (TNG) video I clipped, just for you - Throwback Thursday style: 

S01E24, "We'll Always Have Paris" - May 2, 1988

Here's something that the Android, Lieutenant Commander Data, explains: 

"Oh, we are us, Sir... but they are also us... so indeed, we are both us... at different points along the same time continuum."

When I think of recurring tasks, they are already there ahead of us on our time dimension line... and as we move further along our time continuum, we encounter them again... and again. These recurring tasks play one of the biggest roles in shaping our habits - and therefore our success. They are either plotted on a calendar, programmed to recur automatically in our task management app of choice... or we lay them out manually in whatever app, shape or form.

 

Slow and steady wins the race

Haha, as I write this, I just got interrupted with a Duolingo notification on my lock screen: "Learning a language requires a little practice every day. Practice your Portuguese on Duolingo." Actually, I have a recurring task set up in Kanbana (iOS app) to remind me of that. It doesn't repeat on its own. I make it repeat by manually dragging and dropping it to the next day on my Kanban board. And the show goes on. 

"Recurring reminders" is probably the #1 feature request. App developers get harassed day and night to roll them out yesterday - and for good reason. Here are 3 ways I deal with recurring tasks:

  1. I have created my own task-management system, and much prefer dragging and dropping my recurring tasks to the next due date on my Kanban board, whether it be a daily, weekly or monthly recurring task... and one day at a time, my tasks "stream towards" me: http://www.productivitymashup.com/blog/2014/7/29/kanbana-app-jarvis
  2. I like to automate a couple of tasks in iOS reminders, since I have my iPhone with me most of the time. I have one or two tasks that I like to be alerted about at specific times. Every day at 9:30 pm I get a reminder to floss my teeth. It starts like this: Floss teeth (0/100). Each day I floss my teeth, I edit the reminder as follows: Floss teeth (1/100). That motivates me to not break the chain. Before long, these types of things become automatic. 
  3. for a couple of things that are not that urgent, such as watering my plants, I use a free email reminder service called "Followupthen". You simply email the service, including the time parameters in the address line: everytuesdayandthursday@followupthen.com, and add the task to be reminded about into the subject line: Water the plants!

I'm very much interested in how you smart folk out there go about automating or dealing with your recurring tasks. Please do share with us in the comments below. Thanks!