This post is part of an ongoing series on How I Use Todoist.
If there’s one thing I’ve always needed from a to-do list manager, it’s recurring tasks.
I’m a creature of habit. I don’t like to have to think about or remember certain tasks. I want them to just pop up on my list so I can knock them out.
This may or may not be the way your brain works. The philosophy behind the Bullet Journal Method, which I had used prior to Todoist for a long time, required you to engage with your to-do list regularly: managing it and clearing/repeating transaction intentionally. I understand the value in doing this, but in practice, it didn’t work well for my brain. I found myself too often managing my to-do list instead of executing my to-do list.
Honestly, recurring tasks is the main reason why I switched from my Bullet Journal back to an app, and I’m really glad I did. Setting up recurring tasks is simple and straightforward, and it’s much easier for me to just pull up my list every day and see what I have to do instead of having to build that list every day.
Time is money, after all.
The power in Todoist, of course, is the granularity you can use when building your recurring tasks. Want things to repeat every day? Cool. Every weekday? Awesome. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday? Okay. Every third Wednesday? You get the idea.
Why not use a calendar?
I’ve read countless blog post from other productivity nuts who say that a calendar is the best to-do list app you can use. On the surface, I agree with this. You can have that same level of granularity.
But with a calendar, you have to assign these activities to certain times. And if I don’t get to my desk until 8:17am one morning because one of the kids threw up, or I didn’t get into the shower quickly enough, or whatever… what do I do with my 8:00am task? Do I have to cut it? Do I get to it now and push off my 8:30am task?
Sure, I could use recurring events and set them to “All Day” events, keeping them at the top of the calendar for the day. But switching between those and time-based tasks really strikes me as unintuitive. It gets cluttered very quickly, and even a little bit of clutter in my plans for the day will derail anything I try to accomplish.
To time or not to time?
That being said, there are cases where recurring tasks should be done at a particular time. I set my “Start Up” task to kick off at 8:00am every weekday. I don’t always get to it right away at 8:00am, but I do that so it sits at the top of my to-do list.
Time-based tasks also have the added benefit of an automatic notification pinging my phone. Getting that little ding at 8:00am is a little reminder to wrap up what I’m doing and head up to the office.
Others are things I need to be reminded of at night. Filling the water softener is something I do on Sunday nights. Taking the dumpsters down to the curb is another nighttime activity. I set these types of activities to 8:00pm so that I am reminded of them after I know my kids are probably in bed.
However, because of my problems with time-based scheduling, I try to use the time-based recurring task as little as possible. That way, I know these particular tasks are important to remember.
What tasks do I set to recurring?
I divide my tasks into various buckets, including work-related tasks, administrative to-dos, and personal things I want to get done.
Right now, I see a pretty sizable list of recurring tasks that I don’t have to worry about remembering anymore, thanks to Todoist:
- My daily fiction writing for my books
- Pitching new blog content for one of my clients every month
- Scheduling social media content
- Writing my Reader Email every week
- Various marketing activities that need to be done daily
- My End of Day Review
- Taking garbage and recycling dumpsters to the curb on Thursday evenings
- Backing up my media server every week
- Paying bills on the 1st and 15th of every month
- Making sure my wife takes her nausea pills every night (hooray for pregnancy!)
These are all things that are important to my personal and professional life, and I don’t have to worry about whether or not they’re getting done, because every time I need to do it, it slides right into my to-do list for the day. I don’t have to think about what I have to do – I just get busy doing it.
I know there are plenty of people whose brains don’t work the way that mine does. Do what works for you. But I find that my energy is better spent knocking things off my to-do list, rather than spending brain power trying to remember all the stuff.
If you want to know more about creating recurring tasks in Todoist, you can click here for all the different options you have available to you.