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Think big and act small. Leslie Koch
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Discussion Forum > Recurring Tasks List

After reading Bernie's method for Incredible Timeless Calendar, I was inspired to describe the system I keep coming back to.

Start with four columns: Flag; Date due (or tickler date); Date last done; Description.

You can load in any order, as you think of the tasks.

Taking the columns from the right:

Description. As it says. Enough to remind me what I want to do, maybe even a bit more detail, such as "vacuum living room; Jan did behind furniture on north wall; Feb east". (I prefer a diary of what I did, since that doesn't change. My plans, however, change often.)

Date last done. When I see "vacuum living room", I know how long it's really been. I sometimes get optimistic. Vacuum again in one month! Due date arrives, then passes, and eventually I wonder how long it's been. This way, it's right in front of me, waiting patiently.

Date due (or tickler date). This one takes a bit of math, but not too much. If it's due in a week, include the day name, and my best guess of the date. If it's due in 6 weeks, that's close enough to 1 month plus 15 days. If in doubt, set it a few days early. As the date gets closer, and the correct calendar page is in front of you, correct it.

If I want extra notice, so you can set aside time to do the task by the due date, I use the tickler date instead of due date. You could add a symbol, but I don't find it necessary.

Flag. An extra column for dots or symbols or highlighting. Especially useful if I need to focus on only the highest priorities for a week.


When planning, look down the Due (tickler) column.

As you do something, cross it off, and write the next occurrence on the next empty row.

Eventually, the page will only have a few active tasks, most of which aren't due for a long time. Copy those to the next empty rows, and throw out the old page.


No need to change calendar page when I want to write something down.

Record of how long it has really been.

More room than a calendar to include details. Can use more than one line for a task.

Simple layout. Lined paper, possibly in a Bullet Journal, rather than calendar grid.

Handles any length of repeat.

Robust. No need to check old calendar pages in case I forgot one. No pressure to do things just to turn the calendar page.

Quick to check. All on one (or two) pages.

As much room as needed for multiple tasks due on the same day, without wasting space on days with nothing due.


Move things due in several months to the top of the next page. This puts them in a block that I can ignore for now.

Move things due in several months to several pages down the book. Not worth the effort.

Sub-columns for Due date, perhaps one per month or per season. This makes it faster to scan, since you only need to look at rows with something in that sub-column.

Spreadsheet. I didn't stick with this, but it was easy enough to set up. I added a column for "days between," and let it calculate the next due date. Then I sorted by due date. Then I added a column for task type, and sorted by that as well, and it lost the simplicity of pen and paper.
July 24, 2017 at 20:50 | Registered CommenterCricket
I agree about Date Last Done. That really is what it all comes down to!

A long time ago, I bought OmniFocus and set it up in a ridiculously elaborate fashion. The only part that survived was the recurring tasks, and they still run beautifully. I keep wanting to get rid of it, because I have a very old version that I don't want to upgrade, and it is yet another app in the mix. Too bad it's so darn convenient! It is basically your system but digital. Every item has a nice big comment box where I can keep a log of what's happening, last time it was done, things to remember for next time, etc. It gives me a great readout of the upcoming due dates, and it has no trouble with overdue tasks. They simply go at the top of the list in red.

I bought Scrivener (and love it), hoping it might replace OmniFocus (that would be a joke in general, but not the way *I* use OmniFocus). Scrivener has turned out to be a really great environment for taking notes and organizing them, but its date support is too primitive. So now I have all info and notes in Scrivener, with OmniFocus running as the due-date engine, containing lots of links to Scrivener items. Some day I will get out of OmniFocus completely; maybe there's a way to rig up your table in Scrivener. It does a spreadsheet-like column view. Hmmm.
July 25, 2017 at 7:19 | Unregistered CommenterBernie
Comment boxes with details reminds me of a system I tried, that failed. A separate index card, and in a later attempt page in a binder, per task (or group of tasks). The index cards were sorted by date I next wanted to do them. That was very difficult to keep up if I wanted to see just the truly important tasks, and had to look through each card. It was a bit better with larger pages and groups of tasks, but not much.

When my system crashed, I found remembered the details well enough. Every few days, I clean a kitchen shelf, the one that stands out most. (One shelf, in one cupboard, or even one side of one shelf--it's a Little-and-Often project, and when it's done, it will be time to start over.) The ones that get used more often, and therefore dirty faster, get cleaned more often. The rarely-used ones get cleaned rarely, usually when I want to put something new on them. No need for a detailed plan, or even a detailed record. (The thickness of the dust is the record!)
July 26, 2017 at 21:11 | Registered CommenterCricket