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The Beauty of the Recurring Task
Merlin Mann | Jan 18 2005
There’s a certain kind of to-do list item that can really bite you in the butt: the recurring task. While programs like Sciral Consistency are designed specifically for managing fuzzy-intervaled tasks, MS Entourage has a handy “Recurrence Pattern??? box that lets you define how often and when an item should pop up on your radar screen. This is a feature I love and use whenever I can.
In addition to the common “Every Monday??? and “Every Other Month??? items, Entourage lets you set a manual interval for repetition that’s based on the last time the task was completed. For example, anyone who’s lived in San Francisco knows how inexplicably dusty your house gets. I have a reminder to sweep the bunnies from the hallway every 5 days (regardless of the day of the week that falls on). So if I tick it off today, it automatically pops back up again next Sunday. Then it hangs around, bugging me, until I do it again, and so on.
This is a great feature for handling a lot of stuff you don’t want to forget about—but that you don’t want sitting interminably on your to-do list.
The thing I like best about this—and I admit that this is a subtle feature—is that regardless of how long it takes me to finish the task, it always re-generates itself with the correct interval. If I don’t feel like sweeping the floor and it takes 7 days instead of 5, no problem. Better next time.
Much nicer than watching a half-dozen, guilt-inducing items pile up behind one another like a traffic jam.
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