Repeating tasks are a core feature of any GTD type system. There are some tasks that repeat on a regular basis – things like taking out the garbage, paying taxes, backing up your computer. Some of these tasks are done daily, some weekly, some monthly, and some quarterly. Being able to schedule a repeating task to remind you to do these things is absolutely critical to keeping you sane, and making sure everything gets done.
Back when I used Things1, and now that I use OmniFocus2, repeating tasks are a staple of my system. I don’t want to have to remember anything. I want my system to remind me to do the things that I need to do. That is pretty much the entire point, after all.
Repeating Task Overkill
There comes a point, however, when your entire daily task list is populated by repeating tasks. You wake up in the morning and look at your OmniFocus Due list, and every single task is of the repeating variety. This is a trap!
When all of your tasks are repeating, that means you are just treading water. You aren’t moving forward on any of your projects. During your super busiest3 times, this is probably fine. But normal times? It’s a horrible, horrible trap. You’ll be checking off boxes left and right, thinking that you’re making progress. Instead, you’re going nowhere in a big hurry.
Always make sure you are moving forward
Look at your Due list for today. If it’s entirely, or nearly full of repeating tasks, it’s time for a Super Review. Go through each and every one of your repeating tasks to make sure they are necessary. If you can repeat them at a slower rate, do it. Maybe you don’t need to check your PO box every week, when ever two weeks will do just fine. You get the idea.
The more repeating tasks you can knock off your list permanently, the more work you can actually get done. Due lists should just be your first stop, not your only stop.
Build a Next Actions perspective, if you haven’t already. This is where you should aim to spend more time, as it will actually move you through projects. This is the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. This is how I set up my Next Actions list:
Basically it shows the next available task of every active project I have. I don’t have to look at things that I can’t do, which means less clutter. When you’re checking off tasks from this perspective, you know you’re really making progress.