James Eaton

March 14, 2021

March Blogging Challenge - Day 14 - Task

Automate your Tasks

A few months ago I redid my whole digital setup when it comes to apps and programs that I use to get work done. I reset my note-taking system, my journaling system, and my task lists. I have used all the task manager apps; from OmniFocus to ToDoist, I have tried them all. But instead of just changing that system for a new app or something interesting, I change how I handled my tasks, especially those tasks that are reoccurring. 

I was previously using a mix of my calendar and other to-do apps to manage those reoccurring tasks. I would have some that repeated, some that I added each week or month, and others that I just remembered (or honestly tried to remember). So, I set out in the new year to automate as much of this as possible. 

Insert a to-do app called... 2Do. I have almost everything in 2Do automated. I took those reoccurring items from my calendar like my mortgage payment, when to take the trash, and when to refill prescriptions and added those to 2Do. Here is the best part of this setup (which I am sure other task managers do as well) - I don’t see the tasks until they matter. So when I look at what is happening, I only see what is important in the next 24 hour. I use the defer action on the task to only show a day before the task is actually due. So, I don’t see that I need to talk out the trash until the night before when I need the reminder. 

So when I see the badge on my 2Do app icon, I know there is something time-sensitive that needs to be dealt with. When I see that little red badge, I know it’s crucial. I did the work ahead of time to get those random thoughts out of my head and into a program. David Allen, the king of GTD (Getting Things Done) talks about this with his saying, “mind like water.” Our mind is great for having ideas, but it’s a terrible place to hold ideas. We have to do something with that water for it to make a difference. So I use 2Do to put that water in containers and only see it when it’s important. 

If you are struggling to keep track of all the things that you need to accomplish, I would encourage you to sit down before a week starts and evaluate what it would takes to help you clean out your mind and find somewhere to put that water. Task automation has been a great system for me. There is a clear distinction between my notes, projects, information, and resources with tasks that need to be done right on time. Now I just take a few minutes each month to make sure that my tasks look good and add anything that needs to change. I’ve given into the routine and it’s been great. 

My goal this year is to build routines, and building out my reoccurring task list has been a great way to keep those routines going. I have not missed trash day all year (so far) in 2021; I could not say that in 2020...

Small steps can add up to make a big difference. I can actually tell a difference in my mental capacity from automating my reminders.