The Routines section allows you to define tasks you have to perform regularly. The system will generate, automatically and as often as you have defined, the actions corresponding to each routine.
If you click on the Add Routine button to define a new recurring task, the Routines Editor will appear:
The Routine Editor groups all the necessary information to define a routine in several areas:
- Description of the event or action to be performed. Describe the task in a concrete way in the text box. You can include the context in which the task should be done using tags. Below the text box you have the list of the most used tags. If you need to use any of them, you just have to click on the tag to be added to the text.
- Perspective. To make sense in your life, every action should respond to a greater purpose, defined by a goal and/or one of your areas of responsibility.
- Notes. Add here all the support information needed to complete the task.
- Files. You can also add support material needed to perform the task by attaching files that you have on your computer or in the cloud. These files will be associated to each action generated by the routine but they will not be duplicated, that is, they will not occupy extra space for each action.
- Checklist. Sometimes, having a list of check points in the routine can be very useful to ensure that you will not forget any detail when carrying out the action. You can sort the points in the list by dragging and dropping them. You can also import previously defined checklists.
- Choice criteria. The choice criteria are valid for the recurring actions that do not go to the Calendar, but to the Next Actions list. They will allow you to use the “What to do now?” tool within the Engage stage — if it is not necessary to perform an action on the same day that it’s generated but it can be done on any of the following days, uncheck the Calendar option and it will appear in the Next Actions list.
- Recurrence. In this section you define everything related to the programming of the routine. It will be discussed in detail below.
When you edit an existing routine and save the changes, the recurring actions will not be generated again, unless you have modified any data within the Recurrence section.
If you only modify data that does not affect the programming of the routine (description, notes, choice criteria, etc.), the current programming will not be updated and the new info will be effective when the next occurrence is generated.
The programming of the routines is done by appropriately configuring the options of the Recurrence section. Four types of frequency can be defined:
- Daily. You can generate actions every day, on weekdays or weekend days. You can also define frequencies of the type “every several days”, in which you will have to indicate the number of days between ocurrences.
- Weekly. For actions that you have to do on specific days of the week. You have to indicate the days of the week in which it should be done and whether you must do it every week, every two weeks, etc.
- Monthly. For actions that you have to do on a specific day of the month. You can also define recurrences like “first Monday of the month” or “last Friday of the month”. Also, you must specify if you have to do it every month, every two months, etc.
- Yearly. Reminders for a particular day of the year. Useful for birthdays, anniversaries, renewal of contracts, etc. You can also specify every how many years it takes place.
You can indicate that the task must be done at a specific time of the day. By default, 00:00 indicates a task that does not have a specific time, or that takes up the entire day. Also, you can set the duration of the event, which by default is one hour.
If the Calendar option is checked, the actions generated by the routine will go to the Calendar. In this case, the “choice criteria” are deactivated because they do not make sense in actions that belong to the Calendar — following the GTD method, in the Calendar there must be only actions that have to be done on a certain day. No matter how energetic you are or how little free time you have, you’ll have to do them.
If you uncheck the Calendar option, the generated actions will go to the Next Actions list, indicating an expected date (not a deadline). In this case, the time and duration of the event are deactivated since they are not used in that list.
The advanced options allow modifying the way the dates are calculated and how the recurring actions are generated.
- Inactive until: Allows you to “hide” the action generated by the routine in the Tickler File until a few days before the scheduled day for its execution, so that it does not distract you when it is not yet necessary.
- Starts: Allows you to set a date from which the actions of the routine will begin to appear. The first action will appear on the first date equal or later than the one indicated that matches the specified recurrence.
- Ends: It allows you to indicate how long this routine should be generating actions. You can define a specific number of ocurrences, or an end date.
- Calculated. There are certain recurring events that, when delayed, must delay the next occurrence, such as “vaccinate the dog every three months.” If you delayed a couple of weeks the last vaccine, the next should one be three months after you put it on. For this class of actions, use the calculated on completion option.
- Generates. The usual thing is to generate only one recurring task, so that the Calendar does not get filled with tasks that can create distraction. However, sometimes, due to planning issues, it is interesting to simultaneously have all the occurrences of a routine for the next week in the Calendar, so you don’t miss any appointment. Usually, if you do not skip the Weekly Review, generating all the actions for a month will not be necessary.
Turning actions into routines
You can turn an existing action into a routine by editing the action and using the window that allows you to assign a date to an action within the Task Editor. If the action you are editing is already a recurring task generated by a routine, then you can update its recurrence right there:
This option allows you to program a recurring event exactly the same way as you would do in the Routine Editor.