Tracking periodic tasks for getting things done 4

I’ve been meaning to publish this technique for compactly tracking periodic tasks, both their completion and upcoming schedule on paper. There are also a couple of glyph techniques for using the limited area to best ability for tracking planned tasks, completed tasks and multiple tasks per week.

I use a 35 sheet organized as a spreadsheet with starting day of week (for me it’s Sunday) as the column heading (vertically written to save space — remember this is only 3 inches wide) and particular periodic tasks grouped into their contexts as row headings. Once every couple of months when I’m about to run out of space on the sheet, I shift the dates over with a little overlap, print out the sheet again, copy over the markings for the last couple of week so that I have a visual history of tasks so I can continue the trend, and put the sheet back in my Circa notebook.

The width of the week columns is such that i can place a small paper clip vertically as a marker of the current week.

An example of my categories and tasks are:

  • @financial

    tasks involving paying bills and people, periodically checking financial accounts
  • @errand

    getting haircut, picking up prescription medicine
  • @health

    working out, various health tests
  • @home

    things involving the car such as washing it, oil change, checking tire pressure, etc.

Only the @errand category really corresponds to a context that I actually use. The others are just to group together the entries.

About the image, I place a filled in circle in box when the task was done for that week. This means the task can only be tracked for being done at most once a week. The tasks that are done every few weeks can be measured and scheduled by counting out the boxes and drawing an empty circle for the week the task should be done.

The difference between a circle versus a triangle in corner is the circle tasks are best effort and can be forgotten, but the triangle ones must be done, e.g. they are bills or people that need to be paid.

For tracking a task that is done more than once a week, i fill in the entire
area in increasing pattern. If it’s three times a week, as in my exercise
goal, the first time, i fill in the triangle, 50% of the area. The second
time, i fill in another triangle covering 75% of area, leaving a triangle at
bottom. Third time, i fill in the last 25%. It’s hard to cut a
square/rectangle in thirds.


Update for 10/30/2007:

An easier to see image:


And here’s a Word doc that you can use to produce your own: periodic-tasks-sample.doc

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  • Matthew Cornell

    I like it – thanks for sharing. I’m confused about something: There seems to only be 13 columns – I expected 14, i.e., 2 weeks. A larger image might help…

  • clarsen

    Matt, the columns correspond to weeks not days, so there are actually 13 weeks represented in the page…

    I’ll put up an actual Word doc that prints out the page and a higher quality scan.

  • DanGTD


    For implementing GTD and tracking periodic tasks you might try out my application for time management and productivity,

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.

    Hope you like it.

  • Dan

    For tracking periodic tasks you could use the Checklists section from