Thursday, 16 February 2012

Recurring and Regenerated tasks :



Recurring and Regenerated tasks :

Microsoft Outlook provides several ways to define tasks. Most users are comfortable with entering a single task or even one that repeats on a regular schedule. There is another task type that is useful and quite flexible when you need to create a task based on the completion of the previous task. These are regenerated tasks.
If you're familiar with Outlook, you've probably seen the option to create a recurring task. These tasks are predictable and date driven. For example, you have a recurring task to pull stats for your monthly report on the 3rd Wednesday on the month. You know the IT department has a batch job that produces your files the night prior, but they only hold the output for 48 hours. This is a defined time window the task must be done.
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Regenerated Tasks
There is another type of recurring task where you're not dependant on an event date. Instead, the next task occurs only when you mark the previous task as completed. Initially, you may not think many tasks fall into this category. Here are some examples:
  • Changing your oil every 90 days
  • Backing up your My Documents folder every 7 days
  • Donating blood every 2 months
  • Getting your haircut every 6 weeks
  • Visiting your in-laws every 2 years
  • Practicing the guitar every day
These regenerated tasks are also good for goal reviews or building habits. Another difference with these types of tasks is that you generally don't need to make up missed occurrences. If you're overdue in giving a pint of blood, you don't give 2 pints the next time.
A benefit to using these types of tasks is you won't see multiple open items. As example, I created a task to occur each Tuesday and Friday to water a friend's plants while she's away. This worked fine for the first 3 times and then I didn't make it this Tuesday. I now show an overdue task and the next open task.
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Creating a Generated Task
In hindsight, I could've regenerated the task every 3 days. As I completed one watering, the next task would be queued for three days out. I wouldn't see multiple entries. If I missed Tuesday, I still have the task, but only one occurrence.
To create a generated task,
1. Open Outlook
2. Type Ctrl+Shift+K to start a new task.
3. Type your task Subject:
4. Click the Recurrence toolbar button
5. In the Task Recurrence dialog, set the radio button for your Recurrence pattern. (Think of this as the duration between tasks.)
6. Click the Regenerate new task radio button.
7. Enter a number in the text box
8. Set your Start: date for the task.
9. Select a radio button for the recurrence. You can either choose No end date or specify a number of occurrences.
10. Click OK.
11. On the Untitled " Task window, add additional text, priorities, or reminders as needed.
12. Click OK.
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While I don't use regenerated tasks with the same frequency, I appreciate the flexibility they offer. They provide another way to remind me of tasks that aren't day or date specific. I've seen people get creative with using these types of tasks for establishing good habits such as exercising, practicing a new skill and participating in contests. Personally, I tend to use these types of tasks for many review or ?check up? processes. Your options are endless.