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Using a Reminder App for Chores

I retired in 2020 to be able to take better care of my partially disabled wife. Of course that involves many household chores and tasks.

So Many Chores, So Little Time

Chores can be daily, monthly, random and more. We all have different tasks to do and while we may have many in common, some will be ours and ours alone.

If you only have a small number of things on your plate, that’s wonderful. Most of us have much more and some of us have so many that we can feel impotent against a mountain of constantly repeating things that need to be done.

I have felt like that for years. Decades ago I kept a paper list of my chores. That was clumsy and quite inefficient, but in the days before computers, that was all we had, so we made do with that and our memory. Our memory and perhaps some verbal reminders from other people!

Technology To The Rescue

A computer calendar was my first attempt to organize my chores. Even very early on, computerized calendars had the ability to repeat entries at specific intervals. That gave me much more control than paper lists and sticky notes ever could.

Early calendar apps weren’t very powerful, but over time features were added. Very soon you could have multiple calendars for different purposes and could share a calendar with other folks.

Calendars weren’t perfect, though. You can use them for this sort of reminding and scheduling and in fact I still do put some things on a calendar that I share with other people in my family. Extended family dinners are a good example, but I also let those family members see my engagements with friends, my haircuts, my medical appointments and some other things so that they will have a better idea of when I am available to them.

But calendars could not give me all that I wanted. One imperfection is that not every chore absolutely needs to be done on the day originally scheduled for it. Sometimes it’s necessary to put things off for a day or even a week. Sometimes a task pops up that actually doesn’t need to be done. The calendar is clumsy at rescheduling things, especially when the task repeats regularly.

So I wanted more.


The next thing to come along was a Reminder App. That had some advantages and disadvantages when compared to calendars. The early apps were also very basic, but I did find uses for them in conjunction with my calendars.

I still was a long way from having the functionality I truly wanted, but new features and new apps were coming out regularly. I tried many of them, sometimes discarding them quickly and sometimes flirting with them for a longer time.

Writing my own app was definitely something I considered. But honestly, my programming skills aren’t up to it, particularly in the area of layout and design. I suppose that with great effort I might have overcome my weaknesses, but I did not want to work that hard at it.

Better Scheduling

Much more powerful tools are available now. I’m an Apple IOS user and I use Fantastical, Things and Microsoft Todo. To my knowledge, only ToDo is available on Android as well as IOS, so that’s what I’m showing here. There are, of course, many other apps available on both platforms. One or more may meet your needs exactly, but I have to fudge things a bit to get what I want.

Microsoft ToDo

Microsoft ToDo

The Microsoft ToDo App

As mentioned above, I still use a calendar app for some things. I also use a basic Reminder app for a few transient tasks. However, the tool I use the most is Microsoft Todo.

But I definitely do not use it as its programmers would expect me to use it.

Oh, I started out using it as they intended. As good as it is, it did not entirely meet my needs. There were some things I could do “their way”, but more often that left me wishing for more. At the time I thought I’d use it for now, and hope that I would eventually find something closer to my real demands.

The Expected Way

The way ToDo is designed is that you’d add a task (or whatever). You’d assign a Due Date and perhaps a Repeat Date, When you finish the task, you’d click the little circle to the left of your description. That completes the task and moves it to Completed Tasks.

If it is set to repeat, it will be in your tasks at that date. If you sort the list by Date Due, what you need to do today will be at the top.

I don’t do it this way.

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Doing It My Way

Many chores repeat. ToDo handles that well, although Things 3 for IOS does a better job with more complicated scheduling.

Complex scheduling is not something I usually care about. What I do very much care about is when I last did whatever it is that has surfaced for me today. Oh, that information is available in ToDo when it is used as expected, but you have to search for Completed Tasks, which is inconvenient and is a bit ugly to display as well.

So, I never hit that Complete circle. I just change the Due Date for when it next should be done and add a date and perhaps more to the Note section

I do that so I can see that last done date here and now. I want that both to have a log of when I did things and sometimes so that I can adjust the repeat schedule.

For example, we have a ”smart” bathroom scale that needs recharging now and then. I can look in its app to see the charge level, but a reminder is also helpful. Initially I set that to repeat every three months, but it turns out that ten weeks is a better idea. I learned that from looking at the log that I keep of when I last charged it.

I keep a log of exercise also. Here is what that looks like.

My Chore List in the ToDo App

My Chore List in the ToDo App

You can also add photos. I often do that for grocery and household shopping so that I can more easily spot the item I want and get the right thing.

Adding Photos

Adding Photos

Still Not Perfect

I could hit Complete; the Notes transfer to the next incident time. But that would just clutter up Completed Tasks and having the notes tells me what I need for that.

One thing still missing is that items can’t be sorted within Due Date. I’d like to mark things with degrees of importance and have them appear in that order on their due day. Maybe someday I’ll find an app that can do that.

But for now, this is what I do.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Tony Lawrence


Tony Lawrence (author) from SE MA on March 02, 2020:

I didn’t post links because such things are easy to find in the IOS App Store and Google Play and you’d want to find something that meets other needs you may have. Most any task app can be jiggered this way.

Organized? I just have a mountain of things I need to do regularly :)

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on March 02, 2020:

And I thought only women were this organized! This is well done, bringing us all into the ITECH age of household/shopping chores. I don't recall seeing links to the software you sight. Thanks for the effort. Now I know what bachelorhood has in store.

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