Do you always install your air conditioner on a sweltering summer day, or rush to do your taxes days before the deadline? For absolutely necessary tasks like these, a to-do list isn't always enough. You need to block out time on your calendar, and treat these tasks like actual appointments. We've listed all the best to-do items to turn into calendar items.
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- Infrequent chores: Flipping the mattress and couch cushions; getting your car inspected; cleaning the pool; clipping pet nails; and replacing toothbrushes, razors, smoke detector batteries, air fresheners and water filters
- Frequent chores that you forget or put off, such as laundry, garbage day, haircuts, moving your car, donating blood, watering your plants, cleaning up (and backing up) your computer, and changing the sheets
- Doing your taxes (and paying your quarterly estimates if you freelance)
- Bills that don't autopay
- Winterising your home: Finding air leaks, removing the A/C, checking your fireplace
- Travel bookings, several weeks ahead of trips
- Doctor, dentist and vet visits: Set a recurring event, two months from the appointment date
- Use your calendar as a diary for doctor visits: Log results (such as your blood pressure and weight) in the visit's calendar event. Also log any recurring symptoms so you can accurately report them at your next visit.
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- Warranty expiration dates: As soon as you buy something, set a reminder for a few weeks before the warranty expires, says Redditor vaidab. "You may find it has (accumulated) some issues that are covered in the warranty."
- Cancellation dates for free trials and subscriptions
- Expiration dates of coupons, gift certificates and discount codes
- Return dates, especially for online shopping
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- Birthdays: Enable Google or Facebook's automated birthday calendar, then add 30-day notices to buy gifts or send cards
- Election days
- Make a "baby book" calendar to record your child's milestones, suggests Lifehacker reader jeff.c.taylor
- Advance notice for Christmas and anniversary gifts
- Fun events such as holiday sales, meteor showers or seasonal attraction openings
- Neglected daily needs such as sleep, lunch and breaks
Use this list wisely, and only calendarise items that have a deadline. If you add too many, or leave the dates too vague, you'll start ignoring them, and your to-do calendar will become mere mental clutter.
Once you've built your calendar, look for ways to automate the actual task, just like automatic bill payment. For example, you could ask your doctor to book your next three check-ups in one go. After all, it's not the to that matters, it's the do.