Organizational system for reminders about irregularly scheduled activity
August 24, 2018 2:42 PM   Subscribe

I have a number of hobbies and lightweight skills-development projects and I want a system that reminds me to spend my time on them when I'm not actively taking a class or doing something that requires a schedule or deadline. I want to spend x hours a month on different hobbies, but not pre-schedule specific dates for the different practices. I want a reminder system that isn't a firm scheduling calendar, whether as an app or some kind of pen-and-paper system.

Some of my hobbies are projects-based- and there's no real reason to schedule those or do them x amount of times a month- I'll sew if I feel like doing a project, and that project will direct how many hours a month I'll spend sewing. A gentle reminder that it's been 2 years since I've made a costume might be good, though.

Some of my other hobbies (music for instance) involve skills that need regular practice for upkeep- playing music twice a week or sailing at least every couple of months, for instance. These are maintenance, enjoyable practice tasks I do for fun, not heavy study that I feel like I want a specific schedule for (ie I want to sing approximately twice a week to progress but my normal schedule doesn't let me plan it on specific days such as "My singing practice is on tuesdays and thursdays"). Just as with the projects example, a reminder that it's been a year since i last went swing dancing might also be a good feature.

My schedule varies a lot because of work, and I don't want to formally schedule the hobbies/practices on specific days, but want to a reminder system that prods me to do some of these things x number of times a month or every x weeks or so.

I'm not interested in a calendar notification sort of thing, but more of a smart to-do list system that either sends out notifications or is a system I refer to once a day to take stock of how I'm using my time. Currently I use documents in Google Drive, Evernote, and Keep for various kinds of life organization things, and just started experimenting with a pen-and-paper to-do list/journal.
posted by twoplussix to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Something you could try is software designed to log freelance hours. I don't have any specific app to recommend, but for many of them you can log specific tasks for each job, they'll often generate charts and data for your output, etc. Each 'job' could be a hobby where you log the hours and what you've done, and then you can just refer back to your timesheet whenever you want to see what you did last.
posted by thebots at 4:48 PM on August 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Maybe this just works for me, but I use Trello. I have one board called "Recurring" with lists of Weekly, Irregular, Monthly and Annually. The title of each card is prefixed with something like (Sat) or (15) or (May) or (BWN, for Biweekly Non-Pay Week). So the start of each week I go thru the cards and drag them to the "On Deck" list, when I finish them I drag them back. There are colored tags, and it uses an interesting metaphor where the "back" of each card can be much bigger than the front (i.e., descriptive text, comments, attachments).

This helps me with different levels of available time, and it also tracks when you move the cards (as "Activities"). Previously I used actual scheduling systems, but it felt like I was being buried under reminders. I believe Trello is free, so you could try it for a week and see what you thought.
posted by forthright at 5:45 PM on August 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

On an Android tablet I use the Days Since Pro app which is available in Google Play.

You can input a list of activities/tasks and each time you do them you update the date. Then the app will tell you how many days (or months, weeks, years) it's been since you did that activity. There's also an option to input how often you want to do the task and as the end of the date range approaches the day count will change colors (eventually turning red).

Alternatively you can also you use it as a regular task tracker with due dates and it will alert you when an activity is coming due. You can also turn notifications on/off, depending on whether you want the app to nag you automatically or whether you'd rather just open the app daily to review your activities.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:39 PM on August 24, 2018 [5 favorites]

I have no financial connection to them, but remember the desktop version of this software working very well for me years ago (hmmm, now I'm inspired to look into the phone app...)

Sciral Consistency
posted by eglenner at 6:59 PM on August 25, 2018

I really identify with your problem. I use Toodledo for this, basically designating a few things as important enough to show up regularly (like twice a week) as tasks. I'm a long-time devotee of the Getting Things Done method of one to-do list with all your next actions for every priority and goal. Since these are priorities that will help me reach my long-term goals, I try to put them in my queue for things I need to focus on, and Toodledo is pretty great for that (I'm not affiliated, just a happy user).

If the whole to-do list thing doesn't work for you, they have a Habits section that's also pretty great. Desktop and mobile =)
posted by acridrabbit at 9:20 PM on August 29, 2018

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