Computerized "Job Jar"?
May 6, 2008 4:35 PM   Subscribe

I would like randomly selected items from a To-Do list to "float to the top" on a regular basis. Ideas?

Ok, so growing up, we had chores to do and things that needed doing around the house. Trying to assign them or claim them permanently never worked out very well, so we wrote anything that needed doing on slips of paper, put them in a jar. Every Sunday you took one item out of the jar and were stuck doing whatever was on the paper. Sometimes it was quick and easy, sometimes it was a real pain. But the luck of the draw made it easier to tolerate.

I have a Tasks list in Outlook that when printed out is several pages long, full of 4-hour or 8-hour projects. Guh. Obviously, it's too big to help me get it all done, and there's always some other needs-doing item I'd prefer to do that can push a more unpleasant task out of the way. I'd like to cut everything but this week's absolutely necessary "next action" items from my Tasks list, and have the rest somewhere else.

What I would like to do is block out a day or half-day each week for the "Job Jar". By some sort of magic, that big list of items would have one or two projects percolate to the top somehow, and notify me. They'd go in that week's block of time as Must-Dos, rather than languishing away on a Someday list as they do now.

I've seen a lot of productivity hacks go by on MeFi - does anyone have ideas?

I doubt Outlook would be able to do this for me, so any other tool that would do this is worth it. Gimme whatever you got.

I'm not interested in the obvious choice of assigning due dates beforehand to these projects and getting notified that way. If I am allowed to make choices about what's due when, then the whole element of random assignment I'm looking for is lost. I'm lousy at making deals with myself (I practice active procrastination), but can keep a Job-Jar-like pact; so I'm looking for something that can randomize listed items and deliver one or two a week.

Super double special rainbow pony bonus points for something that's smart enough to give me one item listed as All-Day or two listed as Half-Day.
posted by penciltopper to Work & Money (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Have you seen MyChores? You can create tasks, associate them with different categories or lists, and if you have multiple people on your "team" (e.g. everyone in your household) you can set chores to be assigned to one person or to rotate among all team members.
posted by LolaGeek at 4:38 PM on May 6, 2008

Hmmm. That would be very functional if I had more recurring tasks; but much of my list is one-time jobs that I'll never do if I can do something else in its place. But I'm totally forwarding that to people I know who share housing or have roommates and need just this tool. Thanks, LolaGeek! Keep 'em coming, please, MeFites!
posted by penciltopper at 5:00 PM on May 6, 2008

My boyfriend suggests assigning each task a number, then using a random number generator.

What's stopping you from just doing it on paper? You could have two jars - one for 4-hour stuff, where you can pull 2 at a time, and the other for 8-hour stuff. You already have the printouts (I assume); just cut them out and toss them in the jars.
posted by divabat at 5:39 PM on May 6, 2008

A computerised solution would be cool, but i don't know of any. Does sound like a good idea, tho.

What you could do is keep it analog... just pick out the jobs that you could do, give each a number, and find/build a random number generator. Not as cool, but workable.

I'm also quite sure that even if the exact thing you're looking for isn't out there, then there are thigns that you could combine to do what you're trying to do.

Sorry I'm not entirely helpful.
posted by cofie at 5:41 PM on May 6, 2008

Life Balance is great at that sort of thing, but it's way pricey.

HiveMinder has a "random" function, which, given your filters (ie., just stuff tagged with '@home', due today, etc., will give you a random task to do.
posted by eafarris at 6:22 PM on May 6, 2008

LifeShaker does what you want, I believe.
posted by WCityMike at 6:23 PM on May 6, 2008

Why not go back to the slips of paper and the jar?
posted by winston at 8:32 PM on May 6, 2008

Does this help at all?
posted by divabat at 6:50 PM on May 7, 2008

So, the developer of MyChores actually read this post, and she added this feature called Lucky Dip, which randomly selects a pending task for you to do!
posted by LolaGeek at 3:53 PM on May 10, 2008

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