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Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Using 'kill' dates with Smart Lists

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 by Andrew Conkling

Due dates seem like a pretty straightforward property, but it's always interesting to see some different uses for them. This week, cadetblue shares a tip for using dates as a "kill" switch — complete the task or get rid of it!

Often I use RTM not only to record activities that are recurring or must be completed, but as a way to collect activities that I would like to complete but I do not have to. They can be ideas, web pages to visit, something to study and learn, whatever. They are at risk to contribute to the growth of a bunch of undone activities without a real deadline that is too bloated to be managed. They will be forgotten, or will distract you, or will be postponed every day if you set a date, or they will waste your time due to the need to clean inflated lists. Even defining a complex segmentation or a full fledged priority system does not solve the issue because the activities stay there as a static mass requiring a proactive behaviour from us.

So I use jointly "kill dates" and Smart Lists. When I add an activity which is not a must and I am not required to complete, I add the tag "kill" and then I add a date so that only one of the following happens: I am able to complete the activity before the end or I delete the activity without pity (should the activity be something really worth it will come in my mind later on). Then I define couple of very Smart Lists:

  • A calendar to see incoming tasks: NOT due:never AND NOT tag:kill
  • A Kill Date list, a complete-or-cancel list of activities: tag:kill

This works very well for me because:

  1. Kill-Dates is a list of "optional" activities grouped together and naturally ordered by priority according to the kill date entered;
  2. Activities with a kill date flow naturally in my today list, so they will be easily deleted without being kept in the bunch.

Thanks for sharing this tip, cadetblue! You're our Tips & Tricks Tuesday winner this week.

Do you have a suggestion for our weekly Tips & Tricks post? Got an interesting set-up or idea? Head over to the Tips & Tricks forum, add a new topic, and let us know how you use Remember The Milk. Each week we'll give away a 1 year Pro account to the user whose idea inspires the Tips & Tricks Tuesday blog post for that week.

Posted in: Tips & Tricks