Maintenance Intervals

I’ve been using “Remember the Milk” as a Todo App for a really long time. At some point years ago I started using it to track repeating tasks, usually for things happening rarely enough that its important for the app to remind me. Gradually I’ve set up more reminders with shorter intervals, both for maintaining our apartment, and myself. While this is just my personal preference of organizing parts of my life, I figured it might be interesting for others, too.

A sketch of what my Todo app looks like on a given day, with a mix of recurring and one-off tasks, ordered by priority

At the time of writing, these are all the maintenance intervals I currently have in the app:

  • Daily: Back, shoulder and wrists exercises
  • Every two days: Workout
  • Every other two days: practice and play guitar
  • Weekly, Sunday: Clean cat water fountain
  • Weekly, Wednesday: Change water in cat water fountain
  • Every 3 weeks: Change bed sheets on all 3 beds and the cover on the changing table; if its the first time in a quarter, also turn the mattresses around
  • Monthly, on Sunday: Change the cat water fountain filter
  • Monthly: Check and fix tire pressure on our bicycles
  • Monthly: change the water filter (Brita) filter and put everything in the dishwasher
  • Monthly, first day of each month: Turn all 3 calendars in the apartment
  • Every 2 months: Clean the grease trap of the kitchen exhaust hood (Fettfilter der Dunstabzugshaube)
  • Every 2 months: Clean the cleaning robot and check if a part needs to be replaced 
  • Every 3 months: Review monthly costs+budget spreadsheet
  • Every 3 months: Clean the fridge
  • Every 3 months: Clean the shower curtain in the washing machine
  • Every 4 months: Clean dishwasher and washing machine
  • Every 6 months: Clean microwave
  • Every 6 months: Perform manual backups of files on PC (Dropbox, photos, music) and laptops (via Time Machine)
  • Every 8 months: Change the kitchen exhaust hood coal filter (Geruchsfilter der Dunstabzugshaube)
  • Every year: Export Telegram data (via Telegram Desktop)
  • Every year: Check ETFs, rebalance if necessary
  • Every year: Order special “urinary” cat food in bulk

I didn’t even realize how many of these I have until I wrote this list down. Its not exhaustive – there’s more maintenance we do, but some tasks have their own reminder (like the oven showing “PYR” when its time to burn some dirt), others their own processes (the dish washer is full) or habits.

Some of these intervals I have fine-tuned several times, some I still adjust every now and then. For example, when we discovered how dirty the microwave actually is, we’ve cleaned it once properly, then set up a reminder to clean it every month. At the same time, we also paid more attention to covering food we put inside, so the need for cleaning got a lot less. That’s how we ended up with the current interval of 6 months.

The two newest intervals are the two day interleaved workout and practice guitar tasks. Doing these every day is just too much, but every two days works pretty well for me. I started the regular workouts in September and have been pretty consistent since then. I focused on something you might call calisthenics for a while, then spend some time with elastic bands and heavier dumbbells. In the last few weeks, its been mostly Ring Fit on the Switch.

I bought an electric guitar early October, and tried practicing every two days since then. With 10+ years playing bass I had a good head start, though chords are still a big challenge (for my big fingers). I’ve played much more Rocksmith 2014 than I did with the bass – by itself its rather limited for learning, but it provides a lot of options and is very well-balanced gamified, similar to Ring Fit.

My daily, roughly 5 minutes back, shoulder and wrists exercises I’ve been doing for some months now, too. Along with the workouts, I haven’t had any issues with shoulders or neck, after some weeks of pain in the spring and last year. Maybe optimizing my desk setup (external monitor with camera on top) has also helped keeping those issues away.

I wonder which of these reminders I’ll keep in the next years, and which I add on top. I’m also interested to hear how you’ve approached these.