What do I want from the notes I keep in Org Mode, how’s that working out, and how can I improve?
- Remind me of important tasks, especially recurring ones or ones in the far future
- This works pretty well, especially with my weekly review. I mostly trust it, although it might be nice to use the timeline view to review tasks over the next few years just to make sure the important ones are there. And backups!
- Keep detailed checklists, instructions, and notes, so that I don’t miss any steps or have to figure things out again when I’m sleep-deprived
- I’ve found this useful when dealing with my business paperwork, and I look forward to documenting more routines.
- Capture quick thoughts and tasks so that they don’t clutter up my mind
- org-capture is good when I’m at my computer, and Google Tasks is a decent inbox when I’m away. Not very good at reviewing and refiling the items, though, but I can do that when I have more discretionary time.
- Break bigger projects down into manageable tasks
- I don’t have the brainspace right now to work on projects, so most of these have been shelved. I need to tweak my Org refile targets to make organizing things easier. I might be running into a limit with too many targets. Sometimes I can’t use org-refile to select a task that I already know exists.
- Help me untangle my thoughts or keep a trail of breadcrumbs as I solve problems
- Pretty good at this. Limited by computer time at the moment.
- Pull together information and help me summarize
- The code I wrote for my weekly and monthly reviews is working well. The code for Emacs News is decent, too, although I can save a little more time if I fix my function for opening all links in a region.
- Draft blog posts
- This is working well. It could be a little better if I sorted out image uploading and resizing, but my current workflow is fine.
- Help me make the most of my limited computer time by prioritizing small tasks that move me forward
- This is probably the weakest area. Right now, I tend to prioritize drawing, then checking my agenda for urgent/quick tasks, and maybe writing if I can squeeze it in. I mostly save writing for my phone, though, because I can write on my phone and I can’t do the other tasks then. Coding might help me improve efficiency, but that might have to wait until I have more focused time. It’s okay, I’ll get back to that someday. I think getting better at writing and posting will pay off well enough in the short term. If I give myself permission to post short, possibly incomplete thoughts (like I tell people to! :) ), I’ll get more stuff out there, and then I can build up from there.
- Keep notes on people
- Little memories, triggers for thoughtfulness, etc. I’m definitely the bottleneck here, not Org.
- Help me review my decisions
- It’s good to write down goals, options considered, criteria, trade-offs, reasons, predicted results, and so on. My bottleneck is probably taking the time to do so. People are good at rationalization, so I’m not trying to judge whether something was a good decision or a bad decision, but it’s interesting to see what decisions and evaluations reveal about my preferences and values.
- Remind me about tools, how to use them, why, and so on
- This is partly why I have a literate configuration – so the outline can remind me about stuff I’ve already coded. It’s also handy to keep track of commands and scripts that help me with various tasks. I just need to remember to copy and paste stuff as I do things.
Overall, I’m okay with input and output. Processing is my bottleneck at the moment. If I either fix that org-refile issue I’ve been running into, or come up with an alternative flexible search that will help me find outline entries when I don’t quite remember the headline, that should make processing a bit easier. A bit of outline gardening would help, too – archiving things that are no longer relevant, refiling notes and improving their headlines/text for searchability, maybe prioritizing tasks based on costs and benefits… I’m not entirely sure I’d be comfortable doing that on my phone, so it will have to wait for computer time.
In the meantime, I’m glad I have a place to accumulate (and eventually organize) all those notes!