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  1. Emacs: The difference between a task and an appointment (669 words)


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1. Emacs: The difference between a task and an appointment: 21:26

For the longest time, I was using my task list to manage my appointments. It was really easy to do that with a custom Planner task-sorting function. This is the function I used on day pages:

(defun sacha/planner-sort-tasks-basic ()
  "Sort tasks by time (@1030, etc), priority, and status (oP_>XC)."
  (let* ((info (planner-current-task-info))
         (status (aref (planner-task-status info) 0)))
     (if (or (eq status ?X) (eq status ?C))
         "Z" ; Completed and cancelled tasks go last
       " ")
     ;; Sort by time
     (or (and (string-match "@[0-9][0-9]:[0-9][0-9]"
                            (planner-task-description info))
              (match-string 0 (planner-task-description info)))
     ;; Sort by status: in progress, postponed,
     ;; open, delegated, completed, cancelled
      ((eq status ?o) "1")
      ((eq status ?P) "2")
      ((eq status ?>) "4")
      ((eq status ?X) "5")
      ((eq status ?C) "6")
      (t "3"))
     ;; A, B, C
     (planner-task-priority info))))
;; Here's how to make that your task-sorting function, although
;; mine actually changes function on plan pages
(setq planner-sort-tasks-key-function 'sacha/planner-sort-tasks-basic)

This worked because I generally had few appointments and I didn't use M-x plan to carry unfinished tasks forward. If I did, then I'd probably get hopelessly confused. =)

That's because I was keeping track of several different things using the same syntax. Appointments are typically scheduled for a specific day and a specific time. It doesn't make sense to carry them over to the next day if you don't mark them done. In fact, it makes very little sense to mark them as "done" or not, as you just show up to them. Granted, I used my task list to also keep track of (and publish!) events that I'd meant to go to but decided not to, so "cancelling" still made sense. But carrying stuff over to the next day? Not really.

I used my task list to keep track of people's birthdays, too. That didn't really work out too well either, because I had to remember to copy the task and date it for the next year. It was good for keeping track of whose birthdays I'd remembered to recognize, though. Still, setting up planner-cyclic would probably have been a good idea.

And I also used my task list to keep track of tasks, of course. I very much preferred thinking in terms of tasks rather than appointments. The action orientation's better for me, I guess. So my task list for each day would have plenty of tasks, some of which I *needed* to do that day, and others which I thought it would be nice to do that day.

I like reviewing my tasks during the night before, or over breakfast. I go through my tasks and appointments and figure out what makes sense to do when. Sometimes I estimate how long tasks will take. Then I shuffle the tasks around with keyboard shortcuts until I've got similar tasks grouped together. Yes, I know, I *could* just visually scan the list to see what I can do next, but I like sorting all of that beforehand and then methodically going through this list. This is something I still haven't quite figured out how to do in Org or Lotus Notes. Maybe it's a Planner quirk of mine.

During this day-sorting, appointments are usually the only things with timestamps on them. Sometimes I'll add timestamps to my tasks as well, to give myself a clearer feeling about the time boundaries.

So what my schedule looks like throughout the day is a mish-mash of tasks and appointments and events (completed, in progress, blank, cancelled), but it works for me because everything's in one place and I don't even need to look to the side.

I haven't been able to keep that up to date recently because I now have a separate work computer, but once I set Emacs up on my work computer, I might get back to that kind of comfortable arrangement. It's either that or learn how to tweak Lotus Notes, which seems kinda scary... =)

Random Emacs symbol: c-mode - Command: Major mode for editing K&R and ANSI C code.


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