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2. Task management with Emacs: Text files (2005.05.18:1 productivity#6 LifeHacks:11 emacs#13 planning#2)

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With the wealth of code available for Emacs and the ease of customization it provides, you're certain to find a task management tool that fits the way you think. Over the next few days, I'll provide a quick run-through of the methods I've tried out.

The simplest way to get started with Emacs for task management is to keep your TODOs in a plain text file, like ~/TODO. You can keep this text file in any format you want. To make it easier for you to see what you need to do, you can keep active TODOs near the top and completed tasks near the bottom.

If you load your TODO file every time you start up Emacs, then you'll be sure to check it every day. Put the following line in your ~/.emacs to have it automatically loaded when you start:

(find-file "~/TODO")

You'll also want to make it easy to open during an Emacs session. If your TODO file is just a keyboard shortcut away, you'll find it easier to keep all of your reminders in the file. Here's a snippet that shows the TODO file in the current window.

(defun my/todo ()
 "Bring up the TODO file."
 (interactive)
 (find-file "~/TODO")       
 (goto-char (point-min)))

;; Now bind it to a convenient shortcut key
(global-set-key (kbd "<f5> <f5>") 'my/todo)

Now you can hit F5 F5 to show your TODO. If you want your TODO file to show up in another window, remove that and use this snippet instead:

(defun my/todo ()
 "Bring up the TODO file."
 (interactive)
 (find-file-other-window "~/TODO")
 (goto-char (point-min)))

;; Now bind it to a convenient shortcut key
(global-set-key (kbd "<f5> <f5>") 'my/todo)

If you want to be able to add stuff to your TODO without getting distracted from your work, add this to your ~/.emacs:

(defun my/add-todo (task)
 "Add a line to the TODO file."
 (interactive "MTask: ")
 (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect "~/TODO")
   (goto-char (point-min))
   (insert task "\n")
   (save-buffer)))
(global-set-key (kbd "<f5> t") 'my/add-todo)

See? Emacs is fun and easy to configure. You can store your tasks in a plain text file and then add keyboard shortcuts to make your tasks easier to manage.

There are many sophisticated task management packages for Emacs. I'll write about one of them tomorrow. In the meantime, if you want to find out what task manager I _really_ like using, you can check out PlannerMode! =)

何社製のコンピューターをお使いですか。 What make of computer do you use?

1. Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (2005.05.06:3 LifeHacks:6 planning#1 productivity#1)

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"Big, Hairy Audacious Goals" is a catchy and inspiring way to think about things. If you don't have this book yet, you might want to look for it next time you're in a well-stocked bookstore:

Built to Last – Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
Jerry Porras and James C. Collins, 1994.

Here are some links for more information:

http://www.inspired.co.nz/Reading Room/Built_To_Last.htm
Book review / executive summary

Big Hairy and Audacious Goals for Business! (interview)
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/earth/stories/s218498.htm

"We found that visionary companies often set these incredibly challenging goals."

Goal Setting with Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs)
http://www.cool2serve.org/tools/pdf/BHAGs.pdf
A workshop outline--great idea for training

My BHAGs are:

  • Revolutionize computer science education by making it highly individualized and experiential.
  • Become a world-famous expert on creating systems for planning one's life. Instead of pushing a particular methodology, I'd like to work with people's current ways of planning, suggesting improvements and software/hardware to support their life.

What are yours?

昨日は、私のコンピューターが故障していたのです。 My computer was down yesterday.

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Page: planning
Updated: 2005-10-10
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