Taming the TODO
I went through the whole spectrum of personal information managers before I found something that works for me. I'm absolutely crazy about Planner.el, a personal information manager that's extremely customizable. I'd like to share some of the things I love about it with you so that you can see how personal work style affects how you plan.
I spend most of my time working with text files in the Emacs text editing environment. Because Emacs is so extensible, it has accumulated a lot of useful modules along the way, including several e-mail clients, Web browsers, Internet relay chat (IRC) clients and even instant messengers. I can program, surf, chat and check mail within Emacs. Emacs itself runs on GNU/Linux, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X and is surprisingly easy to learn.
Planner.el is built into my main working environment, making it only a keystroke away. Because most of my tasks are based on what I'm looking at, I really appreciate how Planner.el stays out of my way. When I create a task, a small text prompt shows up at the bottom of my screen (Figure 1). I don't get distracted by pop-ups or switching to another application. I simply type the task description in, tag it with a project or two and get back to work.
Not only that, it also intelligently picks up information from whatever I'm looking at, automatically creating a hyperlink back to the file, e-mail, Web page or even IRC session (Figure 2). Even newbies can add support for new tools, thanks to extensive examples. Planner's ability to hyperlink to my mail messages is the only way I can impose order on the thousands of messages in my mail archive!
I like reviewing my week to see what I have accomplished. Because it's easy to view completed tasks, I can write accomplishment reports without struggling to remember what I did the other day. Seeing a lot of crossed-out tasks for today also is a great morale booster. As a nifty bonus, I can keep detailed logs of how much time I spend on each task or project—great for billing time, improving my time estimates or simply finding out how (un)productive I am each day.
I like keeping my task list short. I typically have fewer than ten tasks on my task list for any given day. I like scheduling tasks for particular days and organizing them according to projects, keeping my daily task list small and manageable. When I feel particularly productive, it's easy to reschedule more tasks onto today's page.
I break tasks down into bite-size bits to simplify keeping track of my progress and to motivate me to work. When tasks are of a manageable size, they're much easier to work on. Instead of goofing off, I find myself picking the next small task from my list and working on it.
I need a system that can keep track of small tasks as well as large projects. Because Planner.el is only a keystroke away and I use it for all of my tasks, I trust that it holds all the things I need to remember. I made Planner.el the first thing that shows up when I turn on my computer, and I check it at least once a day. Knowing that all of my reminders are safe and can be checked easily from one place definitely takes a load off my mind.
It's also easy for me to back up my files. Because Planner.el uses plain text files, I don't have to worry about corrupted data. If some experimental code makes Planner.el unusable for me, I still can use any text editor to manage my plans. In addition, it's easy to publish my task list and notes as HTML (Figure 3), so if something happens to my laptop, I can check my TODOs using any computer with Net access.
|Dynamic DNS—an Object Lesson in Problem Solving||May 21, 2013|
|Using Salt Stack and Vagrant for Drupal Development||May 20, 2013|
|Making Linux and Android Get Along (It's Not as Hard as It Sounds)||May 16, 2013|
|Drupal Is a Framework: Why Everyone Needs to Understand This||May 15, 2013|
|Home, My Backup Data Center||May 13, 2013|
|Non-Linux FOSS: Seashore||May 10, 2013|
- Dynamic DNS—an Object Lesson in Problem Solving
- Making Linux and Android Get Along (It's Not as Hard as It Sounds)
- Using Salt Stack and Vagrant for Drupal Development
- New Products
- Drupal Is a Framework: Why Everyone Needs to Understand This
- Validate an E-Mail Address with PHP, the Right Way
- A Topic for Discussion - Open Source Feature-Richness?
- Download the Free Red Hat White Paper "Using an Open Source Framework to Catch the Bad Guy"
- New Products
- The Secret Password Is...
3 hours 14 min ago
- Keeping track of IP address
5 hours 5 min ago
- Roll your own dynamic dns
10 hours 18 min ago
- Please correct the URL for Salt Stack's web site
13 hours 29 min ago
- Android is Linux -- why no better inter-operation
15 hours 45 min ago
- Connecting Android device to desktop Linux via USB
16 hours 13 min ago
- Find new cell phone and tablet pc
17 hours 11 min ago
18 hours 40 min ago
- Automatically updating Guest Additions
19 hours 49 min ago
- I like your topic on android
20 hours 35 min ago