Taming the TODO

Buried under a mass of sticky notes? If you worry about forgetting important tasks or you want to schedule things efficiently, here are some ways to get organized.
Extremely Customizable

My method of planning has really changed over the years. I went from micromanaging my schedule by assigning specific times to tasks to keeping an unsorted list on my day page. I tried both keeping one big list of tasks and using projects to group together related tasks. Sometimes I think up weird things, too, such as having my computer automatically display a fortune cookie whenever I finish a task.

This is where Planner.el really shines. Because it's built on top of Emacs, I can change anything I want through a simple, easy-to-learn programming language. I've tweaked it to fit not only my planning style but also my little quirks. Although my planning style has changed much in the past three years, being able to replace bits of Planner.el and add new features has made it possible for Planner.el to grow along with me.

Things to Remember

There are many ways to manage your tasks, so spend some time finding one that fits you. Here are some things to remember:

  • Make it as easy as possible. Use keyboard shortcuts and scripts to simplify task creation and review.

  • Don't get overwhelmed. Keep your task list short and simple. Don't drown in hundreds of TODOs or choke on intimidating tasks.

  • Fill in the cracks. Put all of your important tasks in there. If you can, put minor tasks in as well. Check your list regularly.

  • Hack your system. Keep an eye out for ways to improve your way of planning. Don't spend too much time hacking your system and not enough time actually accomplishing your TODOs, however.

Have fun!

Resources for this article: /article/8461.

Sandra Jean Chua—or Sacha, as she commonly is known—maintains Planner.el and is absolutely crazy about it. Her blog and TODO list is at sacha.free.net.ph. Write her at sacha@free.net.ph with your productivity tips and way of working!