Sunday, 3 May 2009

Org-mode : will I finally get organized ?

I always had a love/hate relation to emacs, but recently I found a good reason to start using it a lot again : org-mode.

org mode allows to keep notes and TODO list using a simple text format. Basically you can type what you want and every line starting with "TODO" will be interpreted as a task, every date enclosed by "<" and ">" as an agenda entry, every text enclosed by "[[" and "]]" as a link. (Check the website for more detailed documentation).

It is a very complicated thing to find a way to keep organized and productive, specially when we have to deal with different projects, involving a lot of information.

One thing I did learn from the past is that online tools like google calendar or personal wiki don't work for me. I am just too lazy to take the time to go online to update my wiki or calendar. Very often when I think of a task I have to do, I am already working on something else, and I don't want to spend time going online and getting through a web interface just to write a few lines of text.

Until now my optimal solution for keeping organized was to use :
  1. A directory containing basic text files, one per project, idea or people.
  2. A TODO text file.
  3. A piece of paper on my desk where I would write every mornings the tasks for the day.
This worked fine as long as I didn't have to deal with complicated schedules and deadlines. It is not the case anymore and so I had to change my system. The system I am using now is :
  1. One org file per project I am working on.
  2. One org file for all my contacts information.
  3. One org file for other small tasks or ideas (things to buy, etc...)
I also created a cron job to email me everyday the weekly calendar as well as the list of pending tasks.

What I really appreciate with this new system is the fact that I can create TODO or agenda entries from anywhere. Org-mode will automatically harvest all the tasks and agenda entries and create a nice summary for me.

I have been using it for only a few weeks now, but I can already tell it makes things much easier than before.


Unknown said...

What are your thoughts on org-mode all this time later?

Have you found that it does everything you need, or have you had to include other methods also?

Cheers for your post!

Guillaume Chéreau said...

Hello Joe, thanks for the comment.

I should write a new post about my experience with org mode after all this time.

Well, in short : I don't use it anymore, instead I am using a mix of 'zim' and 'hamster'. Not as powerful as org mode, but good enough for the job I have now and easier to use.