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Taskwarrior, where have you been all my life? (djy.io)
424 points by daveyarwood 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 228 comments



Google essentially implemented FollowUpThen and Taskwarrior in Inbox via snoozing and reminders. I can honestly say Inbox has significantly changed my life. I have to use email every day already, so overlaying task management has been a huge boon. I have a recurring reminder every Sunday night to take out the trash. I set up reminders to go off in 1 year (like when I sign up for something and don't want it to auto renew). I basically setup a reminder for everything I have to do. And since I have Inbox open all day long anyway, I never forget anything anymore.

Hey Google, thanks for making Inbox!


I was searching the comments for someone saying this. Snooze / archive to achieve inbox zero is life changing. I have one simple rule. If I can't do something right now, I snooze it until I think I will be able to deal with it.

The knowledge that it will not be forgotten is very cathartic and my inbox doesn't fill with emails I intend to deal with but haven't yet.

I think what people forget is that time is often a better folder system than folders, as it doesn't place the responsibility to check again on the user.

I've tried to evangelize and I can't understand why it hasn't resonated as much with others.


> I've tried to evangelize and I can't understand why it hasn't resonated as much with others.

Perhaps it's a trust thing? It only works if you're 100% sure that a snoozed email will come back every time and no later than you told it to. Is it reasonable to trust Inbox to do that? Probably, but people have to be convinced of that. And note that for some of us, trusting the magical AI-enhanced black box that Google tends to build is a little on the hard side.


I don't think it's that at all. Truly. I think it's a trust thing of the opposite sort: people don't trust themselves to comfortably (and actively) forget non-critical tasks, which is what the OP does with this method. I think lots of folks keep things in their inbox because of two reasons: 1) removing them feels like loss, and increases risk of ultimate forget, and 2) you can't effectively set a reminder for something you haven't actually read and understood, and most people don't even read the majority of the mail they receive.


On number 2, that's not entirely true, you can be like "I'm not reading this now, I'll snooze it until x when I'll go through some emails"

For me it's all about reducing noise level and cognitive load. It's made me a lot more organised, although occasionally I keep pushing things back and won't admit that I'm not going to do them because I feel like I should do it today but I probably ultimately won't. Curse my fallible humanity!


The "snooze hell" is extremily unproductive if you ask me. Quite often I end up creating an avalanche of reminders just by snoozing/deferring individual tasks until "later" instead of deciding when/where to actually perform the task, so I can continue focus with whatever feels more inportant at the moment...

Oh, brain :-(


I've found "If you can do it in less than 30 minutes, just do it now" to be very helpful in avoiding that


I think people think it means leaving gmail behind. Even if you tell them they can carry on using gmail, I guess they think it will leave a mess of duplicate emails or conflicting state between the two.


How do you avoid the snowball effect?

If many tasks/mails are coming everyday and you are snoozing them to the future, you are adding more tasks/mails to your future inbox, which in turn will motivate you to snooze them again, feeding the task monster. Until one day there are so many snoozed tasks that it is overwhelming.


That's when you have to make some hard decisions about what you will, and what you'll never get to. At some point you should just start deleting tasks.

The important stuff floats to the top and gets done. The rest doesn't.


Yup, love Google inbox. I just wish there was an API so I could create inbox reminders programmatically. That would be so nice!


While technically awesome I've tried using it several times but always end up dropping it. I find it difficult to maintain and over time it's left to rot until I finally give up on it.

For me I don't actually need the complexity. A simple text based todo list would basically do the same job. The main issue is actually maintaining it.

This is why I like habitica more: https://habitica.com/

It's basically a gamified todo list which is perfect for me.

It's also awesome with helping establish new habits. The incentive of not wanting to break a streak is surprisingly strong. Nothing else has been remotely as successful.


I find a physical notepad and a pen to be perfect for prioritizing and recording to-dos. Not sure why it needs to be "optimized" any further.


A lot of the optimizations I found (in taskwarrior) was allowing the app to figure out what I needed to do next. Due dates and expected duration and priority...all done programmatically.

I really only needed that for work, as my personal life is much easier managed with pencil and paper.


Agreed. I thought it would not be the case but I’ve been bullet journaling for about 6 months and it’s been revolutionary.


On Mac, NotePlan does a decent job of distilling out the most important bits of bullet journaling--searchable markdown-style tasks and notes arranged on a calendar, with a bit of sugar to allow moving tasks from one day to another. It's very lightweight but has replaced my homegrown rapid-logging.


It's a habit I picked up very early on when I was doing IT internships in college and it's so effective I can't see myself ever making checklists any other way.


For todos, I love flightstrip racks. Yes, it’s ATC gear, but man it’s so satisfying to mark a task done by moving a series of plastic tokens. https://www.google.fr/search?tbm=isch&q=flightstrip+rack


Wow I didn't expect this link to be to a physical product. I'm very curious, please tell me more and how to get into this approach/what it's best for.


You have to carry it around if you want your task list to be anywhere but in just one spot.


from my perspective, as soon as my todo list is digitized it is hidden from me. And as soon as it is hidden I forget to maintain it.


I agree, and the act of carrying a notepad around is not usually an issue for me anyway. I keep my work checklist at work and bring it home on days when I work remotely. I also keep checklists at home for non work stuff. Shopping lists are usually torn out of home checklists, brought with me, and then disposed of.

There's also something really gratifying about physically checking stuff off of a list.


The truism "out of sight out of mind"


It's surprisingly true. To the point I noticed that in times of stress, I would simply not look at whatever productivity tool I've been using. I found myself no longer invoke org agendas. No longer opening the paper notebook with tasks. Hell, I found my eyes glazing over the whiteboard with a list of tasks I put there the previous night.

Semi-conscious avoidance is a terrifying thing.


That's an underlying issue (PEBCAK) which can be mitigated with mindfulness. The same could happen with an abundance of p&p notes. Someone who claims it doesn't happen w/their p&p notes, why would it happen with digital ones? Because the storage is easier and accessible (cloud in on your mobile in your pocket)? But an agenda full with notes isn't hard to carry around. My mother has been doing that for ages. She writes her passwords in her agenda, for example, and she still can't find them because its not well-logically mindfully structured. That wouldn't be solved by digitisation. Its PEBCAK all over.


So what is the solution?


I dont know ‘the’ solution but, i can tell you what has been working for me for a year now.

1. Pocket notebook (physical) for this week’s todos and random ideas

2. sticky notes for chores and mindless lists

3 whiteboard for half baked ideas

4. google keep for digital content like images, bookmarks, phone numbers, shared lists

5. Notational velocity with notes organized in Noguchi’s chronological order.

I have a minor tweak in this where i paste sticky notes within the physical notebook so i can move them around.


There is not one solution but I can tell what works for me (and is based on scientific evidence) is mindfulness, exercise, and an anti depressant (Prozac). YMMV.


My list is a widget on my phone's home screen - unavoidable.


I do:

- 1. Checklist on paper

- 2. Take a photo of it

Sometimes:

- 3. Rewrite at destination

Always:

- 4. Rewrite every few days


Yeah I do a similar thing except with a dry erase marker on the refrigerator. Being able to open a photo of my to-do without going through some stupid app saves a ton of aggravation.


So set a daily reminder to check the list?


I'm not OP, but I find I ignore such reminders, but don't ignore the paper in front of me.

I think the reason is that the phone sends many notifications, and at least on iphone it's hard to make the todo list reminder that much more prominent. Also mentally it feels like just another phone task.

Also putting stuff on paper forces sorting. I keep larger lists on digital, but I find for daily paper has a bigger impact.


I know we have this desire for a single task list but in practice I don't find it that useful. My task list at work would get in the way when I go to the shops. My task list at home is only needed there, I need to be reminded to pay bills when I'm at home and not when I'm at work. Even between different projects at work and home different task lists can be good.


A physical notepad is pretty easy to forget or lose.


Is it? I mean, I guess perhaps so - but I find a physical artifact far easier to remember than "must open app X/Y/Z" on all my devices. Like my glasses or wallet or keys or phone, it has a literal presence. In 12 years of carrying a notepad and pen around, all over the world, I've literally never forgotten it once.


Make it task #1 not to lose it.


99.999999% of the purpose of any todo list process (app or otherwise) is a prompt for your memory (whether its scheduled or not).

Scheduling and maintaining is a discipline that doesnt always come naturally. And is largely redundant.


Habitica is an interesting suggestion, thanks.

I've had good luck with "todo list" and the "X effect" thing (basically just streaks - X out a calendar day for each time you do a daily task". Everything else, without exception, has been enough work to feel like a secondary task which I then quit doing. This might be a tool light enough to digitize those benefits without being a burden.


I used habitica for about a year and loved it. However, at some point my character was maxed-out and there was no incentive to continue (quest-events were a bit lame). I tried starting from scratch with a new character and quickly got bored. Maybe I should try it again, if they have improved it.


This happened to me as well. I just recently started again, for my 3rd time?

Unfortunately I think the key is to find a good active party to keep you busy. So far I haven't really found one unfortunately.


Yup. I'm great at putting items on RememberTheMilk or Outlook or Google Calendar or Google Tasks or iCloud Notes or a whiteboard, but REALLY BAD at using the same system consistently, let alone actually checking the list ("hey, I'm bored, what should I do now?")


Personally, I have a reminder on my phone set every morning that tells me to review the list. Before I did this, I always had this gut feeling that I had forgot something even though I was very strict about always adding a task for everything.


I hate this app. It's extremely unresponsive, doesn't know how to dismiss notifications properly, and is laggy on mobile. Some pages that are accessible from the web view don't work at all on the iOS version. And I'm 99% sure that the damage-calculation hits aren't being calculated properly.

Yes, I know it's open source. I still dislike these aforementioned aspects of it, though.


Yeah the desktop web version is a massively better experience (though not stellar either, tbh). It says something that it's still a good tool despite those shortcomings


The desktop web version is indeed far superior. The Android version works okay but it's also laggy and some notifications are missing.


I tried it yesterday while looking for an app that would track "on a scale of 1-5 how well did I do X today". I settled on KeepTrack, but it doesn't have habitica's style. Maybe habitica encourages taking the habit seriously without taking myself too seriously.


I like https://www.askmeevery.com/. It just sends you an email and you reply. And if the reply is numerical, it'll generate a plot and statistics for you.


that might work for me, I have a good gamified response usually.


I use taskwarrior, and it makes my life better.

Two things I wish I could configure it to do (stating here in case someone already knows how):

1) A view that surfaces only the next task for each project, with a little annotation like:

  Write chapter 1 (First Novel)
  Make grocery list (Juliet's Party)
  Collate transactions (Month-end reconciliation)
Without that culled list, a comprehensive task-list is overwhelming.

2) Integration with a calendar (Google Calendar, etc.), where adding events to the calendar automatically adds them to Taskwarrior.

Thank you, Taskwarrior team! ( I was about to ask for a donate link, but I finally found one. Thanks :)! )


Re #1, my strategy is to make `task ready` my "home base" of sorts. `task ready` shows you only tasks that aren't blocked or scheduled for the future. In other words, tasks that are ready to be done ASAP.

My daily flow is to try and clear my plate, i.e. reach "Inbox Zero" with my `task ready` view. Every task in that view needs to either be completed or rescheduled for a time that I think I have a chance at completing it.

As for projects with tasks that block other tasks (e.g. write chapter 1 is "next," and it is the blocker for anything else, like writing chapter 2), you can tell Taskwarrior to hide them from your `task ready` view by using the `depends` property. For example, if "write chapter 1" is task 42, then I might add a task like `task add 'write chapter 2' depends:42`. Until I mark task 42 (writing chapter 1) as done, "write chapter 2" won't show up in my `task ready` view and I'm free not to think about it.


I use taskwarrior daily at work primarily for its dependencies and recurring tasks.

For example, when I pick up a case to work on, I'll immediately add it:

    task add project:team.kanban case-1234 Add the frob
Then as I inspect and think about the parts that need to be done, I'll add a bunch more pieces as sub-projects:

    task add project:team.kanban.case-1234 Query backend for the data
    task add project:team.kanban.case-1234 Send ajax call/store in redux
    task add project:team.kanban.case-1234 Add to UI
    task add project:team.kanban.case-1234 Use the new widget for filters
    task add project:team.kanban.case-1234 Make filters work
Then I go back and decide which pieces here I want to do before the others. If, in order, the above tasks were IDs 1-6, then:

    task 3 modify depends:2
    task 4 modify depends:3
    task 6 modify depends:5
    task 1 modify depends:2,3,4,5,6
So at this point, only tasks 2 and 5 are unblocked and can be started on. It externalizes the state of the case, so I don't really even have to think about what to do next (hence the name of the default report, "next") or how far done I am. A good way of thinking about how I choose this breakout is, what could I commit without breaking the build?

If you also use vimwiki, there's another plugin that works on top of it called taskwiki [0] that lets you use use a taskwarrior filter to show a set of tasks in the wiki, that auto-update. It even shows dependencies as indented todolist items (though the above example wouldn't work because tasks 2, 3, and 5 each have two tasks that depend on it; this and a few other things has me writing my own vim plugin for vimwiki that'll handle handle the above, plus a few other differences).

[0] https://github.com/tbabej/taskwiki


Awesome write-up of your flow. Thank you.


Nice workflow, thanks for the tip.


I wrote a post on this some time back:

https://zwischenzugs.com/2017/12/03/how-i-manage-my-time/

if there's one takeaway, it's that you have to find your own way of getting what's in your head into a place you can trust, and there's no objectively right place for that. Just keep looking until you're comfortable with one and stick to it.


> you have to find your own way of getting what's in your head into a place you can trust

That's definitely #1. I'm surprised I had to scroll so far down to find it. :)

For a long time I was looking for a system that would auto-prioritize tasks for me. I'd dump things in, and it would tell me what I had to do today, this week and this month. Long story short, it turned out to be a silly expectation.

So #2 rule should be, review your tasks periodically.

Basically, an 80/20 productivity system should be:

#1 write everything down #2 review and cull your list every day #3 do things off your list


> #1 write everything down #2 review and cull your list every day #3 do things off your list

That's pretty much the 'Getting Things Done' book in a sentence! Though the advice is every week, not day in the book, and latterly changed to 'whenever works' with the advent of web systems to track tasks.


Taskwarrior is very nice, but I found org-mode combined with the mobile client orgzly even nicer. Export to ical, sync to server and you have it in your watch or mobile calendar as well.


Do you struggle with orgzly's sync management though? Things seem to get out of sync a lot with syncthing, so I've stopped editing lists on my phone (which... is starting to defeat the current iteration of the setup). Or do you use dropbox?

With WebDAV on MobileOrg, I never really had these problems.


I use Dropbox, and it generally works a-ok with Orgzly. That said, I rarely find myself using Orgzly - but it's invaluable when I'm on the go and need to check some info stored in my org files.

It used to have issues, but after couple iterations it seems to be working quite well now. Some time ago scheduled tasks even started to generate notifications on the phone, so now I find myself syncing more often just so that I can get those reminders when I expect to spend a lot of time away from my computer.

The only thing problem I had with it is that if I delete a file locally, and then sync Orgzly, it'll restore the file on Dropbox instead of picking up the delete. After having to re-delete some files couple of times I now remember to watch out for it, so it's not really a problem anymore.


I use beorg to get my org-mode lists on my phone. It works with WebDAV and Dropbox. The developer has also recently added the ability to edit documents on your phone (previously it was pretty much read-only).

To be honest I only really use org-mode and similar organisers in order to dump something out of my head ('close the loop' as I believe it's called in GTD parlance). Do you find it easy to update progress etc as you go?


Task warrior is a hell of a tool - it's synced accross my devices and doesn't need proprietary software. I built a Taskwarrior app for pebble as well, so I can have the tasks that have a deadline in the timeline.


Please share the Pebble stuff!



Years ago I used Remember the Milk and then hopped between multiple "other" solutions over the years. Decided to give RTM another look last month and was really impressed.

In hindsight I should have never left it.

IMO Dropbox needs to purchase them to integrate with their growing offering.


Is there anyone who used org mode and taskwarrior to get a compare and contrast?


I have used both. While I'm currently on Org-mode, I used to use Taskwarrior exclusively in my previous job.

The switch between the two happened because my job responsibilities changed, and Org-mode is better at supporting my current role as a team lead and developer. Taskwarrior was better when I was only developing software. Personally, I feel this says something about what usage patterns the two are best for.

As a developer, I spent almost all my time in a terminal. Taskwarrior (plus a few shell aliases) allowed me to create tasks the moment I thought of them. I could then get back to work and see the task list later. Switching to Emacs every time I needed to create a task would have been unproductive and I probably would not have done that.

As a team lead, I spend most of my day researching, helping out team mates, building product road maps, etc. I spend time in the terminal, but not as frequently as before. And I'm not developing as much either, which means I can now take the time to switch to Emacs, capture a task or thought in Org-mode along with any details, and then get back to it later.

My perspective on the two: - Taskwarrior never gets in your way. It takes a few seconds to record a task and then get back to what you were doing. But you end up not recording many details about the task, mostly it's just the title. Great for small bugs fixes or development tasks that come up while your developing. - Org-mode is great when you want to record details for the tasks you are recording, take notes, and just generally write anything with details.

Hope this helps.


I guess Org mode is better for someone who is already an Emacs user; and does anyone use Org mode without Emacs?

Taskwarrior is probably a fine piece of software though.


I agree. Org mode will be more efficient and definitely much more feature-rich if you already keep Emacs open all the time, and especially if you bother configuring it properly.

Taskwarrior looks like it can work better "out of the box" and definitely more useful for someone who isn't Emacs-proficient.

Org-mode, for better or worse, is flexible enough to support lots of different kinds of workflow. It's cool if you know what you want to do, and the defaults will be enough for simple GTD workflow, but if you aren't sure how to properly organize yourself, you'll find yourself searching a lot for ideas from other people.

My current org-mode config looks like this: https://github.com/TeMPOraL/conffiles/blob/master/emacs26/.e....

You can think there's lots of stuff in it, but frankly, this is mostly on the lower end :). Most of the code is for tweaking tasks, clocking and agenda views to better fit my workflow. It's by no means finished - living in org-mode is very much about slowly discovering your ideal workflow and molding Emacs around it :).


> does anyone use Org mode without Emacs?

Well, I use Orgzly on my phone, but I use emacs on my desktop & laptops. Orgzly is okay, but not great — and it has some weird bugs. It's definitely not a complete port of Org mode, or even a port of most of Org mode. For what it is, though, it's better than nothing — and better than the current alternatives.

I really wish that there were a good touch-aware port of emacs on Android.


It isn't ... really... touch-aware, but shout out to termux for running normal/full emacs on Android if you're into that. (It will input touches, I think as mouse events, it's just not what you probably meant by touch-aware)


Vim orgmode user here. Combining checklists with outlines with a bunch of org files in a git repo has worked well for me over the last year or so. But you know that's just for personal tracking purposes


orgmode is better in a lot of different ways, but taswarrior is better with dependencies since it has a graph-based data structure, while orgmode is strictly hierarchical. orgmode has tags, but neither it nor org-depend nor edna quite approach the ease of graph-based dependencies. Org-brain comes closer but is a little clunky.


I’ve used taskwarrior for 3-4 years exclusively, and can state that if you have a complaint about it, it’s highly likely that you haven’t considered the problem scope as deeply as its devs did.

But then I stopped being a lone wolf dev and it simply doesn’t work for teams. Yet.


Even if you work in a team, surely you take on individual tasks based on what team has decided?


I wonder why no one has mentioned using Google-Calendar as a task-management tool. I too use (starred) emails to remind myself of tasks that I have pending. But for anything that's time specific, I just put it on my google-calendar (or any online calendar really).

Eg: Mow my lawn on Sunday? Ok, I'll create an all-day event on Sunday to mow-my-lawn. And once I'm done, all I have to do is delete it. I can then periodically check my calendar from my phone/laptop/tablet, and see everything I have to do that day/week. If I want to get a head-start on anything that's coming up next week, it's all there on my calendar too. If I need a reminder, I can just have it send me a push-notification at a specific time. Best of all, I never have to be at my computer to get all these info/alerts. As long as I have my phone nearby, I can check my tasks, and get reminders for anything I've forgotten about.


Yeah; basically any calendar app. Every OS/device comes with one built in; they can sync across all your devices; they expose the database via SDK or API so you or others can augment them with additional tools (though I don't find it necessary).

For me, this has been a solved problem for many years.

It's one of those things where everybody's different, I get that.

But using an email system to manage your tasks seems only one step less goofy than calling yourself and leaving yourself voice mails. You can make that work, I guess, but that's not what the tool is for.

I think modern calendars are one of the great software success stories, actually. They are rock solid reliable, based mainly on hackable open standards, and work everywhere. I don't delete things from my calendar, I just leave them in there as a fossil record of my life.

(What was I doing ten years ago on this day? I just checked; apparently I helped my girlfriend sell her car, bought my sister a plane ticket, and worked on software for most of the day.)

This data has moved with me from platform to platform and will be accessible my whole life. This is how computers are supposed to work! (But seldom do...)


IMHO it should be more integrated with tasks, and tasks should be much more powerful. Some examples:

- Here in Italy I can donate blood every 3 months. So I want to set a task "Now you can donate blood" on say June 1st and set it to repeat itself 3 months after the day I actually donate blood and in the meantime being shown on top of calendar in a special "to-do" section. And if I donate blood on June 5th, the next donation should be automatically set on September 5th. I achieve this with an external app that syncs to tasks, but being it integrated in calender would be wonderful.

- A task can have more dates to be set. An example is taxes: from April 1st I can review the documentation the governament send me, from May 1st I can submit the correct documents and at May 31st I must have submited the documents. Of course during this period the task should always be visibile on my calendar.

Thing is I have the feeling that todo lists, calendars, tasks and time-tracking should ALL be integrated in the same software. And as far as I know this software is emacs' org-mode... one day I will learn it.


There are also reminders that string along as long as you don't check them off.


Shameless plug for https://heyhabit.com (I'm the dev). It's meant to be used as a chrome extension that takes over the new tab in Chrome, but you can try it from the website. I've been using it for ~2 years now and it works really well off and on. I've discovered that it's really helpful for getting me back on track when I fall off the horse. Because the calendar maintains what a "successful" week looks like for me, it eliminates some of the mental energy required to regroup.


offtopic, but I really like the fresh minimalism of the website. The colors and the choice of the monospaced font are quite unique. It captures the feel of using a terminal without being boring.


Don’t know about you but on iPhone Safari it’s terrible. No momentum scrolling makes it exhausting to scroll through, and there’s a broken horizontal scroll.


Yes. It’s horrible. I opened it for like 2s and gave up. I guess if reader mode works this could be OK.

Don’t override scroll behavior.


It’s even worse than that. I actually scrolled all the way down on an iPhone and the last third of the article was cut off and only accessible through reader mode.

The irony of a paean to command line tools being housed in unnecessarily compromised UX is a bit much.


Look at the HTML source - I don't see anywhere that scroll behavior is overridden.

Hell, there isn't any javascript at all for Safari.


That's the iPhone's rendering of their <figure> blocks. If you look at the HTML source, there is so little going on I can't see how it wouldn't be your mobile browser's fault.


That makes it even worse. There’s very little going on and it still manages to be a fuckup. Look at all the others who are also getting stuck in this UX tar pit.

How on earth does this happen on what should be a straight forward site?


> How on earth does this happen on what should be a straight forward site?

It happened because the site developer didn't work around all the bugs in safari mobile.


I got to a point where the entire screen is occupied by one of the black terminal blocks quotes and got stuck. Can't scroll any further. Grabbing in these areas just makes the screen bounce instead of scrolling.

Checked on a computer and confirmed that yes, there is more content past where the phone version became unscrollable. Hands down the worst scrolling override I've ever encountered.

EDIT: You can grab it on the edges if you get stuck here (or you can go read some other website where scrolling works properly)


It appears to have something to do with the web font. If I block web fonts via Firefox Focus's content blocker the page scrolls fine, but it also doesn't render with any style applied.


Interestingly, macOS Safari seems to handle scrolling fine.


certainly possible, i am on a laptop (macOS Safari).


The todo.txt file format supports extensions, and some of the extensions include start date, due date, recurring tasks. The Simpletask todo.txt Android client supports these, and can filter by things that are past their start date, sort by due date, etc. Todo.txt also supports projects/contexts/lists/tags and Simpletask can filter by them.

i don't know which todo.txt commandline clients, if any, can do this but i bet some can (topydo maybe?). Simpletask supports Lua scripting, i dunno if this is sufficent to allow dynamic prioritization of tasks, but it might be. I don't think Simpletask supports dependencies but topydo does.

todo.txt is a file format. The nice thing about todo.txt-based tools is that the todo list is stored in a plaintext file in a relatively readable and editable format, with one line per task. This allows you to edit it using ordinary text editors, grep it, and sync it using utilities (resolving conflicts on a line-by-line basis).


One big area where taskwarrior shines compared to solutions like todo.txt or org mode is synchronizing between devices using taskd. Although it is a bit involved to set-up, once it works, it works very well.

I am slowly trying to add task identities to Simpletask to get closer to this ideal (at the cost of 'ugly' meta data in the Todo file)


I have a cheap startup task in cron that greps my todo files (generally one per project, and an everyday one) for any scheduled tasks and adds them to my calendar. Which syncs across devices.

If I modify times then the calendar events get killed and reinserted. (Diff checks for changed todos for me)

Finally, the feedback loop gets closed by email. I can send an email with a task, and it gets pulled down to insert or modify todos.


I use Google Keep with pretty good success. Having one list for "To-Do Now" (daily stuff) and one for "To-Do Later" (longer term goals). The key for me is syncing across devices. If I can't add the to-do quickly when I think of it then the system wouldn't work for me.


I've recently been having problems with Keep losing data that I've typed in (common scenario - paste in a paragraph of text from my spouse that has a list, I line break the list to get checkboxes, then portions of that list disappear when Keep tries syncing). This seems like a pri-0 feature but Keep has become unreliable recently.

Otherwise it's great but the fact that it loses data means I've shelved it for now.


What makes Google Keep useless to me is that there is no 'sort by most recently edited' option, same as Google Drive and really everything google makes. I have to manually bring each note to the top every time I edit it, which kills the functionality.


I tag my to-do lists as "TODO" and pin them at the top. On Android I have a widget setup only to show things with the "TODO" tag.


I run into this every once in a while, but the sticking point is always the mobile picture. If I want to add a todo item using my phone, what are my options?

Anyone have any experience with this?


Taskwarrior's mobile app is sufficient, though configuration for use of a taskserver is fiddly. There are cloud taskservers (I use https://inthe.am, but you can host your own, too.)


I use org-mode + orgzly on Android, synced via Dropbox.

Obviously, orgzly gives you only a small fraction of org-mode features, but you're still able to edit org files, view & search through tasks, display somewhat customized agendas and get reminders on tasks with scheduled dates and deadlines. That's enough to get me through the times when I don't have access to a computer with Emacs (or terminal & SSH, which I can use to connect to Emacs instance running on my home desktop).


On Android you can also use taskwarrior in a terminal with termux.


I use emacs org-mode with beorg¹ on iOS. beorg has very good agenda view and allows dumping new entries. Refilling and tagging I do later with real emacs. Syncing files is done via webdav (nextcloud to be exact).

It is a pleasant working experience.

¹ http://beorgapp.com/


I'm launching a new mobile client for taskwarrior: https://wingtask.com


I use Google Tasks for this and I love it. It's super simple and lightweight and I really hope they don't kill it.


I wish they would add more features. I would love a full featured free TODO app from Google.


What features do you need?


Not the parent commenter, but...

- Add a time to reminders, as they're currently only due date reminders. (Nearly useless, really, other than appearing on your calendar.)

- Merge Tasks remidners with the Google Assistant reminders, and the Google Keep reminders. Three different places to have Googley reminders, all separate.

- Re-arranging the task lists. (You can only re-arrange tasks on a list, but not the lists themselves. This is a basic feature that is surprisingly missing.)

- Add a widget for the Android home screen so you can keep a specific list in full view all the time. (This is kinda' a personal wishlist item.)

- Add Google Assistant voice command support to create tasks, review tasks, etc. (Super useful while driving and remembering something.)

- Add tagging to list items, and a search function so you can have "meta-lists" like "All Items Due Today" without having to maintain items across lists. (This would allow you implement the GTD methodology.)

- Add minimal per-list collaboration of some sort, similar to Keep. (I guess it's already available for Keep, so maybe not super relevant.)


todo.sh has a mobile app (paid) that syncs with the files produced by the command line tool using Dropbox.

Worked well when I wasn’t just using vimwiki.


http://mgsd.tiddlyspot.com/demo3.html TiddlyWiki powered GTD system


I loved it, but does it still work with modern browsers? I stopped using it since it started to fail at each browser update.


mGSD is based on TiddlyWiki Classic, here is GSD5, a new project, built on the current version, TiddlyWiki 5:

http://gsd5.tiddlyspot.com/


I find tw5 a step backwards in terms of usability. Not a fan of design aesthetics which decrease information density.


Like the author I went through too many solutions to organize myself. (Evernote, iOS Reminders app, OneNote, emacs/org-mode, Google apps, iOS Calendar, Omni tools & many more). I've settled down on using Apple Notes & Things 3. Things 3 is expensive, but it's simple & has a beautiful UI. It structures tasks in the same way I think about them. I really like the Quick Entry feature on the Mac, where I can quickly add a to-do from a web page or an email... The app seems to be well maintained and I am glad they didn't choose the subscription route. My biggest wish, a web API.

I really like Notion (https://www.notion.so/), and I am sure I could do a great GTD system in it! However, I don't feel comfortable with subscriptions on apps where I keep MY data. Maybe because I grew up relatively poor, I always have the fear at the back of my mind, that maybe in the future I won't be able to afford it and what a big hassle that would be.


I got really excited about Taskwarrior and set up a server and accounts for all of my teammates. But we quickly found that we were spending more time logging our tasks than we were actually consulting TW for what to do next.

Example:

task add project: support_customer_migration priority: H -- support#XYZ - analyze dependencies for customer X - github.com/repo/issue/number


I think a common misconception of planning is that you wish to avoid logging and the "hassle" it means. For me, logging what I have done is the only way to keep track of the project status and let my team members know what have been done.


I tried this as well.

I'm yearning for a tool that lets me drag & drop an email, and it automatically creates a task based on the content. I can obviously go and edit it after setting deadline or assign to project etc.

I was hoping to create this workflow with MS Outlook(on Mac) and its inbuilt Tasks, but apparently they don't support it :-(

I would pay for such a feature.


I’ve done a non-trivial amount of research around this in connection with office graph and outlook addins. The trick is you need to be able to get back to the original email in its thread from the task, so you can retain context and reply or extend the context as needed while still tracking it as a task. All the implementations I’ve found on the outlook side loose that connection (I think gmail tasks let you retain it but I sadly prefer outlook to gmail)

[Edit to add] almost forgot the key piece, which is that I think it’s possible to retain that context but I haven’t quite been able to justify the time to actually complete the round tripping code.


Things (https://culturedcode.com/things/) does pretty much that. It has a little Quick Entry daemon which lets you press control-option-space in Mail.app to make a new task linked to the selected mail. By default, the subject ends up as the task's title, though you can change it before hitting Return.

In general, I highlight recommend Things. It does all the typical GTD stuff, in a mostly Maclike way, and has a great iOS client.

[Edit: In fact, you can actually drag a mail right into a Things window as well, just as you propose. I never knew that!]


Can you click on a created task in Things and get back to the mail message in the iOS Mail app (as opposed to just seeing a copy of the message as text in the todo app the way most todo apps handle email->task connections)?


Absolutely. The links even resolve on different devices, as long as you have access to the same mail accounts.


Looks like I just blew $10 on this.

The iPad version allows you to create tasks truly linked to emails but the iPhone version doesnt let you create them you can only open them (from what I can find, hopefully I’m wrong as I’ve been looking for this feature for YEARS and would love to make this app home)


I use a variation on inbox-zero: if it's unread, it still has to be dealt with. Sort email unread-first. Works well enough for me (I have lots of "automatically mark read" filters for noise emails).


I recently came across https://www.moo.do. Might be what you're after.


Wow, this is revelation, thank you, very cool tool with a lot of integrations. Need to give it a whirl, but looks very promising.



Yes, my manager who uses a Windows laptop teases me with it. I'm using a Mac and am left out.


I don't know how configurable outlook is, but Taskwarrior itself is pretty easy to automate.

I use mu4e for email and have configured it so that pressing the "t" key when viewing an email creates a Taskwarrior task.


I use the email-to-board feature of Trello and just include the address as a BCC when replying to clients, or just forward it if I'm not replying. Everything goes into the "Incoming" column which I can then prioritize. Works great for me.


In Asana, you can forward emails to x@mail.asana.com and it will create a task for you. The headline is the title of the task and the body is the description.


Outlook/OneNote combo works well for this.


iOS11 has drag-and-drop between apps, including todo apps. Bonus 4:3 screen on iPad Pro.


Since nobody has mentioned it, ToodleDo is a good tool with a slightly dated UI and a terrible name. It has mobile apps, 2FA, projects / subtasks / scheduling / optional alarms, and a variety of other related features. There's a free restricted version, also a paid version, which is reassuring.


I'm a long time user and have paid the ~$20/year, subscription for >5yrs. It's been rock solid the whole time.

I find it's got the right out of GTD without being too bloated and/or cumbersome to use.


Does anyone use Taskwarrior with more than just a few tasks? I have about 15 projects going at once and flip between them numerous times during the day. The projects might have several sub-projects and multiple next actions.

Are Projects/Subtasks implemented well?


I do. You can define the 'project', and then use that field in a variety of ways. I use the format 'Customer.Project', as I oftentimes have many projects with each customer. Using this method, I can sort by 'Customer' to get all projects for that customer, or I can get more granular and sort by 'Customer.Project'.

It's extremely versatile, and can be customized to suit your usage. I love it.


Taskwarrior has the concept of a user defined attribute (UDA) which you can setup all kinds of fanciness for projects / filtering with. I use one called "prio" aka priority and generally set it to H|M|L. These allow you to customize taskwarrior to an insane degree. In fact, they actually rejected a contribution from me to add priority support natively when it could be done with a UDA:

https://taskwarrior.org/docs/udas.html

Really powerful software.


I use to break all of my work up into smallest tasks possible. Was doing pomodoro, with two large projects, hardware and software, development and management, multiple feature and bug releases. So tons and tons of tasks! At one point I had it automated so when I was doing a bug fix I'd create a set of dependency connected tasks (Understand Bug, Create Fix, Create Unit Test, Code Review, Documentation, Push Update). I could easily have a hundred tasks in the queue at any given time.


Wow, that was a great tip. I'm also finding myself splitting tasks into recurring steps like you mentioned, so automating this will save me lots of time.


You can have projects with 'pro:name'. You can have sub projects with 'pro:name1.name2'. You can specify that a task depends on another one with 'depends:id1'.

I'm not sure how well it works with a lot of tasks. You might need to use filters a lot. tasksh review[1] might be useful too.

[1]: https://taskwarrior.org/docs/review.html


$ task list pro:project_name


This 30 minute video from the recent Linux.conf.au may also be of interest.

https://youtu.be/zl68asL9jZA

Manage all your tasks with TaskWarrior


Wish I'd seen this a few weeks back before building my own command line app, it seems I've taken an almost identical approach to them in everything I've implemented, though obviously they're much farther along! Still, part of the motivation for building my own was to trick myself into getting the habit of checking the list every day since I'd be keen to dogfood it - that's worked out pretty well so I can't complain!


Me too, I just wrote a quick CLI app for logging my work on Monday


If you just want to schedule emails without involving too many third parties, you can do this in the Outlook mobile app by swiping right on any email. For the desktop app, right-click an email and use the "Follow Up" menu.

You can also do it in Google's Inbox app, but you have to swipe left instead. The Inbox website lets you schedule emails by hovering over an email and clicking the clock icon.


Not sure if this helps, but I made a little iOS app a while ago to help with my workflow. Check it out: HiFutureSelf (http://hifutureself.com)

HiFutureSelf is a super fast way to send messages to the future as reminders. You can set a time or location to trigger the message. It's completely free and maintained for fun :)


I use calendar events. Then I can also allocate time to do the task.


Totally! I do too!

Maybe it's just me.. but somethings just don't fit into the calendar.

Like when I pull up to the gym I get a message to do my 100 squats for the day (AND NOT ACCEPT LESS). Or when I arrive to the grocery store to pickup shampoo. Or when I leave the office today to go by the pharmacy to pick up a prescription...


I'm currently using Asana for task management. I guess the only upside is that I can share tasks with my wife, but its clearly not really meant for just single person management.

Has anyone tried both taskwarrior and asana? Any obvious pros/cons?

taskwarrior seems much simpler and can live locally if you dont want locked in asana/whatever?


I've tried both. I liked Asana a lot in the early days - it was simple and removed the friction of logging tasks. I especially liked that many tasks could be entered in the same way as an outline, just using enter to drop to the next line and tab/shift-tab to nest tasks. All the task properties I needed were visible at once and I could quickly tab through the task details and log what I needed. Eventually they added more features for teams and the features I liked became more complicated to use, so I dropped it.

I tried taskwarrior as well, thinking that being in the command line would reduce the friction for entering tasks as I spend so much time there already. However, the friction is higher for viewing and reorganizing tasks so I would fill up a todo list and then not use it.


This seems really cool but I can't imagine using a task manager that doesn't also have a mobile app.


Taskwarrior has a mobile client: https://taskwarrior.org/news/news.20160225.html


The play store link seems dead, though?


Hm. The taskwarrior app I use daily is gone from the Play Store.

The author now offers something called TaskwarriorC2 that may have similar functionality, with a different UI spirit.

Edit: I just installed TaskwarriorC2 and got it working (by hand-copying my hard-won profile configuration from original taskwarrior (pem files, taskrc, etc., the whole profile directory)) from kjv.task/files/ over to the com.taskwc2/files/ directory on the phone. Editing the taskrc file is currently broken for me, so if I hadn't already had one, configuration would have been daunting.

Now that TaskwarriorC2 is working: If you're a taskwarrior poweruser, the interface is awesome. If you'd never used taskwarrior before, it would seem inscrutable.


I was never happy with the Taskwarrior client you linked so I'm launching a mobile client alternative for taskwarrior: https://wingtask.com


Awesome. <Picard>Make it so!</Picard>


Felt this pain, I'm launching a new mobile client for taskwarrior: https://wingtask.com


I find invariably that if I write something down anywhere, it falls out of my head, after which point I stop thinking about it, I lose motivation, and unless I permanently slave myself to the task manager it does not get done. There is a lot of value in keeping everything in your head.


I use to use Taskwarrior, using all its features until one day my work life lost all complexity. At that point I felt like all the key features of Taskwarrior were lost because I just didn't have enough complication to track.

Now I just use todo.txt and that seems to cover everything I need.


Do you mean the "todo.txt" CLI (https://github.com/todotxt/todo.txt-cli), or just a file you edit manually?

I've used the todo.txt CLI on and off, sometimes in collaboration with my (shameless plug) "friends" CLI (https://github.com/JacobEvelyn/friends) for "tasks" that are social in nature. But I always seem to come back to paper todo lists.


I actually wrote my own in Haskell, but really I just mean the structure. I no longer need huge ordered lists of blocking dependencies. I loved that taskwarrior did that, but once your life becomes less complicated, all the cool features seemed to get in my way. I wanted burndown charts. I wanted an app to figure out what tasks were highest priority based on how much time they could take and deadlines. But once you no longer have any of that...it is basically todo.txt

Edit:

I should also add that with my daily life (outside of work) I'm strictly a pencil and paper kinda guy. I hate when my phone dies and I have no idea what I'm supposed to do today.

Might as well return the shameless plug with my own (https://github.com/jecxjo/todo.hs)


Thanks for all the info! Glad to hear I'm not the only pencil-user on HN :)


There are some extensions that bring task dependencies to todo.txt. IMHO outlines are a quite natural extension of the original format that can be used for that without making things too complicated.


I totally agree. I am currently trying to figure out how to best do that with todo.txt with the minimal amount of dependencies. I liked in taskwarrior how all the tasks were numbered and could be referenced, but it required a big infrastructure in taskwarrior, which is more painful in todo.txt.


There is no use in numbering tasks in todo.txt files. But you (as a developer) can create an id based on the current time stamp and the tasks content that can be referenced later on. The VIM ttodo_vim plugin does it this way.


How did your work life lose all of its complexity? I long for a single todo.txt, but have settled on a directory of org-mode files :)


At one point I was the sole engineer on two very large hardware/software projects. Projects that often didn't have dedicated marketing, sales, tech support, internal/external training. So I was wearing a LOT of hats, and I needed a way of figuring out how to be one of the most productive people in the company (for my own reasons) while also only doing the bare minimum of work.

Then one day the company decided they would completely change direction, dropped all future development on current products and moved everyone to their next gen product line. Turns out my two major projects wouldn't have next gen work for 3 to 5 years so I was "demoted" to a "gun for hire". I went from doing way too much work, to filling in the gaps when a team needed to complete a sprint on time. None of my work more than a few days, had no blocking dependencies and had no correlation to what I was going to do next week.

No more burn down, no more charting, no more task management. That is when I decided to change jobs. Now I' have some complexity, but its all easily managed in todo.txt.


> That is when I decided to change jobs.

I was really hoping that was going to be the conclusion, for your sake :). That sounds like an incredibly demoralizing experience.


Actually, because I was at the point where so much stuff was automated, and I had taskwarrior deciding just how much work to do every day...I had a lot of free time to do whatever I wanted to do.

Mostly I left because the pay was lousy and I had been doing it for almost a decade and a half. That was the final straw when I realized I couldn't ask for a raise because they weren't giving me enough work.


Overmanagement separation anxiety? ;-)


It always blows my mind when people who claim to have issues with focus or task management then go on to talk about how they've automated tons of trivial tasks. That sounds like the OPPOSITE of someone who has issues with focus.


There are people who are so task focused that they waste a lot of energy worrying that they're not working on the right task! If you're at all like me, then this is a foreign concept. The introduction to GTD hints that it is specifically targeted at people like this to reduce their anxieties. It also caused me to stop reading the book because, as I said, that concept is mostly foreign to me (I have observed it in others, but my empathy is insufficient to truly understand it).


There are also people w/o the anxieties, who live their lives as firefighters. Every day take on the emergencies!

That was me for a long time. When you have a job that is constantly filled with fires you can survive for a long time doing this. The problem is that sometimes a non-fire tasj can start out as low priority but eventually become the most important thing you have to do today all based on a due date. Unless you are good at managing your future tasks, you'll often miss them.

I never had anxieties about getting things out the door, mostly because my bosses were constantly chopping down one or two of the legs of my stool (money, time, resources). But it was easy for me to keep pushing a low priority task to the bottom of the list because its not due yet, totally forgetting about the fact that eventually it will be due.


I think some people just need to put the work into something they enjoy (and hope that doesn't become just a distraction)

Myself, I suck at budgeting. So naturally I'm building a Rails app to do it for me ...


"focus" problems very often are "hyperfocus" problems where we can get really zoned into whatever we're doing but make poor choices about where that focus lies. Think of it as a difference in executive function rather than a focus issue.


Hitask (https://hitask.com) does everything, has Google Calendar sync and Chrome extension. iOS, Android apps, team sharing and many more.


I know Google's scary, but having task management/scheduling built into and up-front in their Inbox is wonderful. When I saw that, I ditched the old gmail interface and haven't looked back.


Am I the only one still using a #2 pencil and a piece of paper for my 'to do' lists???


I carry a Mead memo book and a pen in my back pocket at all time, it's great for taking notes, recording stuff I don't want to forget, doodling, etc..

Added bonus: I can take it out to write a to-do and not accidently spend 20 minutes on Twitter or HN. Beats any other productivity app I ever tried in that regard.


After having a mead go through the laundry, I switched to a rite-in-the-rain with a fisher. The notebook can survive 2-3 trips through the laundry before it becomes hard to read.


Yes, I upgraded to a fountain pen a while ago!


I'm not too far off with the TaskPaper format.


Why is a todo list a good idea?


The motivation behind a task manager (and things like GTD) is that your brain has much more important things to worry about than what you have to do. If you get to the point where you really trust the system you use, you can get to the point where you're not stressed about remembering upcoming things. Instead, you just consult your system and see what's up.

I started using Things (https://culturedcode.com/things/) because it's so flighty on what it offers in terms of scheduling. You can set tasks to be done today, and deadlines separately. You can't set certain due times or hours -- and you can basically turn off all nagging. It's become projects and tasks that I both need and want to do, but it frees me from dealing with them in my head.

So, it's liberating when done right. It can be done wrong, though. Tasks that aren't actionable make these systems rough, because they set deadlines on immeasurable amounts of work, which creates stress. The trick is to make sure tasks are actionable, and that you aren't remembering them yourself.


I understand why the TODO list is a good idea. My memory is terrible, I get confused if I don't write down everything I was doing and everything I was planning to do the next day.

What I'm unsure about is whether the actual tech behind the TODO list matters. It seems we love to discuss this (or reimplement it!) because we're programmers and/or tech people, and tech naturally appeals to us. But I'm unsure Taskwarrior or any particular tool actually matters. I think what matters is that you keep a TODO list in whatever format is useful to you. To me, the discipline matters; the actual tech/UI behind it is pretty much irrelevant.


> I think what matters is that you keep a TODO list in whatever format is useful to you.

It's just that. That's why programmers keep making todo lists. Because some people want more flexibility, some want less. Some need some specific feature set, and some think other features are stupid. They're simple enough systems that people can build whatever flavor they want -- and it'll work for them -- rather than be constrained to whatever is available.


At the most basic, it makes sure you don't forget things you have to do. There are secondary benefits like prioritizing and identifying blockers which help you work more efficiently.


I'm tending to believe a traditional ToDo is too naive, too one-dimensional.

Tasks are a function of:

- priority - completion time - complexity

For example, if I'm fresh I should choose something that's complex and I have the time for. A higher priority (depending on deadline) might take less brain CPUs so maybe it waits.

Thinking of things simply in terms of priority ignores the most important component: your brain.


This is actually a primary motivator behind how GTD works. Offload things you'll forget to a system you trust. Prioritize based on importance, completion time, complexity, and when and where you can do the work. If something requires your utmost attention and focus, you probably can't do it an hour before bedtime. You also can't do it in the middle of the freeway.

If you just have a todo list, though, you run the risk of stressing yourself out about the items on the list. And that's kinda defeating the point.


For me, it's peace-of-mind. If I write it down, I don't have to keep it in memory.


Yes I can see that happening, but do you also get stressed out by a long list of things to do? This maybe leads to avoiding the todos and then you are worse off for making a list in the first place?


For me it’s the opposite. Knowing that I have things to do but not having them written down in one place makes me anxious. Once I reliably started tracking everything (in Trello), that anxiety went away. I feel free to focus 100% on the task in front of me, without worrying about keeping the next tasks in my head.


Yes. My strategy is to do a daily review. In the first few minutes of the day, I pull maybe 14 tasks out of the big list and into a Today list. Then I see only a manageable number the rest of the day.


I don't. I've got the rest of my life to tackle some tasks on my list. I have deadlines and personal priorities, which naturally float to the top of those lists, but until I decide that I'll never do one of them, I just let them fall to the bottom of the list. No big deal.


No. Even without a list I'd still have all these things to do. Having a list doesn't change anything except I don't have to stress about remembering and forgetting.


Genuinely curious: how do you manage commitments etc. without a todo list?


Easy, I just make a list of things to do. I also use a calendar.

Seriously though, I'm just annoyed by some aspects of them:

1. I feel spread too thin: item 1 doesn't get the attention it deserves because I was thinking of doing item 2. The GTD book itself seems to say, "I'm a victim of this problem."

2. The longer an item stays on a list the less likely I am to do it.

3. I'm annoyed by having a long list of things to do.

4. I was optimistic when I made the list, but later when I'm doing things I become more pessimistic.

5. I like the days when I lose track of time and suddenly it's 17:00 when I thought it was 11:00. I don't usually have that kind of day when I operate from a list.


Re 2: When I have something that's been stuck in my todo for a long time, I drop it or I push it through in a weekend or similar short period of time. Why? I drop it because it either wasn't important or I missed the deadline. If I keep it it's still important and I up its priority.

Re 3: This motivates me to reduce and focus. I stopped agreeing to obligations from other people if I didn't actually want to do it, need to do it, or if other things had higher priority. I started setting aside daily time for a specific task (before I socialize with friends during the week, I usually show up early with a book I want to read).

Re 5: I still get these, even working from a list. In fact, thanks to 2 and 3 I feel like it happens more often. Because when I sit down to do something, I can be confident I'm not forgetting something else that needs to be done first.


By itself, a todo list is poison, because your day turns into a game of "check the box" and you spend your time doing things that you shouldn't. In combination with a todon't list, which tells you what doesn't get a place on your todo list, you can be productive.


I don't get why checkboxes would lead to being counterproductive. Personally, I try to estimate time needed for a given task when adding it and assign to a project/label. Then, each morning, I decide which project to work on and filter out any other projects. Now I can start working, and I usually pick a couple of small ones just to get stuff out of the way - these tasks are often about replying to e-mail or delegating to others, and because of that they are often more time/deadlne based (do it asap) than the bigger ones (research this, implement that etc).


I think you're going beyond the todo list as it's normally used. The purpose of the other list is to make you selective about what goes on the todo list. What you describe more or less does the same thing as the other list.


It helps some folks stay organized and manage their time effectively.


True. But it's also easy of falling into the trap of getting things done, but failing to be productive.

Doing things and doing the right things are two different things.


I've got a pretty massive list of stuff in org-mode. Some of it makes sense to do now to achieve goals right now, and some of it is interesting stuff that I want to think about later (or maybe never).

Dumping it all into org-mode GTD style helped made me feel noticeably lighter. All of this stuff that's been bouncing around in my brain is now stored in a place that I trust to keep it. It's all organized in a relatively hierarchical fashion (projects & sub-projects), with next actions identified for most projects.

Every week (usually Sunday morning), I spent a 0.5-1 hr looking at the week that has passed and looking at the week ahead. Specifically looking at "doing the right things" is the point of this. I look at my overall goals and try to figure out whether or not the tasks (and the containing projects) are what I should actually be working on. If there's tasks that I think should be done in the following week, I schedule those tasks for a particular day so that each morning when I wake up I've got a manageable list of things to accomplish that I've already decided help move the needle in some way.

During that review I also give a look through the list of projects that don't currently have scheduled tasks and figure out if there's one there that should get included in the following week's schedule.

I keep everything driven in there. Some of them are recurring tasks/chores (walk the dogs, clean furnace filter, call Grandma), while some are more tactical (get feature X specced out, touch base with old client X), and some are more strategic (review financial plan).

The beauty of all of this is that the "doing the right things" evaluation and the "what should I be doing today" evaluations are separated but still pretty close in time. This, for me, helps me from getting too caught up in the moment and spending a lot of time doing the wrong things.


I consider TODO lists the means of being able to prioritize/select the "right tasks" at all, rather than having to come up with the right ones on the spot and re-thinking the priority each time I complete one.


That's why traditional GTD has the daily/weekly review steps. You look over your tasks, and make sure they align with your longer term goals, and decide if the things on your list really help you achieve them.


Sure, but you can still 'do things' that are not productive without any sort of task tracker involved. That's a different issue entirely, and not one that software like this is even trying to solve.


Awesome. Could someone recommend note-taking tool with the same spirit?


vim.


The way this article scrolljacks on mobile makes it unreadable.


I didn’t knew FollowUpThen, it seems very handy.


Why doesn’t this site do inertial scrolling properly on my iPhone?


Author has too much time in his hand now, and decided to reimplement scrolling.


I don't see any actual¹ JavaScript on the page, so how would this have been accomplished? Some fancy but broken scrolling manipulation CSS...?

1: The only JS on the page is an IE conditional comment adding an HTML5 shim script, and the Disqus comment embedding script. Then there's the Google analytics that gets pulled in from font references and I guess Facebook JS via the Disqus embed.


It's some not-even-fancy CSS. The site has "overflow: auto;" on the body :/ RIP iOS users

https://css-tricks.com/snippets/css/momentum-scrolling-on-io...


WTF! I had no clue that overflow: auto messes things up so badly for iOS users. I'll have to file that for the next time I'm writing CSS. I wonder what the justification for that is...


I actually become intrigued why anyone would do this on a simple personal site that seemed to at least prioritize minimalism. The amount of junk Disqus loaded is nuts. 109 requests. And, as far as my quick skimming can tell, the only JS on the site is Disqus. So it must be some CSS thing or Disqus that causes this behavior.


What would be the point of doing this?


If you click the Reader button in the upper left of Safari, it fixes this issue.


No. It’s horrible.


Was immediately turned off by his devotion to the ridiculously overrated Inbox Zero.

Inbox Zero is a gross waste of time and essentially OCD masturbation. Using tools (like filters, or a better email client with smart prioritization such as https://sparkmailapp.com/) to prioritize important emails is far superior and has zero ongoing maintenance cost in time:

https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/worlds-dumbest-time-manag...

If you want to actually get productive, get RescueTime: https://www.rescuetime.com/

There is a very good reason why the Spark iOS app doesn't even bother showing your unread count.


Sounds a lot like the Getting Things Done approach, which is a little culty as a community but has some reasonable advice. One of those nuggets is "touch it once," using the "four Ds" - Do, Delete, Delegate, Defer. I've been basically using it as an approach for a while and it's great when I stick to it.

It's not in opposition to using filters and such though afaik; all of my build/jira/notifications/updates/forum posts/etc email goes to various buckets and is immediately forgotten.


I am more productive with zero inbox than other tools. And since neither of us can prove we are right, let's accept it's just an opinionated tool, and it's a matter of taste.


> And since neither of us can prove we are right

Actually, that's false. Use https://www.rescuetime.com/ and compare with people who don't use this system, divide by the number of incoming emails per person, and you'll know in short order.

Empirical data is a wonderful tool to find truth.


Agreed on Inbox Zero.

I used it for a while, until I realized that there is tremendous value in being as responsive to emails as possible. Most people don't expect replies to emails, so they tend to be delighted when you respond immediately. It's a great way to set yourself apart from your coworkers or competitors.

So now I have my email inbox open in its own monitor, and I glance at it when a new email arrives. If it requires a response, I respond right away, even if it is something like "OK, let me look into this and get back to you." People really, really like knowing that you are 100% attentive.


> People really, really like knowing that you are 100% attentive.

I can explain this. As your reliability to someone else dips below 100%, your effective utility to them drops far more drastically. (Imagine Google was up only 95% of the time.) I only realized this rather late in life for some reason (although I was already doing it intuitively). It seems to apply to friendships, personal relationships, and work relationships... as well as services. Basically any interaction.

Instant response = reliability. That makes you more valuable to other people.


"Inbox zero" is just another name for "only show pending tasks" and translates into any planning solution that offers filtering by arbitrary criteria (like pending/done)...




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