mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

A few days ago I got a comment on my weekly post that went Oohh, you're doing what looks to me like a bullet journal? Only online. So I wrote a quick explanation. And then I realized that I might be doing something unusual, that I ought to write up in more detail. So here you are:

The Legend

Let's start off with the file called Journals/Dog/legend.do:

			       ===legend.do===

= item flag notation for to.do and to.done files:

= notation for to.do and to.done items:
  = note: keep  o to do  * done  x abandoned  ~ modified  . in progress
  & added after completion  (recurring items get * when completed)
  $ financial transaction (flagged as  o before completion)
  ? query/decision...  - choice  + chosen  ->chosen
  @ link/research
  ! emotion noted at the time, or soon after.  NOT added the next morning; 
    I'm trying to pay more attention at the time
  | body sensation worthy of note: pain, noticable change...
    (more recently replaced by %; should maybe go back to |)
  : observation or external event.  Weather, news, etc
    + external observation with positive emotional content
    - external observation with negative emotional content
  % observation/insight about myself
  # meta - flags, flist, filters, ...
  <b>...something I feel good about...</b> (may be added next day)
  <i>...something I feel bad about...</i>
  [ ... ] delete from public posts
  ... ongoing items
  " quotation
  ' interior dialog

= Notation for meetings and conversations:
  <- point to bring up.  After meeting, point to bring up next time
  *- point brought up
  x- point not brought up
  ~- point partially brought up, or brought up in different form
  &- additional point raised  
  -> information/point raised by someone else/consequence/resolution
  => action item for me
  =* action item done
  <= action item for somebody else.

===

The History

My usage has shifted a little over the years. I first started posting "to.do" items around 2006, though I'd undoubtedly been using at least the o and * flags for years before that. At first, since I was part of a support group working on procrastination and avoidance, I used it as an accountability thing: I would post a list of open items, followed (hopefully) by the items as they got checked in. It was a little discouraging, until somebody suggested just posting about what I'd done. That led to &, and my expanded use of the file as more a log than a to-do list and calendar.

Whenever the list of "done" items got too long, I would move them into a ".done" file -- the first one I have is 2006.done. In 2009 I switched to quarterly archives; by 2009/q4.done the file had most of its present features. By 2011 I was archiving monthly. I don't remember offhand when I stopped making daily posts in LJ and switched to weekly.

Sometime in September of 2011 I decided that the set of unfinished and probably never-to-be-completed items had gotten too long, and moved it to wibnif.do, as in "Wouldn't It Be Nice If..." My present Makefile plugin reports the current number of unfinished items in to.do and wibnif.do; the current numbers are 70 and 126 respectively.

The Files

So there's that. The file is called to.do, and edited with emacs. There are a couple of important marker lines in it:

=========================================================================================+
Ongoing:                                                                             89->|
recurring items and long-term goals go here
=then===================================================================================>|
this contains entries from the first of the month to the present
=now===-^-===this-month-v-==============================================================>|
scheduled items for later this month
=later===-v-===this-month-^-============================================================>|
scheduled items after this month
=sometime===-V-===later-^-==============================================================>|
items with no specific due date
=Done-v-================================================================================>|

Dates, in the form mmddWw (e.g., 0122Su), start in the first column; flag characters are indented two spaces. The marker at column 89 makes it easy to properly size the editor window when I first open it after rebooting; it's where lines wrap.

I'll put approximately-scheduled items in the this-month and later sections after the dated entries, and a few of the more important ones above =now. That doesn't keep me from procrastinating them, but it does help keep them where they'll be noticed.

Note that, except for the breakpoint at =done, entries are in chronological order from top to bottom. That makes this a log, not a blog or feed. My to.do and its associated history (see below) are one of a handful of journal-like collections under my Journals directory; the to.Do lOG is kept in a a directory called Dog.

The Archives

By now, I have a fairly well-established routine:

  • I maintain the to.do file using emacs, of course.
  • Sometime on Sunday, I move the last week's worth of entries from the working location near the top of the file, to the end.
  • At this point I still have the week's entries in the Region (emacs terminology for the current selection). I move point down two lines to scoop up the HTML boilerplate that I'll need for my weekly post, and copy (M-w).
  • Then I run lj-update, currently bound to M-L, and yank into the body. The boilerplate is arranged so that all I have to do is move back up two lines, cut, down one, and yank.
  • From there it's an easy step to go back to the first line (which is invariably the start date) copy it, and yank it into the subject line.
  • Write my summary. Edit out any [...] sections, if necessary.
  • Post.

Then,

  • Every month -- actually, on the first Sunday of the month, after making my weekly post -- I move the month's entries to yyyy/mm.done.
  • Every so often I go through and pull out obsolete entries, marking them with * or x as appropriate, and put them after the preceeding week's entries at the end of the file.
  • Every year, on New Year's Eve, I gather up my list of goals and make my end-of-the-year post.
  • The next day, I cons up my new list of goals and make a New Year's post.

Variations

I keep other, project-specific, to.do files. Most of them are much simpler, with undated items above the =done line (which is usually just a line of equal signs), and dated items after it in what I now call a "work log". It's convenient, because I can just go to the end of the file and make an entry, but it wouldn't work nearly as well if I had to schedule things.

Date: 2017-01-22 09:59 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Thank you for sharing this!

I am unlikely any time in the near future to use this degree of organizing for smoothly integrating content with program functions like search and/or specific file formats, because I'm not a programmer and therefore tend to use what the programs give me, or occasionally pick and choose from presets.

I also like the to-done thing. I don't have any sort of central to-do or to-done list; when I have in the past, it was in a calendar/dayplanner of the sort used for homework. Which I may try again, eventually. I use short lists for specific events, tasks, or topics, and that works as long as, and only as long as, I remember to do something (and am not solely responsible for remembering anything *important* and expensive.)

<3

Date: 2017-01-23 03:57 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Noted, thank you.

Date: 2017-01-22 11:04 pm (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
Thank you for writing this up! It's so completely not how I keep track of things (which I sort of love, watching the different things that work for different people is an ongoing delight of mine; IDIC) but I am pretty sure there are a couple things in here I'll find some use for.

Isn't it a joy finding the thing that works for you?

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