A workflow for using Org mode with EasyOrg cover image

A workflow for using Org mode with EasyOrg

Martin • February 19, 2020

workflow

In this blog post we will look at how you can use Org mode and EasyOrg to organize your daily work. It's a general description of a workflow that might help you while working on your projects on a daily basis.

Add TODOs

When working on a project or several projects you typically have many smaller and bigger tasks that need to be done to actually complete the project. You often also need to take some notes about ideas and your progress and what you discover along the way. Let's start by creating a new file an let's call it project1.org. It's a good idea to use one file per project if its a bigger project which will last for a month or more and you will spend a large share of your time on it.

When starting a new project you often come up with steps and things that need to be done. This is the first opportunity to add TODOs to your text document. Throughout the project you add more and more tasks as you go both while working at your desktop or laptop, but also while on the run outside of your office.

To write down the ideas and things that need to get done directly when they pop up is a good idea and you can do that on your phone using Orgzly (Android) or beorg (iOS). You can use a file named capture.org or notes.org or whatever you like. This will be the document where you capture your need idea in raw form while not at your computer.

This file syncs with your computer (using Syncthing or other sync solution) so that you have it on your computer as well once you are behind your desk again.

Now, once back at your desk and your computer, copy over and clean up the notes you took in your capture.org file and move them over to the project file it belongs to, in our case project1.org.

If your project is large it's a good idea to break down the project file into sub-projects. You can do this simply by adding new headers of the same level, say level two (**) with the sub-project name as title. Then you add each TODO below the sub-heading it belongs to. This will make it easier to track tasks that belong together. Example:

* My Project 1

** sub-project 1
*** TODO Do task 1
*** TODO Do task 2

** sub-project 2
*** TODO Do task 111
*** TODO Do task 2222

Prioritize

On a regular basis, for example every week, you can prioritize each task and give them a priority of A, B or C where A is most important. You should also add any DEADLINE timestamps for tasks that have to be done by a certain date and add SCHEDULED timestamps for tasks you would like to do on a certain date and time. If you want you can also add Effort estimates to each TODO, or at least the ones which would take less than say 15 or 30 minutes to do.

Use the Agenda Panel

The Agenda panel gives you a good overview of all your TODOs. In the editor you have all your data down for reference, but the Agenda helps you get a clear picture of priorities and dates.

Every Evening

Every evening before ending your work you should make it a habit to go through your list and mark one or two tasks that you want to complete the following day. You can use the context menu in the Agenda by right-clicking the TODO and select 'Do Tomorrow'. The TODO will then be SCHEDULED with tomorrows date.

Every Morning

Every morning you check the Agenda for what is the most important tasks today and get to work. The most important tasks and tasks scheduled for today will be at the top of the Agenda listing. This way you can get started directly without having to think to much and risk to start procrastinating and do other stuff.

Marking Done

After a task is done you mark it done from the Agenda (using context menu) or the editor (using menu button). The TODO will change state to DONE and a 'Closing Note:' line will be added at the bottom of the TODO including a the current date and time. Here you are encouraged to add a short or long comment on how you solved it, any obstacles or issues etc. This will be useful for future reference so you can see when you finished it and any comments.

Stats

In the top of the Agenda you can see some statistics about how many TODOs you have finished today, how many TODOs are done within the project and how many are left to do. This

Quick Wins

Sometimes when you get stuck it can be good to look in the agenda for some tasks which will be easy and fast to finish up. If you have added an Effort estimate to the smaller tasks, you will see them highlighted under Quick Wins or you can sort by Effort in the List view.

Summary

Add TODOs from your desktop and Mobile. Review weekly, prioritize and schedule them. At start of your workday, check the Agenda, take one of the top TODOs and get started. Document what you did in the closing notes for future reference. See the stats on how you progress, step by step. Just do it!

This is just one of many ways to work with Org mode and EasyOrg. More examples and specific situations will be covered in future blog posts.