4 Hugues Ross - Blog: Getting Organized - 1 - Selection
Hugues Ross


Getting Organized - 1 - Selection

One problem that I've been dealing with these past few months is organization. As the past 4 1/2 years of blogging should have made clear, I am not very good at managing my time and priorities. Now that I'm working 40 hours a week, the problem has gotten bad enough to seriously annoy me. So, I've decided to try and solve this problem the only way I know how: With software.

Looking back

I've tried a few pieces of software for keeping track of important dates and tasks. None of them have really stuck so far, so my first instinct was to write my own solution. However, I'm not going to do that. After seriously considering the idea for a minute, I've reached the obvious conclusion that creating a new project to try and improve my time situation is only going to make things worse. Instead, I decided to try and look at the problems with previous approaches and solve them.


In the months before and just after starting this blog, I was using some kind of todo list software. I remember almost nothing about it, including the name, and I can't find it anymore.

Google Calendar

During my college career, I used Google Calendar to keep track of classes and events. Beyond that, I never really bothered with it. My main issue with Google Calendar is the fact that it's an online service. I prefer to keep most of my applications off the web, mostly because webapps:
  1. Take up a disproportionately large amount of system resources to run.
  2. Won't work without an internet connection (duh).
  3. Take up an extra tab in my web browser.
  4. Usually collect personal information to sell/profit from.
 I see the appeal for most "normal people", but I can't stand webapps. This disqualifies Google Calendar right off the bat.


 For a while, I used a terminal application called Calcurse. Calcurse is an interesting program, because it gives you a nice curses-based calendar UI in the terminal. However, I had a couple of big complaints:
  1. The way that Calcurse handles todo lists leaves a lot to be desired. Unlike regular appointments, the program doesn't let you add items to your todo list with any sort of time attached. If you want to do something by next week, you need to make an appointment, rendering the todo list useless. Worse still, Calcurse won't try to warn you about the appointment ahead of time besides tossing you a notification a few hours or minutes before.
  2. In practice, Calcurse is incredibly aggravating to use. When you start it up, you have to hit enter to pass a message saying that it has loaded up. You have to do the same thing when you exit, but then it also prompts you just to be sure you want to quit after that. So, you have to hit 3 different buttons in turn to exit, for no good reason. It might not seem too bad at first, but it's super annoying and I don't know of any method to disable it. On top of that, it splits everything into 3 different panes, and you have to cycle between them with the tab key. They couldn't give you a "go back" or "go next", or just 3 buttons to select the specific mode that you want. Nope, they decided that you'd have to press tab until you got where you wanted.
 This program is a usability nightmare. I'd like to avoid using it.


...This brings me to the last option, going by things that I've used previously. Taskwarrior is a task management program that works really well for keeping todo lists and does a good job of prioritizing tasks.

I really like Taskwarrior, but I can't ever seem to make it stick. The main reason for this is probably because it's a basic command-line tool. There's no interface, only commands. This makes using it pretty inconvenient, as you can't just keep a view open to glance at or see notifications when time-sensitive tasks are coming up. Taskwarrior is more of an interface than a user-friendly application, which makes using it without any extra tools pretty annoying.

Of the options I've looked at, I think Taskwarrior is a pretty clear choice. While I still have to do some work to get it working, most of the heavy lifting will be already done for me. Hopefully, this will keep the time investment for this solution low. Hopefully, I'll be posting updates on this soon after I make more progress. Stay tuned!

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