Self-introduction, and a serious call for ideas

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Self-introduction, and a serious call for ideas

Samuel Wales
Hi, I just joined the list.

I wanted to introduce myself and get some ideas.

(Normally, I would lurk first, to get an idea of what the
list is like and not be boorish, but I want to get started
or I never will.)

Like many people, my planning is a mess, and I want to try
to fix it with emacs.  I like the simplicity and portability
of plain text.

But unlike most people, on top of basic disorganization, I
have both serious cognitive issues (including planning and
scheduling, stamina, concentration, short-term memory, etc.)
and serious physical disabilities that make doing anything
(even getting up (I normally lie down) to go to the kitchen
or the bathroom) extremely difficult almost all of the time.

I can never predict when I will be able to do anything, and
there is very little that I am able to do, yet I have a todo
list that is enormous.  Some days I can't do anything.
Other days I can manage a phone call, or write a short list,
or click on a URL.  I can almost never do all three on the
same day.

So I want a planning system that will put in front of me
what to do when I happen to be able to do it.  Somehow.  My
planning is not simply a mess; it is an extreme mess.

I looked on the emacs wiki for options, and it had an
overwhelming array of outlining, todo, hypertext, and
planning tools.  There was no comparison of them.  I was not
able to evaluate all of them.  planner.el seems
comprehensive, so maybe it is the place to start, though my
attention span for learning it will be short (not for lack
of desire).  (I did look at the FAQ and quick start; I am
not *that* boorish.  :))

I'm pretty sure I want something that takes little effort to
maintain and visually/cognitively deal with the meanings of
its symbols.  I wrote my own indenting functions for making
space-indented outlines, but while it works the way I want,
it can't handle deadlines, dependencies, time windows,
alerts, hypertext, syncing/views, or other stuff.

I used to be a scientist and a serious lisper, so it's not
ideas that are difficult.  Just planning and scheduling and
executing and paying attention and keeping on track and
dealing with obstacles and concentrating and things like
that.

I have nobody to help me with these things.  Some kind of
system that works for me seems critical.  I'm just not sure
what would work best.

Part of what I'm asking is "is planner.el what I probably
want?"  And another part is "How would you recommend using
planner.el for me?".

Please realize that typing is very difficult for me
(notwithstanding this email).  So I might not reply
immediately.  However, I will read everything and reply when
I can.

Thanks.


P.S.  I find that little, seemingly petty things like
formatting can pose an obstacle for me, and any obstacle can
derail a project, so, for what it's worth, here are my
preferences.  Can these be done in planner.el?  Thank you
very much for listening.

1.  Outlines: I like outlines that use 8 spaces for
indentation and have no letters or numbers.  I realize that
this might create ambiguity between bodies and items (I
haven't thought about it much), but I like seeing stuff
visually indented in a clean fashion so that I can ignore
the nested stuff without having to press keys.

The default way in outline-mode, using asterisks/stars,
calls attention to the nested stuff, which I don't want.  I
am aware of outline-regexp, but I don't know if setting it
to "^ *" or something would work in planner.el.

Something like this would appeal to me.

        item
                ! second level item 1, urgent
        ((some text describing second level item 1,
        wrapped around, at any level of indentation, still is under second
        level item 1))
                second level item 2

Or maybe like this, if some kind of symbol is necessary?

        . item
                ! second level item 1, urgent
                  some text describing second level item 1
                . second level item 2

I really don't know what is possible.  I just know I don't
like those asterisks.  Of course I want hidden done items
and so on.

2.  Hypertext: I like the idea of some kind of two-way
hypertext or syncing, which it sounds like planner.el can do
(project and day pages, at least).

Although it sounds petty, I don't like camel case or even
capital letters for links.  I have [] bound to print () (old
lisp habit :)) so maybe something like ((my-file)) or
==my-file to be clickable to get to myfile in a preferred
directory?  I would prefer that to planner.el's [myfile] or
MyFile, if possible.

Another option is simply to bind alt-right that I can use on
any word, to open that word in my preferred dir.  Then
alt-left can go back to where I was.  Of course this is
probably all really easy to hack.  Just want to make sure.

3.  Files: I am happy with having all todo items in a single
file, and ancillary files (letter drafts, grocery lists,
lists of doctors, log files, idea snippets, csv phone book?)
all in a single directory.  For just todo, I'd guess that
anchors to go from one todo subtree to another would be
really really great.  But I suppose if emacs provides really
good support for multiple files (searching all files
hyperlinked in the current file, or whatever) then multiple
files for todo might work, maybe.  Maybe if I experience the
power of planner.el this will all make sense to me.

4.  Dates, appointments, events, deadlines, urgency,
priority, time restrictions, difficulty, etc. --I have no
idea what I want.  But I need it.  This is the most urgent
need.

5.  Hiding.  Search to search within hidden items would be
good.  Haven't used hiding yet, and might not need it, if
things are visually indented with spaces.

6.  Please feel free to tell me I am wrong about these
things.  I am posting this to get your ideas.

7.  Systems.  At present I am physically (not morally)
incapable of sustaining the concentration to read about
systems like Getting Things Done. But I'm happy to take
advantage of their wisdom as presented by you, if it is
simple enough to begin with and you think it will work.

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Re: Self-introduction, and a serious call for ideas

Kevin T. Neely
On Fri, Aug 08, 2008 at 09:35:51PM -0700, Samuel Wales wrote:
> So I want a planning system that will put in front of me
> what to do when I happen to be able to do it.  Somehow.  My
> planning is not simply a mess; it is an extreme mess.

I think you want a system that will implement the GTD concept of "contexts".  This is where you give a task a context tag that places it not only in a project, but a when and/or how to do the task.  So, in planner, you might add a task to the 'Phone' project because it requires you to be on the phone, or the Computer project because it must be done on a computer.  If you use planner multi, you can have as many tags or contexts as you like.

place
 (require 'planner-multi)
in your .emacs to enable more contexts per item.

hope that helps,
K

--
In Vino Veritas
http://rubbernecking.info


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Re: Self-introduction, and a serious call for ideas

David Cross-4
In reply to this post by Samuel Wales

Samuel:

Implementation of GTD on emacs (w/ planner) is discussed on my weblog:

http://www.davidcross.us/cgi-bin/blosxom.cgi/docs/gtd/getting_things_done.html

You may find that helpful.  Also, GTD is not that bad to assimilate if
you get the second book (Ready for Anything), which nicely summarizes the
system in an appendix.  I find that the GTD system is best implemented
in small chunks anyway, and Ready for Anything can help with this, for
the book is essentially a collection of 52 very short essays.

Best wishes with your project,
David Cross

"Samuel Wales" <[hidden email]> writes:

> Hi, I just joined the list.
>
> I wanted to introduce myself and get some ideas.
>
> (Normally, I would lurk first, to get an idea of what the
> list is like and not be boorish, but I want to get started
> or I never will.)
>
> Like many people, my planning is a mess, and I want to try
> to fix it with emacs.  I like the simplicity and portability
> of plain text.
>
> But unlike most people, on top of basic disorganization, I
> have both serious cognitive issues (including planning and
> scheduling, stamina, concentration, short-term memory, etc.)
> and serious physical disabilities that make doing anything
> (even getting up (I normally lie down) to go to the kitchen
> or the bathroom) extremely difficult almost all of the time.
>
> I can never predict when I will be able to do anything, and
> there is very little that I am able to do, yet I have a todo
> list that is enormous.  Some days I can't do anything.
> Other days I can manage a phone call, or write a short list,
> or click on a URL.  I can almost never do all three on the
> same day.
>
> So I want a planning system that will put in front of me
> what to do when I happen to be able to do it.  Somehow.  My
> planning is not simply a mess; it is an extreme mess.
>
> I looked on the emacs wiki for options, and it had an
> overwhelming array of outlining, todo, hypertext, and
> planning tools.  There was no comparison of them.  I was not
> able to evaluate all of them.  planner.el seems
> comprehensive, so maybe it is the place to start, though my
> attention span for learning it will be short (not for lack
> of desire).  (I did look at the FAQ and quick start; I am
> not *that* boorish.  :))
>
> I'm pretty sure I want something that takes little effort to
> maintain and visually/cognitively deal with the meanings of
> its symbols.  I wrote my own indenting functions for making
> space-indented outlines, but while it works the way I want,
> it can't handle deadlines, dependencies, time windows,
> alerts, hypertext, syncing/views, or other stuff.
>
> I used to be a scientist and a serious lisper, so it's not
> ideas that are difficult.  Just planning and scheduling and
> executing and paying attention and keeping on track and
> dealing with obstacles and concentrating and things like
> that.
>
> I have nobody to help me with these things.  Some kind of
> system that works for me seems critical.  I'm just not sure
> what would work best.
>
> Part of what I'm asking is "is planner.el what I probably
> want?"  And another part is "How would you recommend using
> planner.el for me?".
>
> Please realize that typing is very difficult for me
> (notwithstanding this email).  So I might not reply
> immediately.  However, I will read everything and reply when
> I can.
>
> Thanks.
>
>
> P.S.  I find that little, seemingly petty things like
> formatting can pose an obstacle for me, and any obstacle can
> derail a project, so, for what it's worth, here are my
> preferences.  Can these be done in planner.el?  Thank you
> very much for listening.
>
> 1.  Outlines: I like outlines that use 8 spaces for
> indentation and have no letters or numbers.  I realize that
> this might create ambiguity between bodies and items (I
> haven't thought about it much), but I like seeing stuff
> visually indented in a clean fashion so that I can ignore
> the nested stuff without having to press keys.
>
> The default way in outline-mode, using asterisks/stars,
> calls attention to the nested stuff, which I don't want.  I
> am aware of outline-regexp, but I don't know if setting it
> to "^ *" or something would work in planner.el.
>
> Something like this would appeal to me.
>
>         item
>                 ! second level item 1, urgent
>         ((some text describing second level item 1,
>         wrapped around, at any level of indentation, still is under second
>         level item 1))
>                 second level item 2
>
> Or maybe like this, if some kind of symbol is necessary?
>
>         . item
>                 ! second level item 1, urgent
>                   some text describing second level item 1
>                 . second level item 2
>
> I really don't know what is possible.  I just know I don't
> like those asterisks.  Of course I want hidden done items
> and so on.
>
> 2.  Hypertext: I like the idea of some kind of two-way
> hypertext or syncing, which it sounds like planner.el can do
> (project and day pages, at least).
>
> Although it sounds petty, I don't like camel case or even
> capital letters for links.  I have [] bound to print () (old
> lisp habit :)) so maybe something like ((my-file)) or
> ==my-file to be clickable to get to myfile in a preferred
> directory?  I would prefer that to planner.el's [myfile] or
> MyFile, if possible.
>
> Another option is simply to bind alt-right that I can use on
> any word, to open that word in my preferred dir.  Then
> alt-left can go back to where I was.  Of course this is
> probably all really easy to hack.  Just want to make sure.
>
> 3.  Files: I am happy with having all todo items in a single
> file, and ancillary files (letter drafts, grocery lists,
> lists of doctors, log files, idea snippets, csv phone book?)
> all in a single directory.  For just todo, I'd guess that
> anchors to go from one todo subtree to another would be
> really really great.  But I suppose if emacs provides really
> good support for multiple files (searching all files
> hyperlinked in the current file, or whatever) then multiple
> files for todo might work, maybe.  Maybe if I experience the
> power of planner.el this will all make sense to me.
>
> 4.  Dates, appointments, events, deadlines, urgency,
> priority, time restrictions, difficulty, etc. --I have no
> idea what I want.  But I need it.  This is the most urgent
> need.
>
> 5.  Hiding.  Search to search within hidden items would be
> good.  Haven't used hiding yet, and might not need it, if
> things are visually indented with spaces.
>
> 6.  Please feel free to tell me I am wrong about these
> things.  I am posting this to get your ideas.
>
> 7.  Systems.  At present I am physically (not morally)
> incapable of sustaining the concentration to read about
> systems like Getting Things Done. But I'm happy to take
> advantage of their wisdom as presented by you, if it is
> simple enough to begin with and you think it will work.
>
> _______________________________________________
> Planner-el-discuss mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://mail.gna.org/listinfo/planner-el-discuss

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Re: Self-introduction, and a serious call for ideas

Manish Sharma-6
In reply to this post by Samuel Wales
Hello Samuel,

First organizing system I really liked and stuck with was Planner and
I credit it for inspiring me to really get started with Emacs.
Planner is a great system but I find that Org mode seems to fit better
with how my brain seems to work.  I would love to give you a more
detailed answer but right now I can't so I will just recommend taking
a look at org mode as well.  It comes with Emacs (though an older
version) and meets a lot of your requirements (outlines (yes they use
*'s but they can be hidden out of the way), contexts, hypertext,
dates, appointments, events, deadlines, priority, time restrictions,
hiding etc.) and then some (effort estimation, publishing, time
tracking and reporting, spreadsheet....)  The thing I like most about
Org mode is it's flexibility and simplicity and the fact that it
scales very well.  You can make it what you wish, a simple list of
todo items to a full-fledged GTD system.

Here's a link to Google Tech Talk on Org mode by Carsten Dominik
(author of Org mode) to whet your appetite.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJTwQvgfgMM

You can find some tutorials here:
http://orgmode.org/worg/org-tutorials/index.php

If you like it (and I am quite sure you will :) do subscribe to a
fairly active and vibrant Org mode mailing list here:
http://lists.gnu.org/mailman/listinfo/emacs-orgmode

Just a happy Org user (I still lurk on Planner list to learn whatever
I can from it's knowledgeable residents' communication.)

-- Manish



On Sat, Aug 9, 2008 at 10:05 AM, Samuel Wales wrote:

> Hi, I just joined the list.
>
> I wanted to introduce myself and get some ideas.
>
> (Normally, I would lurk first, to get an idea of what the
> list is like and not be boorish, but I want to get started
> or I never will.)
>
> Like many people, my planning is a mess, and I want to try
> to fix it with emacs.  I like the simplicity and portability
> of plain text.
>
> But unlike most people, on top of basic disorganization, I
> have both serious cognitive issues (including planning and
> scheduling, stamina, concentration, short-term memory, etc.)
> and serious physical disabilities that make doing anything
> (even getting up (I normally lie down) to go to the kitchen
> or the bathroom) extremely difficult almost all of the time.
>
> I can never predict when I will be able to do anything, and
> there is very little that I am able to do, yet I have a todo
> list that is enormous.  Some days I can't do anything.
> Other days I can manage a phone call, or write a short list,
> or click on a URL.  I can almost never do all three on the
> same day.
>
> So I want a planning system that will put in front of me
> what to do when I happen to be able to do it.  Somehow.  My
> planning is not simply a mess; it is an extreme mess.
>
> I looked on the emacs wiki for options, and it had an
> overwhelming array of outlining, todo, hypertext, and
> planning tools.  There was no comparison of them.  I was not
> able to evaluate all of them.  planner.el seems
> comprehensive, so maybe it is the place to start, though my
> attention span for learning it will be short (not for lack
> of desire).  (I did look at the FAQ and quick start; I am
> not *that* boorish.  :))
>
> I'm pretty sure I want something that takes little effort to
> maintain and visually/cognitively deal with the meanings of
> its symbols.  I wrote my own indenting functions for making
> space-indented outlines, but while it works the way I want,
> it can't handle deadlines, dependencies, time windows,
> alerts, hypertext, syncing/views, or other stuff.
>
> I used to be a scientist and a serious lisper, so it's not
> ideas that are difficult.  Just planning and scheduling and
> executing and paying attention and keeping on track and
> dealing with obstacles and concentrating and things like
> that.
>
> I have nobody to help me with these things.  Some kind of
> system that works for me seems critical.  I'm just not sure
> what would work best.
>
> Part of what I'm asking is "is planner.el what I probably
> want?"  And another part is "How would you recommend using
> planner.el for me?".
>
> Please realize that typing is very difficult for me
> (notwithstanding this email).  So I might not reply
> immediately.  However, I will read everything and reply when
> I can.
>
> Thanks.
>
>
> P.S.  I find that little, seemingly petty things like
> formatting can pose an obstacle for me, and any obstacle can
> derail a project, so, for what it's worth, here are my
> preferences.  Can these be done in planner.el?  Thank you
> very much for listening.
>
> 1.  Outlines: I like outlines that use 8 spaces for
> indentation and have no letters or numbers.  I realize that
> this might create ambiguity between bodies and items (I
> haven't thought about it much), but I like seeing stuff
> visually indented in a clean fashion so that I can ignore
> the nested stuff without having to press keys.
>
> The default way in outline-mode, using asterisks/stars,
> calls attention to the nested stuff, which I don't want.  I
> am aware of outline-regexp, but I don't know if setting it
> to "^ *" or something would work in planner.el.
>
> Something like this would appeal to me.
>
>        item
>                ! second level item 1, urgent
>        ((some text describing second level item 1,
>        wrapped around, at any level of indentation, still is under second
>        level item 1))
>                second level item 2
>
> Or maybe like this, if some kind of symbol is necessary?
>
>        . item
>                ! second level item 1, urgent
>                  some text describing second level item 1
>                . second level item 2
>
> I really don't know what is possible.  I just know I don't
> like those asterisks.  Of course I want hidden done items
> and so on.
>
> 2.  Hypertext: I like the idea of some kind of two-way
> hypertext or syncing, which it sounds like planner.el can do
> (project and day pages, at least).
>
> Although it sounds petty, I don't like camel case or even
> capital letters for links.  I have [] bound to print () (old
> lisp habit :)) so maybe something like ((my-file)) or
> ==my-file to be clickable to get to myfile in a preferred
> directory?  I would prefer that to planner.el's [myfile] or
> MyFile, if possible.
>
> Another option is simply to bind alt-right that I can use on
> any word, to open that word in my preferred dir.  Then
> alt-left can go back to where I was.  Of course this is
> probably all really easy to hack.  Just want to make sure.
>
> 3.  Files: I am happy with having all todo items in a single
> file, and ancillary files (letter drafts, grocery lists,
> lists of doctors, log files, idea snippets, csv phone book?)
> all in a single directory.  For just todo, I'd guess that
> anchors to go from one todo subtree to another would be
> really really great.  But I suppose if emacs provides really
> good support for multiple files (searching all files
> hyperlinked in the current file, or whatever) then multiple
> files for todo might work, maybe.  Maybe if I experience the
> power of planner.el this will all make sense to me.
>
> 4.  Dates, appointments, events, deadlines, urgency,
> priority, time restrictions, difficulty, etc. --I have no
> idea what I want.  But I need it.  This is the most urgent
> need.
>
> 5.  Hiding.  Search to search within hidden items would be
> good.  Haven't used hiding yet, and might not need it, if
> things are visually indented with spaces.
>
> 6.  Please feel free to tell me I am wrong about these
> things.  I am posting this to get your ideas.
>
> 7.  Systems.  At present I am physically (not morally)
> incapable of sustaining the concentration to read about
> systems like Getting Things Done. But I'm happy to take
> advantage of their wisdom as presented by you, if it is
> simple enough to begin with and you think it will work.
>
> _______________________________________________
> Planner-el-discuss mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://mail.gna.org/listinfo/planner-el-discuss
>

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Re: Self-introduction, and a serious call for ideas

Samuel Wales
This is really helpful.

Contexts are a must.

I will definitely keep GTD in mind, but at present I cannot sustain
the concentration to assimilate it or deal with a physical book.  I
have heard good things about it.

The org-mode Google talk is excellent.  Makes a lot of sense to me.
There is one show-stopper, which is the fact that it only indents 2
spaces (can't visually process it unless it is more).  But otherwise
it is exactly what I need.  If I can find a way to fix that one
problem, it is perfect.  Fantastic.

I think I understand the difference between org-mode and planner.el
now.  The former is more like an outline with dates and hypertext and
lots of other features, while the latter is more like a schedule with
outlines and hypertext and lots of other features.

The existence of both planner.el and org-mode seems obviously right to
me, because some people need schedule-centered org while others need
outline-centered org.  I hadn't really thought about the difference
before.

Are org-mode and planner the two main packages for emacs/xemacs?

I have found my package -- provided that I can fix the indentation.

I will stay on this list, as I'm sure I'll get some good ideas from
it.  Already have.

Thanks.

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Re: Self-introduction, and a serious call for ideas

Manish Sharma-6
  On Mon, Aug 11, 2008 at 9:40 AM, Samuel Wales wrote:
  > This is really helpful.
  >
  > Contexts are a must.
  >
  > I will definitely keep GTD in mind, but at present I cannot
  > sustain the concentration to assimilate it or deal with a physical
  > book.  I have heard good things about it.
  >
  > The org-mode Google talk is excellent.  Makes a lot of sense to
  > me.  There is one show-stopper, which is the fact that it only
  > indents 2 spaces (can't visually process it unless it is more).
  > But otherwise it is exactly what I need.  If I can find a way to
  > fix that one problem, it is perfect.  Fantastic.

Leading stars are visible by default but can be hidden thus making the
default indentation look like so:

,----
| * Project
|  * Task1
|  * Task2
`----

But there's an option to use only the odd levels making the outline
like so:

,----
| * Project
|   * Task1
|   * Task2
`----

Makes it look nice and clean.

  > I think I understand the difference between org-mode and
  > planner.el now.  The former is more like an outline with dates and
  > hypertext and lots of other features, while the latter is more
  > like a schedule with outlines and hypertext and lots of other
  > features.
  >
  > The existence of both planner.el and org-mode seems obviously
  > right to me, because some people need schedule-centered org while
  > others need outline-centered org.  I hadn't really thought about
  > the difference before.

Following post from Sacha (past maintainer of Planner) compares both.

http://sachachua.com/wp/2007/12/26/emacs-choosing-between-org-and-planner/

  > Are org-mode and planner the two main packages for emacs/xemacs?

I think I came across a couple more (worklog, for instance) but these two
are the most comprehensive and complete.

  > I have found my package -- provided that I can fix the
  > indentation.

Hope odd-level indentation helps.

-- Manish

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Re: Self-introduction, and a serious call for ideas

Samuel Wales
On Mon, Aug 11, 2008 at 1:28 AM, Manish <[hidden email]> wrote:
>  > The org-mode Google talk is excellent.  Makes a lot of sense to
>  > me.  There is one show-stopper, which is the fact that it only
>  > indents 2 spaces (can't visually process it unless it is more).
>  > But otherwise it is exactly what I need.  If I can find a way to
>  > fix that one problem, it is perfect.  Fantastic.

> But there's an option to use only the odd levels making the outline
> like so:

That's what doesn't work.  Normally it is 1.  You describe 2.  I need around 8.
I will post to the org list when I can type more.

> Following post from Sacha (past maintainer of Planner) compares both.

Thanks.

>  > Are org-mode and planner the two main packages for emacs/xemacs?
>
> I think I came across a couple more (worklog, for instance) but these two
> are the most comprehensive and complete.

OK.

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