Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In order to keep my life and work organized, the tool I use to track tasks has to be streamlined and seamless. Do you know what I mean? Any hassle or delay, and I'm likely to get distracted or postpone the bookkeeping of adding a new task or updating the status of a task. If I'm hampered in bookkeeping, I fall behind and the system becomes less trustworthy so I can even fall out of the habit of keeping it up-to-date simply because it's already not up-to-date. It requires discipline as well as ease-of-use.

My system is not just one single task list. That would be too long. Instead, it's organized roughly as "Getting Things Done" suggests, into contexts. This is crucial, for reasons I won't go into now. So one of my requirements is that I have several groups of tasks, and a task can only be in one group/context. Another requirement is that I be able to mark tasks as "done" to make them disappear (but not deleted).

For three years now I've been using iOrganize. It's a small and reliable note-taking program that I don't mind running constantly in order to do bookkeeping at a moment's notice. It has folders for "notes", and lists notes by title within a folder. Click on a note and a view pane shows the body text. I have a couple conventions to make this function as a task manager: I mark the tasks that have top priority with a ** so they show up in a quick search, and I drag a note to the _Done folder (which sorts last with the underscore) to mark as done.

The thing is, I unthinkingly upgraded to a new version when prompted, and a few things are driving me crazy, and worse, driving me towards dis-use.
  • The search function now only searches in the current folder. This breaks my ability to quickly use search for ** to find top tasks. Even though the functionality to search all folders is still there, it now won't show me which folder the search results are in.
  • The drag to the _Done folder now changes the view to the _Done folder, when it used to (and I really want to) keep the view on the source folder, the context where I'm getting stuff done.
... *sigh*

I have been experimenting this morning with TextMate's awesome extensibility to see if I could use it for a task manager since I run it constantly anyway, but am running into barriers. Can I downgrade my running version of iOrganize instead?

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