[Originally published on, 2011-05-14 Sat]

Of all forms of time-wasting, writing time-management software is most sublime.

For at least a certain segment of the population, location is becoming less and less important. Once, we went out to rent a movie at the local Plex, drove to the grocery store for food, left the house for entertainment and of course, to work. Now we watch movies streaming on Netflix, order groceries (or pizza) to be delivered from an online service, and of course, more and more, we telecommute. As the first three dimensions of place thus recede in importance to our existence we become freer and freer to focus our attention on that most fundamental of our lives' parameters, the fourth: time.

Philosophizing aside, my own tiny contribution, posted at EmacsWiki Github, is todostack.el. It is a set of interactive functions in Emacs Lisp which allow you to keep a simple to-do list as a stack. The idea was inspired by a blog post by one Shrutarshi Basu1 in which is discussed the idea of using a priority queue for a to-do list. This seems like a good or at least interesting idea. Thinking about myself, it occurred to me that my problem is that, easily distractible as I am, I need a way to keep track of what I am supposed to be doing, that will feed me one and only one item at a time in the order that they have been made the current highest priority. I am a system administrator and this may appeal more to people with that sort of job than to those with ... other sorts of jobs. In my work it seems that whatever is most recent is most important, so this seems to be useful to me thus far. When I finish a task I don't have to sit around wondering what it was I was supposed to do next, or that had been interrupted. I simply pop the stack and see what's next. I still use Org-mode and the Org Agenda for my longer-term projects and to-do lists, but for a time scale from about one evening to a week or so, todostack.el seems useful so far. The thing is experimental, so use at your own risk, and so forth; read the commentary in the headers. There is some Org-mode integration, actually: you can output a buffer full of your stack as an Org-mode TODO list, and you can also snarf up such a buffer into your stack, so... that's nice, I guess. Anyway, it's only lightly tested, and of course only for my uses on my systems, so it no doubt has some bugs. It's also got a really odd doc-string hack which seemed like a good idea at the time, but sort of ballooned out a bit out of control. At any rate, for what it is worth, as they say.



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