Echo Area

Different roles

10 January 2013 3:49 AM (org-mode | emacs | todo)

The other day I noticed that when I'm working I find it very annoying to have tasks for my personal projects appear in either my agenda or my todo list, so I was thinking if I couldn't make it somewhat more flexible.

First I've added some separation between my org files, I've split them into personal-org-agenda-files, work-org-agenda-files and common-org-agenda-files, since there are also some tasks that I would like to know about in either situation.

(defvar oni:personal-agenda-files
  (list (expand-file-name "~/documents/org/tasks"))
  "My personal agenda, should only show up at times I don't have
  to work.")

(defvar oni:work-agenda-files
  (list (expand-file-name "~/documents/org/work"))
  "My work agenda, should only show up at times I work.")

(defvar oni:common-agenda-files
  (list (expand-file-name "~/documents/org/misc"))
  "Agenda files that are work-agnostic, should always show up.")

At first I only seperated them with org-agenda-custom-commands:

(setq org-agenda-custom-commands
      '(("P" . "Personal only")
        ("Pa" "Personal agenda" agenda ""
         ((org-agenda-files (append oni:personal-agenda-files
        ("Pt" "Personal todo" agenda ""
         ((org-agenda-files (append oni:personal-agenda-files
        ("W" . "Work only")
        ("Wa" "Work agenda" agenda ""
         ((org-agenda-files (append oni:work-agenda-files
        ("Wt" "Work todo" todo ""
         ((org-agenda-files (append oni:work-agenda-files

But it's clunky to have to use a separate command just to see a clean todo list. Then I thought, and tried, to have a function that checks the time to see which it should use, since I work from 09:00 to 17:00, if the current time is between those times I should only look at my work todo list, most of the time, outside of those hours I don't really care what I have to do for work.

(defun oni:set-org-agenda-files ()
  (let ((current-time (current-time-string))
        (start-time (format-time-string "%a %b %e 09:00:00 %Y"))
        (end-time (format-time-string "%a %b %e 17:00:00 %Y")))
    (if (or (and (string< current-time start-time)
                 (string< current-time end-time))
            (and (string< start-time current-time)
                 (string< end-time current-time)))
        (setq org-agenda-files
              (append oni:personal-agenda-files
      (setq org-agenda-files
            (append oni:work-agenda-files

It's weird, but since Emacs doesn't have any real datetime functions for creation/comparison, for as far as I know, it seemed easiest to just create some strings representing the time and compare these.

Then it should be, if the current time is either before both start and end time or after both start and end time it should return my personal todo list, otherwise it should return my work todo list.

Now, it would be silly to have to call that manually every so-often, so I've set it up to do so automatically.

(run-at-time "09:01" nil 'oni:set-org-agenda-files)
(run-at-time "17:01" nil 'oni:set-org-agenda-files)

First, I set my agenda files to whatevers they should be right now. Then I have this function run at 09:01 and 17:01, if either or both have already passed, they won't be executed today. This effectively tells Emacs to switch to my work "role" after 09:00 and back to my personal "role" after 17:00.

It's not perfect yet, but I felt like writing something. The things I would change might include:

  • Check the times for either < or = the start/end times, so I don't
    have to check for :01 every time, but Emacs doesn't have a string<=
    function so I'll have to mimic it.

  • Always set it to my personal "role" during weekends.

  • Have them repeat every 24 hours, just in case I don't turn off my
    PC for a few days.

I'll fix those soon, they're not hard to do, but this works for now. It has worked well for me today, but I might throw it out again tomorrow, as I sometimes tend to do.

2 responses

  1. Joao Brito says:

    Tks for showing how to have different org-agenda-files. Why do you use "oni:" in front of each variable? (I'm not a programmer, just an org-mode fan)

  2. tom says:

    I use oni: as my personal namespace. So that I don't have to worry about naming conflicts.

    I use it in my personal configuration, but never in any packages I write.

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