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Managing tasks with todo.txt and Taskwarrior

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One quote from Douglas Adams has always stayed with me: "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by". We all lead busy lives and few ever see the bottom of our long to-do lists. One of the oldest items on my list, ironically, is to find a better system to manage all my tasks. Can task-management systems make us more productive while, at the same time, reducing the stress caused by the sheer number of outstanding tasks? This article looks at todo.txt and Taskwarrior.

The management of tasks is rather personal and people have completely different approaches and philosophies. This is, of course, reflected in the requirements for, and expectations from, a task manager. Requirements can also change as our interaction with computers changes. For example, while I put a lot of emphasis on managing tasks via the command line in the past, these days I'm more interested in a good mobile app (to add tasks on the go and to receive reminders) and web support (to get an overview of all tasks).

A good way to filter tasks is also essential for me. One of the reasons for using task-management software is so you can stop worrying about tasks until they become relevant. This requires a way to find relevant tasks when needed, such as when the due date is coming up soon or because you're in a relevant setting or place (often called a "context" in task-management systems). Going to the supermarket would be a good time to bring up a shopping list, for example. Task-management systems offer a number of ways to organize information that can be used in filters, such as tags, contexts (often stored as tags in the form of @tag, such as @home), and lists.

In a series of two articles, we'll review four systems for managing tasks and to-do items around which open-source ecosystems have formed.

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