In the middle of the desert you can say anything you want

25 Aug 2019

Daily todo/check-up/review program concept

EDIT: I use a variation of this now, both more simple and more complex, and better integrated with i3. Not sure I’ll ever do a write-up of that, but for now leaving this here for historical reasons I guess?
EDIT-2: Reimplemented this in Obsidian, now I can access it and fill it from all my devices!

This is an idea that has been floating in my head for over 2 years, and currently lives as a series of random spaghetti-Bash-Python scripts, and I think it would be interesting to formalize this in some way and make The One True Script To Rule Them All ©®™.

The main problem I’m trying to solve is the fact that I was never able to integrate any nice habits in my life without getting constantly reminded of them. The solutions/prescriptions are almost the same as in 2014, and every time I read any old notes I’m shocked by how relevant it is (still), and carry on that momentum for the next couple of days until I forget again.

How nice would it be if every morning I could run a script that generates a todo, checklists, and reminders about relevant habits/ideas?

Stephen Wolfram’s home dashboard (pic, from this article about his personal infrastructure) is probably one of the biggest inspirations for this.

The three subsystems are:

Usual morning/evening checklists

Currently implemented as my T script. When run, it creates or opens a file prefilled with:

2019-08-25 20:37:34 +0100


    - Wake up
    - meds
    - make my bed
    - start preparing breakfast
    - Shower
    - Meditation
    - eat breakfast
    - Plan the day
        - check birthdays
        - sync Taskwarrior
        - check all calendars for major events unprepared for
        - check all stacks
        - mod-system
        - Plan the day, add the individual blocks to the calendar
    - morning pages
    - two lists in taskwarrior: do now +O, do today +A

        - sort out all social networks (<20min)
        - make the bed if unmade, dishes, clutter pickup
        - 5-minute-cleanup and clutter pickup
        - evening pages


    Plans for today:

    THINGS NOT FINISHED: (copy-paste here from above)


I move (ddGp, thanks vim) the lines to DONE as I complete them.

I found that the metaphysical power of checklists works for me really really well. The Checklist Manifesto - Wikipedia is a relevant book I have not read but feel like mentioning.

Morning pages

Currently implemented as my script. I stole the idea from The simple dollar’s “How I get things done”, which is a really nice article by itself, and it’s a file like above prefilled with the modified eight questions. The first sentence is a question that gets an answer too.

2019-08-25 20:43:24 +0100

I simply write down a list of things that I want to be working on today. These aren’t necessarily tasks, 
but ways in which I want to behave and interact with the world. 


    What happened yesterday? Highs, lows, anything I want to remember

    For any lows and missed checklist points - why?

    What were my biggest wins from yesterday? This gives me a sense of momentum to start the new day.

    What lessons did I learn? I try to distill my experience down into a couple of lessons I want to remember. 

    What am I thankful for right now? This is one practical way I can cultivate a sense of abundance and gratitude.

    How am I feeling right now? (


    What stood out? I don’t want to lose what I learn in my reading and listening, so I record key insights.

    What can I do next to move forward on my goals? I think through my goals and my schedule and identify a 
    few key actions I could take to make progress. This helps me prioritize.

%-system / mod-system

Is something I came up with myself and integrated in my life too, especially in the calendar that worked out perfectly in its 2019 reincanation (I got rid of the days of the week, moved them to subscripts, and added a %-column).

The idea is that I take a day number, and see if it divides by 3, 5, 10. For each of them there are things that should be done. (Why not do days of the week? Because I don’t feel like they should be part of my week planning, I don’t want weeks to be even more rhytmical, and because once every seven days can be too much or too little for some actions).

I needed to do some very fun LaTeX magic to add this to my calendar, and some nice zsh scripting to add this to my zsh status line, that shows the sprint number and %-number.

Currently, it’s:

        - person 1
        - person 2
        - ...
        - person N
    clean completely social networks:
        - TG
        - FB, Linkedin
        - Email
        - read HS webmail

    dust easy surfaces
    check clothing
    clean my work table
    %5 backup

    run all backups 
    change towels
    wash floor
    clean my shoes
    ankify what needs to be ankified
    save all pictures from TG and other sources which don't get saved to the cloud by default 
    %10 backup

Where %5 and %10 are backups which have to be manually run, for example %10 is a backup of my cellphone that I need to manually connect to the laptop to start. 80% of this can be automated but I just haven’t gotten to it yet.

Additionally, some things get done on days of the week, such as additional cleaning stuff. This too should be formalized, possibly adapting this and this AOM’s cleaning routine. Some are once in X sprints such as “change toothbrush”.

Some of this also exists in my Google Calendar as Reminders, and some of this exists as a semi-recurrent task in my Taskwarrior. Again, I just need to put this in one place.

Questions for weekdays

I was playing with the idea to make my morning pages a bit more interesting by changing some questions, and then I stumble upon this. I have no opinion about chakras, but they are a really nice framework I can use to decide which questions should appear at certain times of the week. Apparently there’s an agreed-upon connection of chakra-to-weekday even. Without touching chakras, I really like the questions. Of course I will adapt them, and as wuth the stuff above after some time the questions will gravitate towards more optimal ones, but I still need a starting point.

Sprint/week review

It usually looks like this:

2019-08-25 21:12:12 +0100 - Week 34 review

Week review
    - My week in a nutshell:
    - My 3 or 4 big year goals:
    - Performance indicators
        - Completed all planned tasks in tw
        - ? TODO
    Move everything to the next sprint in TW now.
    Move plans from notebook to later

    - are there any plans I move too much?
        - delete
        - prioritize

    - Top "wins" for this week:
    - Top "could have been better" for this week:

    Review calendar events from the past week: 
        - Do you need to follow-up with anyone? 
            - tw
        - Are there action items from any of those events you need to get done?
            - tw

    - Skim through the morning-pages for anything interesting or relevant or recurring

    - How did I move forward with longer-term goals? How much time did I spend on them?:
        - List of them here TODO

    - Anything important/interested happened? How do I feel about it? How do I feel about the week as a whole?:
    - What could I have done better?:
    - Do I feel guilty about everything? Is there something I could/should have spent more/less time on?:

Week planning
    - Review calendar events for the week ahead: Do you need to prepare notes or research for any events? 
        - Are all important? 
        - Did I schedule too much work on myself?
    - Any upcoming trips?
    - Review monthly and quarterly goals: Is there anything you can do this week to move towards your goals?
    - Review all DTB stacks
    - Review in-progress projects
        - Are there any stalled?
        - Can I move forward with any of them this week?
    - Review someday/maybe task list.

    - Any people I feel like contacting or getting in touch with? 
        - TODO List

    - Anything I might need to print? 

    - celebrate what I have done successfully
    - anything to add to the tobuy checklist in TG?

One of the least used scripts, but with each use something gets removed, and at the end I end up with something usable. What’s important here is to actually decide on the X year goals that I’ll see every week in this file. I could also remember about the 3:2:1 system – time/energy spent on long-term:medium-term:short-term tasks should be split like this. Again, this is something which I should spend some time thinking about. But I have a couple of long flights and bus rides, so it’ll take care of itself.


Some things that would be interesting:

  • Random link to any of the Prayers
  • Have a number of texts that I currently find very nice to re-read when I stumble upon them, just add them to a text file with some separator like ---, and just paste any of them randomly to the files.
  • Google Calendar agenda for today would be interesting and relatively easy but I’m not sure how useful.
  • It would be interesting to find some way to sync this with my phone, but it’s not something I’m ready to tackle at this point. But if I were, it would be a Telegram bot that adds all the TODOs in a channel, which I manually delete when I’m done and some of which the bot deletes at the end of the day (such as daily checklist). Or, even better, it just sends me a much shorter summary of %-tasks and all not-daily DOW/%/sprint-dependent tasks. Something like “Hi S, today is sprint N, and % is [35]. This means you have to %list%”. Hm, this is actually doable.


… should be trivial, both in Bash and Python. For the %-system,

DAY=$(date +%j)

if (($DAY%3 == 0)); 
then ...
if (($DAY%5 == 0)); 
then ...
if (($DAY%10 == 0)); 
then ...

But I believe once I do create this, and use for at least a couple of weeks, this would be worthy of a longer post and possibly a non-private github-repo.


I complicate everything I touch and create systems in place of having memory, but somehow it all works at the end. We’ll see.

Also, today was Sunday, and one of the first Shabbaths in a Sabbath hard and go home | Compass Rose sense in a long time. After not using Reddit for a couple of hours I got the same deep enlightening results as ever – Reddit is evil, and I have a lot of time on my hands if I don’t get into passively-scrolling-lowest-common-denominator-content mode. In my Android Firefox browser I had about:blank as new tab page, but now I disabled history, “highlights” and “recommended by Pocket”, and I’m greeted with a white page and no suggestions when I type into the address bar except browsing history (that I delete from time to time). Me and time and procrastination is a topic that’s literally as old as this blog, but slowly it’s getting better.

But I’m not surprised by the fact that the day I decide to consume less infornography I suddenly feel like writing something here. Regardless, my camping trip in the mountains of Western Ukraine is coming in a week, I’ll have more than enough time to think about this and everything else. For now I have a very positive and optimistic outlook on the future.

Over and out. (Y)

Nel mezzo del deserto posso dire tutto quello che voglio.