PIM Update

It have been over a year since I last wrote about how I ‘PIM’.

Time for an update, especially as I have a proper job now…

So long story short:

Emacs Lifer; still using OrgMode

So what is different? I have more tags and more files, and more techniques to address productivity.

Files, Files, and More Files…

I still keep a number of files in my git-controlled org folder for many things:

is still my main TODO list that collects mostly dust, but is starting to see new life… journal.org
is still my diary, organised as a date+filetree; meetings.org
is where I store personal meeting notes, and is too under a date+filetree notebook.org
is where I store random short notes (I have a notes folder for longer ones)

New to this list are:

a date+filetree file where I record promotion-related activities, this gives better context than an up-to-date CV or the information getting lost in my journal.org; reflections.org
a date+filetree where I write down reflections over incidents at work to help me process them, and address any confusions on my end; setup.org
a directory local setup containing the dir local tags used in my tasks, journal, and meetings files (note: orgmode supports the following directive #+SETUPFILE: <file>); timebox.org
a dedicated date+filetree organised file for organising my time;


The original set of hierarchical tags I developed last year did serve me well. With my new job, however, my workload is now more varied and requires me to juggle a lot more things in my head. I know have the following:

My set of actions has now be rethought, detailing all that I do…specifically, emails/letters, admin duties, general tasks, meetings, events (such as seminars that I attend or organise), reviews that need doing, and of course student facing time (education) and exam boards.

#+TAGS: { actions : email admin task meeting event review edu holiday }
#+TAGS: { event   : meeting seminar lecture examboard }

#+TAGS: { examboard : online physical hybrid }
#+TAGS: { meeting   : online physical hybrid }
#+TAGS: { lecture   : online physical hybrid }
#+TAGS: { seminar   : online physical hybrid }

#+TAGS: { task : activity cwork }

Gone is the original context, and it has been replaced by my own personalised workload model. As a lecturer, I have ’local duties’ that are mapped to official models and needs HoD approval to change :-( This workload model is nonetheless local, and doesn’t explicitly account for other ‘official’ (and expected) parts of my job: community service, CPD. So I have added those aspects, as my official workload should keep track of it…1

More so I have taken advantage of hierarchical tags to break this workload down further.

#+TAGS: { research    : grant phd ra role }
#+TAGS: { grant       : ... }
#+TAGS: { cis         : ... }
#+TAGS: { phd         : ... }
#+TAGS: { ra          : ... }

#+TAGS: { teaching    : modules... }
#+TAGS: { citizenship : ... }
#+TAGS: { service     : ... }
#+TAGS: { cpd         : ... }

So within my workload model I keep track of:

research activities which include: grants (project I run, am part of, or am developing); research students (PGRs); future research asses (assistants and associates) I will line manage; and official group roles;
teaching duties which include: project students; and modules;
local citizenship such as committee membership, group membership;
external citizenship (i.e. community service) such as external organisations I engage with, memberships, prgramming/review committees;
my own training and education

Note that I have anonymised this a little, but the ellipsis don’t expand to much…

I will see how this goes, but I think it is an appropriate contextualisation of my increasing roles and activities. The forest is, however, getting a tad denser that I would like and this will fast tag selection for org mode.

Sequences and TODO States

I have also updated my set of TODO states, with these types and sequences enabling me to capture difference TODO sequences.

We begin with TODO:


before providing types to categorise paper review actions and comments.


We then have a sequence for tracking bookings.


and a sequence for tracking things in motion, or not.


Finally we have the end states.



The last aspect I want to touch on is that of timeboxing. I am not a religious following of any productivity techniques, I dabble here and there, but timeboxing is something that I have found useful.

Essentially, I use timeboxing to structure my day and record how the day went. OrgMode is nice in that regard as I can use timestamps and date-filetree to do the planning (structuring) and recording (journalling), and view it using the builtin Org (Super) Agenda mode, or org-timeblock a lightweight means to view one’s agenda as a calendar2.

More so, I am starting to incorporate meta-goals in my timebox.org to help me further focus on what needs doing. The TODO items from my job is daunting.


Finally, what is the same? I Still don’t GTD as much as I should using OrgMode. I guess old habits die hard… See you in another year…

  1. to be fair, there are special entries in workload model…. ↩︎

  2. I should re-investigate Calfw ↩︎