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Prioritizing Headlines In OrgMode


Today I made a list in OrgMode that I wanted to prioritize. The list looked something like this:

* Fiction Books
** The DaVinci Code
** Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
** Musashi

* Non-fiction Books
** The Design of Everyday Things
** The Lean Startup
** Mastering Bitcoin

Based on my knowledge of OrgMode thus far I decided tags would work perfectly. A tag of 1 is the highest priority, bigger numbered tags are lower priorities. I also made the headlines with incomplete items in a TODO.

In OrgMode you can only tag headlines and not list items or anything else. You can also only mark a headline (and not other elements) as TODO or DONE.

To tag a headline:

  • Put the cursor on the same line as the headline
  • Push ctrl-c ctrl-c
  • Type the name of the tag and push enter
  • To edit/add tags on the same headline simply repeat the previous points
  • To delete a tag put the cursor on the line with the tag and push ctrl-c ctrl-q

The approach I used was to tag nested headlines which are the topics I wanted to prioritize and included all the tags in the parent headline so that you can see priorities when only the top level headlines are present. I also gave the headline the TODO state if at least one sub-headline had that state too. An example of this approach applied to the previous example can be seen below:

OrgMode Prioritized List Expanded

And the collapsed headline version of this looks as follows:

OrgMode Prioritized List Collapsed

I will test this approach over time and see how effective it is.