The Derisive Moment :: My overly complicated journey to simplicity.

The Derisive Moment

Version control your todo lists

October 1st, 2007

I’m a fan of GTD, but there are several places where it breaks down in my life. My entire work day is spent at a computer, as is a fair amount of my time at home. Between my work desktop, home desktop, and my laptop, I have a large amount of items in my various “to do” lists that I’d love to keep synchronized. Enter Version Control.

I happen to be a fan of subversion, but any version control package will do. SVN allows me to easy tunnel my traffic over https, which makes life easy and secure in my world of oppressive firewalls and open access points.

What’s the secret? Simply keep your lists under version control. I have oodles of separate lists for various purposes, all under a ‘lists/’ folder in my home directory. The trick is to update in the morning and commit when you make changes, but even much of that is automatable.

Beside the benefit of maintaining synchronization between multiple workstations, this has a few non-obvious benefits as well. The version control server, by its very nature, provides backups of your precious lists. You could provide read-only access to your lists (or a subset thereof) to specific individuals. Or, you can do fancy server-side scripting/programming to operate on these lists. You could have a script to auto-checkout your lists and generate a daily HTML version. It could sort by priority, or pick stagnant tasks that have lived there for too long. If you’re clever, carefully crafted “tasks” could be pattern-matched at the server to actually perform simple tasks.

That reminds me…I have to add “make list-to-HTMLifier” to my lists…

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