Posted on September 11, 2009.
t is a command-line todo list manager for people that want to finish
tasks, not organize them.
- Why t?
- Installing t
- Using t
- Tips and Tricks
- Problems, Contributions, Etc
It Does the Simplest Thing That Could Possibly Work
Todo.txt and TaskWarrior are feature-packed. They let you tag tasks, split them into projects, set priorities, order them, color-code them, and much more.
That’s the problem.
It’s easy to say “I’ll just organize my todo list a bit” and spend 15 minutes tagging your tasks. In those 15 minutes you probably could have finished a couple of them.
t was inspired by j. It’s simple, messy, has almost no features, and is
extremely effective at the one thing it does. With
t the only way to make
your todo list prettier is to finish some damn tasks.
t‘s simplicity makes it extremely flexible.
Want to edit a bunch of tasks at once? Open the list in a text editor.
Want to view the lists on a computer that doesn’t have
t installed? Open the
list in a text editor.
Want to synchronize the list across a couple of computers? Keep your task lists in a Dropbox folder.
Want to use it as a distributed bug tracking system like BugsEverywhere?
Make the task list a
bugs file in the project repository.
It Plays Nice with Version Control
Other systems keep your tasks in a plain text file. This is a good thing, and
t follows their lead.
However, some of them append new tasks to the end of the file when you create them. This is not good if you’re using a version control system to let more than one person edit a todo list. If two people add a task and then try to merge, they’ll get a conflict and have to resolve it manually.
t uses random IDs (actually SHA1 hashes) to order the todo list files. Once
the list has a couple of tasks in it, adding more is far less likely to cause
a merge conflict because the list is sorted.
Installing and setting up
t will take about one minute.
First, download the newest version or clone the Mercurial repository (
clone http://bitbucket.org/sjl/t/ ). Put it anywhere you like.
Next, decide where you want to keep your todo lists. I put mine in
Create that directory:
Finally, set up an alias to run
t. Put something like this in your
alias t='python ~/path/to/t.py --task-dir ~/tasks --list tasks'
Make sure you run
source ~/.bashrc or restart your terminal window to make
the alias take effect.
t is quick and easy to use.
Add a Task
To add a task, use
t [task description]:
$ t Clean the apartment. $ t Write chapter 10 of the novel. $ t Buy more beer. $
List Your Tasks
Listing your tasks is even easier — just use
$ t 9 - Buy more beer. 30 - Clean the apartment. 31 - Write chapter 10 of the novel. $
t will list all of your unfinished tasks and their IDs.
Finish a Task
After you’re done with something, use
t -f ID to finish it:
$ t -f 31 $ t 9 - Buy more beer. 30 - Clean the apartment. $
Edit a Task
Sometimes you might want to change the wording of a task. You can use
t -e ID
[new description] to do that:
$ t -e 30 Clean the entire apartment. $ t 9 - Buy more beer. 30 - Clean the entire apartment. $
Yes, nerds, you can use sed-style substitution strings:
$ t -e 9 /more/a lot more/ $ t 9 - Buy a lot more beer. 30 - Clean the entire apartment. $
Delete the Task List if it’s Empty
If you keep your task list in a visible place (like your desktop) you might
want it to be deleted if there are no tasks in it. To do this automatically
you can use the
--delete-if-empty option in your alias:
alias t='python ~/path/to/t.py --task-dir ~/Desktop --list todo.txt --delete-if-empty'
Tips and Tricks
t might be simple, but it can do a lot of interesting things.
Count Your Tasks
Counting your tasks is simple using the
$ t | wc -l 2 $
Put Your Task Count in Your Bash Prompt
Want a count of your tasks right in your prompt? Edit your
export PS1="[$(t | wc -l | sed -e's/ *//')] $PS1"
Now you’ve got a prompt that looks something like this:
 $ t -f 30  $ t Feed the cat.  $
t is for people that want to do tasks, not organize them. With that said,
sometimes it’s useful to be able to have at least one level of organization.
To split up your tasks into different lists you can add a few more aliases:
alias g='python ~/path/to/t.py --task-dir ~/tasks --list groceries' alias m='python ~/path/to/t.py --task-dir ~/tasks --list music-to-buy' alias w='python ~/path/to/t.py --task-dir ~/tasks --list wines-to-try'
Like the idea of distributed bug trackers like BugsEverywhere, but don’t
want to use such a heavyweight system? You can use
Add another alias to your
alias b='python ~/path/to/t.py --task-dir . --list bugs'
Now when you’re in your project directory you can use
b to manage the list
of bugs/tasks for that project. Add the
bugs file to version control and
you’re all set.
Even people without
t installed can view the bug list, because it’s plain text.
Problems, Contributions, Etc
t was hacked together in a couple of nights to fit my needs. If you use it
and find a bug, please let me know.
If you want to request a feature feel free, but remember that
t is meant to
be simple. If you need anything beyond the basics you might want to look at
todo.txt or TaskWarrior instead. They’re great tools with lots of
bells and whistles.