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Re: How do you manage complex project with Org-mode

From: Eric Abrahamsen
Subject: Re: How do you manage complex project with Org-mode
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2022 20:38:54 -0800
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/29.0.50 (gnu/linux)

Sébastien Gendre <seb@k-7.ch> writes:

> Hello,
> I don't know if it's the correct place to ask it. If not, sorry to ask in
> the wrong place.
> How do you manage complex project with Org-mode ?
> I used Org-mode for several periods of time in recent years. It worked
> very well for short and day to day tasks. When only a few of theme have
> deadlines and when you have plenty of time to do them.
> But, as a student, I regularly have big and important projects to do for
> the school. The kind of project who need several days to be done, with
> deadlines too soon, and if you fail one them the consequences can be
> disastrous. And generally, I have to many of these project in the same
> time and not enough time to do all the work. So, I also need to follow
> the progress of each project to choose which is sufficiently advanced to
> be stop for the benefit of another less advanced project.
> And I don't know how to manage this kind of projects with Org-mode. How
> to do it, without failing a 6 days project because I spent to much time
> on something else and I have only 3 days left with 3 half-day important
> appointment I cannot cancel. I can't risk failing a single one of these
> project by trying. So, when I am in a period with a lot of these
> projects, I stop using Org-mode and concentrate on doing these project
> as fast as I can. And because I often have this kind of project, I spend
> most of the year without being able to use Org-mode.
> So, if you have any suggestion on how to manage, in Org-mode, projects
> with:
> * Lot of work to do (many days)
> * Short deadline (not enough time)
> * High importance (disastrous consequences in my future in case of fail)
> * Many of them in the same time
> * Progression need to be followed to chose where to sacrifice time to
>   limit the damages

Interesting questions! I have the same general problem of, when things
heat up too much, I stop using the Org agenda. It's quite the opposite
of how it's supposed to work, but I guess it's something about human
psychology. I'll be interested to see what people say in this thread.

Some suggestions that come to mind:

- Create custom agenda views for each project, providing an overview of
  that project only, but use a single unified agenda view for each day's
  schedule. Look at the per-project agenda to decide if/how to complete
  it, but draw the action items into the unified schedule when deciding
  how to spend your day. It should become evident pretty quickly what
  you actually have time for. Projects are many, but there is only one
  of you.
- Maybe consider using `org-trigger-hook' and `org-blocker-hook' to cut
  down on TODO overwhelm.
- Use time estimates and then TODO clocking to more swiftly disabuse
  yourself of unrealistic expectations. This plus a schedule agenda can
  also help you make sure you stop work at a reasonable time and go do
  something else.
- Say no to more work :) Looking at your solid-packed agenda for the
  next day works wonders for saying no.

Good luck!

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