Productivity with a single text file

Brown University professor Jeff Huang recently shared his personal productivity method. “My productivity app for the past 12 years has been a single .txt file,” he wrote, saying that a single daily text file of todos is his “secret weapon.”

Huang uses a bulleted text file with reverse-chronological entries (roughly the “log format” described in Bit Literacy). Each day he logs timed appointments as well as completed todos. Undone todos are either in his email program, as flagged emails, or placed on future days in his calendar.

One strong advantage of this approach is his use of the simplest technology possible - an ASCII text file - which is easily edited, stored, backed up, and searched.

On the other hand, a given todo can exist in three places - the calendar, the email program, and the .txt file itself - requiring Huang to manually update (and redate) todos as necessary.

We’re biased, but we still prefer Good Todo, as it’s one place you can put all your todos (and it’s easy to get emails onto the list, thus allowing you to empty the inbox entirely). And, of course, Good Todo handles redating and rollover automatically.