Unicode-Characters for TODO-States in Emacs Orgmode

By default Emacs Orgmode uses uppercase words for todo keywords. But having tens of entries marked with TODO and DONE in my file looked horribly cluttered to me. So I searched for alternatives. After a few months of experimentation, I decided on the following scheme. It served me well ever since:

  • ❢ To do
  • ☯ In progress
    • ⚙ A program is running (optional detail)
    • ✍ I’m writing (optional detail)
  • ⧖ Waiting
  • ☺ To report
  • ✔ Done
  • ⌚ Maybe do this at some later time
  • ✘ Won’t do

To set this in org-mode, just add the following to the header (and reopen the document, for example with C-x C-v):

#+SEQ_TODO: ❢ ☯ ⧖ | ☺ ✔ ⌚ ✘

or for the complex case (with details on what I do)

#+SEQ_TODO: ❢ ☯ ⚙ ✍ ⧖ | ☺ ✔ ⌚ ✘

Then use C-c C-t or SHIFT-→ (shift + right arrow) to switch to the next state or SHIFT-← (shift + left arrow) to switch to the previous state.

Anything before the | in the SEQ_TODO is shown in red (not yet done), anything after the | is show in green (done). Things which get triggered when something is done (like storing the time of a scheduled entry) happen when the state crosses the |.

And with that, my orgmode documents are not only very useful but also look pretty lean. Just as good as having a GUI with images, but additionally I can access them over SSH and edit the todo state with any tool - because it’s just text.

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