Emacs Org-mode: More on Todos and Clock Reports

Previously, on The Wandering Coder, we used org-mode to build a more automatable answer to the questions “what did I work on last Friday?” and “what sorts of tasks did I work on last week?”. At the end of that entry, we had a simple file that let us clock time against tasks, set the TODO status of those tasks, and produce clock table reports of the result.

Here are three additional points that were not on that critical path but are still nice-to-haves:

Customizing TODO Keywords

TODO and DONE are the default TODO keywords, but you can over-ride that by creating a line #+TODO at the top of the file with your own list of custom todo keywords, for instance:


And then, after pressing C-c C-c to reload and use the new values, C-c C-t will run through not the default of TODO and DONE but the new list of custom keywords.

Annotating TODO State Transitions

If you have a custom #+TODO line, you can add a (!) or an (@) to annotate state transitions, for instance,


The (!) indicates that when a task is toggled into STARTED, the code automatically records a timestamp at the time of the state change.

The (@) indicates that not only does it record a timestamp when a task is toggled into DONE, it prompts the user for a note about the state change.

So if we had had that todo list in place for

** back-end task #121

and toggled it through TODO to STARTED to DONE, and added a note for the DONE state, we would end up with:

** DONE back-end task #121
– State "DONE" from "STARTED" [2015-02-06 Fri 15:00] \\
Note about task being done.
– State "STARTED" from "TODO" [2015-02-06 Fri 9:00]
CLOCK: [2015-02-06 Fri 9:00]–[2015-02-06 Fri 12:00] => 3:00
CLOCK: [2015-02-06 Fri 13:00]–[2015-02-06 Fri 15:00] => 2:00

More org-clock-table customizations

Exploring the clock table documentation reveals many more options to add to the #+BEGIN: line to customize the results than just :block today to see what was done today, or :block today-1 to see yesterday, or :tags “unplanned” to see the tasks tagged as :unplanned:.

If for instance we want the report for last week but broken down day-by-day, for instance, we could add to the #+BEGIN: line (remember also to press C-c C-c to update the results):

:block lastweek :step day

and get something like:

Daily report: [2015-02-09 Mon]
| Headline | Time | |
| *Total time* | *7:00* | |
| Work | 7:00 | |
| \emsp production bug #123 | | 2:00 |
| \emsp front-end task #124 | | 5:00 |

Daily report: [2015-02-10 Tue]
| Headline | Time | |
| *Total time* | *7:00* | |
| Work | 7:00 | |
| \emsp back-end task #125 | | 7:00 |

Daily report: [2015-02-11 Wed]
| Headline | Time | |
| *Total time* | *5:00* | |
| Work | 5:00 | |
| \emsp production bug #126 | | 2:00 |
| \emsp back-end task #127 | | 3:00 |


If your work sprint runs from Wednesday to Wednesday instead of Monday to Friday, as mine did last year, you can add :wstart 3 (instead of 1, which is Monday and the default), and then the weekly report from

:wstart 3 :block lastweek :step day

would begin instead with

Daily report: [2015-02-11 Wed]