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Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Staying up late with Smart Lists

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 by Andrew Conkling

If you're a night owl who just seems to be hitting your stride after midnight, this week's tip is for you. igorrs shares a Smart List for keeping track of when you actually go to bed, so you can get everything done late at night.

If you go to bed late and still complete tasks after midnight, you'll probably wish to visualize the tasks that are due on your "actual" day (which may go on until 3am, for example), so as to easily plan your daily activities and keep track of them during all of your active hours.

I accomplish that with a Smart List called Daily Schedule, created from this search:

dueBefore:3am AND NOT (due:tomorrow AND dueBefore:12:01am)

When I wake up, that Smart List will present me with all the tasks that are overdue, due today, or due tomorrow at a specific time before 3am. That should be my actual daily schedule.

To customize it, you can replace 3am with any time when you are usually already sleeping.

This Smart List takes advantage of how RTM interprets "3am" in the search: it's always in the future. So, if you wake up at 10am, for example, you'll see tasks that are due before 3am on the next day. If you keep accomplishing stuff until 2am, Daily Schedule will still be showing tasks that are due before 3am (now on the same day!), so you always see the right thing. :)

The exclusion of the tasks that are "due:tomorrow AND dueBefore:12:01am" is a necessary hack that avoids showing tasks that are due on the next day without a due time. For searches, RTM considers these tasks to be due at 12am.

So, if you only searched for dueBefore:3am, visualizing the list in the afternoon (for example) would also show all tasks that are due tomorrow with no due time, which would certainly be unwanted.

After midnight, however, these tasks with no due time will obviously show up (as they become due today). This is unavoidable with the currently available search features, but I don't particularly dislike it (indeed, it makes sense for a lot of tasks).

In any case, the Daily Schedule Smart List is still much more useful than the alternatives I have considered to solve the same problem. :)

Thanks for sharing this tip, igorrs! You're our Tips & Tricks Tuesday winner this week.

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Posted in: Tips & Tricks