Emacs is a great platform for many things, and in just a few steps it can be
setup for distraction free writing.
You'll need a copy of darkroom-mode, which can either be downloaded
from the darkroom-mode homepage, or installed using M-x package-install
Once installed it's good to go, but I prefer slightly different
settings to the default.
I use use-package to manage my configuration, but the setup is pretty much the
same without it (just use the contents of the progn expression). The following
will set the font to be larger and will limit the page to 80 columns wide:
Recently I've been using electric indent mode to handle automatic
indentation. It's very useful when writing code, as it indents blocks
automatically when the enter key is pressed. But some of that behaviour isn't
desirable when using other modes, such as org mode.
One thing I like about org-mode is the keyboard shortcuts for inserting new
headlines and todo items. For example, ALT+ENTER will create a new headline beneath the
current line at the correct depth.
Unfortunately, when using electric indent the headlines are indented:
Thankfully the solution is relatively simple. The following code in your emacs
intialization will disable electric indentation when working with org files.
It really struck a chord with me. All of my income comes from freelancing, so
it's pretty important for me to be as productive as possible.
Most of my work these days is done in Emacs, and I use it for managing my
various projects and todo lists. I've also been using Beeminder for the last
few years to keep me on the straight and narrow.
At the end Clarissa mentions that it would nice if moving a task from TODO to
DONE in Emacs could notify Beeminder. This is something I've wanted for a
while, but my lisp skills are limited at best.
Thankfully Sacha Chua posted a great comment with some code that started me on
the right track, and after a couple of hours of research I managed to come up
with something that works.
beeminder.el is a simple extension for Emacs that adds some limited Beeminder
functionality, such as fetching goals or adding data. It also integrates with
org-mode, and can be configured so that closing a TODO item will add a data
point to a Beeminder goal.
2013 was a bit of a mixed bag for me. Overall it was very successful, but I
feel it was as balanced as I would have liked. I certainly did much better from
a business standpoint, but as a result my personal projects suffered.
What went right
Increased my earnings – Probably my biggest win of 2013. I don't really
like talking about money, but my 2013 earnings were higher than 2011 and 2012
Sadly there's no secret formula here, I just spent a lot more time
working. One thing that really helped was to set a "minimum hours billed"
goal on Beeminder, which kept me moving forward on days where I'd rather not
Pushed myself – I took on some more advanced projects this year, which
let me really stretch myself technically. Not only did I get to create some
cool stuff, but I learnt a lot of new skills along the way.
Rebuilt philnewton.net site – This is something I'd wanted to do for a
long time, and finally got around to it in September. Along with switching
the backend from WordPress to Jekyll, I added a lot more content (probably
more in 4 months than the 4 previous years).
Overall I'm quite pleased with how this went, even if the actual conversion
took a lot longer than I would have liked.
What went wrong
Let my fitness slide – I've never been particularly sporty, but I
definitely noticed a drop in my overall fitness levels in 2013.
Didn't make any games – I try to take part in game jams at least once a
year, but 2013 just didn't go right for me. I entered Ludum Dare 27, but
ended up dropping out on the Saturday as I just felt burnt out from
Didn't set any goals – I didn't set any concrete goals at the start of
2013, which is probably why I feel like the year passed without me achieving
Spent too much time unfocused – Working from home means I don't have to
worry about commuting or only having a certain amount of time to get things
done. As a consequence, it means work tends to stretch out over the day, and
I'll often be working on things piecemeal throughout the day.
Goals for 2014
Get back to time boxing – I really don't like how my work hours have
spilt into the rest of the day. Time boxing is something that's helped in
the past, and I'd like to start using it again in 2014.
Improve my fitness – This is a combination of eating less junk and doing
more exercise. I generally walk the dog a few miles each day, but I'd like
to improve my strength and aerobic fitness.
Take part in the One Game a Month challenge – Even if they're only small
toys, I really want to get back to making games.
Spend more time on personal projects – I have a huge list of personal
projects, and I'd like to at least make a dent in it this year.