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Activity.txt - A Personal Log In Text

Inspired by todo.txt, activity.txt is a personal activity log using a text file as its storage medium. Like todo.txt, the point of doing this in a text file is the ability to easily slice and dice it with scripts, edit it with any editor, sync it everywhere with Dropbox, and so forth.

Note that this README is more of a design document than actual documentation at present, because there is little to no code here yet. Sorry about that. Look at the list below to see what is implemented.

  • nothing yet :)

Log format

Lines in the log file that have no leading space are log entries. Lines that have leading space (2 spaces are recommended) are notes and/or additional data applying to the log entry immediately above them.

A log entry looks like this:

2011/03/15 13:47 (1:00) [+5] myclient Worked on ticket #3456

That is: the date and time the entry was logged, an optional number of hours spent in parentheses, an optional score in square brackets (see below for a discussion of score), a project identifier (no spaces allowed), and the rest of the line is the description of the entry. This format should be easily parseable even without regular expressions.

Times are in local time and the date/time format is deliberately human readable instead of something more ISO-like, because it is intended that you can read or edit the log file by hand if necessary.

Project identifiers

The project identifier is several things at once. Primarily, it is a way to group related activities together for analysis and reporting. However, the scripts have hooks to treat certain projects specially, and the intent is that this can be modified or extended on a personal basis.

As a simple example, one may wish that when you generate a report of work for a particular client or project, that ticket numbers referenced in log entries are automatically linked to the project's bug tracker -- or even that some bit of scripted glue automatically logs activity to or from the bug tracker so that when you update one place, the other is updated as well.

Another example that you will (likely) find in this bundle: I use activity.txt to keep a reading log, so the 'reading' project implies additional formatting of both the description and the first line of notes, to allow for extra reportage and linking.


The idea of scoring activities comes mainly from the Printable CEO by David Seah. The general idea is that you come up with a scoring system ahead of time and then give yourself points whenever you do something that furthers your goals. The original Printable CEO scoring guide is geared toward entrepreneurs (10 points for gaining a customer, and so forth) but the same principle should work for whatever your goals are.

Mr. Seah's beautifully designed paper forms, 2011 edition, can be found here, along with links to some other related forms.

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