Psion Epoc Agenda Hints and Tips

The Agenda application does more than calendar entries, alarms, todos and anniversaries.

Using the Psion Epoc Agenda for contact lists, project management, shopping lists, and much more.

Alarm Text Hidden

Need to set an alarm, which might go off while you are away, but not have others see the reason for the alarm? Try setting the alarm in Agenda, but use an embedded Word file object to contain the text.

Contact Manager

There are a number of shareware contact managers, however if you have only a small number of important contacts (say 20-50), you can simply use Agenda's reminder and alarm facilities, as I'll outline here.

Use one of your 100 ToDo lists for each different group of contacts. Give each ToDo list of contacts an appropriate name. Remember you can see the entire list of ToDo lists easily by pressing Tab from the ToDo view (Shift Ctrl T). Now make a ToDO item for each person. You should set an alarm for the next scheduled meeting or phone contact (you update this after each contact).

Within each ToDo entry you add a Word object. This allows you unlimited length to write dated details of each contact you make, and each decision that results. You can also add Sketch (include a photo of the person perhaps) or Sheet (budget figures) or Record voice notes.

You can use the Find text utility in Agenda to quickly go to the appropriate ToDo file entry. If this doesn't work it will be because you have not set Find to search in ToDo lists (see the Find Options).

You probably should still file the actual full contact phone numbers, addresses and similar details in either the Data or Contact application, as these are designed for such details. You only need a name and phone number in the ToDo list.

Contact manager software, with brief descriptions and URL, is listed on my PIM page. I think this method of using ToDo lists may have originated with Itamar Engelsman.

Project Manager

You can't really use Agenda for the sort of Pert and Gantt charts that Plan 5 handles. However projects often have limited resources, such as a one or two person labour budget. Small projects can be handled with Agenda.

Use the ToDo lists, with one list for each separate part of the project. Use the alarm facility to force due date signals in various Agenda views.

List each individual item, and give them a priority or date as appropriate (or manually sort them). You could list the rough estimated time to do each item next to it, as a fraction of the amount completed. For example, {2/6} for two days of a six day task. This makes it easier to get a feel for how much of the project is done.

You could set a ToDo item to be Dated, and have a Day countdown to the due date for completion. Set an initial alarm for Warning from date, so that it pops up in your day view on the day you have to commence work on that stage of the project.

Cross out items as they are done, thus documenting what has been completed, and the rough time involved. This will help improve your estimates on future projects.

If you need to take notes of ideas or partial solutions, embed a Word file in the item entry. You may be able to partially write your documentation of the project from these notes, so do a careful job of them.

Shoppings Lists using ToDo and Manual Sort Order

If you need to have a list that stays in the order you put it in (like a shopping list where the stores or the shelves are in a certain order) use a Manual ToDo.

In the ToDo list menu under Preferences, select the appropriate ToDo list, then in the Sort Order line change it from Date or Priority to Manual. You can now insert shopping or other items in the order that you like, and they will stay where you put them. This order usually isn't the best choice, but works for shopping lists.

If you ever encounter a ToDo list in which you can't set a Priority, it will be because Manual has been set.

ToDo Categories

You don't really have a "category" as a command in Agenda, however it is easy to obtain equivalent functions.

You have 100 ToDo lists. For most ToDo lists I'd suggest setting them up as pairs of ToDos for each topic, two per page view. I'd make the left hand ToDo the urgent and current items. The right hand view I'd use as the ones for doing later or much later. It is easy to move items from one to the other. I'll explain later why you use this arrangement.

You might have ToDo lists for say Business, for Tasks, for Shopping, for Personal, and for Family.

In ToDo view, select each ToDo list and open Preferences. The options you want to set are Display entries in other views, and Standard position in other views (which will be set to a time). You want to unset the Crossed out entries (since you don't want to see these). Set the entries to be sorted by Date, and then by Priority.

You use the Standard position to control where each ToDo item appears. For example, set Business to show at 3 a.m., Tasks for 3:05 a.m., Shopping at 3:10 a.m., etc. Don't start these at midnight or 1 a.m. just to avoid potential problems with daylight saving.

In Week View, set ToDos so they are not shown.

In Day View, under menu, Tools, Entry, Day the Time Slot for untimed entries can be set to 2 a.m. Under Events entries at 2:10, for Anniversaries 2:05. This makes all these show before ToDos.

In Menu, Tools, View, under Day View, make all types allowed. Make the slot definitions for the Left page 1 a.m. to 4 a.m., and do not show slot time or line.

For the right page, from 5 a.m. (or whatever time you get up) to 11 p.m. make the slot duration 1 hour, and show the time and slot line.

You get a blank left page for all your ToDos and so on, while your appointments are in an hour by hour page on the right.

Company Followups by Itamar Engelsman

I use the Agenda program quite extensively for following up commercial contacts for my business. The To-Do function in the Agenda program is quite useful for this. I work for a Company in the metal trade, and we have groups of products for which we contact different clients. For each group of products I opened a two page To-Do list (ie 2 lists). On the left is a list that will appear in the daily view of the Agenda, on the right a list which will not appear. Each entry is the name of a Company on the date I need to contact them. Attached to the entry is a WORD attachment. At the top of the file is the name of the contact person, tel. and fax number and email address, with a screen-wide line underneath it. Below the line I keep a short record of what I discussed with the client. How does this work in practice?

On 10/1/03 there is an entry for a Company called "Roos". I open the attachment and check what was discussed last.

If I have no time that day, the entry will continue to appear in the day view each "today" until I change the date

I contact the Company and jot down in the file what was discussed. Sometimes I need to phone them again within a day or two and leave the date as is. Other times I need to phone them only on a future date and change the date to that future date, which means it will disappear from the "Today" day view until the new date.

If a Company is not actual anymore but I still want to keep their details on record to contact them some undefined time in the future I move the Company from the left list to the right list. It will not appear in the day view anymore, but I can still get to the details in the "To-Do" view.

In order to have a clear view of the Companies to be contacted on the one hand and my normal diary on the other hand, I divided my Agenda day view in two. On the left I show until 8 am, and all the To-Do lists appear in that time slot. On the right I show from 8am until midnight with my normal diary entries, both work and private (I never understood why to separate these, I can't make dinner date in a week I am traveling ...).

I know there are several programs on the market that might do this job better and/or nicer, but I like it very much that this way it is totally integrated in my Agenda file and I don't need to check two different programs. With Crontab I bring my Agenda file to the foreground every workday at 4.00 am and move it to "Today". When I open my Psion in the office, the first thing I see is my diary for the day with all the To-Do's.

Besides this system, I also have a "To-Do" list in a Jotter file with just other things to do that have nothing to do with the clients. Again with Crontab that list pops up every working day at 10.00 am and 3.00 pm.[by the way, I think January 2003 recognises workdays again in Crontab (a known bug it does not most of the time)]. Any questions welcome.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Space takes you to current day
Space takes you to last day selected
Tab brings up a calendar, tab twice 3 months, tab thrice for a year
Ctrl+Tab moves between tabbed dialog boxes in many applications
Ctrl J brings up a monthly calendar
Shift+Ctrl+Letter takes you to the view starting with that letter
Shift+Ctrl+A takes you to Anniversary view
Shift+Ctrl+B takes you to Busy view
Shift+Ctrl+D takes you to Day view
Shift+Ctrl+T takes you to ToDo view
Shift+Ctrl+W takes you to Week view
Shift+Ctrl+Y takes you to Year view
Weekly, then More, then set which days of week to have repeat.

Busy View Zoom

In Busy View (month at a glance), using the Zoom buttons moves between views of your Work Hours, your Free Hours, and 24 hours a day. Makes it easier to see work details, and easier to separate personal and work time.

Bugs

If you import an Agenda from the Psion 3 range into Agenda you may get reverse video when entering items. Just create a new agenda file, and merge in your entries and preferences over from the old one.

AgnPrint

A freeware tool for printing Agenda files, has more sophisticated printing facilities than Agenda. www.frankfiedler.de/psion/index_en.htm


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