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Command-line application to show the next action to work on from a todo.txt file

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Determine the next action to work on from a list of actions in a todo.txt file. Next-action is alpha-stage at the moment, so its functionality is still rather limited.

Don't know what Todo.txt is? See for the Todo.txt specification.

Next-action is not a tool for editing todo.txt files, see for available options.




Next-action requires Python 3.6 or newer.

pip install next-action


$ next-action --help
usage: next-action [-h] [--version] [-c <config.cfg>] [-f <todo.txt>] [-n <number> | -a] [<context|project> ...]

Show the next action in your todo.txt. The next action is selected from the tasks in the todo.txt file based on task
properties such as priority, due date, and creation date. Limit the tasks from which the next action is selected by
specifying contexts the tasks must have and/or projects the tasks must belong to.

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  --version             show program's version number and exit
  -c <config.cfg>, --config-file <config.cfg>
                        filename of configuration file to read (default: ~/.next-action.cfg)
  -f <todo.txt>, --file <todo.txt>
                        filename of todo.txt file to read; can be '-' to read from standard input; argument can be
                        repeated to read tasks from multiple todo.txt files (default: ['~/todo.txt'])
  -n <number>, --number <number>
                        number of next actions to show (default: 1)
  -a, --all             show all next actions (default: False)

optional context and project arguments; these can be repeated:
  @<context>            context the next action must have
  +<project>            project the next action must be part of
  -@<context>           context the next action must not have
  -+<project>           project the next action must not be part of

Assuming your todo.txt file is your home folder, running Next-action without arguments will show the next action you should do. Given this todo.txt, calling mom would be the next action:

$ next-action
(A) Call mom @phone

The next action is determined using priority. Due date is considered after priority, with tasks due earlier getting precedence over tasks due later. Creation date is considered after due date, with older tasks getting precedence over newer tasks. FInally, tasks that belong to more projects get precedence over tasks that belong to fewer projects.

Completed tasks (x This is a completed task) and tasks with a creation date in the future (9999-01-01 Start preparing for five-digit years) are not considered when determining the next action.

Limiting the tasks from which next actions are selected

You can limit the tasks from which Next-action picks the next action by passing contexts and/or projects:

$ next-action @work
(C) Finish proposal for important client @work
$ next-action +DogHouse
(G) Buy wood for new +DogHouse @store
$ next-action +DogHouse @home
Get rid of old +DogHouse @home

When you supply multiple contexts and/or projects, the next action belongs to all of the contexts and at least one of the projects:

$ next-action +DogHouse +PaintHouse @store @weekend
(B) Buy paint to +PaintHouse @store @weekend

It is also possible to exclude contexts, which means the next action will not have the specified contexts:

$ next-action +PaintHouse -@store
Borrow ladder from the neighbors +PaintHouse @home

And of course, in a similar vein, projects can be excluded:

$ next-action -+PaintHouse @store
(G) Buy wood for new +DogHouse @store

Showing more than one next action

To show more than one next action, supply the number you think you can handle:

$ next-action --number 3
(A) Call mom @phone
(B) Buy paint to +PaintHouse @store @weekend
(C) Finish proposal for important client @work

Or show all next actions, e.g. for a specific context:

$ next-action --all @store
(B) Buy paint to +PaintHouse @store @weekend
(G) Buy wood for new +DogHouse @store

Note again that completed tasks and task with a future creation date are never shown since they can't be a next action.

Configuring todo.txt files to be read

Instead of specifying which todo.txt files to read on the command-line, you can also configure this in a configuration file. By default, Next-action tries to read a file called .next-action.cfg in your home folder, but you can tell it to read another configuration file:

$ next-action --config-file my-next-action.cfg
(A) Call mom @phone

The configuration file format is YAML. The only option supported at the moment is to specify one or more todo.txt files to read, for example:

file: ~/Dropbox/todo.txt


  - personal-todo.txt
  - work-todo.txt
  - big-project/tasks.txt

Command-line options override options in the configuration file.

Next-action being still alpha-stage, this is it for the moment. Stay tuned for more options.


Clone the repository and run the unit tests with python test or python -m unittest.

To create the unit test coverage report install the development dependencies with pip install -r requirements-dev.txt and run the unit tests under coverage with coverage run --branch -m unittest; coverage html --fail-under=100 --directory=build/htmlcov.

Quality checks can be run with pylint next_action and pycodestyle next_action.

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