I use org-mode agendas to sum effort for a given day, so I know how much slack time I have in my schedule. However, I often have sub-trees in tasks that have been assigned to assistants (with the keyword "ASSIGNED"). I don't want to count the effort estimates for those tasks in my own effort estimates. However, I do want to keep the effort estimates for those tasks, since I generate separate reports for each of my assistants so I know how much work I've assigned to them.

I know it is possible to have column-view exclude archived tasks. However, archiving ASSIGNED tasks seems like a bad work-around! I also know how to exclude ASSIGNED tasks from my agenda. However, doing so does not affect the total time estimates I get using column-view on my agenda.

Is there a method of excluding tasks based on a tag or keyword from Effort estimates?

1 Answer 1


This is a somewhat clunky work-around that accomplishes the desired effect.

I used org-trigger-hook to have a switch of a keyword to ASSIGNED trigger a function that changes the property "Effort" to "ASSIGNED_EFFORT". For good measure, if the keyword gets switched from ASSIGNED to TODO, the opposite happens:

(defun jkh/org-effort-to-assigned (change-plist)
  (let* ((type (plist-get change-plist :type))
     (pos (plist-get change-plist :position))
 (from (plist-get change-plist :from))
 (to (plist-get change-plist :to))
 (org-log-done nil) ; IMPROTANT!: no logging during automatic trigger!
 trigger triggers tr p1 kwd)
  (when (equal to "ASSIGNED")
  ;; OK, we just switched to ASSIGNED state.
       ;; Lets see if this entry has an Effort property.
       (setq myeffort (org-entry-get pos "Effort"))
       (org-entry-put pos "ASSIGNED_EFFORT" myeffort)
       (org-entry-delete pos "Effort")
  (when (and (equal from "ASSIGNED") (equal to "TODO"))
    (setq myeffort (org-entry-get pos "ASSIGNED_EFFORT"))
    (org-entry-put pos "Effort" myeffort)
    (org-entry-delete pos "ASSIGNED_EFFORT"))

(add-hook 'org-trigger-hook 'jkh/org-effort-to-assigned)

Now, any effort assigned to that task will not be included in any summary of "Effort", for the obvious reason.

However, I still want to see how much time I've assigned to a particular assistant. This requires three steps. First, I make sure that a switch to "ASSIGNED" also adds the tag "ASSIGNED", and switching from "ASSIGNED" to "TODO" removes it:

(setq org-todo-state-tags-triggers
   (quote (("ASSIGNED" ("ASSIGNED" . t))
           ("TODO" ("ASSIGNED")))))

I also add a tag to any assigned task saying who it was assigned to (e.g., "Smith").

Now, I have a custom agenda function that lets me look at things assigned to Smith:

(setq org-agenda-custom-commands
  (quote (("S" "Smith"
   ((tags-todo "pMu+ASSIGNED"
     ((org-agenda-overriding-header "Assigned: Smith")
      (org-tags-match-list-sublevels nil)))))

The last thing I need to do is adjust column-view defaults:

(setq org-columns-default-format "%60ITEM(Task) %6Effort(Estim){:} %8ASSIGNED_EFFORT(Assigned){:}  %6CLOCKSUM(Clock)")

Now, if I use column-view on an agenda, I see a sum of my effort and a sum of assigned effort. If I'm looking at the default agenda, assigned effort should be 0. If I'm looking at my "Smith" agenda, I should only see assigned effort, whereas my effort will be 0.

There are two problems with this solution, though:

  1. Column view always shows both Effort and ASSIGNED_EFFORT, even though only one will be relevant for any particular agends.

  2. If the task has sub-tasks, I need to ASSIGN every sub-task as well.

I am pretty sure that the solution to #2 lies somewhere in the methods used by this org-depend.el. However, I don't see a way around #1.

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