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I use org-mode to keep track of time on tasks and also use org-capture to switch to new tasks that interrupt my current task. Is it possible to do something similar, to switch to an already existing task that I have in my org file? In other words, I would like to quickly switch to a task which I already have in an org-file, and once I have finished it, it should automatically take me back to the task which I was on before the switch.

Right now I go through a manual clock in/clock out to switch tasks 2 different times. Using a functionality similar to org-capture would allow me to just clock in to my new task and a clock out should automatically clock in to my previously running task. Google and stackoverflow searches did not point to a solution for this exact scenario.

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I have not used org clocks much, but there is a clock history maintained that may be useful for your work flow. Various clock commands allow you to select recently clocked items when called with a prefix argument C-u.

For example:

  • org-clock-in and org-clock-in-last: With a prefix argument these provide a list of recent tasks to clock in or resume. C-u C-c C-x C-i

  • If you just want to find recently clocked tasks, use org-clock-goto with a prefix to get the same clock history selection: C-u C-c C-x C-j

You can configure Emacs to persist your clock history across sessions, as described here in the manual:

 (setq org-clock-persist 'history)
 (org-clock-persistence-insinuate)

You can also write some custom code to streamline things a bit. In addition to the clock history, org keeps a marker for the active task that gets interrupted when you clock in to a new task. So you can write a command to resume the interrupted task such as:

(defun my-org-clock-in-resume ()
  "Clock in to the last interrupted task, if any."
  (interactive)
  (when (marker-buffer org-clock-interrupted-task)
    (org-with-point-at org-clock-interrupted-task
      (org-clock-in))))

Then you can also bind a command to clock out of the current task and resume the previous interrupted task:

(defun my-org-clock-out-and-resume-previous ()
  "Clock out of the current task, then resume the interrupted task (if any)"
  (interactive)
  (org-clock-out)
  (my-org-clock-in-resume))
  • Thank you. That helps out a little. I made a keybinding to the org-clock-in with a C-u argument ('(4)) to avoid having to press 4 key combinations in sequence. – jorobins Jan 12 '18 at 20:46
  • I've added some custom commands that might help for the specific work flow of interrupting a task to do something else and then going back to the original task. – glucas Jan 12 '18 at 21:11
  • Thank you so much @glucas for the custom code. That sheds light on the org-clock-interrupted-task that seems perfect for this very scenario. – jorobins Jan 15 '18 at 16:17

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