I have currently a very simple custom agenda view, which displays a daily view, important tasks (those tasks with priority A), and pending tasks (those tasks whose todo keyword is WAITING).

I would like to add another category in this agenda view, which would be the "quick picks", i.e. those tasks whose effort estimates are lower than 0:15.

Until now, I have only managed to filter the tasks whose effort estimates are exactly equal to 0:15, and I struggle to find an easy solution for all tasks inferior to 0:15.

Here is the piece of code I use:

(defun perso/quickpick (arg)
  "Display entries that have effort estimate equal to ARG."
    (org-tags-view t
                   (format "Effort=\"%s\"" arg)))

(setq org-agenda-custom-commands
      '(("d" "Custom daily agenda"
         ((agenda "" ((org-agenda-span 'day)))
          (tags "PRIORITY=\"A\""
                ((org-agenda-skip-function '(org-agenda-skip-entry-if 'todo 'done))
                 (org-agenda-overriding-header "Important tasks")))
          (todo "WAITING"
                ((org-agenda-overriding-header "Pending tasks")))
          (perso/quickpick "0:15"
                     ((org-agenda-overriding-header "Quickies")))))))

Is there a simple solution to adapt perso/quickpick and/or org-agenda-custom-commands to get what I want?


Addendum: A MWE org file with one item per category:

#+PROPERTY: Effort_ALL 0:05 0:10 0:15 0:20 0:30 0:45 1:00 1:30 2:00 3:00

* TODO Wash the car
SCHEDULED: <2020-07-01>

* WAITING Fix a bug

* TODO A quick task
  :Effort:   0:15

* TODO [#A] An important task
  • 1
    So what happens if you modify the call to org-tags-view in perso/quickpick to use "Effort<=%f"?
    – NickD
    Jul 1, 2020 at 12:45
  • ... and also modify the call in the commands to drop the quotes around 0.15?
    – NickD
    Jul 1, 2020 at 12:46
  • Thanks! I tried with (format "Effort<=%f" arg) and (perso/quickpick 0.15 (etc.). All TODO items were displayed in the "Quickies" section, so it did not work. (But this is a central part of the question: I don't know how to treat effort estimates as floats, since they are basically [duration-]strings.) Maybe an additional precision: my effort estimates are set with #+PROPERTY: Effort_ALL 0:05 0:10 0:15 0:20 0:30 0:45 1:00 1:30 2:00 3:00.
    – Philopolis
    Jul 1, 2020 at 13:18

1 Answer 1


Maybe not really elegant, but I finally found a way to do this by writing two custom functions.

The first one simply extracts the property value "Effort" of a given org headline (maybe there was a built-in way to do this, but I could not find it):

(defun fs/org-get-effort-estimate ()
  "Return effort estimate when point is at a given org headline.
If no effort estimate is specified, return nil."
  (let ((limits (org-get-property-block)))
      (when (and limits                            ; when non-nil
                 (re-search-forward ":Effort:[ ]*" ; has effort estimate
                                    (cdr limits)
        (buffer-substring-no-properties (point)
                                        (re-search-forward "[0-9:]*"
                                                           (cdr limits)))))))

The second one is a function that will be passed to org-agenda-skip-function: it skips those org entries that do not have an effort estimate, or that have an effort estimate > 0:15.

(defun fs/org-search-for-quickpicks ()
  "Display entries that have effort estimates inferior to 15.
ARG is taken as a number."
  (let ((efforts (mapcar 'org-duration-from-minutes (number-sequence 1 15 1)))
        (next-entry (save-excursion (or (outline-next-heading) (point-max)))))
    (unless (member (fs/org-get-effort-estimate) efforts)

Finally, a custom agenda view which does the trick:

(setq org-agenda-custom-commands
      '(("d" "Custom daily agenda"
         ((agenda ""
                  ((org-agenda-span 'day))
                  (org-agenda-overriding-header "Agenda du jour"))
          (tags "PRIORITY=\"A\""
                ((org-agenda-skip-function '(org-agenda-skip-entry-if 'todo 'done))
                 (org-agenda-overriding-header "Tâches importantes à finaliser")))
          (todo "WAITING"
                ((org-agenda-overriding-header "Tâches en attente")))
          (alltodo ""
                  ((org-agenda-skip-function 'fs/org-search-for-quickpicks)
                   (org-agenda-overriding-header "Tâches rapides")))))))

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