by slowernews

slowernews / hamster-system

Ultra-simple framework to organize your life.

220 Stars 10 Forks Last release: about 4 years ago (+0.8) 528 Commits 2 Releases

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Hamster system

Boost productivity and reduce stress by organizing your documents, workflow and personal budget with an ultra-simple system loosely inspired in GTD, Todo.txt, OBTF (One Big Text File), Bullet journal (notes on paper), spreadsheets, index cards, inbox zero and desktop zero.

So, how can you start?


Hamster folder

Organize your (digital) documents

'Every document belongs to a project'.


  • root folder: YOUR NAME

    First of all create a folder in a partition of your disk.
    ALL your stuff will be stored here.
  • main folders: PROJECT STATUS

    Inside your root folder there are 2 folders:

    INBOX (folder to store your active projects) ARCHIVE (folder to store your inactive projects - often organized in bundles)

Project folders:

[bundle] #project @subproject -folders

  • bundle of projects: [ ]

    Inside ARCHIVE folder you put [bundles of projects]:
    e.g: [large investor]
  • project (derived from twitter hashtag): #

    Inside INBOX, ARCHIVE or [bundle] folders you put #projects:
    e.g: #house in portugal    
  • subproject (derived from twitter mention): @

    Inside #project folders you put @subprojects:
    e.g: @building permit
  • storage folder: -

    Inside @subprojects you put -storage folders:
    e.g: -drawings


  • when reasonable reduce unnecessary nesting by merging folders. Hints:

    Prefer: #[email protected]
    Instead of: #project / @onlyOneSubproject

    Prefer: -drawings-details-wall Instead of: -drawings / -details / -wall

  • use a system that fits your needs 1. Some hints:

    Use a prefix for template / boilerplate files: $
    e.g: $curriculum

    Use a prefix for folders where you keep stuff temporarly: _ e.g: _standby

    Use a prefix for folders where you keep old versions of files: +

  • version files by using a modification date suffix 6: modification date

    e.g: yourfile-2019-10-18
    e.g: yourfile+20191018
  • great free tool for batch renaming.

How to navigate through your documents:

  • you only need one permanent desktop shortcut to navigate through your documents:

    Shortcut to INBOX folder

    A shortcut to ARCHIVE is optional - only inactive projects are there.

  • and/or a launcher-file finder 2.

Hamster flow

Organize your workflow

'Manage a collection of inputs'.

  • One text file 3 and a paper notebook collect all inputs:

    • actionable inputs (TODOS) are managed in the paper notebook and in a section of the text file (Calendar) 7.
    • non-actionable inputs are managed in a text file. Hints:

      One long file is easier to manage than many short files.
      See it as a *flat wiki* and use text editor's built-in search for navigation.

      This file is not write-only: review and tree-shake it each time you iterate your notes and make an effort to progressively summarize them. You'll leverage your excitement instead of forcing discipline.

      Notes organized by purpose, not by category. It can be a catalyst for action and reviews.

      Only store things that surprise you, not stuff you already know.

  • Todos listed in the Calendar section of the text file have a due date: [ ]

    Dates are inserted before the task description (allowing chronological sorting):

    e.g. inserting a scheduled date: [year-month-day=hour] [2020-11-29=9h] Doctor appointment

    e.g. inserting a trigger/fuzzy date: [date >>] [2020-10-10 >>] Waiting for client feedback after this date

    e.g. inserting a deadline date: [date <

  • Resuming (check also screenshots):

    on a paper notebook:
        TODOS (collection of todos to be done ASAP)

    on a text file with 2 sections: Calendar (collection of todos that can/must wait) Notes (collection of thoughts and bookmarks)


  • Calendar section on Sublime text editor. 5


  • YAML (for readability and possible data serialization) masked as markdown (for easier text-editor navigation).


Hamster budget

Organize your money

'You may not need a personal budget'.

Does it worth to spend cognitive bandwidth to know that last month you spent €312,23 on groceries? I already know that I spend around €300. What I crave is to feel in control of my finances.

How to do it in a practical way? Track your net worth in a spreadsheet:

  • List all your assets (bank, ebank, stocks, funds, crypto, whatever) and sum them. List and sum your liabilities (if relevant). Every case is a case so you must build your template from zero.
  • When your net worth is too risky (for your personality) get more tight.
  • When you feel confortable with your number you can loosen up a bit.
  • I used to track it every month. I loosen up to every quarter.


What does this stuff solve?

hamster folder: organize your (digital) documents

  • prediction (with acceptable accuracy) of filenames and where they are stored.
    A file finder 2 is great when you remember the filename but less useful when you don't.
  • transmission of projects with a predictable structure.

hamster flow: organize your workflow

  • simple solution: use your favorite text editor and cloud, a paper notebook and almost no syntax. Minimum overhead.
  • practical solution: mix the good parts of many workflow management approaches.
  • future data exchange and serialization: YAML notation saved as TXT files.

hamster budget: organize your money

  • control your finances in a practical way.

Possible painpoint?

This system is not smartphone oriented. That's not even an issue for me but it might be for you. My strategy - when a paper notebook is not enough - is to email myself the new stuff and take care of it later.

Is this the truth?

Probably not but I don't know nothing that works better. I test new options and 'tree shake' existent ones agressively.

1 - e.g: relevant naming system for architects.
2 - after having tried most options for Windows (win+type, Keypirinha, Everything, Cerebro, Wox, Zazu, Launchy, FARR), I'm using Listary Lite.
Pros: Launch and file search without external software, low memory usage (less than 40k on win7), fast and configurable. Cons: No calculator function.

3 - Hosted in a cloud (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc) if possible.
4 - Try to keep it under 2K lines. If you can't, it means that some excerpts should live independently or even in a more suitable format (e.g. spreadsheet)
5 - hint: on Sublime press F9 (or F5 on Mac) to sort dates.
6 - After a long trial, "builds" were deprecated. "Modification dates" are more practical and descriptive.
7 - A full featured calendar (Google calendar, Apple calendar, etc) might pay off in certain cases.

Creative Commons License
Hamster-System by Enio Ferreira is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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