Timestamps with Weekdays

I’ve recently created a note in my Zettelkasten with a structure I haven’t used before: a timeline.

It’s basically an enumerated list with 40 items and a divider that marks “now”. Things above the divide are in the past; things below the divide are in the future. I’m collecting rough things to keep in mind below the divide (like a GTD tickler file would). Above the divide, the granularity increases as I track individual things that happened.

1. Week
2. Week
   - 2022-12-22: Nothing special. Just a demo.
3. Week


4. Week
   - Remember the milk.
5. Week

Since the timeline spans the better part of a year, I notice that a basic date annotation doesn’t provide enough context for me anymore. Like 2024-01-01 for today, January 1st. After more than a decade of practice, I can read ISO dates without it feeling awkward. But apart from special dates like 2024-01-01 for “New Year”, 2023-12-22 for “two days before Christmas”, a random ISO date doesn’t tell me much.

I’ve been stamping dates here and there in my Zettelkasten to leave contextual comments for years. An example is to contextualize revisions:

2024-01-01: Tried doing … instead, and it turns out that … wasn’t the problem after all! Find the real solution here: …

In cases like this, the date puts the addition into perspective relative to the note’s original date. Is it years later? Weeks later? Either way, it’s not the original date, and I found this to be note-worthy, so I dropped this information in. (Opposed to fixing typos and rewriting sentences, which I don’t annotate with dates.)

But for the timeline above, I could use more information to make sense of the many date stamps.

On the side, I’m also using Emacs org-mode for project organization, TODO’s, and some journaling. One of its killer features is to assemble all kinds of information in an agenda – for example a weekly overview of appointments and due dates. The org-mode package scans .org files for date-time-stamps to assemble this. They are of a form like YYYY-MM-DD Weekkday: [2024-01-01 Mon 10:15] for dates with a time, or [2024-01-01 Mon] for all-day items. Replace the square brackets with angle brackets to get ‘inactive’ dates, i.e. those that don’t show in the agenda: <2024-01-01 Mon>.

I am now experimenting with dropping a date with an abbreviated weekdays in my Zettelkasten as well, because for the timeline I’m editing, knowing if a date is on a weekend or middle of the work week is actually useful. The old ISO date stamps without a weekday just didn’t carry that info for me as a reader.

The accompanying Typinator snippets to insert dates like this anywhere on my system:

  • ,,do: [{YYYY}-{MM}-{DD} {W}]
  • ,,dp: [{YYYY}-{MM}-{DD} {W} {h024}:{m}]