Present ideas

I find present buying for birthdays and Christmas stressful. What helps is having a big list of ideas ready to go. There often hints as to what would make good presents - from my children the hints are often not particularly subtle!

beorg is a great place to keep such lists. Making adding to my present lists as frictionless as possible makes it much more likely I’ll add to them when inspiration strikes.

I have a family file which has entries for each family member, under which are sub entries for things such as presents, events, etc.

Here’s an example:

* Clara
  * Presents
    * Doll that cries
    * Thomas the Tank Engine puzzles
* Rheuben
  * Presents
    * Voice changer
    * Star Wars lego

This recipe requires a beorg template and a Shortcut. The template tells beorg which file to use and helps add the idea to the right place in the file underneath the chosen person.

The template

I’ve called the template “Present Idea”, set the file to “family” and added a tag of PresentIdea. The subtree is setup to add the idea under the relevant person and then Presents.

It’s worth noting that the first item in the subtree is obtained by looking at what is in the clipboard/pasteboard. This uses a template macro which runs some Scheme code. In this case the Scheme code is (pasteboard). This returns whatever is in the clipboard and uses this as the first part of the subtree.

The Shortcut

If you haven’t got the Shortcuts app installed grab it from the App Store. The Shortcuts User Guide is a great place to start if you haven’t used Shortcuts before.

Here is what the Shortcut looks like in the app.

Download this Shortcut

The Shortcut starts by asking who it is the present idea is for. Replace the names of my wife and children with your own! The selected name gets copied to the clipboard so that it can be used by the template (remember the %(pasteboard)% macro.)

Next the name of the template is passed to the URL Encode action. This is necessary because the template name contains a space and needs converting before it can be used in the URL scheme.

After this the Shortcut asks the user for the present idea itself. As with the template name this gets URL encoded.

Finally the beorg URL is constructed. This URL launches the beorg app and gets it to capture your present idea using the template. You can’t see the full URL in the screenshot so here it is:


Where I’ve written TEMPLATE and IDEA you need to substitute magic variables to pick up the URL encoded template name and URL encoded present idea.

Using the Shortcut

I use this Shortcut as a Today widget. Make sure Show in Widget is selected in the Shortcut settings, and that the Shortcuts app widget is enabled. You could also add a Siri Shortcut to trigger your present idea workflow using your voice.

I now find it super quick to add to my bank of present ideas when inspiration strikes.

If you have any questions or feedback on the above please use the comment system below.

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