For the past two week’s I have been using an app called NotePlan 2 to plan and manage my tasks and schedule. Here’s a rundown of the features and my impressions of NotePlan 2 after two weeks of daily use.
NotePlan 2 is an app for macOS and iOS that enables you to manage your calendar, notes, and todos all in one place. It brings together many of the elements I love about Bullet Journaling and Markdown formatting. It also combines systems that I have historically managed using separate apps for each—notes, tasks, and calendar. This unique approach to those systems is what made this app so appealing to me.
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First, there is the calendar which, at base, functions like any calendar app displaying all of your existing calendars from iCal, Outlook, or wherever. It has visually appealing monthly and weekly views.
I’ve found that having my day’s tasks right next to a view of my calendar just makes a ton of sense.
Second, and where the real magic of this app lives, is the daily note panel. At the top, you can see the day’s agenda. And under that, you get a blank notes area. You can type in here using markdown, with the option of having it instantly rendered as you type. So, you get what you might expect with headings and bold and italics, but where this app really shines are with the Bullet Journaling features and how you can interact with the calendar without ever leaving the notes panal.
In the daily note, you can quickly capture your thoughts and transform action items into actual todos, events, and more.
The todos capability is quite robust as well. You can have it sync with Apple’s native Reminders app, including the ability to schedule tasks or even set them up to be repeating.
Ever since I started Bullet Journaling about a year ago, I’ve kept a “work log” which is just a daily running note of what I’m doing and it serves as a place to capture thoughts or actions as they come up through the course of the day. I couldn’t have dreamt up a better implementation of a work log in an app than you find in NotePlan 2.
Finally, in addition to the daily notes feature, NotePlan 2 also makes use of a separate notes area for non-daily notes. You can easily navigate these or begin a new one from any other note by using double square brackets to create an internal link like in many knowledge management note-taking apps like Roam Research or Obsidian.md.
This is a great way to jump out of the daily note view if you want to take notes on a meeting or begin writing a blog post or something.
I really like the idea of managing a digital bullet journal. In fact, once you have the calendar and your daily tasks in one place, it’s hard to go back to task managers which don’t do this.
I am a huge fan of using Markdown to format my notes, since I’m just so used to it now. Nut I also like that this app flat-file based. What that means is that there is no database, just a bunch of plain-text files. You truly own your notes and can work entirely offline since they live on your local machine (NotePlan makes use of iCloud Drive to sync notes across devices).
Working from flat Markdown files also opens the door to other opportunities that database-driven note apps like Roam or Notion simply cannot do. For example, I added git version control to my notes folder. This allows me to back them up and version my notes in the directory and even add a GitHub remote repo for safekeeping or collaboration with others.
What’s more, working from flat Markdown files also means I can open my notes with any Markdown editor. For example, I added my NotePlan 2 notes folder to Obsidian.md so that any file I create whether in NotePlan or Obsidian is effectively synced. And as I build out my network of ideas in Obsidian, my NotePlan docs develop with it. I’ve also added my NotePlan notes directory to iA Writer, so when I’m writing blog posts it’s just a more pleasant experience (I also have had success doing this with Ulysses and Byword).
I’m really impressed with this app and plan to keep using it. I also appreciate that the developer of NotePlan 2 is very active and responsive to feedback. There’s a dedicated subreddit if you want to follow along. He is already working on a version 3 that in beta and shows a lot of promise.
If you’re interested in trying out NotePlan 2 there’s a 2-week trial available, and if you want to stick around for the long-term you can purchase a license for a one-time fee of $29.99 for macOS and $14.99 for the iPhone/iPad bundle.
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