Getting started with NotePlan 2.0

Getting Started with NotePlan v2.0 on iOS

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1. Capture Your Thoughts

Open up today and get things off your mind. Quickly capture anything important: to-dos, details, journal entries, quotes, etc. Your mind works much better if you write down everything and don’t have to hold it in your memory.

To-dos start with an asterisk (“*”) or dash (“-“) followed by a space and then the to-do text. You can add this by tapping the list button on the toolbar which pops up once you start editing the text. Open to-dos will be displayed as orange dots in your NotePlan calendar.

If you want to use “real” list items additionally to to-dos, head over to the preferences and adjust the “Todo” settings.

2. Plan Your Day

Organize your tasks for the day by structuring them into headings to get clarity and an overview of what needs to be done.

A heading starts with a “#” followed by a space and the name, like “# Title”. A subtitle has two “#”, like “## Subtitle” and so on. You can also indent (right-shift) to-dos to create subtasks. Both help you to keep a structure.

The way we structure the text here is called “Markdown”. There are more things you can do with it, but for now above is all you need to know to be successful with NotePlan.

Besides notes, to-dos and headings you can also create actual calendar events (for appointments for example) and reminders which are synced with your iCloud calendars. You will find them at the top above the note area. Add new ones with a pull-down gesture or edit existing ones by tapping on them.

Events are displayed as purple dots in your NotePlan calendar. Inside the note you will see the original calendar color just before the event text.

3. Set up Routines

If you try to build habits, it’s useful to be reminded at a certain time. The best way is to set up a recurring reminder. Pull down inside a daily note and switch to “Reminder”. Then select “repeat” and “daily” for example.

Recurring reminders are not copied across your whole calendar, which would just clutter it. They are only copied once you check them off. You can do this inside NotePlan by tapping on the reminder and then tapping the “Completed” switch or if it pops up as notification to remind you, you can force-touch to complete it. This works also from your lock-screen.

Another trick is to use Siri to create new reminders. Just say “Hey Siri, remind me to buy the milk at 5 PM” (for example) and it will appear in NotePlan naturally. This way you can create entries hands-free. If you want to add something to NotePlan, but not make it a reminder, you can also say “Hey Siri, remind me in NotePlan to buy the milk”.

Reminders are displayed as red dots in your NotePlan calendar. Once completed, they turn green.

4. Get Things Done

Your day is planned. Now you plow through your to-dos and check them off in between or check-in with NotePlan to know what’s coming next. Besides, you receive more input during the day. New to-dos, new details, more notes. Put them all into your daily note and out of your mind, so you can focus on what needs to be done.

A checked off to-do has a “[x]” after the asterisk or dash. This is how NotePlan knows it’s done. Canceled and scheduled to-dos have different marks.

Checked off to-dos turn to green dots in your NotePlan calendar.

5. Review And Re-Schedule

Chances are, at the end of the day some to-dos are still open or you collected a few ideas which need your attention. Take your time and review them at the end of the day or week and make a quick decision: cancel, re-schedule or finish them right now.

If a task is still important, you usually want to re-schedule it to the next day. Either put your cursor into the task you want to schedule or select multiple tasks to move them to another day. NotePlan automatically ignores closed to-dos (marked already done, canceled or scheduled). If you select the title or other notes you added in between the to-dos, they will be copied as well. Now hit the clock icon and decide where to move them. Scheduled to-dos are displayed as blue dots in your NotePlan calendar.

Other points you noted might not be that important as you initially thought, so mark them as canceled (the dash icon on the toolbar). Or if it’s just a quick 2-minute task, finish it right now and mark it as done. Then there are the journal entries and ideas you noted. You can just leave them there or create a general note where you collect it independently of the calendar notes.

NotePlan shows the days with open to-dos in the calendar. The days will be marked red, so you know where you still need to review and take action.

6. Organize Your Projects

Besides calendar notes, you can also store date-independent notes. Here you can organize projects, create lists and in general keep information you may need later.

For example, Create project notes for each of your goals, then schedule the to-dos into your calendar.

The first line of a note will become the title. You can tag notes with “#project1” for example to filter them. Tap in the overview on “All Notes” to select a different tag for filtering.

You can also attach a date tag (“>YYYY-MM-DD”, for example: “>2018-12-11”) to a to-do inside a project note. This to-do will re-appear at the top of the daily note of this date. From there you can check it off and it will sync with the project note. In the preferences under “Todo”, activate “Only add date when scheduling in notes”. This will stop the schedule-copy action which normally occurs when scheduling and add a date tag instead.