This essay was originally posted to the writing community Get Your Words Out.
At the beginning of the month I downloaded a bunch of apps with the intention to test them out and offer brief reviews of each one. Then I got a new job and have been studying for license certification exams, and completely forgot about this essay until yesterday.
So let’s talk about two apps on different ends of the productivity spectrum, Moleskin Journey and Notion.
Notion is available on mobile, desktop, and browser platforms, and is a product of Notion Labs. It is primarily intended for project management for schools, businesses, and personal use. The personal plan was recently changed to have unlimited “blocks” or individual pieces of information, meaning you can use it for all your everything without a subscription or flat fee. There are other levels to their pricing plans, of course, with more features, but a personal plan will probably be enough for most writers no matter how much mythology and backstory your story has.
As far as its functionality goes, Notion can:
- store notes and documents
- be a content management system
- be a wiki
- be a kanban board
- be a gallery
- all sorts of other functions as outlined in templates provided by Notion Labs and the Notion community.
If you want to delete apps on your phone and consolidate everything into one, Notion is a useful tool. You navigate using dropdown menus or breadcrumb navigation, you can use icons or graphics to differentiate different areas, and add colors or change fonts to personalize your databases.
But… since it’s intended for business, it’s a little bland. And for me, it made organizing my story notes feel like work, not something that gives me joy.
Since Notion didn’t suit me but I still wanted an app that would help me keep track of goals and tasks, I decided to give Moleskine Journey a try. Journey is made by the Moleskine company — the journal people — and tries to recreate that simple aesthetic digitally. Primarily, Moleskin is a journal app, so you can update your calendar, set yourself goals or reminders, and even have the app wake you up every morning.
Where the magic happens is the Projects tab. Here, you can create separate goals with their own lists of tasks, color-code them, set their own due date and reminders and so on, and set the tasks to be completed by a certain date or repeat every day.
Journey is intended for creatives, and allows you to create several projects or one big project with several related tasks, or whatever suits your needs. I find it a little more quirky than Notion, and a little more charming. You can keep it strictly business and fill your calendar with appointments, or you can remind yourself to watch your favorite Let’s Player every day. Not that I do that. That would be silly.
The downside to Journey is if you like organization, Journey doesn’t offer as many tools as many other apps. There isn’t a built-in priority system, for instance, so every task is given the same weight as the other. There’s no central section for notes and graphics, so repetitive tasks for a project have to be entered on each one. The navigation tends to be a bit mystery-meat in the name of minimalism, and I find myself saying like DeeDee on Dexter’s Lab, “What does this button do?”
So, my search for the ideal productivity assistant continues.