workflow

Working with Org mode While Away From Your Desk

July 4, 2022

In this post we cover the topic of working with Org mode on Mobile while away from your desk and computer.

Often one uses Org mode mainly on a PC such as a desktop or laptop to track tasks, notes and handle big and small projects. However, once in a while it is nice to be able to jot down some notes or ideas on a phone while away from the desk.

It could be that you just came up with a new idea or you remember a thing that needs to be done. Instead of rushing to your computer which might not be nearby, you can use your phone.

There are several ways you can leverage your phone to achieve this type of scenario:

1. Calendar app

One of my favorite ways to save down ideas and quick notes which I want to include to an Org mode based project file is to use the calendar app I use on my phone. It basically doesn't matter which calendar app it is, but best is one you already use.

I write down a quick and dirty summary or a few words of what I want to remember in a regular calendar entry. Once at the computer I can re-write it into the Org file for this project and expand upon this idea. I schedule this calendar entry for when I expect to be at my desk and I might also set a notification. The additional step of moving it over and writing it down in your Org file acts as a filter so you don't end up with a lot of short, bad, erroneous notes spread out in your project files.

A benefit of using a calendar app is that it has notifications and you usually already have a sync solution in place for calendar sync so that you can also see the information on your computer once you are there. The calendar app icon is often also quick to find on your phone.

2. Org mode app

Use a phone app that supports Org mode. There are several available. Orgzly is one solution for Android and Beorg and Plainorg exist for iOS. The benefit of using one of these apps is that you can write the information down in Org mode format from start. You also get the benefit of being able to easily prioritize, schedule, tag etc.

Most of the time though, I just want to put down some text to remember the thing. I will set priorities, scheduling, tagging etc later once at the computer when I have more time and a better overview.

Once at the computer I write down the stuff in the main Org file for this project. On the phone app I just write all ideas in one and the same notebook file, a kind of capture file or scrap file.

These Org based phone apps support notifications which is nice so I can be reminded of them.

A challenge here is syncing. You can of course just look at the phone and then re-type it into the documentation on your computer, which most of the time is fine as you anyway have to expand on the idea and the notes on the phone are just very short and rough. However, sometimes it's nice if it is synced to the computer, but that is something you have to set up separately. For more on this you can check out our article around syncing between computer and phone.

3. Plain text editor app

Use a text editor on your phone. This is another good option. You can use whatever text editor you have on your phone. Write down your idea or thing to remember and later on you write it down into your Org file on your computer. The text editor on your phone can be basically whatever. If it stores the data in a plain text file then you can sync it. Or maybe that editor already supports sync in some custom way.

Summary

Which ever solution you choose to use, the essence of it is that while on the run you easily and quickly jot down your ideas in your favourite note taking tool. Once at your computer you can put it down in a more clean and expanded form in your project's Org mode based text file using EasyOrg.

From there on you can set prioroties, scheduling, tagging and more so that you can get your work done in the most efficient way.