The other day I came across a new app in my daily news feeds that caught my attention. It’s a notes app called Mochi that has one standout feature that my other notes apps are “missing” – tasks. The Bees Are On The What Now? [1] Yeah, I know, it sounds weird, but I think it’ll make sense if I explain my notes workflow.

Current Workflow

I have been using Notational Velocity on my Mac for many years as my general purpose notes application. Notational Velocity syncs with SimpleNote so that I can view it on my iOS devices and between my iMac and my Macbook Air. It’s been a seamless and easy-to-use solution and it allows me to have my notes anywhere I need them.

For those of you old enough to remember the Franklin Day Planner, I create a new note each day which serves much like the right hand page did back when I used paper. I over see all the support for my company and these notes provide me a way to quickly capture support calls, e-mails, you name it. With the built-in search capability I can quickly find the exact needle I’m looking for in the haystack of notes I’ve created over the years.

One of the items that gets captured is of course tasks. A customer calls with a request and I capture everything in Notational Velocity. Notes, tasks, anything that comes up during the call. One of the struggles I’ve been having is ensuring that after it’s been captured, it makes its way into Things, my task system. It’s a habit I simply haven’t perfected and what ends up happening is task items get buried. As soon as I saw a screenshot of Mochi, I saw an answer to my problem.

How Mochi Works

I haven’t actually purchased the app, I’ll explain why in a bit, but from reviewing their web site here’s how Mochi works.

The app is designed much like the fork of Notational Velocity, nvALT. You can create a series of notes, which appear in the left hand column, and the note you’re working on is in the right. What’s unique about the app though is that when you need to create a task, you simply create a new line beginning with a “+” and adding a space. This line item is now a task and if it’s incomplete then it adds an indicator next to the title of the note.

It’s a somewhat simple feature, but it allows you to see at a glance how many outstanding items you have in a note. In my way of thinking, this visual trigger would remind me to move the item into a task. I don’t expect that I would manage my tasks in Mochi, but simply augment my current note taking workflow. Once the item has been moved into Things, simply check it off.

So Why Not Buy It?

So far I’ve only seen one review of the software and there’s no indication how the notes are stored. That’s important because there isn’t an iOS app so I would look to using Elements, or a similar app for my mobile devices and it would require access to some type of text file via DropBox. Not only that, but other than a one-page web site and an e-mail address, there doesn’t appear to be many support options. Their support may be fantastic, but since there isn’t a forum, or a FAQ, so there isn’t much to go on.

There also isn’t a demo that I can try to see how it works and given that my current workflow is such a key part of my day, I can’t see changing everything over only to find out that I’m trapped in an information silo.

Is That Notification Icon Really That Important?

That’s the real question isn’t it?

On one hand, I just need to build a habit of clearing out my tasks from my notes on a daily basis. On the other, it would be immensly helpful to be able to have an action item stand out within a note, thereby alerting me of something important.

To look at it another way, why not just use a keyboard shortcut to directly enter the task into Things, thereby not having to remember anything? Sure, that would be a great, but it’s a small context shift and when I’m on a call, the most important thing is to capture the information, not think about where the information needs to go.

Ultimately I keep coming back to the idea that I use the tools I use for a reason — they help me get my job done. There’s a small gap in my workflow and I’m having to overcome it manually. Until I can find a tool that helps me bridge the gap, I’ll have to develop better habits.

Stay The Course

For now I’m not jumping ship into a completely new system, but I am rethinking my workflows and seeing where friction can be removed. For example, I did make the switch to Brett Terpstra’s nvALT to try some of the more advanced features in his fork of Notational Velocity. I’ve also been looking at TaskPaper, FoldingText and a few other tools.

Although it does feel a bit like an itch I can’t scratch, I do like that Mochi triggered my focus into reexamining my processes. That’s always exciting to see if there’s a better way to do something. Well, it’s exciting for a geek like me.