One of the best things about Playdate, Panic’s quirky handheld game console, is how it does one very specific thing: play video games. Apps or other features don’t crash, so when you play something like A time travel adventure in CrankenIt’s easy to stay focused on the game. It’s refreshing to have a device so focused on fun – which is why I found the idea of using the yellow mini console as a personal organizer so intriguing. Over the past week, I’ve been doing exactly that, and while it’s certainly not an option for everyone, like Playdate itself, it manages to be simple and straightforward.
First, some notes on context. First, it’s important to know that I haven’t yet found a to-do list app that I like best on a paper notebook. I’ve had a great time testing the likes of Evernote and Fantastical – I once used the RPG Epic Win to keep track of things – but they were always very challenging. For the past few years, my process has been simple: towards the end of each work day, I write down everything I have to do the next day so it’s ready for me when I check in in the morning. It’s basic and quick, and the act of writing things down tends to help me remember them.
The second thing is that the app I’ve been using, called Pocket Planner, is still in a fairly early beta state. It has three main features: a to-do list, a calendar, and a voice memo. In their current state, you cannot add events to the calendar, and Voice Memos has not yet been implemented. (Both features are expected in a future update.) So, for now, I’ve only been using the to-do list tool.
Now, the Playdate might be a dedicated gaming machine, but its screen, despite its small size, is really great for that sort of thing. The low-key, black-and-white display (which has no backlight) is reminiscent of a Kindle, which in itself aims to replicate the experience of reading on paper. So Playdate is great for paper-like experiences. This is part of the reason why I enjoy so many puzzle games on mobile and why I would die for someone to create a sudoku app for that. It works well to replicate the atmosphere of the classic physical organizer.
The task pane of the application is very simple. You can create a number of different lists and add multiple items to each, all of which have a small checkbox next to them. Items can be renamed, deleted, or moved between lists. In fact, that’s all there is to it. For my purposes, I made five lists, one for each day of the week, and – as in my paper notebook – at the end of each day I add items to get done the next day. Expired items are deleted, and anything I don’t finish, I simply move on to the next day.
It worked well enough, and using Playdate has some nice bonuses – it’s very compact and convenient to move around. I put it in my pocket and almost forgot. It’s also a very clean process to check or change items for different days. Another bonus: Having my Playdate constantly at work means that I remember to water my virtual flowers in the Playdate Thrives Often. The drawback is speed. One of the things I love about a physical notebook is how quickly you write down what’s on your mind. But writing on Playdate, which involves picking out characters from a circle, is a much slower process. I was using Many of shortcuts to speed things up.
It should be clear by now that Playdate will not be an organizational solution for everyone. It has an abstract list of features and does not connect to other tools, such as the personal Google Calendar. But if you’re looking for something dead simple – like me – it’s a very good alternative, especially considering it costs a dollar right now. I wouldn’t recommend buying a Playdate with big plans to turn it into a modern PalmPilot. But if you can get one and have very direct needs to stay on top of your to-do list, this is a solid option. is yours Thrives Flowers maybe thank you.