I’ve written in the past about my Digital Bullet Journal setup (link) and how I’ve come to use it as my primary organizational system. Unfortunately, until very recently, I always had a disconnect between my phone and org-mode.

Historically I’ve kept a ‘churning’ area of my to do list on my phone that sync’s to my desktop. It was a daily list of stuff I wanted to get done as well as things I thought of over the course of a day. Kind of like a slip box that was disconnected from all of my org-mode data, including my daily habit tracking. The setup was great for the daily churn but really hard to tie into org in a low friction way for me.

Thankfully Orgzly (link) has some lesser known features that allow me to tie my phone needs directly into org-mode on my computer.


Orgzly is a basic outline editor that speaks a decent portion of the org-mode specification and includes a useful search feature for building agendas. Not immediately obvious is it will pop up a reminder when a headline has a scheduled or deadline date specified. Once I figured out it could notify me at given times, all hell broke loose. The following sections outline some stuff to consider as well as how I setup Orgzly for my needs.

Sadly orgzly does not do sub-folder sync unless you setup targets for each folder among other quirks. Given this, I have a hard time recommending orgzly in general. However, it works great as a form of org-agenda and basic task tracking and habit tracking while still allowing some basic note taking that you can re-organize later in a more feature rich org-mode environment.

File Layout and Sync

For me: I needed my to do list, habits and health notes on my phone. Unfortunately Orgzly has a kind of strange sync process and I re-worked my main org-mode files that I needed on the phone to be in a single folder on NextCloud for sync. I then setup Orgzly to look at the folder for its sync and it works.

I tried to keep Orgzly to text only content and basic ‘post it notes’ note taking. Images, sub-folders and some other more advanced features require me to rework my org-mode setup further. Given I prefer non-heavily-outlined editors, Orgzly has limited utility for me in general and I tried to keep it simple and straight forward setup wise. This is a personal need, there is more to Orgzly than I layout in this post from what I can tell.

Noteworthy Discoveries and Things to Consider

While working with Orgzly I’d recommend keeping these items in mind:

  • Scheduled and deadline times pop a notification at that time
  • If a heading has a repeat interval set, you can change the status and Orgzly will auto-update the next time, the same as org-habit and org-mode proper. It will also log the status change if you change a setting (detail below)
  • New note schedule defaults are just the day. Handy but not super feature full
  • I use Orgzly as a slip box, scheduler, habit tracker. Basic, but useful stuff
  • Use termux for full org mode when Orgzly isn’t enough
  • I split out habits, health, task list to a spot that syncs with orgzly and org clients, everything else was left in my main org folder which syncs to full org clients
  • Removing the time grid from my main org-mode helped me get a better listing and better utility from Orgzly and org mode when it comes to deadline and scheduled tasks
  • Orgzly (phone) is for notifications and churn while org mode (computers) is for more involved work
  • I’m not fond of outline editors but for things like to do list churn and habits, it’s proving helpful
  • Burying secondary detail in the note content is valid. I tag these items with “desc” so I know there is more if I tap through. This really helps my focus
  • I turned off the content line number stuff, it was distracting for me
  • Consider trying each of the density options. I somehow ended up preferring compact more than the default
  • Searches are very helpful and I use them like I do agendas in org proper – this was a critical element of my setup. The Orgzly docs (link) on search are good and I recommend spending time setting up your own searches that feel like an org-agenda.


Below are the varied configuration options I adjusted

  • Set ‘log to drawer on time shift’ and ‘set property on time shift’ in orgzly settings
  • Set open notebooks collapsed
  • Setup task statuses (todo, wip, etc)
  • Set display content
  • Set allow content folding
  • Set mono font
  • Setup repos for sync
  • Turn on auto sync as appropriate
  • Set slip box as default notebook
  • Set new item default to ’todo’ and deadline on today
  • Set Metadata to show all but properties by default

Final Result

Once I figured out that I can get notifications based on my org-mode data, it didn’t take me long to get the habits and to do org-mode files sync’d with Orgzly. From there it was sorting out my repeat intervals for habits, assigning times to any active to do’s and just using it for a few days.

In the end I ended up with a ’today’ agenda that’s sorted on scheduled/deadline time, priority, and title. I get a nice list of what I marked as ’to accomplish’ for the day and I can work from the top down through the list. I will also get reminders at the set times so I don’t lose track of anything during the day.

In addition, I setup a ‘slipbox’ agenda which is any to do item that is synced into Orgzly. It’s a giant list but gives me a quick way to cherry pick long-standing to do items to work on in a given day. I can also leverage the ‘slipbox’ org notebook for on the fly quick notes to self and other items that pop up from time to time that I need to capture in the moment but ultimately move to a more data dense are of my org-mode knowledge base.

This ended up being the same general workflow as I had with a dedicated to do list app with the benefit of tying to my org-mode journal and knowledge base setup.

Screenshots of the overall setup

My Searches

Below you’ll find the exact searches I have setup with Orgzly.

_ Today _ .it.done .t.meds o.scheduled o.deadline o.priority o.title
Slip Box
t.slipbox o.scheduled o.deadline o.priority o.title
Meds .it.done t.meds o.scheduled o.deadline o.priority o.title
Home .it.done o.scheduled o.deadline o.priority o.title

Tasker Integration

Below you’ll find a full set of Tasker tasks for Orzly that allow triggering sync, specific searches and opening directly into a notebook. I used the in combination with Kustom Widget to get faster access to common screens I use within the Orzly app.

Note: I had to use Tasker App Factory to generate an apk from the main menu task in order for Kustom Widget to properly invoke these tasks. Normally Kustom can call a Tasker shortcut set to a task but on my phone that feature does not currently work.

See also