It may seem obvious because it is… We do things because we can, and we have the decision-making power to do so. Occasionally, having this power leads to lack of productivity and waste of time, which could have been utilised elsewhere, perhaps to learn a new skill, etc.
Although the underlying principles can apply to many aspects of our lives, this piece of writing is focused on Software.
I am not a theory-based person, so allow me to demonstrate with an example. In the last 18 months, I have constantly tried different software for Email, Calendar, and Notes to evaluate which application suits my workflow the best, thus resulting in maximum productivity.
- Email: it all started with HEY and I cycled through Fastmail, OnMail, Spark, Mimestream, Big Mail (insert any new email app here). Strangely, I receive no more than 15 emails a day, and in most cases rarely do I respond to emails. Therefore, email most certainly was not a problem that I was attempting to solve.
- Calendar:for years, I wanted Fantastical to be the default calendar app on iOS. I enjoy using it and the natural language support is world best. However, Fantastical recently switched to a subscription model which pushed me towards trying other apps such as Busycal and TimePage (this one is beautiful but a lack of a Mac app is a dealbreaker). Strangely again, my calendar is relatively empty (especially in COVID-19 times), yet I spent countless hours trying different apps. Ultimately, I ended up subscribing to Fantastical
- Note-Taking: it seems, everyone is getting into the note-taking business. In the last 2 years we have seen many new players join this category, namely: Roam, Notion, Craft, Obsidian and old players such as Evernote are attempting to make a comeback. This is very cool, however, once again, my notes management needs are relatively simple which has mostly been fulfilled by the Apple Notes app. I was most intrigued by Craft (so beautiful). I took countless notes to understand how Obsidian works, and I finally accepted that I am not a person who takes detailed personal notes. Furthermore, I journal in Day One and that's where most of my thoughts go.
Email, Calendar and Note-Taking are typical work tools in most organisations. I am a risk analyst by trade and my organisation (of over 22,000 employees) uses Microsoft suite of products for over 15 years. My place of work has strict polices in place and as such no other applications are allowed. Tools such as Todoist, Gmail are blocked at network level. With that said, for my work, I use:
- Email: I use Microsoft Outlook BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER CHOICE. Having said that, I know Outlook’s strengths and weaknesses and in the grand scheme of things, for work emails it works well. Recently, DARK MODE was added, which makes me happy.
- Calendar: I use Microsoft Outlook BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER CHOICE. People at work know that I prefer to be reached organically without setting up calendar events. So in most cases, people call me and if I am available, I pick up their call… SIMPLE.
- Note-Taking: I use Microsoft One Note BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER CHOICE. I write detailed notes of client meetings, reasons for decisions for my projects, brainstorming, client related notes. For years, I open One Note each morning and write a few things I will do today to move the needle at work. This has worked well. Similar to Outlook, I understand how One Note works and can take advantage of its strengths while working around its limitations.
I have used the above tools for ten years and have thrived (not bragging) at my day job. Using a set of tools day in, day out, builds a level of trust. Having a single tool also has its benefits. My personal emails are scattered in my different email services. The same is true for my notes which live in Apple Notes, Notion, Crafts etc. Therefore, when seeking any piece of information, I go through several buckets to find that one email or that one note. For work, this process is effortless. If the email is not in Outlook, it does not exist, SIMPLE.
Not having a choice can seem limiting. However, on occasions, not having a choice, frees up your mind for other things and other decisions that are more worthy of your consideration. So not having to think about the next best Email client or Note-Taking app will free my mind to think about other things.
I want to build the same level of trust with my personal tools. Therefore, before the end of this year, I will decide on which software to use for Email, Calendar, and Notes and there will be no change for the entire 2022. In Jan 2023, I will revisit how well my 2022 system has worked.