January 26, 2019

The Six-Month Playground

An image of a man laying down in field or maze.
Photo by Martin Reisch on Unsplash

The following statements about me are more true than I’d prefer:

  • I love ProductHunt;
  • I spend a lot of time trying to find different apps to do different things;
  • I have a strong desire and inclination to be organized; and
  • I can sometimes be extremely disorganized.

Now, I’m attempting to alleviate some of that disorganization with a new strategy that I’m referring to as the six-month playground (as you might have guessed from the title of this post). Basically, on January 1st of every year, I’ll begin (or continue) using one specific app to handle each of the following:

  • note-taking;
  • list-making; and
  • reading articles.

In other words (because it was difficult to word that clearly enough), I’ll be using one app to store all of my spontaneous or detailed notes, one app to handle to-do lists & projects, and one app in which I’ll be storing and reading all articles.

Why those?

I picked these three categories because this is the content I’m saving (and losing) the most.

There’s one category of app that should probably be included in the list above but isn’t: email. I despise email with a passion (though this contempt pales in comparison to my contempt for voicemail) but I still find myself using different email clients across different platforms because there is no perfect email client — though, for the most part, I use Spark.

Now, where was I…? Oh, yeah, those apps…

Common Requirements

In order for me to consider using an app, it should offer the following:

  • platform ubiquity (iOS, Android, Windows, and the web);
  • flexible pricing based on usage (i.e., if I have minimal content in the app, I shouldn’t have to pay a lot for it);
  • a clean, spacious, and flexible UI; and
  • accessibility and sharing (I’ll keep most things to myself but I should be able to share something with my family, friends, colleagues, or even the public using just a link).

There’s even additional criteria I almost always look for (e.g, keyboard shortcuts) so, as you might imagine (and to re-iterate why I’ve even put this much thought into a post like this), I can spend a lot of time perusing a lot of apps in order to find something that I might use.

This is time-consuming.

With everything I need to do on any given day or in any given week, all of this becomes a distraction — one that I can’t seem to avoid. I’ll repeat myself in saying that, in the past, I’ve spent a lot of time looking for different apps and I do it often. Why? It satisfies two needs:

  1. to geek out over technology and
  2. to be organized.

In regard to the latter, I can easily trick myself into thinking that all of this time I’m spending is productive when, in reality, it’s the opposite. In addition to the slaughter of productivity, this also means that I can (and do) have notes and valuable content all over these fine Interwebz.

Now, where did I jot down those meeting notes? Was it OneNote, Notion, Evernote, the Notes app, my notes panel in Unclutter…?

Where was that article I saved? Did I bookmark it, add it to Pocket, or did I put it in [see previous quote]?

So, where does that leave me?

My new goal: the six-month playground.

Again, in order to maintain my sanity and satisfy my geekly-tendencies, I’m putting in place a new rule for myself in 2019: I will consistently use one app for each of the three categories I outlined above.

For notes, I’ll be using Notion. It supports all of the ‘common requirements’ I mentioned and it offers support for Markdown. That means I’ll consistently be using Notion for the following:

  • blog post drafts;
  • ideation;
  • meeting notes; and
  • project notes.

For lists, I’ll be using Asana. Again, it satisfies all of my core requirements and, even after having used it for almost 5 years, I still think it’s the best project management tool out there.

For articles (or bookmarks), I’ll be using Pocket. It integrates extremely-well with my browser of choice, Firefox, and the Pocket mobile apps are great for reading articles. As an aside, I’m specifically referring to pages I stumble upon that I want to read just once or twice in the near or distant future. For standard bookmarks (things I use repeatedly), I’ll be using the native functionality of the browser.

What happens after six months?

After six months of using the those apps, and unless something goes awry with any of the products, I’ll allow myself some time to look for better options.

It’ll be something to look forward to and I’ll maintain some sanity in the meantime by knowing where everything is.

Now, here’s a question: what are your favorite apps? And, if you love new tech/apps like me, how do you stay organized?

(I really do want to know. This isn’t just a routine prompt to the reader to get more comments.)

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