I’d like to start off by admitting that I have a problem. I get distracted by shiny productivity apps. If there’s a new app or service, I’ve tried it: Omnifocus, Things, Todoist, Tick Tick, Remember the Milk, Reminders, Good Task, Wunderlist, Microsoft Todo, Any.do, Google Tasks, Actions, Sorted, Trello, 2do… and those are only the apps.
The thing that always strikes me — none of these fit me perfectly. Each app has it’s own pros and cons. In many ways that’s what drives me to switch so often. Things comes out with great updates to their iPad app, so I switch. Omnifocus launches automation, so I switch. Todoist launches kanban boards, so I switch. It’s a never ending cycle.
Switching apps does have a cost, obviously — not just time and money, but the cost of re-framing your mind on how a particular app works. There is a benefit to switching, as it acts as a form of review, so I do get a short lived boost of productivity by the simple act of re-organizing my life in a new app. That’s not a long-term strategy, though.
I should pause here and take a moment to give a brief rundown of my life in order to provide some context: I’ve been married to my wife Melisa (who is a science teacher) for 18 years and we have three daughters (one 13 and twins that are 12 — yes, I know.) I work as a business analyst and UX designer in my day job and partner with Brian on Eko Wave when I can muster some free time. In my spare time I also manage my daughter's ice hockey team and help out friends with the technical aspects of their own projects. So, a LOT going on. I'm sure most parents can relate!
So instead of continuing my merry-go-round of productivity apps, what I’d like to do is take a step back to learn about different productivity methods and build my own system. Obviously this "life system" would help me manage all aspects of my life and help make time for the things I really want to accomplish, like making Eko Wave a full time pursuit.
As of now, what would this ideal system look like? It would:
- Be a complete system, covering all aspects of my life, creativity, projects, goals, etc.
- Help me build habits & routines
- Help me prioritize
- Have a planning and review process built in
- Help me learn, surround me with inspiration, creativity, and knowledge
- Help me set and accomplish my goals
- Not be so complex that managing it is itself a chore
- Be adaptable and flexible
Some pretty lofty goals for sure! I will be interested to see how that list evolves as I learn more through this process.
To start I am going to dig in and research the productivity methods I have some familiarity with, to help guide the workflows and elements of my system. These will include:
- Getting Things Done by David Allen
- PARA by Tiago Forte
- Zen to Done by Leo Babauta
- Bullet Journal by Ryder Carroll
- Dashplus by Patrick Rhone
- Kanban by Taiichi Ohno
- Time Blocking popularized by Cal Newport, Elon Musk, etc.
From there I will start building out the framework in Notion. This will certainly take some experimentation, so I’ll be sure to share my templates and process as I go — I’ve done a little work in Notion so far, but I have a ton to learn. (I selected Notion primarily for it's flexibility and the ability to share my work.)
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Here's a direct link to each post in this Getting Started series: