With the new year, many people make up resolutions that often involve losing weight or spend less time checking email and Facebook. Whilst those are certainly noble resolutions, they don’t quite fit the goals that I have set for this year when I began thinking about 2012 and the things I’d like accomplish in the next 12 months. Instead of working more to make more money, I’d like to work less but work smarter, as Shawn recently mentioned in an episode of Shawn Today. I want to spend more time with my family and friends and use the “time for work” with better tools to get the same things done, but better. I’m working on a series of completely new projects, too, but I also would like to optimize my existing tasks to require less time yet yield better results.
Which means I have to get new tools and understand how to properly use the ones I already have.
So instead of making up new year’s resolution and give up on losing weight after three weeks as most people do (but won’t admit), I actually went ahead and got new tools. Which, in my case, means I bought new apps and gear to get work done.
I don’t have access to my Mac 24/7 anymore. I work from different places, and 80% of the time I prefer to keep my iPad with me than a MacBook. Obviously, the tweaks and adjustments I had made on my Macs didn’t carry over to iOS devices.
Articles, app releases, website management and finances are all different kinds of tasks. I used to keep them in OmniFocus, and tweak the app and its view options to fit the way I worked. It turns out, having separate tools for different sets of tasks is helping me focus more and avoid distractions. Articles need research and are more text-oriented; app releases only need a quick ping or alert; finance and website management can go into a proper GTD app with lists, due dates, etc..
These are two key points: access and writing. I don’t have access to my Mac(s) 24/7 anymore and I have to give up on pretending my articles are tasks that need to be managed with tags and due dates. Writing is a creative process (even when I’m breaking news or analyzing a rumor, I try to offer a perspective for debate and analysis), and I don’t think creativity can be managed with strict rules and app badges.
So here’s a short list of new apps that are helping me rethink my workflow. Some of them will stick around, others will probably be deleted – I don’t know. What matters is that taking a step back and reconsidering your work habits is a healthy practice (clearly better than telling your friends you’re going to lose weight or quit smoking) that, I believe, can lead to better relationships, a new knowledge of your workflows, and, ultimately, better results.