My periodic productivity plaint and a non-thread

Task management software. Ugh. I cycle between Things, OmniFocus, and org-mode. I’ve used Remember the Milk, Todoist, plain old Apple Reminders, Trello, and Evernote, but their respective ergonomics rule them out. Work is getting complex again, though, so Things is chafing me.

Things: I go here when life isn’t complex, and usually end up living out of the “Today,” “Inbox,” and “Someday” lists. Using Areas is more than I need except as a visual organizer. I don’t like the way individual tasks are swallowed up by Areas because I lose track of them.

I briefly considered the idea that I used so little of Things that Reminders might suit me better, but a day with that disabused me of the notion. Reminders is for shopping lists.

OmniFocus: I go here when life gets more complex. Project Review is a really useful feature. I wish Things had it, because between OF & Things, Things is the more elegant and less fussy. OF3 promises a few things that may allow it to feel more elegant if feature-laden. I’ve got a sort of resistance to it, because it’s the product of a moment in nerd culture I found a little tedious, and its feature list is too long for me to buy the idea that its glaring omissions are the product of a refined, Apple-esque minimalism. It’s a monument to GTD cultishness that chose to ignore UI patterns that computers excel at enabling in favor of simulating an outliner simulating a filing cabinet.

org-mode: This is where I want to be, but the mobile situation for org-mode is just a dire world of compromise and short developer attention spans, and capture is fiddly. “Just live out of text files” requires either actual infrastructure or tolerance for friction. My objections are a matter of public record.

Oh, I’ve also been experimenting with plain old paper. Recall is terrible unless you invest time in a system you wouldn’t need if you weren’t hell-bent on “slow productivity.” Nobody I’ve ever known who was good with paper used more than a legal pad, and they usually had a staff minding their inputs.


This post started as a Twitter thread. I don’t know why, except I wanted to experiment in something pithier but also more capacious.

Not for me, as it turns out. We seem to have collectively decided blogs are out unless they’re called “columns” and used as outrage magnets by major newspapers, and anything more than a string of 10 or 15 240-word thoughts constitutes “long-form writing.”

I’d suggest that if you think Twitter itself is a hostile, free-fire zone of MRAs, Nazis, and random goons, you should consider getting a hosted WordPress blog to share any thoughts you care about: Maybe 20 of your hundreds of followers will click that link you tweet out, but very few randos will. The people who are clicking probably know you (or see that you were recommended to them by someone they do know) and are interested in what you have to say. Maybe not as gratifying as a higher proportion of likes and retweets, but also a lower chance of drive-bys and trolling, and also a bigger canvas for your thoughts.

We lost a lot when social networking managed to calibrate our collective tolerance for “maintaining a thing” vs. “telling people what’s on our minds.”

This entry was posted in etc, Work.