Productivity; meta tools versus specific

I am always looking to experiment and adapt my tools and processes. One area that I churn a lot on is in managing goals and actions.

There are so many tools in my life here.

– Basecamp projects
– Wikis
– Issue trackers
– GitHub repos
– Todo list systems
– Document storage (Dropbox / Evernote)

I am often torn between single purpose tools that are highly tailored to a problem and general purpose ones.

With single purpose tools, they are either just right (GitHub for source control) or more likely, they do some things in a way I dislike, or lack features entirely. Take todo systems. Ideally I would be able to slice and dice the systems so they work with my wife as well as work issues.

With meta tools, I gain the flexibility that I desire (to get the system “just right” for me) but I now don’t have an opinionated framework to help me have less choices. pushes the “user story” with a certain format which isn’t something I always like, but it is something I don’t have to think about.

I have been enjoying a couple of meta frameworks recently: WorkFlowy and Asana.


Such a simple idea. You store your information as a tree of nodes. You
can go as deep and nested as you would like, and you can share any
node with someone else. You definitely need to garden your system a la
Wiki, and it breaks down when you want to embed documents vs. streams
of lists, but it lets you setup your info how you want too. I can keep
my todo list in the same place as meeting notes and staff reviews.


Here we get a touch more structure. Workspaces, Projects, Tasks, Subtasks. Within that structure you can manufacture the right process for you and your team. You can split up your world (personal vs. work for example) but also easily move items around.

I am still on the lookout a better process. One that maps my long term goals to short term ones, and shows me what I should be spending time on. I often find that without the grounding, I can easily end up working on what is fun vs. what is needed to be done. Email is a bane, since if you don’t structure your time with it you have folks pushing their itinerary onto your time. The calendar is another example of this. If I don’t map out my weekly goals to time on the calendar to get the work done, meetings will be injected and I won’t be able to garner success.

Does any one else feel the same?

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