My Hybrid Productivity System
This won’t be too deep of a dive into my system—I don’t have years to explain it—but I wanted to lay out how my current system operates.
That’s right, I have a dashboard. I built it in Notion (and I’ll share it one day), and it’s where everything starts. It has a summary of my yearly theme, some inspirational motifs, my plans for the month, and links to all the relevant area & project pages. There’s more there, but this is the meat of it. Having my theme front and center means I see and think about it every day, having my plans just below it means I interact with that plan more than I used to, and having links to my project pages means I can find what I need to complete my next steps. But those next steps don’t live in Notion. It’s not meant to be a task manager.
I put all active projects and their tasks into OmniFocus. This app is exclusive–OmniFocus has a fledgling web-app now, but it’s not intended to be a standalone. to the Apple ecosystem and is considered by some to be overpowered, but I enjoy it’s functionality. I don’t have a lot of deadlines, so I surface things I want to work on more often than not. That brings me to my journal.
I like writing things on paper. I like colorful pens. So, instead of working out of task manager on my computer all day (where distractions abound), I take my daily list into a page in my journal. I write down all of the tasks I want to accomplish, usually do a quick-and-dirty time-blocking exercise, and work from there.
A note on inactive projects: those live in Notion. Brainstorming may happen, some tasks might be written down, but they’re very much not on my mind, so they cannot be in my task manager, or I will get overwhelmed.
My thoughts, most of them, start on paper. I have a notebook (separate from my journal) sitting just to the side of my computer right now. I have a pen within easy reach. I need to write something down? I toss it into my notebook. Notes get transcribed, shredded, and composted–or just shredded and composted–from there. If I’m away from my desk, quick notes go into Drafts, another Apple ecosystem exclusive. It’s a notes app that opens to a fresh page every time you open it, and has amazing processing tools to help you get that note to the right place. Where are my right places? That depends.
Links, PDFs, Research Material
These all get dropped into DEVONthink. DEVONthink is a large beast, but essentially it stores a variety of files in databases and has amazing search tools to help you resurface items.
Research Notes, Topical Thoughts
These go into Obsidian. This clicked when I listened to an episode of Cortex, a podcast I rather enjoy. If I’m not moving things into it from Drafts, I open the Obsidian quick switcher, start typing the name of the topic, and either find or create a note with that title, pop my note in, and move on.
Project Ideas, Quotes, Movies to Watch Later, Etc.
These get filed away in Notion for resurfacing later. I have a spot for backlogged ideas, for quotes, for media lists, gift ideas, and any other small bit of information I may need one day. When the Notion API comes out, I’ll need to implement a Draft action for this as well, but for now it’s done manually every so often.
I use a lot of apps to get my work & life in order, so here’s a quick list:
- Scrivener: creative writing–books, poems, creative non-fiction
- iAWriter: formatted writing–blog posts & READMEs
- Fantastical: calendars on iPhone & Mac
- Xcode: Swift lessons
- Visual Studio: .NET development.
- VSCode: any quick scripting
- DayOne: journaling
- TextExpander: expanding quick snippets, e.g.
;@into my email.
- Timery (and Toggl behind it): time-tracking basic things like writing sessions and exercise
That’s a quick overview; I’m sure I’ll elaborate on bits and pieces some day.
(A quick side note: I’ve been struggling with motivation lately; this is why I’ve been scattershot with the SwiftUI lessons. I think it’s related to the need for a mental health day. Luckily, I took two!)