You don’t start your own productivity company unless you’re already a productivity geek. As one such geek, you’d think I try every cool new app, tool, service, and widget. But with so many out there it just gets overwhelming and tedious. At heart, I’m a minimalist and my lone productivity strategy is “less is more.” This isn’t just something I look for when I’m working, it’s a way of life.
I’m the kind of guy who wants simple tools that get things done without broadcasting what I’m doing to the rest of the world and without exposing to the world how I got things done. I think that stuff is just distracting. For example, I removed the “Sent by my iPhone” tagline from my phone when I first got it, don’t wear clothing with brand names on it, and own my own domains for email. I don’t like being an advertisement or being tied down to one platform or another.
A big part of keeping my business productive is avoiding unforeseen problems – specifically, security issues. I don’t like to put my information “in the cloud” because these large services create a big target for hackers who develop exploits. Take the recent case of Mat Honan, the journalist who was a victim of just such an attack. Just imagine how many different businesses would have their information compromised if their cloud was hacked like Mat’s was. I believe in “security through obscurity”. Nobody is going to hack one guy’s obscure setup, they’re going to focus on the big fish.
I also stay away from certain applications, including some Microsoft communication products, if I know they have a reputation of being riddled with security flaws and don’t handle web standards well. I always like to stay on the safe side and don’t want to spend any more of my time futzing with things to get them to work. Instead, I use Thunderbird for email because it’s simple, yet powerful and allows me to make extensive use of IMAP folders for organizing mail, which I can view in Thunderbird, online, and on my iPhone. Sure, that’s technically in a cloud, but it’s on my own server! Then to combat email overload, I have a ton of automatic filters set at the IMAP server level to sort incoming mail into the correct folder. I also create custom incoming addresses for different senders and subscriptions, event invitations, newsletters, business, personal, hobbies, music, etc.
For appointments and tasks, I use synchronized Google calendar that I can view in my browser and on my old school iPhone 4 (gasp!). I don’t care about Siri and I barely use any apps except Shazam, Backgammon, and Copy2Contact, of course. Why do I need the latest hardware for all that? I don’t use a to-do list but often put to-do items in the calendar for the day as untimed events to minimize the number of applications that I fiddle with. Serves me very well.
All in all, I find that being bogged down by all of the unnecessary things that we get under the guise of becoming more productive can be the biggest productivity killer. I use a couple of applications that allow me to streamline my tasks and eliminate unnecessary steps and avoid everything else. In business and in life, I always strive for “less is more.”