You Can’t Buy A Workflow

Ok, you totally can, but you can’t buy it all at once. You can’t have someone tell you all of the “right” apps to buy, go on a shopping spree and expect that your world is going to be any better for the experience.

Like anything worthwhile in life, a workflow that helps you do your best work is discovered, not merely purchased. A solid foundation is built not bought.

All too often, we expect our wallet and our technology to solve our problems. They can help a lot, but dramatically upping your game doesn’t come in a box, it doesn’t come in a device and, much as I hate to admit it, it doesn’t come in an app.

If you’re struggling to find something that works, stop looking for an all-in-one solution. Go one challenge at a time, examine the solutions and find an option that seems like it fits with the way you like to work while ensuring it plays well with other applications. The best approach that I’ve found is slowly adding in applications that focus on a few key areas of your workflow (i.e. OmniFocus for tasks, Fantastical for calendaring, Evernote for reference materials, Gmail and Mailplane for communication), learning as much as you can about them and attempting to blend them all into a holistic approach that is optimized around the way you do your best work.

You can and should look at what others are doing, just know that what works for them will probably not work for you, at least in its entirety. There may be aspects of what they do that fit, but chances are you won’t just be able to take what works for someone else and apply it to yourself. Most, if not all of my workflow is “stolen” from others like David Sparks, Merlin Mann, Gabe Weatherhead, Brett Terpstra and more. In fact the only parts of my own workflow that are original are the connections I’ve made between their best practices.

I wish there was a fast and easy way to apply a workflow to your life. I wish there was a silver bullet, but truth be told, once I really put my head down and started figuring out the best way to do my best work, it took far less time than jumping from one person or company’s all-encompassing solution to another.

How have you gone about creating your own workflow?

3 Responses to You Can’t Buy A Workflow

  1. I totally agree with you in most aspects, but recently i stumbled upon orgmode which might be able to do MOST of my workflow. Orgmode for me comes really close to something like an all-in-one solution. On the other hand, i refuse to be dependent on one app.

  2. Building a good and effective workflow is like building a plane replica from a box. Everyone can buy a box of part but the end effect will depend on your experience, skills and patience. Similarly you can buy all the tools, ebooks etc but that doesn’t mean you have a good workflow. What is really necessary is to know what you need to accomplish and how complex is it. Only then you can start to look for tools that may be able to help accomplish that. It will take time and effort to understand those tools and where they fall short and what you can do to bridge the gap. It may sound complicated but I don’t think it is all you need to do is keep working and reiterating where necessary and pieces will fall into the right places easily.

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