2022 Digital Workspace Audit

Tools that I'm keeping and those that need to go for the new year.

2022 Digital Workspace Audit

We all have different needs and expectations of our digital workspace. As 2022 comes to an end, I’ve been thinking more and more about these needs for myself and how I can simplify my workflows for the new year. Therefore, I’ve asked myself:

  • What are my needs when it comes to a personal operating system (OS)?
  • Upon reviewing my processes over the past year, how can I simplify them and focus on the essentials?

My Personal OS Needs

Digital home base

This is my default app of choice for storing and processing information on a daily basis. It’s where my ideas live and ideally where the other aspects of my digital workspace are housed. This tweet from Abraham re-kindled the “digital home base” dilemma for me yesterday. Notion has been my home base from the beginning but over the course of the past year, I realised that this one application was not meeting all of my needs, specifically, for task management. The idea of the “all-in-one workspace” is alluring because it means that workflows are consolidated in one place and information can be inter-connected seamlessly. I desperately wanted this to be Notion but I had to find a better way to manage tasks. Now, it’s not that Notion is bad for task management, it’s great and I’ve built task managers for people that were a perfect fit for them – it just wasn’t for me. This pain point lead me to using (and loving) Sunsama. However, Sunsama was too expensive for me at the time to justify continued use. Enter Tana. From the first time I saw Tana’s website and their use case for task management, I knew that this would satisfy the pain points that I had with Notion. Because I enter tasks and ideas on a regular basis, Tana slowly began to morph into a home base contender.

Task manager

As stated above, I now manage my tasks in Tana and it is a dream. My main pain point with task management in Notion was the lack of easy sub-task generation at the time. Notion has recently released the ability to add sub-items in databases. While I’m happy that this now exists, it still feels too clunky for something as simple as a sub-task and therefore, I will continue using Tana.

Writing hub

My current writing hub is in Notion for the following reasons:

  • Good writing interface
  • Supports markdown
  • Mobile application with syncing for on-the-go writing
  • Ability to create a kanban board to visualise the writing process

That being said, I outlined and am currently writing this post in Tana 😅. This is because the ideal writing hub for me is the same application where I store my ideas as it reduces the friction of actually beginning to write. I like the writing experience in Tana but every paragraph being a bullet/node is taking some getting used to. Although, I do like collapsing nodes to easily see an overview of what I’ve already written. There’s no markdown but I don’t mind copying and pasting my writing into Visual Studio Code and formatting the headings, links and photos there so that it can be posted to my website. In this way, Tana makes me focus completely on the writing. The mobile Chrome app for Tana is not for long-form writing just yet but that isn’t a problem for me currently as I do all of my writing from my laptop. Based on that assessment, it looks like I’m also moving my writing hub to Tana.

Personal finance planner

I’ve never been more consistent with managing my personal finances since I built my own planner in Notion. More on this sooner than soon (I know I’ve been saying this for a while now but the template is finished!)

Journal

Digital or analog? I’ve drifted and fluctuated between the two for years, consistency being my biggest problem. Digitally, my favourite was a time capsule database that I built in Notion, capturing the gist of that day and being able to read entries from the previous year(s). I also liked adding an image for each day, however, this got tedious after a while.

For 2023, I’m going back to analog after purchasing two Zequenz notebooks. I plan to set them up for both journaling and as a commonplace book. I don’t feel the need to capture a photo daily anymore since I began using the “moment” supertag in Tana to capture key memories throughout the year.

Goals, personal projects, habits, reviews and routines

These all lived in Notion but after adding my goals to Tana for my annual review video, I’ll be spending these last few days of the year clarifying my focus in these areas using Tana.

For habit tracking, I’m still torn between digital and analog. I know that I like seeing the entire year in one view (it keeps me motivated to not skip days) so it will either be a Notion database like the one below or a tracker that I print out and keep somewhere central like on my desk. I’ve also been thinking about the actual function of habit tracking – why do I do it and is it actually helpful?

Notion pages are still a perfect canvas for starting new projects as the page is visually versatile. Some projects that I will keep in Notion include:

PKM System

My personal knowledge management system is currently under construction but these are the notes that I generally need to make:

  • Book notes
  • Philosophy notes
  • Medicine notes

List of lists

“Hello, my name is Renee and I’m a chronic list maker.” I love lists of all sorts and variations. It’s just absolutely delightful to make lists in Tana, so that’s where they will live for now. These are some of the lists that I keep:

  • Ideas
  • Moments (memories)
  • Action lists
  • Books to read
  • Films to view
  • Restaurants to try
  • Inventory
  • List of everything I own
  • Books read
  • Films viewed
  • Quotes
  • Words
  • Phrases
  • Questions
  • Gift ideas
  • Wishlist
  • Things to remember

Work and shared projects

Notion is hands down the best home for team-based projects that I’ve found. Other than using it for work, I also find that if I have a document that I want to share with someone or a database that I want to make public (like my media tracker and bookshop catalog), Notion is my go to. I still also use Google docs for sharing documents with persons who aren’t familiar with Notion.

Applications

Keep

  1. Airtable – for when I finally make time to optimize my personal finance planner for other applications like Airtable; digital playground
  2. Apple Notes – for handwritten notes
  3. Arc – the best browser that I’ve ever used
  4. Cleanshot X – screenshots and recordings
  5. DaVinci Resolve – video editing
  6. Google Drive – file storage
  7. Kindle
  8. Magnet – window manager
  9. NetNewsWire – RSS reader
  10. Notion – as above
  11. Obsidian – digital playground
  12. Pixelmator Pro – photo editing
  13. Raindrop – bookmarks manager
  14. Scrintal – literature notes, brainstorming, visual thinking
  15. Tana – as above
  16. Transmission – bittorrent client
  17. Visual Studio Code – code editor
  18. VLC – media player
  19. Xmind – mind-mapping tool
  20. Zoom – video conversations

Out

  1. Brave browser
  2. Craft
  3. Cron
  4. Discord
  5. Heptabase
  6. Logseq
  7. Microsoft Teams
  8. Numi
  9. Slack (desktop)
  10. Sunsama
  11. Zotero

Decision

I think it’s clear to me now that my digital home base application will be Tana, I’ll continue to use Notion for personal finances, work, habit tracking and shared projects while incorporating an analog journal once again for the new year.