Filtered, week of Feb 9, 2015
In its right place #
It was late last year that I went all-in on Evernote, abandoning various read later, task manager and writing apps. Aside from the everything-in-its-right-place cognitive simplicity, it's in Evernote’s ‘All notes’ view that it feels most genuinely like a working notebook rather than a glorified network folder. A very deliberate commingling of design inspiration rubbing up against long form pieces, design and research work in progress alongside bookmarks, highlights and to-dos. And as I add more, so the connective tissue between what I’m reading and thinking about and what I’m working on binds, making often unexpected connections.
Thomas Houston’s piece for The Verge at work: backing up your brain helped me get my Evernote setup right. And here's what it looks like. Three key folders: @Inbox: where everything goes by default as tasks, shopping lists, temporary notes, material in need of a home; @Queue: my to-read list, most saved via Evernote’s web clipper or RSS.
@Saved: read, liked, kept, the best stuff, the pieces I know I'll want to come back to. Notebooks for projects and that’s it.
So far, it’s working. Those queued pieces get read, my email inbox is empty, those tasks get done. I don’t have to go looking for them, never have to launch an app, because they’re always there, right in front of me. And crucially I'm coming back to those things I've saved, over and over. I'm remembering.
'Joined September 2007' #
Connected to this paring back has been an initially subconscious then very deliberate retreat from social media. First went Instagram, then Facebook (again), and then - finally - Twitter.
Like others, I’m increasingly finding Twitter as much burden as addiction. Inspired by Mandy Brown's example, I took the end of the year off all social media, and after well over a month off I’m back on Twitter, but tentatively, with a timeline even further pruned, mostly muted, retweets off, lurking. It’s quieter, less anxious and demanding place to be. I’ve stopped mentally constructing every passing thought into a sub-140 character bon mot , stopped fretting about the social politics of a Following list. But Twitter has ceased to be routine for me, not in the way it has been since 2007..
It's Strava that's now the social network I feel most connected to. The rhythm of friends running through distant cities and villages. Fewer words, more action, an absence of social peacocking, the most satisfying kind of timeline. And a journal of my own progress, accumulating miles along the lamplit pavements of south London.
Long lost amidst blog post fragments, this:
You have to believe...
In a shared idea.
That your client can sustain it.
That your team can deliver it.
Do I still believe this? My last eighteen months has been spent deep in two digital transformations, in publishing and in government. It's a fascinating/inspiring/demoralising/heartbreaking place to be: so much work unrealised, but so much promise and a hard but often rewarding slog to change a culture through delivery. This isn't the stuff that fits neatly in a portfolio. I've done some of my best work in the last eighteen months, much of it I'll never see live, but become a better designer. Frustrating but not futile, I tell myself.