Proliferation of Tools

I recently worked at a startup and each morning I was required to check the following apps:
  • Dozens of groups in Telegram (Web3 lives here)
  • Twitter (Web3 also lives here)
  • Signal (The team socially live here)
  • Mail
  • Slack (The team lives here)
  • Discord (The community lives here)
  • Miro (Plans live here)
  • Notion (Shared notes live here)
  • Docusign
  • Google Sheets
  • Calendar
  • Github (Code lives here)
  • Zenhub (Code planning lives here)
  • Figma (Design lives here)
And throughout the day I would continue to use the above apps, and setting up and attending meetings would require me to use Calendly, Zoom, Google Meet and a couple of other smaller tools. On top of that, there are a bunch of social apps I’d check daily to keep up with friends, family, interests and petty gossip. Apparently, most humans aren’t able to sustain more than four hours of deep work per day [1] and I found that on a particularly busy day, I would estimate I would spend around 2 to 3 hours checking the above apps and following up with people. I would have to do this at the start of the day, when I’m most fresh, most of my brain power was being spent not so much on thinking, creating or discovering, but responding and assimilating data. Speaking to friends at other Web3 startups, the above is the norm. Sure, each app is built to do what it’s meant to do really well but opening, checking, responding in, and closing apps takes up mental power. Many of the apps have the ability to leave comments, start conversations and share links which adds another level of distraction. Each app, each link, each sojourn leaves a mental residue [2] in my mind, reducing my focus. This study [3] from the University of California, Irvine, suggests it could take more than 20 minutes to regain focus and momentum after a disruption. And from my experience, this mounts up the greater the number of apps I use. So it makes sense for me to reduce the number of tools and apps I use in order to focus and work deeply. And it’s probably a good idea to briefly understand why deep, focused work is important. First and foremost, it feels good. Deep work can be described as being in flow. The seminal book on the subject, Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi [4] goes as far as to call the state the ‘optimal experience’ for a human to experience. During flow, people report to experience feelings of joy, creativity, and a total involvement with life. Secondly, working deeply allows me to produce higher quality work. Cal Newport’s book Deep Work [5] goes into the benefits in greater detail. Cal and the book are great, check it out if you’d like. So to be happier, to produce better work and to feel flow, I’ve made a conscious decision to reduce the number of apps I use. And this leads me onto Montaigne. Montaigne allows users to create and publish a website without ever having to leave Apple Notes. There’s no need to log into a CMS platform, use their apps and plugins to create a site. You simply update a folder within Apple Notes. As I mentioned in my Intro to Montaigne post [6], this brings a lot of benefits ranging from a feeling of ease, simplicity and then joy. In addition to the positive feelings that come from the workflow, there are deeper benefits such as content ownership, an inherent archival nature, simple collaboration and a feeling of control. Montaigne is part of a bigger movement I have in life - reduce the number of tools, especially ones that have the ability to distract and send me down an infinite scroll rabbit hole. Writing in Montaigne has changed the way I write and publish.