Productivity tools in 2022

Welcome to 2022!

A long-ish holiday break and the start of a new year always has me thinking about my current setups. Hardware, software, schedule, habits, obligations, etc. Today I’m thinking a bit about the productivity tools I use and how well they’re working for me. Let’s run through them.

Mail and Calendar Link to heading

This a pretty boring category because it is well constrained and working OK.

  • Fastmail has been working great for many years for personal email and I have no reason to change.
  • Gmail Calendar hangs around. I don’t like that my calendar is attached to a address I never use, but there is history with this setup and some shared calendars, so I just leave it.
  • At work everything is GSuite so that’s that. I do sometimes use Apple Mail in lieu of the Gmail website.

Task Tracking Link to heading

Things is still the one for me. I do occasionally see what has popped up in the space but I’ve never found anything that provided nearly enough incentive to move. Things is just about the most native feeling app I use, and I know it front to back. That said, I do have some wishes. Cultured Code seems to move at a snail’s pace (same as Bear, below), which is fine for most things but taking years for what have become basic assumed features is annoying. For Things those would be: 1. image attachment 2. alerts on location. They can leave the rest alone.

Notes Link to heading

Note taking is the most interesting space. I’ve been a long time Bear user but I think there is a lot more potential in this area than what I’ve come across to date (including Bear). Some of the apps I’ve dabbled with:

  • Obsidian. Still has potential, but the sync situation using iCloud was a disappointment. Also the apps didn’t feel good to use at all. I also don’t really want more infinite customization.
  • Evernote. Decided to check in on the old dog, especially since their big new version/revamp came out. Garbage. Worse than before.
  • Apple Notes. Pretty good and getting even better with tags and smart folders. But the lock-in (no export) story is a real problem for me in a notes app.
  • Notion. I found it to be a jumbled grab bag of features. Slow.
  • Joplin. Love the OSS aspect and self hosting, but the mobile experience is just too weak ATM.
  • Emacs Org Mode. Every few years I take a look and then promptly move on.
  • Craft. A serious contender. I used is exclusively for a few months and was really impressed. Top notch (Bear-grade) Mac and iOS apps and a rapid development pace. Maybe too rapid? Lots of features are being added, though to some degree I’d like a more constrained solution. But what has ultimately (for now) turned me back to Bear is the difficulty in managing/organizing notes. The subdocument thing is a little strange and has fought me, and there are no tags. Most annoying is that when you’re in a document it is difficult to move it to another folder.