The 80/20 rule of my tools

I’ve been a heavy user of both Vim and OmniFocus for a while. Both are expert tools that need constant sharpening and maintenance but that’s why I started using them in the first place. I’d spend a lot of time with both so it made sense to have the most tailored setup I could possibly have.

For vim, I’d keep my dot files up to date. I’d watch other designers dot files so that I could see how they were working with code. I spent time learning the plugin environment and theme environment to get the very best look. Even then there were still small things that I didn’t understand or couldn’t get quite right. Everytime something update I would have to spend a bunch of time learning and updating.

Over the last couple years my responsibilities have changed and the projects I had at work started to change as well. I didn’t write HTML & Scss nearly as much as I have in the past and my tool for that slowly began to slip. Instead I’m spent an increasing amount of time supporting designers, doing sales, conducting interviews. Google Hangouts have been used just as much as my code editor.

Also, by chance, many of the projects I’ve had over the last year have been more focused on user experience and visual design. I’ve spent just as much time sketching, in Sketch and Invision than I have in the browser and editor.

After trying a couple alternatives, I’ve been sticking with Atom.I got to 80% of what I use with Vim with 20% of the effort. The best part for me is that it doesn’t involve the same maintenance either. I don’t need to spend the same amount of time sharpening and leaning about dot files and which combination of plugins will make me really quick.

Similar thing happened with OmniFocus. I noticed that I was forcing a lot with an unnecessarily complex system. That system was complex because the software allowed me to endlessly change and iterate how it worked for me. I love iteration but I’d spend more time iterating on how I used Omnifocus than actually doing things.

I’ve switched back to Things to keep lists because it has a more structured system that I fit into. I’m ok with the missing features that I loved in Omnifocus because I don’t need my list app to be perfect. The 20% effort that it took to get going and maintenance with Things is more worth it than the 80% effort I was giving Omnifocus to keep things perfect.

Both of these make me believe that having a tool that gets a majority of the job done with minimal effort is more important than having a tool that fits my needs perfectly but takes a lot of time to maintain. I’m also wondering what other tools are out there that are ting more time and attention that I really need them too.

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