State of the System – Spring 2019

I’m exhausted.

I’ve been tweaking my “workflows” again since the beginning of the year. I started with just bare-bones Emacs and a web browser. I kept fiddling and somehow ended up with a super-cool-but-disasterous combination of Curio, BBEdit, Tinderbox, TheBrain, and DEVONthink. Each of them is awesome, but I end up not knowing where to put anything. Finally, I tired of the entire process and burned it down. I am starting fresh.

I’ve been here before, of course, but here we are.

I thought I’d record my (new) current system so that we all have something specific to make fun of next time I change everything…again.

Writing: Ulysses

Blog posts, project notes, proposals, newsletters, meeting agendas, etc. all go in Ulysses. Once I permit myself to ignore the fact that everything I put in Ulysses goes into a database, Ulysses is my favorite. Here’s why…

  • It looks good
  • It’s feature-rich
  • It can publish to WordPress.
  • It has Groups and Smart Groups. Hierarchy fits my brain better than just tags (see Bear).
  • Extensive export options
  • Very good search
  • Comes with my SetApp subscription

Note Taking: Apple Notes

Quick notes, lists, reference notes go in Apple Notes. Notes isn’t as fancy as Bear but if I put stuff in Bear it makes me overthink it and then I’m back wondering why I’m using that and Ulysses. Apple Notes is simple and everywhere and I can share notes or scribble on it quickly with the Pencil. It’s plenty good enough for jotting things down.

Task Management: Things 3

I waffle here quite often, mostly because I love Org-mode so much. But then Emacs eats everything and suddenly I’m painfully managing email, notes, and journaling with it and hating myself because I can’t decide between my DIY configuration or Spacemacs and I should learn Lisp etc. Way too many rabbit holes with Emacs. OmniFocus is a good option too, but I’m not in the mood to tweak things, so Things it is.

Text Editing/Coding: BBEdit

I’ve been using BBEdit for so long and with such success that it’s foolish to look elsewhere. Again, Emacs could rule here if I felt like dedicating large swaths of my time to tweaking it. Of course I don’t have to tweak it, but that’s not possible for me. VSCode is nice, but it’s just too much, somehow. If I were a full-time programmer, this section might look different, but for now it’s BBEdit.

Journaling: Day One

Day One is so good at journaling it seems silly to try anything else. And yet, I try using org-journal, Tinderbox, VSCode Journal, Diarly, MacJournal, and so on. I spend half the time trying to make whatever I’m using more like Day One. It’s crazy-making. So now I’m just using Day One. It hasn’t let me down in years. Works great on iOS. I also love the books I can order from a Day One journal.

That’s it. For now.

UPDATE 2019.05.10: The above is almost completely incorrect as of this afternoon. Sigh.