Digital Tools I use, May 2022
This is not the first time I write about this topic. Not much has changed but the reason why I wanted to write again about this is to process what tools I use and if there were something I could improve in how I use them.
I divided all the tools into 4 categories:
- Record — A big reason why I want to record as much of my life as possible is that I believe it to work as a time machine giving me a chance to go back to moments in my life. Also maybe one day someone will study my notes the same way people study Edison’s or Leonardo Da Vinci’s notes.
- Create — Tools I use to create things.
- Consume — Tools I use to consume information or entertainment.
- Other — Tools that didn’t fit any of the above categories but are still useful.
Right now the biggest uses for my Notion are books, notes, and Sunday Essays. I also have a private Notion. There I have a page for every project I have seriously done. I have a good habit of adding links and thoughts to the project pages even if I’m not actively working on them. I also use it for other things like I write for myself in the future.
I track everything I do with 15 min accuracy. I have done this since 2019 or 2020. Sometimes I have weeks (especially when on holiday and not doing anything productive) when I don’t remember to do it as often. I don’t try to be detailed but just use some broader categories like “read articles” or “lunch”.
I don’t remember many occasions looking back at my events. A few times it has been useful to be available to look when I did something (like moved to a new address). Mostly this habit is a great way to record what I do each day but it also encourages me to spend time on the right things.
Improve: I want to create for myself a better app to add events because I’m sometimes discouraged to add an event on my phone when it takes too many taps. I also want a place where I can see better visualization of how I spent my time. I’m planning to do this visualization for my website Lankine.xyz 3.0.
Journal + Photos
Two other tools I can use with GCalendar to construct what I did each day are basic notepad and Photos app on iPhone.
I used to write daily journals since 2020 but at some point, I realized that it didn’t make sense to force myself to write something when I didn’t have anything so now I try to write if I haven’t written for a long time or if something interesting happened in my life. I like the process of writing because it feels like talking to myself and helps me to process successes, failures, or fears.
I often take quick pictures not trying to make things look unrealistically good but to document. I might capture a picture of some random street on a normal day when I go to pick up food from McDonald’s because then later I can look at it and remember how I always walked the same street when I went there. It’s also great that iPhone shows location pictures were taken so I can later see where I was each day in case it’s not coming through from journals or calendars.
Improve: Take more pictures. Make an app or get some device I could use to track my GPS location to better see where I am each day.
The main purpose why I bought Apple Watch was to see and reply to notifications. Later, I realized how useful tool it is for many other things (highly recommend for everyone). I use Apple Watch to track my sleep, health, and exercises.
Sometimes a phone is too heavy to take for a run so I’m glad that I can use this to track my runs (Nike Running app) and even pay for lunch after it.
Medium & Substack
I have a Medium account. I don’t really use it but sometimes I remember to re-post better and complete writings from Notion to there. I’m not really looking to get more followers or readers but have a way to find my better writings.
Improve: I should improve posting more complete notes on Medium. I also want to create a habit of writing newsletters about things I am thinking about each week. I’m inspired by Ali Abdaal’s newsletter where he shares something he learned or thought about and they are really interesting and useful to me. I want to do it partly because it encourages me to write, think, and observe more but also because I want to create a personal brand. I started a newsletter on Substack and this will be the first email I send.
Apple Notes is great because it opens and works quickly (unlike Notion) on iPhone. It’s fine how notes are organized in it. I don’t even try to create folders but I just put everything to the same level. Right now I don’t have that many notes and I haven’t needed to find anything but it might take some time at some point to find something specific.
I like taking local backups of everything I have even if it’s supposed to be safe on their servers. I haven’t at least figured out an easy way to export notes from Apple Notes so I try to not keep there anything super important just in case I lose my account or something happens to them.
Improve: I started using this only recently because of the backup issue. I have noticed this being a useful app to take quick notes and I should keep using it that way and otherwise write everything else to Notion.
Reminders (Apple’s app)
I have all kinds of reminder lists. maybe half are recurring reminders of some habits I have or try to take. Other half are one-time reminders.
It’s really cool to say to Siri on my Apple watch things like “Remind me at 6 pm to leave to a grocery store”. If it’s a reminder I can’t miss, I use an alarm because sometimes I have too many reminders and I miss some.
Improve: I have some recurring reminders right now that I don’t care. I should remove them because they teach me to ignore reminders which is a bad habit.
The best source of news for me. It’s a subjective observation but I don’t like my feed as much as I used to like it. Maybe I follow the wrong people or react to the wrong type of tweets. I’m not even sure why it’s worse but I just don’t feel like I get as much out of it as I use to do.
Improve: I could reduce the number of people I follow and try to read it faster. It takes maybe 5 minutes for me to read my feed every morning so it’s not a huge problem.
Yt is most of the time net harmful for me. I sometimes get stuck watching some pointless videos for too long and because I have deleted most social media apps like Instagram, it’s the app I often go to when I have a short moment to do something.
I just can’t get rid of it completely because it’s at the same time so useful. I have learned so much from there and sometimes it motivates me to work.
Improve: I try to replace the habit of opening YouTube with a habit of writing these. Often when I wake up and lay in bed before I get up, I spend time watching YouTube but now I’m writing this. Then I can keep YouTube for occasions when I benefit from it.
I use Apple Podcast but recently I tried using Castro. I haven’t noticed big differences in them. I haven’t found any great app. I wish they had a feed of podcasts from the people I subscribe to so I could more easily find what I’m looking for instead of needing to search people one by one to see who recently had good guests and topics.
I try to listen to podcasts as often as possible. It’s a great way to get some value out of needing to do errands. On the other hand, I like sometimes just thinking and if I have a podcast, I feel bad for not listening so then I don’t get time to think about stuff.
Improve: I want to start listening to more podcasts but still have moments to think about things.
I like reading physical books but I actually like even more reading on Kindle. It’s just lighter and more convenient. The disadvantage is that it’s harder to skim.
Improve: For some time, I have read less because I feel too tired to read when I end my workday at 12 am. I want to get back to the habit of reading for an hour every day. I changed my current book from Console Wars to Make time and notice that now it’s easier because I didn’t enjoy Console Wars that much. I should allow myself to stop reading boring books to not procrastinate reading completely.
I’m looking to find a better device than Kindle to read books. It’s great but it’s hard to write longer notes. And it would be nice if I could use the device to replace my physical notepad. I thought about ReMarkable for some time but I have heard bad feedback about it and I don’t like the subscription model.
This is an app I use to track what I need to buy from a grocery store the next time I’m there. It’s basically just a shortcut and an interface for a Reminder list. The reason I use this is that it’s fast to open on Apple Watch unlike finding a specific Reminder list.
Improve: I need to make a habit of looking at this at stores. I don’t always remember to do it and it makes using it worthless.
I use Telegram, iMessage, Whatsapp, Slack, Discord, and email (and probably forgot a few).
I think mostly they do the same but it depends on the other person what I use to communicate with them. Maybe there are some format preferences too because I would feel weird using Discord with some people. In the end, I don’t see it as a problem that I have multiple apps.