Since ditching my newsletter a while a go, I haven’t really had a place to share smaller thoughts with the world. It was effortless to fill it full of things that took up some space in my brain and perhaps would make a good talking point, but wasn’t worthy of a blog post. So, I’ve decided to publish them every so often anyway and see how it goes. Welcome to some small thoughts I have had over the last week or so.
Systems and tools
It doesn’t matter what you are trying to do, the system is the most important thing to get right. Look at what you need to achieve and then work backwards in a realistic step process. Once done, the tools you choose will fall around the system. If you don’t get everything straight, you can fall into the trap of letting the tools dictate the system itself. If a tool I use can’t do the job I want it to do, do I then find a different tool or change my system and expectations?
The risk is that changing your tools every time is costly, in both time and money, but if a tool doesn’t fit the system or do what you want it to do, it breaks the system. Working out what you really need to achieve is the only way to solve the problem.
Look at note-taking, for example. Numerous people are told “you need to take notes like this” or “use this app to achieve this specific thing” instead of working out where they must be to make it work. My note-taking system was broken for a long time. Not in terms of taking notes, but using the notes later on. Linking between thoughts and surfacing ideas has never worked as well as it thought it should. This made me look around constantly for new tools to do this, when in reality when I stopped and thought about it, I never used them anyway.
Is your system broken, or your tools?
Different Photos, Different Places
I figured something out last week to do with photo services. I post different photos to different places. Instagram gets a bit more editing and only a few chosen photos. I usually then posted more natural ones to Glass when I used it, and then I am perfectly happy dumping all the rest on my blog / micro.blog.
The different places seem to be set up for different things. I would never dream of posting anything personal to Glass. It feels too much like a pro photographer’s place to share the best of the best. Like what Instagram should be without all the gaming and attention seeking that plagues an otherwise great platform.
I sometimes found myself shooting a photo slightly differently, or editing a different version for Instagram. Which often leave me feeling a bit strange. Typically, photos I don’t even like do better on Instagram because they have a similar look and feel to others, but I edit how I like when I post to my blog.
Quote of the week
Maybe, I need to make peace with the fact that I cannot keep up. I cannot keep up with the growing list of brilliant books. I cannot keep up with the gifted writers churning beautiful essays. And, with a heavy heart, accept that I am okay with it. No End to Content Overload - Excursions
Because Of Instagram
“The modern world is stupid” says every old man who wants to shake his fist confused. Me included. I don’t get most of the business decisions today, and most of the marketing I see is just bizarre. Which is somewhat worrying because that’s what I’m supposed to know about for my day job. I do understand where most of it has come from, and the influence of Instagram cannot be understated.
There’s a whole world of products and businesses out there built solely because of the instagram effect. They have designed their products, and sometimes entire practices, to appeal to a certain ascetic and sell things to the Instagram (and now TikTok) generation. This isn’t just something that appeals to Gen-Z either. The amount of money that I have spent on experiences and products purely because my wife wants to post to Instagram is more than I care to admit.
An ode to quick note
It took Apple a while, but they finally made Apple notes truly useful on my iPhone. Yes, there are still things they need to improve, like the terrible implementation of rich text, but quick note is a revelation and the cornerstone of everything I need to capture whilst using my phone.
It doesn’t matter where I am, what I am doing, but within seconds I can take a note. By adding a small icon to control centre, and also allowing me to swipe up on the iPad, I’ve turbocharged my note-taking and also saved myself some money. I no longe rely on an app like Drafts, to make sure I can take a quick note — I love Quick note.