An inbox for the mind

This post comprises notes on a work in progress – a drive to reduce tech-based distractions and learn how to use personal technology help me get things done more effectively and with less distraction and stress.

There is only one red dot on my smartphone now. It is to remind me to do things with things coming out of my mind not out of my email inbox. It’s for an app called Drafts, which effectively has become an inbox for my mind.

Red dots on apps and pop up “alerts” are needless, selfishly designed distractions – more in the interest of the platform or software designer than the user.

If you put in the effort to decide when the dots and pop-ups appear, then you can use them to support your goals, not nibble away at your reserves of willpower, attention and time.

That’s why I like the one red dot I’ve introduced back onto my phone.

At first, I thought Drafts would be a distraction – another text app, a sub-genre of productivity software of which I cannot resist trying out new examples. Then, as I tried to minimise the number of apps on my home screen – down to a maximum of four on the menu bar – I discovered its unique strengths.

The default screen when you open Drafts is a blank page. You write down your thoughts, notes, reminders or whatever and you can then send them to the app they are for or leave them there until you’re ready to process them.

This removes a friction in one’s workflow I’d not noticed before – deciding and finding an app to write in, post in or whatever. When you’re getting a thought out of your head and into an app you’re often on the move, or int he middle fo something else. You don’t want to start using an app and slip out of flow or walking and start doing something else – you just need the thought to be captured.

The notes are in an inbox which you can then process later. That’s where the red dot is useful – to remind me I have some notes that need to be sent to where they will be most useful. An email goes out via the email app using the share function or a list of options in Drafts (it will format it straight into the app with the first line becoming the subject line). An idea for a blog post goes into Ulysses Inbox, the draft of an idea into Slack to share with my team, the list of things to remember into Reminders, the sketched agenda points into Trello.

Image: The operations options for Drafts – these can be changed to the apps you use most.

I’ve been trying this out for a week, and it seems to be very useful. My ways of working don’t often stay the same for long – but this one feels like a small leap forward in personal workflow.

Image: A satisfyingly minimal clear home screen and dock.

 

First impressions of the Nokia Lumia 920

Lumia copying

Last week I got a brand new Nokia Lumia 920 and I thought I would share the experience so far here.

For the sake of context and transparency and context, my company, Brilliant Noise, is working with Nokia on marketing around the Lumia and business. That said, this is my personal blog and these are my own impressions.

This is not, then, a completely unbiased review (there’s some links to some more impartial reviews at the end of this post). That said, if I really didn’t like it what I would do is stay quiet – as I want to share my experiences, it’s fair to say I am pretty positive.

These devices called smartphones are now so much a part of how we live that a review of the hardware alone (there’s a very good one on The Verge) just aren’t enough to understand what they are like. You need to live with the devices.

Working with Nokia on some projects connected to the Lumia, I definitely needed to not just play with a device, but commit to using it all of the time. For everything.  Continue reading “First impressions of the Nokia Lumia 920”

Smartphones become pocket labs

 

NewImage

That universal device that is the smartphone continues to surprise us with new ways its sensors, processing power and connectedness can be deployed.

A new accessory for the data hungry, (paranoid) health conscious consumer is the Lapka, which Springwise calls:

an aesthetically pleasing and scientifically accurate personal environment monitor, consisting of white plastic sensors and an app that presents the data in a visual and easy-to-understand way.

The Lapka device and accompanying app will variously fill you in on: