I have this kind of mental model that I developed for the past decades of my life on choosing a better software for me that suits my workflow.
Last week, I changed my main Personal Task Manager + Calendar and Scheduling app from Todoist to TickTick. For me, Todoist is just a personal task manager. There is no real calendar view and no scheduling by the calendar. So far, TickTick has what I needed. It is the combination of Personal Task Manager + Calendar and Scheduling.
If I did not use TickTick, my workflow will be like this;
- Personal Task Manager : Todoist - Calendar & Scheduling : Google Calendar
I hate it..
In the past, my mind was oriented towards apps. I called this mental model, app-centric. When choosing an app, I look for functionality or features that may complement my workflow. I guess and use it. The cycle repeats itself with different apps. It's time to think differently. Instead of thinking in terms of features that the app has, I should think of my own problems first.
I begin by defining my real problem. I ask myself if there were no tools or software, what would my actual workflow look like? This process is very important. Write what you want on a blank page; what is your workflow, what functionalities you wanted most, write the process of your workflow, assuming software features that can complement your workflow.
After that, I look for apps that suit my workflow. It takes less time and energy to build them myself. There are different kinds of apps that need to be considered when making decisions. If I'm not confident in the apps, I try to make my own in a simpler version. That is if I have the time and energy.
If not, I will start backward, which is tiring. If I start the other way around, I assume my workflow first. Assuming my workflow does not count the real problem that I have. I then find the tools that may seem suitable for my workflow. I may also select tools according to what is trending or marketing bait. I use those tools. It doesn't feel comfortable to me, but other people can get a lot accomplished with it. It makes me feel overwhelmed. I am still learning how to use the tools because other people seem to be happy with their use but I am not. Stress has set in. It feels like productivity tips are nonsense. I assume that other people are happy with it since they subscribe to a full membership. Consequently, I would also like to do so. 3 months have passed and I have not yet happily used it. The product is cool, but I am tempted to cancel the subscription 6 months later because others are happy with it. It goes on and on and on...
If you have the mental model of problem-centric first, then you can just use paper for Knowledge Management and Personal Task Manager. I'm not trying to make a case for why paper could be a better choice here. The point I'm trying to make is that you should not get caught up in what software in this world will give you. Don't be distracted by their noises. Consider your workflow or habit first before you choose anything. Your workflow might be different from the founder's. If other people love the software and it becomes popular, you start to feel as if you are not a part of the entire community, so you will give it a go. You try to embed your unique workflow into it. It is a good choice if the workflow is the same as yours. But what if it isn't?