what I need in a digital workspace

As of July 2021 I’ve joined the team at The Recycling Partnership as their Director of Organizational Effectiveness. Everything you read below is out of date and applies to my life before joining The Partnership.

What I’m realizing right now, on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, is that my entire personal digital ecosystem needs to evolve to meet my new needs. I’ve been self-employed for ~6 years, working with dozens of teams in dozens of tools, but mostly with my own software stack. Now my personal work is so intertwined with my job’s work that I need new ways of working for myself.

Specifically, I need to design a system for both myself and my team, individually as well as in intertwined. As I onboard myself to my new role, and build situational awareness, I’ll consistently iterate and refine both systems until I find what works best. Subscribe for updates if you want to stay up to date! ;)


That said, I’m still thinking about this! This is The Refined Mind, after all—a never-ending work-in-progress digital garden—so let’s go!

I need a space where I can think endlessly and capture what’s worthwhile. I also need to be able to send clippings from anything I read: highlights from articles and books, worthwhile tweets, words on the internet I want to capture and queue for review.

I have two roles to consider

  1. Personal work + The Refined Mind
  2. The Partnership’s Director of Org Effectiveness

These roles are incredibly intertwined and simultaneously hold both similar and unique needs.

Key similarities

  1. Both roles are dedicated to designing, implementing, and refining productivity systems
  2. I’m fully invested in creating the best possible outcomes in both of my roles because I fully give a shit about my life, my planet, and my communities, and these two roles are now two sides of the same coin
  3. I lean on technology as much as possible for capture, recall, and automation

From a tech perspective, they both need to offer

  • Clarity of use
  • Speed of interaction
  • Extensibility and customization
  • Flexible organization and structure
  • Connectivity of notes and words
  • Excellent mobile experience

The differences

Personal productivity unique needs

I want somewhere to be My Workspace™, and I want that somewhere to have what I consider critical capabilities:

  • Bidirectional links
  • Fast search
  • Fast sync
  • Seamless mobile experience
  • Private, Secure, Offline
  • Daily Notes
  • Unlinked references
  • Hotkey custom bindings
  • Easy export
  • Deeplinks
  • Easy “processing notes” workflow
  • Easy selection and rearrangement of blocks
  • Collaborative features: comments, easy sharing, multiplayer

* Asterisk represents the capabilities Craft does not have. See below for more detail.

Organizational productivity unique needs

  • Transparency
  • Alignment
  • Sharing and Permission Controls
  • Integrations
  • Collaboration and Editing

Somehow, I need to create one digital space for two roles


To meet the needs above I rely on my digital ecosystem, with most of my work being handled by a few specialized tools:

It’s been a fascinating evolution of the ecosystem and I’ve learned so much about new tools, including how Tools for managing information overload and improving how we think are on the rise.

I do believe A knowledge worker’s toolkit needs to be well-rounded, but tools can also be distracting so it’s a fine line to tow. Hopefully I can settle in to my new system and really build a body of work.


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