what I need in a digital workspace

I need a space where I can:

  • Capture and recall what’s valuable (ideas, links, etc)
  • Think, process, and progress ideas
  • Manage work, projects, and life operations

Another way of defining this is in three areas:

  1. Life Ops
  2. Work Ops
  3. Creative Output

Key Requirements

The perfect tool isn’t out there for me despite having spent significant time refining my digital ecosystem, so I’m settling on a few key tools with distinct purposes:

  • Effectively manage the macro perspective of my life and projects to ensure priorities, responsibilities, and deadlines are met
  • Consistently produce creative output through a messy-yet-organized working environment and creative process

I’ve identified the key needs for what I want in a digital workspace

I want to immediately see Today’s Priority and Tasks, This Week’s Priority and Upcoming Tasks, and anything else to keep me on track.

I want peripheral cues of my digital work to help spark creativity and problem solving, such as artifacts hanging around that trigger my thoughts: sticky notes, scribbled ideas, marked-up books, and all the goodness that a typical analog workspace has.

I need to be able to seamlessly send and recall clippings from anything I read: highlights from articles and books, worthwhile tweets, words on the internet I want to capture and queue for review.

In short, I want to know where to go to find the information I need when I needed it.

A place to store my research as I discover and learn new things.

A place to put all my thoughts, ideas, wisdom, knowledge, practices, resources, notes, conversations, projects, and more.

A place that lets me discover connections between ideas.

A place that helps me generate novel ideas.

A place that holds all of the digital notes I take:

  • Work notes
  • Life notes
  • Fleeting notes
  • Research findings
  • Project documents
  • Daily notes / Interstitial Journal

Desired Functionality

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

Personal productivity 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

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.

It’s taken a while to get here so I made some notes on the evolution of the ecosystem.

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