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The Tinker Effect

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  • The Tinker Effect

    I've been practicing GTD for over five years now and watch the trends carefully for various applications, programs, gadgets, etc. While I am continually impressed with every new gadget or program that comes out, I also wonder about the "tinker effect":

    The better these programs and gadgets become, the more there is to "tinker" with (e.g. tagging, prioritizing, color-coding, organizing, etc). How do you know if a tool is going to help you get more done or whether you are going to spend endless hours re-arranging your stuff? Anyone had to abandon a good tool because they found themselves tinkering with their system more than getting things done?

  • #2
    Oh yes! I have used and abandoned Thinking Rock, KOrganizer, gjots2 (a plain text file editor which can arrange the text file in a tree like structure; not a list-app anyway), and plain paper.

    Abandoned the first three because of the tinkering overheads. I abandoned plain paper because I required too much of it, and then those staying for long term kept on getting damaged at the rings of the binder, or made me take extra care turning them.

    Now I use plain text files for everything. They have all the text freedom (but not drawings) of plain paper, and environment friendly, and not as fragile as paper when there are regular multiple backups. I still use paper if I want to work something out. Eventually it gets into the digital form.

    With gnu/linux, one can even play with text files in the name of automation. My way of filtering out unnecessary automation impulses is to sleep on automation ideas for a week, and implement them if they sound reasonable even after that. I might have generated about a hundred ideas by now, and I actually implemented only four to five out of them, and have trashed the rest.

    The setups that I abandoned stayed around for three to four months. I am using text files for about ten months now, and never have seriously felt a need to change it! So it seems settled. Not that there are no bumps, but they are manageable.



    • #3
      Originally posted by Todd V View Post
      How do you know if a tool is going to help you get more done or whether you are going to spend endless hours re-arranging your stuff?
      You don't. Either you judge from the stated functionality that it's not useful to you, or you try it to see if it works for you.

      But then, this applies to anything. One can tinker endlessly with a paper system, too.