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I just want one productivity app that can handle everything

I just want one productivity app that can handle everything

I am an organized person. I must have. Writing is a deadline oriented job, and I have the working memory of an elderly goldfish. Gone are the days when I could store an entire week's worth of events, deadlines and schedules in my head. Now, all those things need to be solid somewhere.

The problem is, there isn't a single app that meets most of my needs. By my count, there are at least 10 productivity apps I use on a daily basis to get tasks done — and they all suck.

Work is Airtable for Projects, so my editors can see what I'm working on—one of the only project management apps I've used in my career. There's also Basecamp, Asana, Trello, and in one instance a rare Excel sheet made of sweat and tears. They all do the same thing – provide a big picture view of a team's projects, completion status and deadlines. And yet none of the publications I've worked for has had a single means of maintaining an editorial calendar. Google Docs, Spreadsheets, and Slack channels are always complementary. I spend a good deal of time duplicating information every day in the same workflow and in different formats.

Most project management software doesn't even include a beautifully constructed daily to-do list. This is a banana. No project is ever completed in one step. If I'm writing a story, there's testing and research, then there's photography and art, then there's the actual writing, followed by a multistep editing and publishing process. Airtable, Asana, Trello - they're fine for showing my progress, but it's not everything I'm responsible for. There are dozens of subtasks, emails, and calendar events that Airtable doesn't handle. It won't work for my goldfish brain. That's why I need a to-do app.

This led me down a rabbit hole in trying out several of the thousands of to-do apps out there. But no matter which one I tried, they had at most 75 percent of the features I needed or wanted — not one, not two, not three, but four to-do apps like that. happened.

The focus shifts to work and personal pursuits. It's a mashup of a Pomodoro timer and a to-do list — which has been instrumental in helping me clear my pandemic-induced brain fog. Then there's Todoist. While I love Focus To-Do, one thing it doesn't do is let me create lists that aren't time-based or integrate with my email app. Hence, why I still use Todoist to cover the gap for focused to-do's and Airtable.

And none of these apps are great at helping me keep up with a house cleaning schedule, nor are they helpful at keeping my plants alive. That's why I also use toddy and planta.

you know what's worse? Neither of these apps is helpful for inventory management in terms of managing both my review units and my pantry. They are also useless at maintaining databases. That's why I also use Noyon, an app I have a deep love-hate relationship with. While Notion is highly customizable and comes with a ton of prebuilt templates, it does have a steep learning curve. I spent four hours building multiple databases to keep track of my bylines, sources, product lists, running logs, test logs, and meal planning. It works pretty well, but it's also a total time suck to maintain because god knows I don't have the willpower to figure out how to automate this thing.

A few months ago, I was so fed up with everything, I bought an old school planner. As opposed to using myriad apps, I could keep all this information in a reference notebook. But the problem with analog notebooks is that the information contained in them cannot be easily shared with people or colleagues. So once again, I ended up adding another productivity tool to my arsenal.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I haven't seen calendar apps, note-taking apps, video conferencing apps, transcription apps, or even communication apps like Slack. (By the way, a part of my soul dies whenever someone creates a new Slack or Discord channel.) But the story is the same. I'm tempted to try a bunch of different apps that can do it all, only to settle for the one I hate the least that does 75-85 percent of what I need. Is.

I know there is no perfect solution. One productivity tool that works for everyone is a unicorn—pretty, classy, and totally dreamy. Still, there has to be some kind of middle ground between an impossible fantasy and the current scenario. I'll happily settle for two, maybe three apps. To be honest I am asking for less than 10.

Until then, my phone and laptop will be a cluttered mess of productivity apps that only do half their job.

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