Back to basics

For the past few weeks I've felt kind of overwhelmed with all the technology surrounding me.

Working as a mobile developer, I spend a big chunk of my day looking directly at 3 or 4 screens in my desk. For 8 (sometimes more) hours, 5 days a week. That kind of builds up, to the point that I have started to make phone calls instead of throwing a message on WhatsApp, just to avoid looking at another screen, even for a small amount of time.

What I need is a tech-detox, and I've been trying really hard to make that happen in the most friendly manner, without compromising my productivity or neglecting stuff that I've got to do.

I want both my life outside work and at work to be more simple. Rely less on software, use more of the tools that I grew up with. Go back to basics.

This is going to be a long and complicated process, I think. But I've started to make some progress.

For instance, a couple of weeks ago I was looking for some app that'd help me organize my day a little bit better. I tried Google Calendar, Reminders, even OmniFocus, without success. Every tool just introduced it's own set of problems that I wasn't comfortable dealing with — and any of those helped me reduce my screen-staring cuota for the day. In fact, they increased it.

So, I decided to take a step back, and just use something that I've had laying at my desk for a while now. This magical piece of hardware. Tangible, portable, lightweight.

Yes, I just grabbed a nice OneLogin-branded notebook that'd been given to me a while back and a pen. Then, I wrote the current date on the top right corner of the first page, and started writing the list of things I had to do during the day. Both for work and personal stuff.

I can't express how well this has turned out. I leave the notebook at my desk when I'm working (open on today's page), and when I feel like I'm starting to run low on stuff to do, I just need to glance over to see that I do have stuff left to do for the day. It's a great way to stay motivated, I think.

Keeping record of the stuff I've done during the day and the stuff that needs to be done is also a great way for me to realize that I indeed have done something today. It's really satisfying seeing that I'm being productive.

This is just a friendly advice for those trying to be more productive: software won't magically make you stay focused longer, or get more stuff done during the day. Most of the time, software just makes things more complicated.

The answer to being more organized may be laying right there in your workspace already.