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How to Build Your Personal Productivity Stack

How to Build Your Personal Productivity Stack


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The Humble Email

The very first email was sent 50 years ago, in the spring of 1971.

The incredible spread of email since then unleashed an unimaginable torrent of information into our everyday lives.

As knowledge workers, we continue to struggle to process our inboxes, not to mention use that flood of...

Email Is Used For Everything

A simple medium that was originally meant for sending messages – email – has expanded to become a notification system, a to-do list, a notetaking tool, a contact database, and an archival system for our digital lives.

All great technologies begin as blessings… b...

The Productivity Stack

You’re probably using email for multiple purposes far beyond what it was designed for:

  • You use email to send messages
  • You use email as a to-do list
  • You use email to keep track of notes and ideas
  • You use email to manage complex projects and areas of your life

Email as a Task Manager and Everything Inbox: The Progress Trap

All the subsequent waves of productivity software that we’re going to look at arose in reaction to the Email Big Bang, like gravitational waves echoing across the universe for eons. Each of them is an attempt to solve the problem of information overload that was unleashed upon humanity half a cen...

Task Managers: How to Get Your To-Dos Off Your Mind

Email created thousands of “open loops” – unfinished or incomplete mental tasks – in our lives. And as GTD sought to create a system for taking in, prioritizing, and closing those loops in a systematic way, digital to-do list apps  gained widespread adoption as people realized just how much easie...

Task overwhelm occurs when the actionable items in your list are crowded out by the non-urgent ones: when your ideas, list of someday-maybes, inspirations, and random learnings make it difficult to find the singular, next important action.

Coinciding roughly with the rise of the iPhone in the late 2000s, digital notetaking apps like EvernoteBear, and Simplenote rose to meet the demand for easily capturing notes from anywhere ...

Notetaking overwhelm happens when you’re collecting everything, processing your notes, and growing a knowledge system – but somehow, you never revisit the notes you’ve captured, and don’t seem to be able to achieve the day-to-day usefulness from your notes you’ve already collecte...

Personal Dashboards: a Just-in-Time Springboard to Knowledgeable Action

Personal Dashboards push mere notetaking to the next level: they provide the big picture, using your curated knowledge and data to guide action and help you make better decisions.

Your dashboards proactively inform the actions you take every day. To do that, they have to be dynamic and ...

Dashboards: A Better Solution

The main purpose of a dashboard – think of the dashboard in your car, or the cockpit of an aeroplane – is to facilitate fast, informed decisions. 

This new kind of document is perfect for modern knowledge workers – more interactive than simply editing text, more intelligent than a s...

From Email To Notion

The power of dashboards has now trickled down to everyone, as part of the “no-code” movement: apps that allow for extensive customization, without requiring technical coding skills, such as Webflow (for web design), Zapier (for automation), Airtable (for databases), and Notion, Coda, and Microsof...

It takes far more time and energy to create a Personal Dashboard in Notion, for example, versus a note in Evernote. A personal dashboard has to be architected – designed, built, iterated on, and maintained over time. 

Start building with the end in mind. 


How to Craft Your Personal Productivity Stack

We all have a holistic productivity stack, which changes slowly. We can call it a “Second Brain,” because it allows you to offload and utilize all the complex information swirling through your mind.

Each new generation of productivity software adds a new layer on top, instead of com...

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