Founder Diary

December 29, 2022

More technology ≠ better work

More technology ≠ better work

Nnew hot tools pop up every day. But they don’t always improve our work.

Productivity hamster drowning a big pile of tools of all sorts, including headphones, nails and screwdrivers
Productivity hamster drowning a big pile of tools of all sorts, including headphones, nails and screwdrivers
Productivity hamster drowning a big pile of tools of all sorts, including headphones, nails and screwdrivers
Nikita Kazhin's headshot

Nikita Kazhin

Co-founder at Brick

X (formerly Twitter) logo

I recently realized I spend hours every week on something that improves my productivity on the surface but often ends up draining time instead of saving it.

I’m talking about managing technology.

Even if your work is technically uncomplicated like mine is, I bet you’re using dozens of tools each day.

I certainly drown in them. From project management like Trello, to email service providers like ConvertKit, to accounting platforms like QuickBooks, to talent management like Upwork, to Twitter add-ons, to three messaging apps, to banking, spell checking, e-signatures and on, and on, and on. (AI, anyone?)

No matter what developers claim, there are no ideal tools that “just work.” No matter what “productivity tool you choose,” you’ll spend tons of time wrestling with the ins and outs. There’s no way around it.

Spending too much time optimizing these systems is just work about work: you’re busy (and it’s about work!) but your tasks and priorities are NOT moving forward.

All this preparation, setup, and maintenance is meant to make sure your work then flows smoothly without interruption… but it often ends up clogging your creative pipes and slowing you down instead.

And as if the struggles you already have weren’t enough, there are always new entrants, rivals aspiring to claim your focus.. New hot tools pop up all the time that we’re eager to try because…

  • We hope they’ll solve problems with existing tools.

  • We crave novelty. Break monotony, learn new things, “grow”. Sounds mighty compelling!

  • We want to keep up with the Joneses. If everyone online loves it, I gotta try it.

  • We want to procrastinate. New tech is a better pretext than most.

  • They simply look shinier & sexier than what you’ve got 🤷

A recent example: I switched from Mailchimp to ConvertKit as my email service provider (here’s a thread with the why behind this).

Expectation: I got a hang of Mailchimp. They’re both in the same ballpark, so CK shouldn’t be much different but it IS faster and more intuitive.

Reality: The devil is in details. The editor is lightyears ahead, but not as intuitive as expected, minor hiccups break big things, repeatedly talking to support… You get the idea.

Result: Switched at the cost of 10+ hours down the drain.

I don’t regret the decision, and I enjoy the new experience, but…

This whole theme of endless new tools and painful switching got seriously out of whack recently.

So here are three things I’m committing to:

  1. New tech moratorium. No new tools for three months. I might still take a look at the occasional new app. But if it looks like I’m going to spend more than five minutes to set it up, or worse, transfer my existing workflows from other tools, I immediately hit a huge red adios button.

  2. Review and eliminate. I’ll take a look at the countless apps on my phone, tablet, and desktop and kill those that aren’t pulling their weight. Something tells me there’ll be a couple dozen of those.
    🎁 Bonus: This little exercise might help you get rid of subscriptions that outlived their use.

  3. Learning to use existing tools better. It feels like 95% of the time you’re deciding between an app you already use, and another that might work better… you’re better off sticking around. At the very least, you won’t waste time figuring out what all those new buttons do. So I figured improving my game with existing tools will probably have a much higher ROI. My closest target is Readwise and their new Reader which I started using recently. I bet with a modest time investment, a news addict like myself can save tons of time. I bet you have just such a tool on the horizon, too.

These aren’t New Year resolutions. They’re just common-sense ways to keep overwhelm at bay.

Maybe you’ll find you need this, too.

Three links on minimalistic productivity and mindful work:

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