Everything Requires Maintenance

Especially our workflows.

Nerds tinker. We are always wanting to learn, dissect, and refine the minutia of the systems, tools, and toys that we use every day.

It can be easy to tinker too much. But I think it’s a far greater error to not tinker at all. For the workflows we live in every single day, it’s folly to simply set it and forget it.

When a new operating system ships for my Mac, that’s when I do my most serious tinkering. I always prefer to do a clean install so I am forced to re-evaluate what I want to keep on an app-by-app basis.

A new operating system is a good reminder that it’s healthy (and for a nerd, fun) to take time out to do a workflow audit. Now is as good a time as any to reassess the tools you’re using and how you’re using them.

Maybe it’s time to find a more advanced tool. Or, maybe it’s time to switch to something more basic. How can your processes be enhanced? How can they be simplified? Does something need to be added? Can something be removed?

When I do a major workflow audit like the one I’ll be doing this month some time, there are several things I look at:

  • What software do I no longer use or need?
  • What files can I archive away onto a backup drive?
  • What files can I delete?

And for the stuff that sticks around (which is the majority), it’s a great time to assess that software as well. The most demanding systems and tools that I engage with daily are:

  • How I manage and accomplish my to-do list
  • How I manage and control my email
  • How I organize and read my RSS feeds
  • How I check and interact with my social networks
  • How I write and publish content to my website
  • How I discover new things to link to and write about

The above systems and their tools each require their own audit. But, because each inbox and system interacts and interweaves with the others, a look at the entire workflow is also needed on occasion.

Our lives are ever-changing. As is our data. Our interests, our priorities, and our availability are always on the move. It’s worth the effort to take a long, hard look at our systems and tools. We want to make sure they are still the ones serving us and not the other way around.

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