Over in “Mindmapping and goals,” @JoeBuhlig mentioned TheBrain as a potential “one app to rule them all.” This got me thinking about some of the major productivity apps that have come to do more and more and take new functionalities. I immediately thought about how OmniFocus 3 and Things 3 integrate calendar appointments into the task list in order to help plan the day’s work around them. Todoist’s integration with Google Calendar works in the opposite direction, putting scheduled tasks on your calendar.
A while back, when I was trying to be a good Evernote user, I tried to turn it into my ultimate inbox: I rerouted email newsletters into Evernote, scanned all paper documents into it, and even started saving PDFs into notes. Quickly I realized I had taken it too far for myself. When it comes to documents, I want them stored in a folder system, such as Dropbox (Dropbox’s iOS app now has a built-in document scanner, so that took over that function as well). I also quickly realized I was even more likely to ignore a newsletter in Evernote—especially after it made the layout all wonky trying to work it into a note—than I was in email. I know Evernote’s checklists and reminders make it possible to use it as a task manager, and some have made full-blown cases for it being a good GTD app.
In general, I go back and forth on this idea of a single productivity app that combines the three fundamental features (calendar, tasks/projects, and notes). Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a one-stop-shop approach, but then based on my experience I keep returning to a system that features single-function apps.
I suppose in some ways this may be more of a meta-productivity discussion than a “digital tools” discussion (I’ve tried similar analog approaches, such as Michael Motta’s Long-Term/Short-Term Journals system. How do you feel about consolidating multiple functions into apps or relying on single-function apps (digital or analog)?