Perhaps this is already obvious to everyone else who has inbox overload, but I just figured out what I hate about e-mail and task management: they work against each other. Even if you’re the sort of person who diligently creates to-do lists in applications such as Anxiety or Things, any incoming email about your to-do items has nowhere useful to go. You currently have the following options:
I’ve given a bunch of different workflows a shot but nothing seems to have struck a chord yet. In popping open Anxiety today for the first time in about a year, I was reminded of how much I like its simplicity. It’s an automatically synching list of tasks and nothing more. You click to add a task and then when you complete it, you click its checkbox and it goes away forever. There’s no tagging, no dragging, and no nagging. It’s basically a half step more advanced than electronic Stickie notes… which I love.
That got me thinking, however, of how a nice simple app like this could play a role in finding the holy grail of time management: a simple solution that both declutters and organizes your information workflow, helps you get things done, and doesn’t require you to learn much or add administrative tasks to your routine.
I may eventually mock this up and screencast it or something but I’m too lazy right now so here it is in a nutshell:
To me, this is the ideal workflow of an e-mail/task management system, and I haven’t seen anyone do it yet. Microsoft, of all companies, actually tried something along these lines with “Projects” in Entourage, but the interface got in the way. I’d love to see someone tackle it but with a keener eye towards simpler, more natural interaction. I almost wonder if the entire thing could be done with Mail.app and AppleScript.
Whoever finally solves the problem of inbox overload is going to make a lot of money. This would be a great first step.
The Library of Congress has a spectacular collection of photos by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii that you must see. What makes them so amazing? Well, they are color photos taken about 100 years ago.
The process used to create and develop the photos is revolutionary yet simple. Essentially, three separate shots are taken, each with a different color filter over the lens: one red, one blue, and one green. The shots are then composited to form incredibly lifelike color portraits. It’s actually quite similar to color compositing in modern applications like Photoshop, but to see it applied to photos taken 100 years ago is mindblowing.
When I first saw this photo collection, my initial reaction was that it was fake, because these shots look like they could have been taken a few years ago. When you grow up in the modern color photography era, you’re subconsciously conditioned to actually think of the world as black and white around the turn of the 19th century because those are the only photos you ever see from that period. To see real-life scenes from back then in full color is surreal.
Prokudin-Gorskii’s collection is one of the most amazing I can ever remember seeing, and I’ve only gone through a few hundred photos so far. Here’s where to start:
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