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The separation of home and work tech stack

At the bank, you can’t use Todoist or Notion, the two cornerstones of my current productivity tech stack. Especially Notion has been a blow, so I briefly considered how feasible it would be to take notes only on my phone and maybe expand on them at home, but that half defeats the purpose. Instead I have embraced OneNote and To Do (everything Microsoft is allowed). I tried Loop which is a new MS product, very obviously modelled after Notion, but as of yet it lacks the database structure that makes Notion so appealing.

View of the central atrium at the bank

In any case, Notion was so wonderful in my old job because there were several different categories of things to keep track of – clients, acquisition targets, technology types and so on, and it was great to link them up together and easily see, for example, which clients were interested in which targets. The new job, so far, involves less of that kind of interplay between clear categories of information – it’s more about collecting lots of information about one thing and synthesising it, and perhaps OneNote will be just fine for that.

It does rankle, not to be able to use whatever technology I want, but I didn’t have to go work for a very large, risk-obsessed institution such as a bank.

I have a soft spot for the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, acquired in the course of my prehistoric university degree in translation, which posits that the role of language might be fundamental in how different language groups perceive the world, instead of the other way around. (Because Google knows that I have a minor interest in it, it recently showed me this fascinating new study.) The reason I mention it is – what if the technology you use also shapes your perception of the world… If I can develop this into a hypothesis about worker productivity, perhaps I can persuade the bank to let me use Notion.

The morning view from my window, that is, a window near a shared desk I favour

The separation of work and home tasks into two different systems has occasioned a reckoning, too. In the relatively short time I’ve used it, Todoist has become a bit of a graveyard of ambitions. There is a folder of tasks called Home Queue (and there used to be a Work Queue) that I use to store things I think I should do. The idea was that on a weekly basis I can move things in and out depending on how much time I think I will have. But it was like the cave in that Aesop fable – the footprints only went in.

Compared to Todoist, my new work To Do task lists seem fresh and unsullied by broken dreams. Since I don’t open Todoist at work in the morning, the routine of seeing my home tasks at the same time is no more.

Things have slipped through the net, so I need to think of something else. MS To Do is a much simpler app that Todoist and it has also awoken me to the fact that I don’t use many of the features of Todoist (which I pay for). I wonder how sustainable it is in the first place to maintain two separate to-do lists. This needs some thought, and I think simplicity should be my new guideline.

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