Category: #Productivity

Hello again, Linux

I’ve been running Linux on my laptop for a little over a week now, and so far I’m really impressed with it! It’s probably almost a decade since I last used Linux (outside of Windows Subsystem for Linux and accessing remote machines) so I wanted to see how well it works as my main OS.

I moved to Windows from macOS in 2020 because it gave me more hardware options (I wanted a laptop that was more repairable), gaming options (a lot of games that I want to play run on Windows), and it still let me do my design work. Windows meets all my needs to be honest, but it makes me uncomfortable to use an OS made by a surveillance capitalist so I’m curious about an alternative and I wanted to see if Linux would work for me.

I downloaded Fedora and installed it on my Dell XPS 17.

Hardware Support

Thunderbolt works as expected. It looks gorgeous on my 5k LG Ultrafine monitor, and I’m able to run both the built-in 4k display and the 5k external display at the same time. That’s a lot of pixels! My Wacom tablet just worked out of the box. I didn’t have to download anything for it to work which was really impressive. Bluetooth and WiFi work flawlessly. I can use my Bluetooth mouse with no issue.

It unfortunately wouldn’t let me install the Nvidia driver from the app store, but I believe all I had to do was run sudo dnf install akmod-nvidia in the terminal to fix it. I can now right click on an app and run it on the Nvidia GPU.

Fingerprint reader doesn’t work, so I still need to figure that out.

Wacom support is built-in.

Gaming

I downloaded Steam, enabled the Windows-compatibility option, and installed DOOM Eternal. It wasn’t working at first—it said that I didn’t have enough memory in my video card. So I lowered the quality a bit and it ran perfectly. I played 4 hours of it in Nightmare mode, so I’m pretty impressed with the speed as well! I have yet to try other games, but I’m hopeful based on the reports that I’m seeing about the Steam Deck. I’m really amazed to see what Valve has done to make Windows games work.

DOOM Eternal main menu.

Software

I expected to have some issues with the available software, but it wasn’t actually that much of a hassle for me. Maybe I just don’t use that many apps to begin with. For 1Password, Zoom, Spotify, digiKam, Mini vMac, Telegram, Thunderbird, Sublime Text, and Signal, they work the same way as their Windows and macOS counterparts. Figma doesn’t have a desktop app, but there is an unofficial Linux version that works just fine. For Dropbox, I’m using an app called Maestral.

There’s a built-in app in GNOME for recording the screen, but it doesn’t record it in GIF format. A little app called Kooha is able to do that though. I’m also pleasantly surprised that Fedora also comes with a simple backup tool that I’m using to backup to my Rsync.net account.

I do wish there was AutoHotKey. And Excel. And Krisp. And Em Client.

What I’m most impressed with is that Fedora comes with virtualization software and it’s super easy to use! So I’ve been running Windows on there when I need it.

Programs installed on my laptop.

I’m not sure if I want to go Linux full time yet, but I’m excited that I’m actually using it! I think it pretty much meets my needs, but it does take a bit of work to get things working. I’m hopeful, so we’ll see what happens!

Budgie Released

I might be the last person on Earth to realize this, but I recently learned how useful spreadsheets can be in my personal life. This whole time I’ve been avoiding spreadsheets because I thought they were for serious business people who need to do serious things like projections and reports.

So I’ve been pushing myself to learn Excel recently, and I’m amazed how quickly I can make “apps” for myself through Excel vs doing it in a proper programming language. I’ve been proud of a minimalist budgeting system that I made that’s inspired by YNAB called Budgie, so it’s up online if you’d like to use it!

Caps Warlock and Alarm Pup Released

I recently released two new apps on itch.io: Caps Warlock and Alarm Pup.

Caps Warlock is an AutoHotkey script that I’ve been working on to make the Caps Lock key more useful. It adds useful keyboard shortcuts to desktop apps like Figma, Firefox, and Sublime Text. It doesn’t support that many apps yet, but I’m slowly adding features to it.

Alarm Pup is a countdown timer that I worked on during the holidays to help me take breaks and timebox tasks during the workday.

Try it out! I hope you find it useful.

Ear Transit Released

I made a desktop app called Ear Transit! It’s a tiny tool that lets you listen to background noise on your computer even if you’re not connected to the internet. It currently has 4 background noises at the moment, but I’ll be adding more pretty soon. Right now it only runs on Windows, so I’m also hoping to port it to other operating systems when I find the time.

Playing multiple background noises on Ear Transit.

It’s written in HTML, CSS, and JS using the Sciter Engine, but I actually started out by building a prototype using Lazarus / Free Pascal. I loved the drag-and-drop interface builder and that it compiles everything to native code, but I struggled with it because I’m unfamiliar with the language and the tooling. I guess I’m just impatient, but I eventually gave up and went with the web development tools because that’s more familiar to me. I chose Sciter over Electron because of the small runtime—the whole thing weighs about 8MB compared to Electron which is at 80MB. I wanted the app to be as small as possible because all it does is play audio files.

The app at launch uses only 13MB of RAM so I’m very pleased with the leanness of the app. The memory usage does grow as you play the background noises though because the MP3s are loaded into RAM so I’ll have to look into ways of minimizing that.

Ear Transit on the itch.io app.

Head on over to itch.io to download Ear Transit! I hope you like it. I also recently released the code on Sourcehut.

Figma ♥ AutoHotKey

An illustration of a cat with the hotkey "ctrl+zzz"

I found out about AutoHotKey last week because I was looking for a lightweight alternative to Logitech Options. My plan was to remap the buttons on my mouse and be done with it. But after going through the AutoHotKey tutorial, I realized that it’s actually much more powerful than I thought. It got me excited because I felt like it could open up a whole world of customization possibilities to me.

The first thing I wanted to do with it was to improve my design workflow on Figma because I use this app quite a bit. To localize my hotkeys to Figma, I put this directive at the top of my Figma.ahk file:

; Look for Figma.exe
#IfWinActive, ahk_exe figma.exe

This means that everything written below this line will only apply to Figma.

Fast toggling between tools

Toggling between the Hand tool and Move tool.

I switch between the Hand tool (h) and the Move tool (v) a lot, but I often find myself looking down to readjust my hand on the keyboard because my left hand would rather hang out around the Ctrl and Alt keys area.

I figured it would be easier if I could switch between the tools with just my mouse. So I mapped the 4th and 5th extra buttons to h and v in AutoHotKey and that allowed me switch tools using my thumb. In AutoHotKey, these buttons are XButton1 and XButton2 so all I did was to point them to h and v respectively.

The v and h keys are now toggled using my thumb. Much easier!
; Hand Tool
; Trigger: 4th mouse button
XButton1::h

; Move Tool
; Trigger: 5th mouse button
XButton2::v

Switching between tabs

Moving between two tabs.

When I’m designing, I often have two tabs open: one file has the components (the component library) and another file has the instances. I move between these two files often which is why I want tab switching to be as effortless as possible.

I know that there are a few ways to switch tabs on Figma, but unfortunately none of them feel fluid to me. After some experimentation, I ended up mapping the left tilt of my scroll wheel to Ctrl + Shift + Tab and the right tilt to Ctrl + Tab. It’s simple, but it works wonderfully. It basically lets me switch tabs with just one finger!

The middle button can tilt left and right so I mapped that to switch between tabs.
; Move between tabs
; Trigger: Left and right wheel tilt
WheelLeft::^+Tab
WheelRight::^Tab

Running Figma plugins

Running quick actions and launching the Find and Replace plugin.

As far as I can tell, there’s no easy way to map a specific Figma plugin to a keyboard shortcut on Windows (you can do it on macOS though). The fastest way that I can think of is through “quick actions” which is triggered by pressing Ctrl + / and then typing in the plugin name. That got me thinking … maybe I could let AutoHotKey run quick actions and type in the plugin name for me?

This is where I started to see the power of AutoHotKey. It doesn’t just let you map a set of buttons to another set of buttons—it can also do any sort of arbitrary action for you! With my setup, whenever I press Ctrl + F, AutoHotKey runs the Find and Replace plugin by doing the following:

  1. Presses Ctrl + / to bring up quick actions.
  2. Waits a little bit because the quick actions search bar doesn’t show up instantaneously.
  3. Types in “find and replace” to bring up the plugin.
  4. Presses Return to run the plugin.

It’s hacky, but it works! I also have Component Page plugin mapped to Ctrl + Alt + K and Similayer plugin mapped to Control + Alt + F.

; Function to run Figma Plugins
FigmaPlugin(searchQuery) {
	; This triggers Quick Action
	Send, ^/
	; Issues come up when things are typed instantaneously
	Sleep 500
	; Search for the plugin
	SendInput, %searchQuery%
	Send, {Enter}
}

; Run the Find and Replace Plugin
; Trigger: Control+F
^f::
FigmaPlugin("find and replace")
return

Super Nudge

Notice the X and Y values incrementing by 100 pixels.

Figma lets you move a selection with a keyboard: pressing the arrow key moves the selection by 1px and pressing the arrow key while holding down Shift moves the selection by 10px. But what if we want to move the selection over a larger distance?

I saw the question on Figma’s forum, and I wanted to see if I can do it myself with AutoHotKey. After a bit of research, I learned that you can specify the number of key presses with a one liner—no looping needed! Here’s an example: if I wanted to hold Shift and press the left arrow key ten times, I can type in Send, +{Left 10}. That’s it. Then I mapped this to caps lock because I almost never use that key:

; Nudge selection 100px to the top/bottom/left/right
; Trigger: CapsLock+[Up/Down/Left/Right]
CapsLock & Left::Send, +{Left 10}
CapsLock & Right::Send, +{Right 10}
CapsLock & Up::Send, +{Up 10}
CapsLock & Down::Send, +{Down 10}

What’s next

It’s only been a week, but I feel like I’ve already improved my workflow thanks to AutoHotKey. I’ll definitely be tweaking things as I go but for now I feel like I’m in a good place with it. My AutoHotKey scripts can be found here.

Screencast showing tool switching (using extra mouse buttons), tab switching (using middle button), and plugin launching (using hotkeys).

Moving to Windows

A screenshot of my desktop with the Windows start menu open.

Repairability has become a big part of my decision making when I buy new devices these days. I don’t know much about electronics, but learning to make minor repairs on my iPhoneAndroid, and Roomba made me realize that I could easily give new life to old and hobbling tech. It felt good to keep something going, and I’m hoping that this will help save me money and reduce my e-waste in the long run. So, now that it’s time for me to find a new laptop, I wanted to make sure that there was a chance for me to at least swap out a few components if I needed to. 

I’ve been a Mac user for many years now, so I thought it made sense for me to do some research on the latest MacBook Pro laptops first. How repairable are they? It would be great if I could avoid switching OSes in the first place.

I found out that the new MacBook Pros only scored an abysmal 1 out of 10 on iFixit’s reparability rating. Apparently, they’ve all had terrible scores since 2012. They have everything soldered and glued together which meant that I wouldn’t even be able to upgrade the drive or RAM if I wanted to. It was clear that I was going to have to leave macOS if I’m adamant about getting a repairable laptop. (There are repairable Macs out there, but they’re desktops and not laptops. The Mac Mini scored a 6 out of 10, and the Mac Pro scored an amazing 9 out of 10! But even if I wanted a desktop, a Mac Mini is too underpowered for work, and the Mac Pro is almost too excessive.)

Trying it out

I wasn’t sure if I could even pull off moving to another OS. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to use Linux for work, but could I move to Windows? It’s been 13 years since I last used one.

I thought that the best way to know was to try it out. So, I committed to using Windows 10 on Bootcamp for a week to see if it was any good. I told myself that if it didn’t work out, I could just get a Mac like I always did.

After a week, I was surprised at how good Windows actually was. A lot of the things that I enjoy on the Mac are now on Windows like virtual desktops, Do-Not-Disturb mode, Spotlight-like search, a screenshot annotation tool, an emoji picker, and even a Linux! Past Me would have laughed at the ridiculous idea of Microsoft creating a Linux compatibility layer on Windows.

Programs

Most of the apps I use are fortunately cross platform. Figma Desktop, Krisp.ai, TiddlyWiki, VSCode, and Zoom all work the same way on Windows. For everything else, I had to do some work to find alternatives. Here’s where I moved to:

I’m sad that nothing really comes close to a Fantastical alternative on Windows. The built-in calendar is fine to manage both my personal and work calendars, but it’s missing a lot of the features that I use. It doesn’t have calendar groups/sets, and it doesn’t understand natural language. Typing in “Order chicken wings every Friday at 7pm” just won’t work on Windows.

The repairable laptop

I was convinced that Windows was good enough for my day-to-day work, so I went ahead and got a Dell XPS 17. Its slightly smaller counterpart got a 9 out of 10 on iFixit, and it’s got some good reviews online, too. I’ve been using it for a week now as I’m writing this, and I’m loving it.

I’ll still have my old MacBook Pro around to use from time to time (looking at you, Principle and Rotato), so I won’t be 100% on Windows. There’s also a lot to look forward to on the Apple side. They recently released their environmental progress report, and they talk about making it easy for people to repair their devices. I hope to one day see more repairable laptops from them.

Working with TiddlyWiki on iOS

Screenshot of my journal updating through git on my phone.

I’ve been using TiddlyWiki for two months now, and I’m amazed at how versatile this piece of software is. Since it’s able to weave together all the disparate parts of my life, it’s become my go-to notebook for almost anything. I’ve become dependent on it for documenting and understanding my life.

But if TiddlyWiki is going to be my notebook for everything, I have to get it to work on my phone, too. I’ve been hesitant about it because I assumed that it would be a pain to work on WikiText without a keyboard, but it didn’t end up being as bad as I thought it would be. I also like that I get to look things up on my wiki while I’m away from my computer.

The first thing that I needed to do to get set up on my phone was to get an app called Quine. Even though TiddlyWiki is just an HTML file (there’s no server component here), saving can be a bit of a pain because browsers don’t allow websites to write directly into files. Quine is a modified browser specific for TiddlyWiki that lets you bypass that restriction.

Next, I needed to figure out how to sync the wiki between my computer and my phone. The simplest solution is to drop the wiki into a service like iCloud, Dropbox, or Resilio and call it a day. Any changes that I make on my phone would automatically sync with my computer and vise versa. If you’re thinking of doing this yourself, this might be good enough for you! Dropbox even lets you recover old versions of the file if you ever needed to revert back to them. 

But I wanted more control over my backups. I want to have the freedom to tweak the code and try out new themes and plugins without worrying about breaking my wiki. I wanted version control. I wanted Git on my phone.

I didn’t know if it was even possible to use Git on iOS, but I did a quick search and found Working Copy. All I had to was to link my GitHub account and point it to the right repository. GitHub now offers unlimited private repos for free, so I’ve taken advantage of that for backing up my wiki. Working Copy downloads the repo to my phone, and it makes the files available to third-party apps like Quine. 

While this is not as convenient as using Dropbox, it makes me feel more confident about my wiki’s integrity in the long run. I’m excited about this setup, and I hope I can keep this going in the years to come.

Customizing TiddlyWiki

I’m starting to love the process of journaling and note-taking on TiddlyWiki. Being able to weave my ideas, notes, and experiences together easily has been a bit of a game-changer for me. Who knew that a wiki would be so useful in my day-to-day life? The downside of using TiddlyWiki is that it’s not exactly what I wanted out of the box. I had to put in some effort and tinker to get it to work well for me because it felt like it was missing some of the features that I needed. Here are the plugins and tools that I’m currently using that make TiddlyWiki more of a joy to use:

1. Stroll. As I mentioned in “Hello, TiddlyWiki,” the cool thing about Stroll is that it adds bi-directional links to my documents. It means that if I make a “Nintendo” link in a document called “Animal Crossing,” “Animal Crossing” will end up creating a link back to “Nintendo,” too. This lets me see all the relationships between my documents. For example, it can tell me when I played Animal Crossing and the people that I played with on that day.

2. TiddlyDesktop. TiddlyWiki is a single HTML file that somehow has everything it needs inside of it. I’m not just talking about the JS and CSS—it has all my documents and images inside of it, too. There’s no database, there’s no server, and there’s no use of browser storage either. Each document that you make ends up being a part of the HTML itself. It’s a crazy yet brilliant way of creating a self-contained program. It pulls this off by being a quine. This means that TiddlyWiki’s source code and data can be viewed and modified within TiddlyWiki itself. However, the downside of being an HTML file is that you can’t write to the local filesystem directly. People have created different solutions for getting around this, but I think my favorite is TiddlyDesktop. It’s a specialized browser that makes saving wikis less awkward and more natural for people.

3. Whitespace Theme. The default theme that comes with TiddlyWiki is a bit too spartan for me, so finding a nicer coat of paint on an app that I use all day makes a difference. You can find a few more themes here.

4. Favorites. I have documents that I frequently go back to, and the Favorites plugin is perfect for pinning them on the side.

5. Project Manager. I’ve been using TiddlyWiki to track my article reading list, book reading list, and some of the ideas that I have for my blog, and the Project Manager plugin has been perfect for that.

I’m still learning as I go, but I’m pretty content with my current setup. The only thing that I’m anxious about is performance: since everything is in a single HTML file, are things going to get slower in a few months or years? In this video, the creator says that 100MB wikis are still fast, but I’m curious about the limits of large web apps. I guess we’ll find out!

Hello, TiddlyWiki

I’ve used a lot of apps throughout my life to help me remember things, collect ideas, and generally make sense of the world. Most recently, I’ve been using:

  • Browser bookmarks for saving recipes, repair manuals, and design resources.
  • Day One for journaling about my work and personal life.
  • Notes.app for jotting down notes on meetings, books, and conference talks.
  • Monica for keeping track of social interactions with people.
  • Reminders.app for my personal tasks.
  • Notion for planning and research.
  • Airtable for tracking TV shows, movies, and books that I’ve seen and read.

But because the information is stored in a lot of different places, I find myself copy-pasting content between each of them. Whenever I call a friend, I’d find myself writing the same entry in both Day One and Monica. Whenever I’m doing some research, I’d find myself both bookmarking websites and pasting the same URLs in either Notion or Notes.

It often bothered me that I had duplicates of the same thing in different tools, but I assumed that it’s just how things are. Fast forward to last week when I heard about Roam from my coworker. I thought it was a tool for academics, and I didn’t understand how it would be useful for me. I did some more research on how other people use it, and it convinced me that this is the tool that I could use for all my journaling, note-taking, researching, and list-tracking needs!

I was excited, so I signed up for an invite. I waited for a couple days, but I grew impatient. Fortunately, my restlessness took me to an open-source alternative to Roam that’s been around for 15 years: TiddlyWiki. It’s a whole wiki in a single HTML file. There are no servers to set up, and there’s nothing to pay for either.

It isn’t quite like Roam, but I did find Stroll (formerly TiddlyBlink) through Ness Labs. It’s a version of TiddlyWiki that’s more Roam-like, and I think it suits me perfectly. It can be a bit clunky at times, but it gets the job done. Here are my current use cases:

Recipes

Journaling is already built-in, and it’s central to the whole philosophy of Roam and Stroll. Each date is a journal entry, and you sort of branch off of that to link to other pages. For example, I can write about making sautéed sardines in the morning and then link that to a [[Sautéed Sardines]] article which can house the recipe itself or a link to it.

Personal CRM

My journal entries eventually end up having people in them, so I’ve found that it’s also an easy way to build a list of people that I care about. I simply put people’s names in [[*]], and their pages will get made on the fly. Since it’s just a file on my computer, I feel at ease about the privacy implications of writing about my social interactions.

Notes

I’m starting to see the value of having everything in one place. I could make a document in TiddlyWiki called [[Cognitive Bias]] and link all the other documents that have a relation to that topic:

  • The idea of [[Confirmation Bias]]
  • The book [[Design for Real Life]]
  • The webinar called [[Design for Cognitive Bias]]
  • An article online called [[The Cognitive Biases Tricking Your Brain]]

I’ve only started using TiddlyWiki, but I’m hoping that having interconnected notes would help me understand a topic more.

Next Steps

Using TiddlyWiki is still an experiment for me, but so far it’s been working well. The areas where it falls short are:

  • Collaborating: I can’t use TiddlyWiki if I wanted to collaborate with people.
  • Tasks: As far as I can tell, I can’t do recurring tasks or attach dates to them so I’m sticking with Reminders for my tasks.

Other than that, it has the potential to combine browser bookmarks, Day One, Notes, Airtable, Notion, and Monica so the upside looks good if it does end up working.

If you’d like to try out TiddlyWiki, I found this tutorial to be a good start.

After-hours Setup

A screenshot of Apple's to-do list app.

I used to ignore anything that looked like responsibility. I didn’t read my mail, I often forgot about appointments, I didn’t plan ahead, and I could never tell where my money was going. Although my strategy surprisingly worked for a couple of years, I eventually reached a tipping point where I was spiraling with guilt and mounting obligations. I’m happy that I’ve gotten to work on my ostrich-like hangups on life admin since then, and I think—for me at least—having the right software tools have helped along the way.

I often see people writing about the tools that they use to get their work done, but it’s rare for me to see much of anything on how people manage their lives outside of work. I’ve been reassessing my setup recently, so I thought I could share the things that have been working well for me and the tools that I’m currently playing around with.

You Need A Budget

In the past, I would budget my money by adding up all my recurring expenses each month and subtracting the total from my income. I’d put down the result as money that I’m allowed to spend. I figured that whatever is left behind after that can turn into my savings. It seemed like a good system: it was simple, and I didn’t have to do it that often.

But reality was very different. It felt like there was always that one “emergency” that would throw a wrench into the whole thing: a doctor’s appointment, going out to dinner with friends, a subscription that I forgot about. So even though I had a great system in place (I didn’t), I still couldn’t manage to put money towards my savings or my credit card debt. So I gave up and figured that I was just bad with money.

I forget how, but I came across an app called You Need A Budget around two years ago. I had a hard time using it at first because I couldn’t wrap my head around the philosophy of only budgeting the money that I currently have. I also struggled because I didn’t understand that I needed to be proactive with budgeting. I didn’t know that I had to:

  • Actively look at what’s left of my budget to guide my decisions
  • Figure out what categories I needed to prioritize
  • Plan and set goals

But after a couple of failed attempts, I eventually joined their workshops and learned how to use the app. I’m not going to go into detail about its features (there’s a bunch), but the gist is that it’s super useful for life admin. Those “emergencies” that I talked about earlier? They’re basically things that YNAB helps me prepare for. If I know that I’ll be getting my wisdom teeth removed soon, I can start putting money towards a category called “Oral Surgery.”

I also have a thing called a “wish farm” to budget my discretionary money into categories like future travel or a pair of boots.

Fantastical

I couldn’t find a single calendar event before 2016, so I don’t really know how I managed to remember things before that year. I think I had this idea that calendars were only for very busy people. Normal people like me, I thought, don’t really have a use for it outside of work. Unfortunately, I wasn’t any good at keeping tabs on my appointments and get-togethers. I realized that computers were a lot better at remembering dates than I am.

I have my calendar hosted on Fastmail, and I started to use it a lot more when I found Fantastical. I think what got me to use it was how ridiculously easy it is to add an event in the calendar. Basically, you just type in “Water plants every other Friday” and it’ll automatically create a recurring event just for that. It suddenly made remembering events easy for me to do.

With YNAB, you can only budget the money that you already have.

One other feature that I love about Fantastical is that it lets me bundle calendars into different sets. This means I can switch between different contexts throughout the week:

  • A set that just shows my personal calendars. (Perfect for weekends or when on holiday.)
  • A set that just shows my work calendars. (This gives me an overview of my work.)
  • A set that combines personal & work calendars. (This is usually my view during the week because, naturally, I don’t want to miss any work meetings or personal appointments.)

Reminders

I don’t have any complex to-do list requirements, so I’ve found popular apps like Things and Todoist to be a bit too much for my personal needs. I didn’t think it was worth paying for features that I wasn’t going to use. Paper, on the other hand, is often inconvenient to carry around and to write in while I’m on the bus or train or at the grocery store.

I was doing some research on to-do lists, and it turns out that most calendars already support simple task management. I thought this would be great at first because the bulk of my tasks are basically events that I want to check off like “Take the trash outside at 9pm every Monday” or “Change out your contact lenses every two weeks.” The downside is that it the more tasks I made, the more cluttered my calendar looked.

The solution for me was to switch to Apple’s built-in Reminders app. It actually syncs with my calendar on Fastmail which meant that I didn’t have to migrate my tasks over to another system.

Reminders makes it easy to for me to create to-do lists that sync with my calendar.

To-do lists are at the heart of my life admin because I would forget a lot of things if I didn’t have it. It has a lot of those recurring items that I used to forget like paying off my credit card every month or taking the compost bin out. Since it’s also on my phone, it’s also really useful for remembering those responsibilities that bubble up when I’m commuting. “Oh yeah I need to get some onions for dinner later.”

Monica

In the past, Facebook was my contact list. I could message friends easily, I could hop on a video call with them, I knew what people were up to, and I knew if their birthdays were coming up. It worked pretty well up until I stopped using Facebook. And at that point, I didn’t realize just how much I relied on it for keeping in touch with friends.

Fortunately, a friend told me about this website called Monica. It’s basically a CRM but without all the business-y language around it. I managed to use it for a couple of months, but my motivation died out soon after.

I tried Airtable for a little bit, but that ended up being even more work. I just wanted something that didn’t require me to build the scaffolding so that I could get on with the actual work. So recently, I started using Monica again, but now I also have a reminder to update it every other day so that I don’t forget about it. I also made it into a “desktop app” using Fluid, so that I’m reminded of it whenever I’m on my computer.

It’s too early for me to say if it’s working for me, but I’m glad that there’s a way for me to keep track of when I last hung out with someone, the names of their pets, and the things that we talked about. It’s almost a complement to my journal. I also appreciate that I get reminders from Monica that basically says, “Hey, you should really keep in touch with this person.”

That’s it

You made it! The invisible work of life admin isn’t glamorous, but thanks for letting me geek out and reading all the way to the bottom. If you have tools that you use to manage your daily life, I’d be happy to hear about it.