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Peyton McGinnis
Peyton McGinnis

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The Problem With Productivity Tools

Hello everyone! You may have seen a couple comments by me here and there lately, but this is my first post on this site. Any criticism is accepted!

What's this problem you speak of?

Lately, I've been investigating static site frontend frameworks to attempt to rework my current site. I've come upon so many great ones, but I decided to use Gridsome with Vue. Essentially, though, all these frameworks promised the same thing: saving me effort. However, in researching these frameworks it seems like I did more work finding the best way to do work than actually doing work; metawork, if you will.

I'm now noticing other instances of this now that I'm aware of it. Whether it's finding the perfect npm package, trying to organize my e-mail folders, or creating and managing the perfect to-do list, I seem to be more obsessed with metawork itself than actually accomplishing what all this metawork is supposed to help me with. Hopefully others out there can associate with this feeling.

The fear of not being productive enough

The primary problem I encountered in researching for frameworks was that so many people had different views on which was the best, especially concerning React vs. Vue. It made me feel like no matter what I chose, I would be missing out on something; this extends to other tools as well. Which editor to use, which JavaScript style guide, which code highlighter, which snippet organizer, which keybindings... so many arguments exist as to why some are better than others that it can quickly become overwhelming when actually trying to make a decision.

The solution: Do your research, but pick a point to stop researching

We can all get caught up clicking through articles describing methods of saving time and effort using the shiniest new tools. But at some point, you're filling your head with more information than is useful. Write down the major solutions or tools you think will help, research them individually, then compare their pros and cons. This is straightforward, and I'm sure you've done it before. However, once you have made your decision, stick to it. Become familiar with the tool you have chosen. Instead of leaping on to the next-big-thing, try and make the most out of your tool. Unless there is something glaringly obvious that becomes a major roadblock in your workflow, you would be surprised at how well this tactic works.

There's nothing wrong with trying to be productive

Let me clarify: metawork is not a bad thing. In today's world of software development, we have more options than ever to save time in doing tasks! Sometimes, though, we don't know where to draw the line and to stick with what we've got. If you simply try to make the most of what we have and not install every new library and tool you read about on Medium (or even here on DEV!), you might find you're less distracted and can focus better since you can become more accompanied with the tools you already have.

Productivity Tools I Do Use

Since we're on the subject, I thought I might list a few tools I use daily to help keep myself organized.

Toby (Chrome Extension)

This extension aims to be a better bookmarking tool, and helps when you need to close your browser but don't want to bookmark everything or trove through your history to find what you had opened. It can replace your new tab page and has an extremely intuitive interface for organizing your tabs any which way you like. I was a little skeptical at first, but once I installed it it's become more useful than I could have imagined.


An application that is every modern developer's notetaking dream, Boostnote has become my go-to for jotting down code or ideas. Still has a few bugs at the moment, but it's also open source!

Keypirinha (Windows only)

This program will change your life forever. With just four keypresses, I can launch virtually anything. And with plugin support in Python, you're not limited to only what the base application has to offer. You are not a true power user until you are using an application like this. Similar applications are Wox, Alfred (macOS), and Launchy. However, I've found Keypirinha to be the best overall and out-of-the-box.

What are your thoughts?

Top comments (1)

zoebourque profile image

Thank you for sharing! I like to use this project management software called Quire; it's a great productivity tool to keep my to-do list organized. It has helped me to plan and track my progress.