Killing Mental Friction

Brief productivity update. As I noted at the end the year, I moved from Things to Asana. After the initial excitement and eager eager that accompanies any new bright and shiny product, my Asana usage tanked. The issue? First, I was using it like I used Things and, second, I didn’t know Asana.

As I’ve written about before, my personal workflows are bereft of complexity because each sliver of complexity creates mental friction and aggregate excess mental friction is why I abandon tools. My initial Asana workflow was an exact mirror of Things – the reason, I didn’t want to reinvent my flow. After a week, it was clear from increasing that with Asana that I was forcing my square-peg workflow into a round product.

After several weeks of watching Asana slowly gather digital dust, I rebooted. First, I watched every single Asana video available. Oh, it all revolves around the inbox. Ok. Second, I became the master of all Asana keyboard shortcuts. This might well be a nerd thing, but part of the reason I knew Asana is built for me is they’re big on keyboard shortcuts and, for the nerd, the single biggest killer of mental friction is memorized keyboard shortcuts. Lastly, and as you’ll read in an accompanying forthcoming article, I reinvented and rebuilt my workflow in both my email client and Asana. Accompanied with a better understand of Asana’s features, this blank slate approach allowed me to build around Asana’s feature set. Two weeks later and this revamped workflow feels familiar and productive.

My workflow is a work in progress. I’m still experimenting, but, then again, so is Asana. This week they released a Calendar feature. I haven’t extensively used the feature, but I sleep better at night knowing my tools are actively thinking about how to grow and evolve with me.