Focus on the system not the tool

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Paraphrasing Atomic Habits mantra “focus on the system, not the goal” I would like to tell myself to do the same, but with tools. In the topic of Personal Knowledge Management, Todo Lists, Project organization and similar, there are amazing tools out there (see Emacs’ orgmode). The problem is that if you don’t have a good system for doing things, using the tool becomes just pointless and more cumbersome. You come up in a situation where you have to learn a new DSL or a new interface just to do the same things you could do with a, for instance, .txt file. Then you feel smart because you spent hours learning the DSL, but actually you accomplished nothing, zero, nada. Of course apps and tools are great in their job, but I think they help you to improve the 80% of the things that actually have impact on the 20% of the processes (Pareto hits hard).

It’s important to learn the basic theory of the ideas behind Personal Knowledge Management, Todo Lists and Project organization and only then implement with tools. I’m quite sure that these tools will look less fancy and attractive after knowing the theory.