what I need in a digital workspace

As of July 2021 I’ve joined the team at The Recycling Partnership as their Director of Organizational Effectiveness. Everything you read below is out of date and applies to my life before joining The Partnership.

What I’m realizing right now, on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, is that my entire personal digital ecosystem needs to evolve to meet my new needs. I’ve been self-employed for ~6 years, working with dozens of teams in dozens of tools, but mostly with my own software stack. Now my personal work is so intertwined with…my job’s work…that I need new ways of working for myself.

Specifically, I need to design a system for both myself and my team, individually as well as in intertwined. As I onboard myself to my new role, and build situational awareness, I’ll consistently iterate and refine both systems until I find what works best. Subscribe for updates if you want to stay up to date! ;)


That said, I’m still thinking about this, and this is The Refined Mind, a never-ending work-in-progress digital garden, so let’s go!

I need a space where I can think endlessly and capture what’s worthwhile. Everything very quickly needs to be segmented into “relevant to my job” and “not relevant to my job and thus relevant to the rest of my life,” though there are many similarities that already make so much knowledge ambiguous between the false dichotomy.

I now have two roles to consider

  1. Personal Work + The Refined Mind
  2. The Partnership’s Director of Org Effectiveness

These roles are incredibly intertwined and hold both similar and unique needs simultaneously.

The key similarities

  1. Both roles are dedicated to designing, implementing, and refining productivity systems
  2. I’m fully invested in creating the best possible outcomes in both of my roles because I fully give a shit about my life, my planet, and my communities, and these two roles are now two sides of the same coin

Looking at technology, they both need to offer

  • Clarity
  • Speed
  • Flexibility
  • Organization
  • Streamlined experience

The differences

Personal productivity unique needs

I want somewhere to be My Workspace™, and I want that somewhere to have what I consider critical capabilities:

  • Bidirectional links
  • Block references
  • Fast search
  • Fast sync
  • Seamless mobile experience
  • Private, Secure, Offline
  • Daily Notes
  • Unlinked references *
  • Hotkeys
  • Easy export
  • Deeplinks
  • Easy “processing notes” workflow
  • Easy selection and rearrangement of blocks

Organizational productivity unique needs

  • Transparency
  • Alignment
  • Permissions
  • Integrations

Somehow, I need one digital space


## 🚧 ⚠️ Rough Terrain Ahead ⚠️ 🚧

🛑 What’s this? ✍️ This whole note is a work in progress, but the below part is really rough. So why’s it here? Share ideas before they’re ready.

* Asterisk represents the capabilities Craft does not have. See below for more detail.

Nice to haves

  • Collaborative features: comments, easy sharing, multiplayer
  • Tags *
  • Pretty interface and delightful UX

To meet the needs above I rely on my digital ecosystem, with most of my work being handled by a few specialized tools:

It’s been a fascinating evolution of the ecosystem and I’ve learned so much about new tools, including how Tools for managing information overload and improving how we think are on the rise.

I do believe A knowledge worker’s toolkit needs to be well-rounded, but tools can also be distracting so it’s a fine line to tow. Hopefully I can settle in to my new system and really build a body of work.


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