Workflow Frustrations

It happens to everyone. The day you sit down and try and get some items off your todo list only to hit a long list of obstacles slowing you down, suddenly you realise the tools you’ve depended on for a long time are no longer able to help and causing more problems than they solve.

For me, today, this was Evernote.

When I first started using Evernote it was the holy grail of information storage, a simple method to take notes, photos, and documents and store them all in a easily searchable and available archive. Over the past two years or so Evernote has become my reference store and has slowly built up to 2,000 nicely curated notes covering everything from upcoming travel plans to household bills and account information.

Then the inevitable happens: changes. XKCD #1172 sums it up nicely in that every change breaks someones workflow, and this is exactly what happened to me with Evernote.

A recent change in the OS X client disabled the quick shortcut of using the Delete key for trashing notes. My workflow with Evernote is that everything slightly interesting and new goes into @Inbox notebook, when i’ve got a period of free time I go through these notes and tag/move them to the required notebooks. During my “inbox processing” I find that a few notes are either mistakes, unneeded, or duplicates of information I already have in my system, and these notes are quickly casted out with a quit hit of the Delete key.

So, now its a block in my workflow. Evernote did change the shortcut to Cmd+Backspace but when you’ve been running with the same process for a long time trying to re-train yourself to use an alternative keystroke can be a tad frustrating. At the moment its slowing me down but over time i’m sure i’ll just become another point in my process.

The crux of the problem here is how to handle change, it isn’t just limited to little fiddly shortcuts or icons being moved around, it could be as large as introducing in a new process into your working day. I’ve seen many posts and such saying that being adaptable to change is one of the key separator between successful and non-successful people, but in reality everyone is a creature of habit, and when that habit is interrupted people will generally be unhappy.

In my case, I post my frustrations to my blog, get an early night, and probably forget about it the next day…