I’ve long been a stickler for complexity and getting the most out of my stuff. This often means exchanging time for squeezing the last drop out of something. I’m talking about the difference between a Maximiser and a Satisfier (great book, read a wonderful summary by the brilliant Derek Rivers here).

Slowly, over time, my view has changed on this. It started a while ago when I switched from Windows to Mac.

The eternal debate

This is perhaps the eternal 21st century debate, Windows vs Mac (perhaps for the young it is iOS vs Android, but I don’t care about that…). It’s worth mentioning at this point that I use Windows for all my money earning work, that is to say Engineering, and there, I have no choice.

For my photography, and personal life, I do however have a choice. It was photography that pushed me to Mac in the first place. Perhaps it was initially because their laptops are hipster cool (Microsoft are for sure catching up now though). Now though, I wouldn’t go back for anything… they are stable, simple, and do everything I need without pissing around.

Software

We can reduce clutter on a computer perhaps more efficiently then we can in real life. The ‘shove it in the cupboard’ approach works better in software then in meat space. Here are the programs I use (and some pay for):

  • Evernote – It’s my storage centre for almost everything. With a SnapScan from Fuji, Vicky and I scan everything, and push it to Evernote. This gives us access to basically anything anywhere in the world. With two-factor authentication it’s pretty secure. Best feature: exceptional optical character recognition. I used to tag and file away everything with an attention to detail. Now though, I just shove it into a shared folder and forget. It means when I need something I’m completely reliant on the search, but it always comes up trumps.

  • Google Docs – For more regularly accessed documents I use Google Docs, this is where we do all our accounts (LINK). It’s great that we can both easily access on our phones and computers.
  • Lightroom – For photos. Nuff said. To simply my photo process, I use some presets from VSCO that auto apply on import, along with creating 1:1 previews. Lightroom automatically exports images for:

  • Google Photos – I wanted a place to store all my photographs online, as another form of backup. It didn’t take long to decide to upload them all to Google Photos. Since we started the blog again, it’s become even more useful, with it’s unbelievable search function. Vicky doing a post on dogs? I search dogs. Boom. This also gives me access to all my photographs anywhere, and on my phone, and means I can easily delete pictures from my phone to free up space for more podcast downloads!

  • JPEG Mini – Helps makes pictures smaller. Could be integrated with Lightroom at a higher cost, but I didn’t want to spend more.
  • Ulysses – This is about reducing distractions. (Screenshot?). It is a multi mark down writing environment. Best part of all is it’s integration with WordPress. I write directly into here, add pictures, do headings etc. Hit publish, quick tidy up in the wordpress back end, and boom, it’s done. Simply put, I don’t get distracted here. (What I can’t do is control my lovely wife, who just came in and interrupted me asking about a telephone number!! While slightly distracting, I can’t complain to much!!)

  • Freedom App – Used to block the internet / specific sites. Used to remove distractions from my life. Examples of things blocked:
    • Facebook
    • News
    • Amazon
    • YouTube

Other things

Some other things I’ve got in the habit of doing:

  • Keeping my desktop clean, what is on there is what is relevant for the task at hand. After uploading this blog post, those screenshots will be gone!

  • Not have chrome remember opened tabs
  • Attempt to have no emails in my inbox. Pretty easy going as I mostly either email myself (things to do) or don’t get many at all!

Things I’d like to do, but can’t justify

There are some things I’d love to do, but can’t justify the cost:

  • Spotify Premium – I’m completely hooked on their discover playlists, but at £10 per month, it just isn’t worth it. I never spent much on music before, so I just have to make do with the Aids. Not sure they’ve worked yet on me!
  • Lightroom CC – Adobe recently made a cloud based version of Lightroom, which looks perfect. I dislike having to plug my laptop into hard drives to access my Terebites of data. Few problems though: doesn’t yet have the ability to use my presets (see above). Biggest problem is my data though, the costs of having that much data in the cloud with Adobe isn’t cheap at all! Talking £100 per month here! Hopefully it’ll get cheaper in the future.

Closing thoughts

There are definitely ways to reduce and simplify in our digital lives, and in the above I’ve gone through a few things that I do. It is sort of an on going process, but we should strive to remember that doing these things is not about improving the process, but giving us more time to enjoy life, and do what most matters to us.