The Digital Tools that Run My Life

Yes, there are 16... it's works for me!

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I run my life with digital tools. I do nearly everything online except for a few specific use-cases which I’ll discuss another day!

Currently I’m up to 16 apps. This number does not bother me at all as I don’t abide by the implicit standard of the all-in-one app, my system just has to work and this one does!

So, this is what my organic system looks like in my 4th year of being around this digital tool/productivity space.

If you want to watch a youtube video about this, I published on here. If you want a summary, read on!

It’s hard to know in what order to discuss all of this as it’s so interconnected to my real life, but I’ll do my best. The best way I’ve found to explain this with a solar system, inspired by this tweet by Fis Fraga.

As of 17th aug 2023

The Core

Notion

Paid

So the centre is Notion. Notion is where so many parts of my human experience converge, and where so many other apps converge.

It holds everything from my 3 year plan to my quarterly planning to my daily tracking and everything in between, my outfit inspiration linked to my shopping list, the paint colours in my house, my bills, my business ops, my project management system, my reading database, my favourite films… all sorts. I call it BethOS for a reason!

It looks different most days, I’m always moving things around because it has to keep up with my life. I move things around, add new database views, everything. But the organisational structure that underpins it hasn’t changed. I use as few databases as possible in as many places as I need it, and it’s perfect.

The databases that run Notion

some Notion screenshots!

The inner ring

These are apps that I open every day and that often stay open.

Capacities

I work for Capacities so have access to all features.

This is where my knowledge lives, breathes, grows, and looks beautiful along the way. It’s my favourite app ever because it works in the way my brain does, and answers all my PKM dreams. This is always open.

Arc

This is my internet browser. It’s hard to specify precisely what I love about this, in the most annoying way possible I just love the vibe. It’s fun, it’s fast, it has all the extensions I need, I love the command bar, I love the split view. It’s good fun. And now open to all!

Raycast

Free

Raycast describes itself as an “extendable launcher”.. I use it to open apps mainly but you can do so much more. You can add extensions, AI, teams etc. I’ve added Notion extensions, calendar extensions and more. I also use it for clipboard history. I like having these abilities accessible through a device-level command bar.

Paid but free version works perfectly well

This manages my tasks and time. It has the best capture system of any app in my system, it’s beautiful and joyous to use and it’s getting better with each update. It works on top of Google Calendar which is perfect, it’s slick and fast and the mobile app onboarding is the best I’ve ever seen.

Paid, here* is an affiliate link if you’re interested! You’ll get 25% discount off your first three months with code PKMBETH.

This is marketed as a productivity tool but I basically use it to be nosy at my past self. What was I actually doing at a given time? This tracks what you do on your device all day then categorises it by activity such as social media, meetings, writing, email etc.

This is super useful as an extra layer of data to my journalling experience and it’s really satisfying to see what I’ve done day to day.

Day One

Paid

This is my journal app of choice. It keeps my thoughts private, which is one aim of journalling. But another aim for me is to give my future self as much evidence as I can of a past version of myself, so I love that Day One brings in my pictures, calendar and location from the day. It’s adding layers to the fabric of my life and I love that I can look back on it whenever I want.

Texts

Paid

Why check inboxes in all social media accounts when you could just check one account?

Such a simple idea but it solves that issue of missing notifications and forgetting to reply. I can’t see myself without this app now.

Spark

Free, premium previously gifted

I have no idea how this makes me keep to inbox zero but it does! It’s super slick, fast, and easy to use and for the amount of emails I recieve this is perfect.

The outer ring

These are apps I probably use every day anyway, but not necessarily.

Reader

Paid

This delightful app is a read-it-later powerhouse to which I save articles, pdfs, newsletters etc to read later. It’s so easy and intuitive to use and it has integrations with loads of apps. I send my highlights to Notion for further processing.

Twos

Free- referral code here

For reasons I can’t quite work out, Twos is the best app for keeping lists. See here! You could also build your whole second brain in here if you want, but I keep it simple. It is fast, free, fun and very good at organising lists, so I’m happy!

Zotero

Free

This is my reference manager. A lot of the stuff in here is legacy items from my masters, but all the pdfs and reference information of any academic source I’ve read in the last 18 months is in there, so I will never delete it. I do sometimes still read academic sources too, so it’s a useful app to have.

Logseq

Free, some alpha features previously gifted

This is another legacy app from my system mainly but I use it occasionally to do deep reading (often of academic sources), or just to look through old notes. Opening it is like a self-reflection practice in itself because it’s where I spent all my time in 2022!

I have realised I prefer database structures so I’ve nearly entirely moved away from Logseq day to day, but it holds a special place in my heart (definitely a normal thing to say about a note-taking app right?) and its PDF highlighting and outliner structure is currently unmatched for deep reading from the suite of apps I’ve tested so far.

Raindrop

Paid

This is a bookmark manager. I have 2k bookmarks in here from a couple of years of use and it’s just where I store any link that I want to keep for reference, that I want to come back to later, or that I didn’t have the energy to read properly at the time.

This is for PKM stuff yes, but also for so much of my personal life: things I want to watch, gifts to buy family, shoes to buy myself. So much of the world is available in link form, and Raindrop is where I put those for processing.

You can read more on my capture system here.

Apple Notes

Free

If I’m not saving a link, and I just want to write something down to come back to later, I save to Apple notes. This is an inbox-zero situation. Write, process, delete! Simple :)

Hookmark

Gifted

I have been aware of Hookmark for years and have been using it mostly now to create entries in Capacities from my LifeOS in Notion, to create interoperability between the two apps I use the most. I use it daily.

This is just the beginning of what you can do with Hookmark and I’ll certainly be diving in more to find out what else I can do with it, and then I will pass on those lessons!

What’s next

These apps intersect in many different ways to form various systems I use: PKM, task management, life management, home management, and I want to show all of this. I’ll go through my systems one by one and also write about any tangents that also come up! Let me know if there’s something particular you want to see/any apps to feature sooner.

Thanks for reading :)

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