On the heels of Andrew Marvin’s excellent piece on “single-tasking”, I don’t think it’s just human beings that need to look at this as the way to go. Technology does. In fact, it can influence single-tasking just as much as it influences multi-tasking.
And yes, human beings are the ones that generally create the technology that needs to shift toward single-tasking (although some apps and software-as-a-service solutions are starting to do this).
Here’s an example…
Despite my attempts to depart Google, this past week made me clamour for Gmail once again. That’s because Dreamhost went down, taking my email with it. Not cool.
The fact that Dreamhost is my host1 and also deals with my email is a bit of cause for concern when this kind of thing happens, because they have to work on getting two things back up and running rather than just having to focus on just the one thing they do for me. When I was using Gmail for Vardy.me, all Dreamhost did for me was handle my hosting. Now I’m more reliant on them – and they’ve let me down twice in the past 4 weeks.
I’m starting to lean towards going with FastMail as my email provider, because they only do that: email. The attention and focus of their tech department isn’t split among several services. They only have to worry about email, and that makes me feel a hell of a lot better should I go with them.
I’ve started to replace aspects of my online life with “single serve” products and apps rather than multi-purpose ones. I use DuckDuckGo for search, Scrivener for my book and Byword for my weblogging on my Mac. I use Evernote for ideas and notes, Asana for tasks2, and now I’m considering FastMail for my email. Yes, there are more “inboxes” to check, but at least I know what things are in those inboxes. That lets me decide to look at them in order of priority, rather than sift through a massive inbox that contains a variety of my online stuff.
Why am I going this route?
Because I’d rather have something that can do less than one that can do more, especially when the stakes are high.
And since I make my living working online, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Photo credit: Jacob Earl (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
1 But not for long…
2 Still using it, challenges and all.