Tools don’t work, you do.

Task management tools are only as good as the person using them. If you don’t use the tool, it’s not going to work.

I used to chase down different tools looking for new features or innovative implementations that will help me get organized and get more done. I’ve used Omnifocus and Todoist. I’ve gone full manual mode with a bullet journal, and, now finally, I’ve been using Things for the past few years.

The reality is this: none of those tools work if I don’t work them. A tool is dumb and only the skilled craftsman can make something of value (or get value out of the tools.)

At my company, Basis 365 Accounting we use Karbon as our workflow tool. It’s a great tool (and an expensive one) that wasn’t working for me. I had hundreds of overdue tasks, notes, and emails.

It wasn’t the tool’s fault. It was my fault. If Karbon were a personal task management tool, I might have declared task management bankruptcy and deleted everything to start over or even moved to a different tool. Because it’s a tool my whole company uses, I couldn’t simply opt-out of the tool.

I had to do the hard work of doing the work over a couple of weeks. I cleaned up, cleared out, and organized all my work in Karbon. Now, I just maintain it on a daily basis.

When I was cleaning up, I kept it simple. For each task, note, or email, I applied David Allen‘s Four Ds, prioritized in this order:

1. Delete
2. Delegate
3. Do
4. Defer

I looked for opportunities to delete things, especially things that are not essential. If I couldn’t delete it, I tried to delegate it because I’m not always the best person to do a task. If I couldn’t delegate, I would do it right away if it takes a short amount of time. If something takes longer, I schedule (defer) to a time in the future where I can focus on it fully.

I did it every day until it was cleaned up, which leads to the fifth D: do it daily.

HEY’s KILLER feature.

If you’ve been hanging around the right Twitter alleyways, you’ve probably heard a lot about HEY, the new email service from Basecamp.

Yesterday, I watched Jason Fried‘s video tour of HEY. The ability to annotate an email caught my eye. Hey lets you leave notes to yourself to any email thread.

This is a KILLER feature.

Even though I have not used HEY’s implementation of this feature (I’m still waiting for my invitation), I’ve use a similar feature daily in another email/workflow SaaS. At my company, Basis 365 Accounting, we use Karbon, a workflow management software that allows our team to leave notes on email threads. Again, it is a KILLER feature because it allows us to collaborate with each other to coordinate a response or seek clarity without cluttering up our inboxes with forwarded emails.

When HEY brings this feature to the business version HEY later this year, I guarantee that it will be your favorite feature.

This one feature by itself, is almost worth the $99/year price point, but HEY offers up so much more that justifies the price. As a point of comparison, we pay about $70 per user per month for Karbon.

This sounds crazy to say in 2020, but I’m genuinely excited about email again and I’m pounding the refresh button frequently just to see if the invitation has landed in my mailbox.