The goal of any project—or at least one worth doing—is for it to find its own place. While we’re working to evolve this site into something unique, we acknowledge that Workflowing, like every other good idea, draws on much of the work that came before.
Of all of the influences we draw upon, four stand out. Their examples help shape what we are building here.
Everyone has that thing … the one they wish still existed, yet for one reason or another no longer does. For a long time, my favorite thing on the Internet (yes, the whole wide Internet) was the weekly email newsletter that Aaron published for the Read & Trust network. At a time where I was growing fiercely protective of my email inbox, these weekly thoughts from many of my favorite writers on the web was one of the few things I looked forward to receiving. It was a great way to support independent writers, and it inspired much of my personal development. I miss it. I miss it so much, that it’s what is driving me to attempt to create something that carries on its legacy with our free Workflowing Weekly newsletter.
It’s easy to dismiss several spaces of the web as either overcrowded or jaded. Our world of productivity and self-improvement certainly fits this description to a T. Another space that suffers from a similar fate is tech news, especially sites focused on the Apple ecosystem. Yet one look at Federico and you can see that there’s hope for those who want it badly enough, are willing to work hard for it and (hopefully) have a fraction of his talent. I’ve always been inspired both by Federico’s fresh perspective and his clear desire to not only highlight, but drive people to the work of others. It’s a difficult balance to achieve and one he and the team at MacStories do better than anyone. They set a high standard, but they also give us hope that there’s still room for something salient amidst the silliness, even in the worlds of Apple news and productivity.
While both Vardy and I have long been inspired by Patrick’s work, it’s a newer project that brings him to this list. Patrick recently created a guide for Mac consultants as the first of what we can only hope will be many Minimal Guides. Not only did Patrick execute on this ambition in less than a week, but he did all the work in public. The idea started as a living blog post and has now evolved into a premium ebook that continues to be updated regularly. At first, Workflowing was going to be a very carefully crafted launch, then Patrick had to come and screw it all up by inspiring us to take a risk and iterate our idea in public. Patrick’s example encouraged us to bring Workflowing into the world before it is fully formed. Hell … who are we kidding; it’s not even nearly formed. We have a strong sense of where we’d like to go, but our assumptions are yet to be tested. We’re scared to death that we won’t be polishing this site to a shiny veneer, but we hope and believe that the end result will be better for inviting you to observe as the site evolves.
Simply put, the productivity space as we know it today does not exist without Merlin Mann. In fact, the initial working title for this site was Cranking Better, an homage to his contributions much in the way that 43 Folders was an homage to David Allen’s Getting Things Done. Many, including Merlin, lament what this space has become. There’s a sense that clever life hacks—that only lead to the pursuit of more clever life hacks—have eclipsed tools and tactics that lead to the creation of great work. We agree with this concern, but we still believe in the potential of concepts like workflow and productivity that now seem cliché and hollow. That reminder to “Do Better” comes directly from one of Merlin’s most popular posts, and it’s as much a “note to self” as it is a suggestion for you.
If you’re familiar with any of Aaron, Federico, Patrick or Merlin’s work, you know we’ve set the bar high for ourselves. We look to aim high, work hard and continue to do better. Thankfully we have the right inspiration to help us along the way.