Obsession with interface

Today I downloaded the twitter app off the mac app store and that is where the inspiration to write this post came from. If you have not already used it, try the app (it’s free). The interface for this app is something which I would like the apps for Mac OSX lion to follow as a default.

In the last few years, I have grown more and more obsessed with functional interfaces for all the programs I use. May it be for mac, iPhone, iPad or any other device, the way I interact with the device has become of the utmost importance. I have realised that how a good interface can significantly enhance the task efficiency. It is odd because the interface was not something I used to ever think twice about not too long ago. I personally think that this marks the beginning of a new era.

In the beginning, when I got into tech, there was the computer, the machine that did some word processing work really well and played some great games. This was the era when computers made your life easier but in no way essential.

Then came the time of the Internet. By this time computers had become relatively commonplace. The beginning of the Internet era was one marked with fascination. Websites took a lifetime to load but you eventually got to read yesterday’s news on some website. This was a time that the Internet was merely for fun. No one took it that seriously.

Then came the era of the information superhighway. The Internet went through a massive boom. It had started to feel like the future I used to think about as a kid. Free flow of information of any desired subject. The depth of this available information was such that it can be researched to a pervasive degree of detail.

And now, the Internet has literally exploded in both size and importance. It has become so essential that some countries have accepted access to the Internet as a basic human right along with food, water free speech and shelter. The wealth of information has overwhelmed the human race. It has become so vast that it is impossible to consume it all, like an ocean. Water water everywhere but little water to drink. I think this line can read as information information everywhere but only little is of relevance. There is a need to be able to filter this vast ocean of information to get the information that is desired.

This is where the interface comes in. An interface designed to filter out the required information while needing little to no effort to filter the information is required. This information filter needs to be intuitive and non obstructive to be able to provide this information in manageable chunks for the, rather limited, human brain. The aesthetics of this interface are important as well because a visually pleasing interface combined with intuitive functionality makes for an efficient workflow.

We all try to achieve more in less time i.e. there is an inherent need for an efficient workflow. I believe this is only achievable by having an interface which enables us to work with it rather than work on it. This way one can concentrate on the “what content to create and consume” instead of “how”.

Getting things done

A new year, a new set of tasks. One of the things I want to really try out properly this year is an organised workflow method. In the past I have tried and had sow success with following the getting things done methodology. I have tried using a number of apps with various types of sync options across all my gadgets with varying degree of success. In the end, I settled with a program called Things which provided enough functionality as I required coupled with a very nice user interface across all my gadgets.

However, after a while, my use of this rather efficient workflow became less and less and I could not quite understand why. After having a proper think on the matter over the holidays I think the reason for this was my implementation of the workflow. Instead of using task management to achieve goals, I used task management much like a shopping checklist. Everyday I would put all the tasks that I have to get done and just list them one after the other in my apps without any type of organisation.

While this did the job of reminding me of what needs to be done very well; it took away the holistic view of how that task fit into the big picture. As I lost sight of how completing these tasks was making a difference (or not) I also lost the motivation of using such a task management system.

I want to change this. I think what needs to be done is to divide all the things I want/need to do in a series of small projects and have these tasks attached to a particular project with an end date attached to them. This solves both the issues of giving me the big picture of how completing tasks is helping my ‘projects’ and also how I prioritise these plethora of tasks. I think the best way of doing this is to first have a mind map to identify chunks of mini projects under which the related tasks can be bundled. And this map is then reviewed periodically to take out completed projects and add new ones. This, I am hoping, should give me an efficient workflow which is also sustainable as it keeps things organised and also keeps me aware of the big picture.

So now the thing to do is to design this concept workflow to suit me. Maybe in a couple of posts I can post how the new workflow is holding up. In the meantime, please leave a comment on what you think of my workflow idea and your thoughts on how you would improve it.

Happy new year to you all again.