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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

DEVONthink: Integrated Information Manager

The latest release of DEVONthink [download] seems to scratch several itches I’ve been having lately. Specifically, I confess that I’ve been dashing (very unproductively) between a mountain of txt files, Mail.app, Entourage, two Moleskines, and an Instiki wiki trying to fashion the best solution for managing an amorphous collection of work, web, writing, and extracurricular projects. No single solution has been just what I needed, and, frankly, it’s been debilitating to try and maintain it all (Danny calls me the “patient zero” of productivity fads). It’s like tending rabbits, I tell you. While I know DEVONthink won’t solve all my problems, it looks very promising at corralling some of my thornier information management issues.

So far, I love the way that DEVONthink imports and manages stuff as well as how it draws informal but often rich semantic connections between documents. It has taken everything I've thrown at it so far (incl. Word files, photos, and Quicktime movies), and it still feels fast and stable (knock wood). I’m still getting my head around all the features and am still trying to find the best way to keep a database maintainable and well-organized, but I’m definitely intrigued.

I might also add—coming as this does on the heels of my reviewing two products that many of you found too costly—that DEVONthink rings up at just US$40 (further discounted for students). Given the power behind this app and the flexibility of things you can build with it, I find that gobsmackingly affordable.

So, DEVONthink nerds: if it suits you, consider sharing your thoughts on how to put the app to best use. I’m looking at you and your buddies here, Mr. Fred Reynolds. I know you guys have some pretty hot-rodded setups, and I’d love to hear how you do it. Ditto for good links to tutorials and tips on other sites. Also you can trackback this entry with posts about personal setups and novel uses you've found.

nick's picture

A little OT, but from...

A little OT, but from reading your post, I wonder: where is the fine line drawn that GTD goes from saving time, to wasting time?

I don't mean that to sound harsh, but at what point do we start accumulating more lists and spend more time maintaining our processes for keeping track of things, than actually getting those things done?

I tend to give new ideas/apps/systems 2-3 days max. If I can't get my brain around it in that time, I deem it not worth my time (or my brain's just not flexible enough...which is entirely likely). I'd rather be getting at those things, than creating more spaces for me to look through and maintain.

perhaps I'm not embracing the spirit of GTD - i've not read the book, only 43folders.com :) - but it seems to work well enough for me. balancing the maintenance with the actual work is the ultimate goal, no?




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