A Great Illustration of Toxic Productivity

Me too. I inherited a box of these and keep a little stack of them next to my keyboard for quick capture when typing something into my daily note isn’t an option.

…except it’s really not. It’s a cornerstone of a rather large number of marketing efforts and influence campaigns targeted at adults - and it’s successful. Wikipedia has a whole page talking about various uses of both FOMO and derivative concepts.

If it doesn’t affect you, awesome - I tip my hat to your self-mastery. :slight_smile:

I’m all about people having their fun. But I think that if people are mostly “having fun” on both sides, there’s no need to use manipulative marketing tactics to get them to buy.

Otherwise-intelligent adults fall for hype and ridiculous claims every day. And I’m not a fan of anybody that uses fear-based marketing for that very reason.


Reading back through my post I can see I was unnecessarily harsh. Mia culpa. I wish I were immune to marketing, I’d be a much wealthier person!



I’m going to be a snob for a minute, but: the people actually getting their work done and making a valuable contribution to their fields don’t have time to switch apps every couple of months and produce gushing videos about how it’s life-changing. And “productivity” isn’t a field unless you’re David Allen (and even then, he built his career working directly with corporations and Getting The Work Done, before writing a book etc.).

I want to see real-life uses from people who haven’t made an income stream for themselves by being any type of productivity guru.

That’s why I find this forum so valuable to be honest. Actual professionals sharing their use cases, and there’s a whole mix of us so I can learn how other fields tackle the same problems. (And it’s why I make an effort to contribute my own examples, so that others hungry for real work examples can find what they need.)

(I might be drinking the Kool-Aid but I did find this refreshing about the videos coming out about Readwise’s Reader Beta - many of the videos showed people’s actual libraries with all their miscellaneous interests and how they’re sorting them. E.g. “this is a work thing, this is my slightly obsessive research into optimal gaming dice, this is a news article I won’t read”, etc. It was refreshing.)


I agree. There are usually a very small number of people in any organization that have, or are allowed to have, a lot of time to evaluate new software.

Changing software is expensive. And the greatest cost can be the time it takes to learn new software, or train your employees to use new programs.

That’s probably never going to happen. But it would be useful information.

When Satya Nadella introduced Office for iPad he said something like “bring me my iPad”. For a couple of seconds the camera showed his home screen and I thought “that iPad has not been set up for a demonstration”. It made his presentation more believable to me.

Tiago Forte makes a living selling the concept of a ‘second brain’ but not, to my knowledge, any particular software.

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All of my +1’s on this.

I’ve learnt more in the last few months from reading here how people use tools and systems in real world scenarios than I have from multiple expensive courses and countless books (and I’ve done many courses, from BASB to multiple OF/Things/Notion/Obsidian courses which I did get value from of course)

I find it ironic given the origins of GTD that it’s now so difficult to find content that shows productivity concepts and real world workflow in a complex corporate environment. I really struggle with the relatability of the examples content creators (quite understandably) often use and the advise they give based on these workflows. One example is a theme I’ve picked up about not needing a ‘Waiting’ or 'Agenda’s/follow up tag or perspective. Of course that approach can work, but when you are relying on 100’s of people to deliver it’s not quite as binary as it’s often portrayed. It needs a fair amount of management and if that’s work to get done, it needs to be in my system.

I wish we had more threads like the attached, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone back to that one to help me think through my own workflow challenges.


As one who does have an Obsidian course, and makes videos on Obsidian this is something I struggle with. I try to show what I’m doing and the plugins/tools I’m using to make it useful. I’m sure I miss the mark sometimes, but I know I stop watching/reading people who seem to jump ship all the time to the latest hotness.

To @Bmosbacker I know I have lots of control of my time and can set my schedule and have no direct reports. I do use Obsidian for my regular coding work to document issues and processes so that any future dev doesn’t have to start from scratch like I did with a sprawling system.


Thanks for the post. For what it may be worth, I find your videos to among the more useful around. I also appreciate both your expertise and down to earth style. :slight_smile: I hope you did not take any of my comments as disrespectful or dismissive in anyway. I tried to make it clear that I have and do learn a lot from some of the videos—yours included. It is just that too many such productivity oriented videos and podcasts are produced by those who don’t have to deal with the complexities of large organizations. I’m blessed because as the equivalent of the CEO, I have a lot of control of my schedule and the staff who report to me. Many people don’t have that luxury.

I’m using Obsidian primarily for my research files. I’d love to be able to use Obsidian as my professional project note and meeting note application. The problem I run into is the friction in viewing PDFs and other documents that I need imbedded in my meeting notes for quick reference. An example are spreadsheets of five year financial projections when I’m in a meeting with the finance committee and our CFO. Opening a spreadsheet or PDF within Obsidian while in a meeting is less “elegant” and with more friction than an app like Apple Notes or Craft. The other issue I have not been able to resolve is how to send the follow-up tasks in an Obsidian meeting note to a task manager. There was a Things plugin but the last time I checked it was abandoned (a concern I have with depending on plugins). I know there is a Todoist plugin but I don’t want to use Todoist. With Craft I can seamlessly send the follow-ups as grouped, discrete tasks to OF with the URL embedded. I can do essentially the same things from Apple Notes to Reminders. I suspect these friction points are the limitations of plain text files. I’d love to know if there is to a solution to my two friction points—if there was I’d probably jump to Obsidian in a heart beat! :slightly_smiling_face:

Anyway, keep up the good work. Your videos (and I’m sure your courses) are among the worthwhile. :slightly_smiling_face:

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@curtismchale I steer clear of a lot of videos in “PKM” but I sub to your channel and get your PKM weekly so I’d say keep up the good work. :blush:


Agreed! @curtismchale 's channel is in the top 10% of YouTubers I follow, even if you include old tractors, and hit-and-miss engines (which is saying something).

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Strange. I just tried it in four different browsers, and they all worked fine when I pasted in the address https://www.youtube.com/@curtisgmchale

At no point did I feel any comment here was “disrespectful”. Really I do my channel based on what I’m interested in, which is reflected in my slow growth because I don’t follow fads.

The Obsidian community is really early, in many ways it reminds me of the early WordPress community (I build WordPress sites). There are lots of new plugins and lots that get abandoned. I’d expect over the next year or two that the plugin contributions slow down and we get a bunch that are stable that you know will be around.

For follow up tasks, I just did a video last week about sending notes to OmniFocus with the title and link. It’s not individual lines, but I’m going to work on a Shortcut to take task templates from Obsidian to OF.

@AppleGuy thanks.
@JohnAtl thanks as well


I’ll be sure to check out the video, I always learn from you post, much appreciated!

Stop looking for the perfect productivity app, it doesn’t exist. You always have to put some thought using the tools you use. I like Cal Newport’s approach: stick with a tool at least for 6 months, and if there’s any friction


The recent (and continuing) improvements in CloudKit performance and apps in general have been astounding to me. But my opinion is that folks who expect their ever expanding needs to be met in a (near) perfect manner will, at least for the current state of the art, continue to be disappointed at times.


I think that people throughout history have been able to achieve great things without a “Roam research” or a perfect “Obsidian workflow”.

I mean, Cal Newport has a post doc, publishes a lot in his field, and publishes best selling books. Still, he uses trello and an analog planner; along with google documents to store his top goals and quarterly plans. Also, he uses physical books and a rather simple system in Evernote to manage his writing, writing it at the end with word.

Ryan Holiday also has an analog system. At a recent interview with the author of Peak Performance he also shared a simple system for writing all his books.

My point is, all this new and shiny tools introduce a lot of friction without the user knowing it. Always chasing the last shiny tool. All of this isn’t new, see for example this article. Since the beginning of GTD, people realized there is a market, where you get money incentivizing people to try the next shiny tool. Nowadays we see it clearly with this content creators that NEED YOU to change the tool you use, in order for them to keep getting views.

I honestly don’t even watch YouTubers that aren’t academics, engineers or in general “real hard working people”, when looking for advice about this tools. This is why I enjoy Cal Newport’s podcast, a normal guy, using regular tools accomplishing a lot. Instead of people that don’t have a real job and get money from algorithmic ads directed toward you.

Just try a tool for a month, realize the friction points and see if you can make something to improve them or tolerate them, then stick for 6 months with that tool and finally reevaluate.

Realize there is not a perfect tool. No tool will do the thinking of organizing everything for you. You need to have a plan, and organize all you want to do manually.

There’s a lot of successful people out there that don’t use Tana, Roam, Obsidian or the next new one that will appear in the next month to get things done.


I was just perusing the GTD forums this morning and David Allen’s company still has folks running old versions of MacOS just to keep their Lotus Notes and eProductivity systems running. Some serious longevity there.


The CIA used Lotus Notes for many years and collaborated with Lotus during its development. They continued to work with the company mostly on improving security. It had a lot of fans.


I was one of them. I tried to make the switch to One Note when my workplace migrated to a locked down IT environment, but it just never took.


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