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Nerd's Guide to the Galaxy

How's That App Working For You? Or Is It?

Mar 20, 2024

Hello friend, it’s me Seth!


It’s been a while since I’ve written here, and I do need to ask you for a favor, but I would never ask something for nothing. 


So here’s what I need your help with, and then I will share something with you that I think you will find incredibly valuable. 


I have been nominated for Accounting High’s ABC Tournament. 


And while I normally don’t do these things because I am too busy producing content for you, for some reason I got a wild hair up you know where and decided to do this. 


So if you don’t mind helping a nerd out, please cast your vote here:



It should only take a minute.


And now for something I think you will find very useful.


I am often asked by people what app I am using for this or that, and then I’m asked why I switched from one app to another, and what if anything that app replaces. 


I want to take this opportunity to share some insights with you that will answer these and many other questions I know you have around this subject of productivity at large. 


Let me start by saying that if you are struggling to keep track of everything you and your team members need to do, there is a high likelihood that it has less to do with the app you’re using and more to do with your system (or lack thereof) for how you use that app.


What I’ve noticed over the years is that many of you do this backwards. 


You hear about a new app that everyone is talking about. So you jump on it thinking, “this MUST” be the app I need for my practice. This is why I’ve been struggling.


Here’s the problem with that. 


You’re thinking that the app IS the system and it isn’t.


The system has to be defined before you can implement an app. The app is just a tool for executing the system. 


The good news is that you may not need to switch, yet again, to another app.


To pull a page out of David Allen’s Getting Things Done, you need a system that enables you to capture, clarify, organize, reflect and engage with everything you need to do in a system you can trust!


And the basic system is this:

Forget about whatever app you’re using for a minute.


Capture - you capture everything in your system’s Inbox. 


Clarify - What does done look like, and what do you need to do next to move this thing forward? And when does it need to get done, and how important is this to you?


Organize -  Once you have clarified something per the above it moves out of your inbox and into one of a few possible areas:


  • Scheduled - you set a specific day and time when you will work on this next.
  • Next Action Items - you want to do this soon, but there is no real deadline on it. 
  • Holding - you are waiting on something or someone to do something before you can move this thing forward. 
  • Maybe Someday - Self explanatory
  • Reference - There’s nothing I need to do, but there’s information here I need to reference.
  • Done / Archive - I’m done with it. I don’t need it anymore.


And then there’s that whole “...system you can trust part.”


The way you learn to trust a system is based on the last 2 pieces mentioned above.


Reflect - This means you look over everything. For me this means I am in my app (Notino) all day. It is the first thing I open in the morning, the last thing I close at night, and at any given time during the day I have multiple tabs open to different things that I want super fast access to.


Side note:

Speaking of multiple tabs, most of you have so many tabs open you can’t tell what is what! Not only is that not helpful, it is creating a lot of stress. In order to find something when you need it, you need to click tab by tab. You would be better off just opening a new tab and browsing to the thing you need. And many of you do that so now you have multiple tabs open to the same thing, multiple times. 


I switched to MS Edge - the only MS product I really love, and I really love it. Vertical tabs are one of the BIG reasons, and their tab groups which are saved when you close the browser so I don’t have to lose my place if I want to shut down. 

Note the Vertical Tabs on my left along with the Tab Groups. And of course what you are seeing in the main part of my page is my “Firm’s Hub” in Notion. This gives me quick access to everything I need.


Taking a page out of Nick Sonnenberg’s Come Up for Air, everything is optimized for “retrieval” instead of transmission. 


Optimized for transmission means you get it off your plate quickly, but good luck finding it later when you need it. This leads to the scavenger hunt where many hours / resources are wasted in many organizations.


Back to reflection

This is where your app comes in. As I said earlier, the app is nothing without the right system. 


If you have read everything so far and you are already using an app for project management, or as I like to call it, “Work Management” (because a lot of what you do has nothing to do with a project) then you may already be able to visualize how you can rework the app you are using to conform to the system I’ve described. 


If on the other hand you find yourself thinking that you need this system, but your app won’t work well here, then I’m throwing Notion out there. 


And while I am at it, I will mention that I just released Version 2.0 of my Bulletproof Notion Work Management System, which I am inclined to start calling it more of an Operating System. 


Every single thing I need I access from Notion - like I said before, it is the first thing I open and the last thing I close every day, and in between I am likely on the mobile app because the mobile app is one of the most well designed mobile apps of any project management tool I’ve ever used. 


Last but not least…



What use would a system be if I didn’t eventually engage with the work and get it done?


Of course that is the whole point of this, but back of that is the notion (no pun intended / actually it was intended) that when I get to my computer at the beginning of the day I have extreme clarity about what I need to do, and how to prioritize everything. 


If you need to, go back and review the outline above. You can see how the “system” works without any app in mind. It could be done with pen and paper, although I wouldn’t recommend that. 


Now go get the book Getting Things Done (or dust it off from your shelf) and study it. 


Don’t read it.


Study it and make notes so you can learn how to use it whichever app you will most enjoy spending all of your time in. 


Watch the video above for a walk through of how my Notion Template makes use of the system I’ve described here. 


And reach out to me if I can help you in any way!


If you think this was useful, you can thank me right away by casting your vote for for here:



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