Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Focus On What You Need to Do, Not Features

Features in and of themselves are not a problem. It’s about adding the right features and only the right ones.

— Patrick Rhone, in Enough

I receive a lot of criticism for a number of my opinions and for some of the ideas that I advocate. One of those ideas is simplicity. This criticism seems to be wound up in the idea of value. More precisely, what people perceive to be value. You can capture that in this equation: more features = more value = more usefulness.

And it’s not just limited to software or gadgets. It’s everything. Cars, appliances, productivity and time management systems, home audio, and more. But wen you boil it down to the basics, what do you really need to do much, or all, of your work?

If you take a step or two back, you’ll find that for the most part you don’t need anything complex. Something simple will do the trick.

Take, for example, this blog post. I wrote it using TextDrop. Tools like TextDrop let me focus on words and not worry about finding things in menus or on the Ribbon, or worrying about features that I’ll probably never use. All I need to do is write, and I find that I write a lot more quickly with no loss of quality. Your mileage (or whatever you measure distance by) may vary.

I’d hazard to say that for 90% or more of what you need to do, features get in the way. They slow you down. They make you less productive.

Letting go of superfluous features is easy. It’s just a matter of looking at alternatives and keeping your mind open to other ways of doing things.

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