FoldingText and productivity

I have been using the FoldingText app for a couple of weeks. It is a very interesting app targeting writers, something I am not, but I was intrigued by the interactivity of this minimalist app. Specifically the ability to add interactive todo lists and timers and have them execute in a text document. Please take a look at the FoldingText Video to get a feel for it, I don’t want to describe ideas that a video shows so clearly.

I have been using it for my daily plan the past 2 weeks. I usually start each day with a mix of items I want to accomplish. These items usually include a mix of coding items for a sprint, some user stories for the backlog, and some wireframes for a future sprint, etc. The mix keeps the day feeling balanced. I add a mix of these to the day’s plan, and then organize them into pomodoro time slices.

The app’s simplicity allows some really interesting customization that isn’t present in an app like Vitamin-R, which is a good pomodoro app, but like most apps is not very flexible. For example, I have found that keeping the daily plan, now and later notes, and the time slices all in a single document is very powerful. Further I can add notes indented under time slices to describe what I did during each slice. Since everything is in a single text document (markdown) and lives in my nvALT notes app, I can easily search and find my daily notes that include what I accomplished each day, etc. This is good for reviewing how well certain activities mix together, looking at my velocity over time, etc.

All of that is useful but the reason for my making this post is that I find the interaction model to be very interesting, basically a text document with very simple embedded mini-apps that are triggered by simple human-readable phrases that add functionality while the document is open and in use. With all output living in the text document. It gives hints of a feeing of empowerment that early spreadsheet apps like Lotus123 delivered. I can imagine all sorts of useful embedded mini-apps, the key will be maintaining the simplicity. Many apps used for productivity today are incredibly prescriptive, FoldingText feels like you are really in control and able to customize the document as a very simple app. Of course FoldingText itself is still more of an app than a platform, but I can imagine it as a platform with many developers adding these mini-apps. Todo lists and timers seem like a powerful start, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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