/PRODUCTIVITY • 4 min read

Enough Friction to Kill Your Momentum

TL;DR: If you just want the painkiller, get it here.

I know I should focus on ONE task. There’s so much articles, blog posts and lifehacks with this kind of headlines:

Josh Pigford recently tweeted about it:

Paul Jarvis advices to use one program at a time.

If you aren’t using social media, keep it closed. If you’ve finished checking email, close that. If you aren’t browsing the web, close your browser. Don’t even leave something open in the background. Multitasking makes it hard to focus and makes tasks take longer (because you’re constantly distracted).

I already know all of that, and yet I constantly have 3 or 4 browsers opened — with 10+ tabs each — along as much Sublime Text, and probably twice that much terminals with various servers, gulp, node, rack, you-name-it running in the background.

My virtual desks, before:

Before: Mess

No need to explain why my brain’s a mess (and why my laptop needs more memory). If you’ve ever worked on multiple projects at once, then you know what I mean.

The failing of “Windows Managers”

You might think that a windows manager will save you. But I think that if you have so much open windows that you need a windows manager (like Hammerspoon, Slate, Stay, etc.), then something’s wrong1.

And I knooow why you don’t want to close those windows: it takes forever to open them again. It’s like:

  • “OK, now let’s work on that project.”
  • open a new terminal
  • cd in the correct folder (and you might even have to open Finder to remember what’s the correct path — or you’re a smart dude and use z)
  • start the gulp / grunt / npm / whatever server you use
  • open a new browser window (because each of your project must have its own browser window) with the correct URL
  • open your sublime text / atom / whatever IDE you use
  • if you also have to work on some sketch / photoshop files, then that’s another 30s lost

Boom you just lost 2 mins of your life, and most importantly, that’s enough friction to kill your momentum.

A better solution

You shouldn’t leave these apps open in the background. You also don’t want to close them because opening them again is a PITA.

Or, is it?

  • What if you could 1-click-launch all the apps related to your project?
  • And what if these apps could be automatically grouped in the same OS X space? Super neat organization!

Yeah, that’s also what I thought, so I made a quick hack to do just that. It’s based on iTermocil which means you need to use iTerm2 (you should anyway), has no automatic installer (but takes less than 5 mins to get started), and as it’s an Automator app, it only works on macs. Oh, and it’s also open-source.

And it’s not a Windows Manager. It’s a Workspace Wizard.

Now, I have a folder in my dock with links to all my projects, and 1 click is all it takes to open everything I need. And once I’m done, I happily close all the apps which are not my primary focus.

After: Bliss

Get your Workspace Wizard now

To get started, just follow the steps on https://github.com/julienma/workspace-wizard#workspace-wizard.

This quick hack already saved me some time and lots of headspace. I have some ideas on where this could go, and would like to know how you use it and how it could be improved =>

Workspace Wizard

  1. I do use one — Spectacle — to quickly resize my app windows, but not to juggle between dozens of windows.
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