The Tools We Use - August 2022 Edition

Tools both giveth and taketh away. Compromise is inevitable and unavoidable. Which is why the search for the ideal tool will never truly end.

The Tools We Use - August 2022 Edition

The obligatory tech stack post.

One thing that sets Focus Tools apart is that this website is not our bread-and-butter. Our primary focus, and sole revenue stream, is our consulting firm.

As such, the tools we use are essential to our core business operations. A business in which we are accountable to clients, our employees and our vendors. If the tools work well, they help us serve all of these constituents better. If they fail us, we risk damaging our livelihoods.

The criteria we use when considering our tools is:

  • Designed for calm, asynchronous work. (This is central to our company’s culture, and why it’s first.)
  • Stability over the shiny new thing.
  • Works with our other tools.
  • Can share with clients and vendors outside our organization.

Of course, most tools aren’t able to meet all of these criteria. Tools both giveth and taketh away. Compromise is inevitable and unavoidable. Which is why the search for the ideal tool will never truly end.

Below is a somewhat complete list of the top-level tools and services we rely on to run our firm. Otherwise known, in twitter-meme-speak, as our tech stack.

Dropbox - file storage and syncing. Although we are contemplating a switch to OneDrive to take advantage of live collaboration in Word and Excel.

Superhuman - email, with Gmail backend.

Word & Excel - docs and spreadsheets. Our business is primarily drafting contracts and budgeting. We have dabbled with Google Docs & Sheets, and some startups like Coda, and Rows. But, the lawyers and vendors we work with use Word and Excel, which makes collaboration simpler if we stick to these. Also, we’ve found that newer apps can have gotcha bugs that jeopardize our business. Word and Excel are sturdy workhorses that get the job done. As the joke goes, nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM.

Twist - internal team communication. Slack doesn’t fit our mental mode of work (see criteria #1 above). Twist allows us to work asynchronously and to calmly dip in and out of threaded conversations over weeks and months. We are kicking the tires on Microsoft Teams, however, largely because it integrates well with Word & Excel and OneDrive which, as I mentioned, we are also exploring.

Todoist - tasks. Although I have largely moved back to capturing tasks in Field Notes and planning my daily tasks on a legal pad.

Notes? - We haven’t found a notes app we like. We’re currently exploring Mem but in it’s a bit buggy and the iOS app, which is in beta, is rough around the edges. We have our eyes on Microsoft Loop and Evernote (yeah, Evernote).

AirTable - lists, databases and light CRM.

I’ll periodically post updates to this list so we can track how our stack evolves over time and why.

Agree or disagree with the above? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @focus_tools.