Client Agnostic

Have you heard about people who like run a “stock machine”? Referring to computers, that is. Not a lot of customization. Not a ton of fancy non-default apps they install. They don’t change many settings. They just run the machine as close to how it comes out of the box as possible.

It’s not that they aren’t productive or don’t care about the fun and potential of computers. They are more productive, in some sense. They can unbox a computer, boot it up, and be working in a few seconds. The more customization people do, the more devastating the loss of that machine is and the more dependent on it to do work.

That reminds me of people who love VIM keybindings. One of the reasons people say they like that is because VIM is available in the terminal in most environments, meaning they can SSH into a server and have a powerful and productive way of editing files. While the rest of us are like uhhhh can I download this file and edit it locally and put it back if, if the edits require anything other than a few changed characters.

The broader thoughts came from a much smaller place.

The other day my Gmail app on my phone started quitting on me. I’d tap to open it up (as I’ve done 3 billion times) and it would insta-quit and return me to my homescreen. I figured, aw, must be some weird email in there, so I went to the desktop and cleaned house, but that didn’t work. Insta-quit, every time.

It was annoying for a minute, then I long-tapped that icon, moved it away from my bottom bar where my email app always is, and moved on the default Mail app on the iPhone. That app works fine. Now I just use that. It affected my productivity seemingly zero. Maybe I’ll switch back. Maybe I’ll try something else just for fun.

It was proof to me that the email client is a small part of what makes me good (ok, medicore) at managing email. It’s a mental game. It’s a time game. Clients can help with little things, but not the big things.

Author: Chris Coyier

Hucklebucker.

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