Balancing Hard and Soft

One of the tempting diversions for people concerned with getting things done is to spend too much time looking around for tools to get things done. It’s very easy to fall into that well and be constantly trying new things and letting your actual goals fall by the wayside. Often it’s a matter of living with what you have and accepting that some things will just be “good enough” so that you can move forward.

With that said, sometimes a new tool can be very helpful and fill a gap in your systems. Over the past week I’ve been trying out Complice, a productivity app that aims to help you stay focused on your goals during your day-to-day. I discovered it via the Beeminder community, and since Malcolm, the guy who started it, is also an avid Beeminder user it’s no surprise that the two systems integrate well.

For me, Complice lands between Beeminder and OmniFocus. It’s focused on the short-term, daily action that makes up the bulk of the work that one actually accomplishes while also weaving in medium-term goals and priority setting. Each day you are asked to enter in your “intentions,” tasks that you want to complete, and link them to your goals. At the end of the day you then go back and mark which ones you actually completed, and do a little self-check to see if you’re on track to accomplish your goals.

All of that is great, but an overwhelming desire to avoid staleness means that Complice doesn’t provide tools for making plans more than a day or two out. Even Malcolm uses external systems to track the things that need to get done on longer timelines. I have OmniFocus to handle that for me, and so far the two seem to complement each other.

Beeminder, of course, is best for quantifiable hard goals which require steady input and are predictable well in advance. Complice aims to help with the soft goals: ones that don’t lend themselves to hard quantification but are still worth doing. Overall it seems like it’s tackling that challenge well, despite a few warts, and I’m going to keep using it for the time being.