I routinely wake at 5 am on weekdays using the built-in alarm on my iPhone. I recently changed the label of the alarm to read:

“Go get yourself a cup of coffee.”

Merlin suggested this tip on Back to Work, and he was right: it’s very pleasant to wake to a friendly, gentle note from yourself. It starts the day off just right.

I used to use the label:

“Wake the fuck up, fat ass!”

It did not motivate me to work out.

This past Friday morning was no different. The bedroom was pitch black save for the light of the glowing rectangle beckoning me to get out of bed. Leaving all of the lights off, I walked downstairs. The only sound I could hear in the darkness was the hiss of the coffee pot, just finished brewing a three-quarter pot of dark roast.

Our coffee machine is a horrible, cheap, standard-drip piece of crap I got as a Christmas gift from my sister a few years ago. I much prefer the results when I use our french-press, but auto-start function on the drip gives my alarm some olfactory backup.

The machine used to be a brilliant white but those days are long past as it has succumbed to the yellow stains of frequent use. It is in desperate need of replacement. The carafe spills from the spout every-single-fucking time I pour a cup, and has done so since the first day I took it out of the box. I should have taken it back when I got it, and today I should just throw it out, but a part of me holds on to it because it reminds me of my sister each time I have to clean the mess from the counter, while breathing a curse in her direction miles away in Oregon. I miss her very much. I haven’t seen her in months.

So on Friday I cleaned off the counter, as I do, and moved from the kitchen to the living room. I sat on the couch and pulled a blanket over my legs. It was cold and I felt tired; I really should start going to bed at a reasonable time.

The original intention in getting up so early was so I could start my day with some exercise. On days that I find the motivation, I do.

Lately though, I’ve found that I like to spend the time writing, or sitting alone in the silence to think. With two young kids and jobs and family and friends, it doesn’t feel like there’s much room for that in our lives these days.

Friday I felt the pull to write. I started a draft in Notes.app on my phone. I wrote around 500 words (just a guess; there’s no word count in Notes) on how saying “no” is hard, and strategies I’ve used to make it a little easier.

I started to feel the need for some extra screen real estate (the title bar takes up a ton of room in landscape), so I picked up my iPad to continue. I love the ability to put down one device and pick up another to continue what I was working on without skipping a beat.

When I opened the app, it loaded to a blank note and the “New Note” and “Notes Library” buttons were unresponsive. I’ve noticed this happening a bit recently, sometime around the point I passed 65 notes stored. I reset my device to factory to see if it would resolve the issue. It didn’t.

Up until this point, I hadn’t noticed any issues beyond the annoyance of having to force-close and reopen the app. This time though, my new note didn’t sync to the iPad. I looked back on the phone and the note was gone from there, too.

I’d heard plenty of warnings of iCloud being unreliable and losing data. And, despite my own assertion that “sync” is not synonymous with “back up”, I did not have another copy of my work.

I don’t want to get burned by the same thing twice. I’ve downloaded iA Writer (my Dropbox text editor of choice) and Dropbox (holy smokes this iOS redesign is pretty!). I’m writing in it now.

Last weekend I also received my OmniFocus Mail Drop Beta invite. I don’t have an issue with Reminders.app. In fact, it has been one of my favourite parts of this experiment. However, Mail Drop is something I’ve been waiting for to add to my task workflow. So, back to the purple checkmark. To be honest, I’m really looking forward to doing a weekly review this Friday using the Review function on the iPad app.

Since I’m now using two applications that support it, I’ve also added Textexpander back in. The benefits it provides for my interaction with OmniFocus and iA Writer are too much to pass up.

So what does this all mean? Is the experiment a failure? Is it all FALLING APART AT THE SEAMS??

Two smart guys, Michael Schechter and Nick Wynja have reminded me that it is not. They reminded me that purpose of the experiment was to cut all of the extraneous stuff from my devices to discover what was really needed to get things done, not to keep stock devices forever. To do that, Nick proposed, one would have to adopt not just the setup and workflows of a basic user, but also the usage patterns of one. I imagine most people do not keep 65 notes in Notes.app.

I’m realizing that Apple hasn’t designed iOS and the apps that come with it with a “Power User” in mind. That’s ok. Schechter covered this well today.

The key to a developing a trusted system is just that: trust. You have to figure out what works for you so that you can sit in the dark, drink your coffee, write your thoughts and trust that they will not disappear on you.

Adding three more apps to my system isn’t the end of the world. There might be more to come too, as long as they are carefully considered before their addition.

Somewhat related: does anyone know if Vemedio has fixed those bugs in Instacast 3 yet…?

Falling apart | February 26, 2013 by James. Looking for more? Check the archive or follow the feed. Want to say hello? Send me an email. Or a beer.