Great piece, Tris! And yes, you’re right — I relate. ;)

That said, one of the things I love about being a tech writer and strategist (indeed, the way I got to be a tech writer and strategist) is trying so many different tools. I don’t think of it as wasting time, because even when I go down the rabbit hole of trying a dozen different software tools, only to land back on where I’d started, I never know where my explorations are going to prove useful.

One summer, while making an album from our travel photos, I “wasted” a couple of days looking at different software options for mapping the photos based on their geolocations. A year or two later, I ended up working on a client project that involved mapping photos — and I already had a good sense of the different options and trade-offs. That kind of serendipity happens to me all the time: I end up writing about or working with some kind of software tool I investigated eons before, and wouldn’t have thought of if I hadn’t “wasted” that time.

Yes, sometimes app-trying becomes a form of procrastination. But I’ve come to see it as part of my process; in the horrible old days before there was an infinite number of apps to try, I used to spend a day or a week reorganizing my books or my file boxes or my clothes. Somehow the organization process was part of how I’d clear my mind for a big project.

Now I often do that with app obsessing instead. (A down side: our house is chaotic, because I rarely apply my early project “nesting” urges to cleaning up some part of our actual house.) And it’s procrastination that pays off, because I end up with a better grasp of the software ecosystem.

Perhaps most relevant, I often get into app exploration not as part of an immediate professional task, but as a form of personal relaxation. I know that optimizing your menubar isn’t everybody’s idea of how to kick back on a Friday night, but it is mine!

Author, Remote Inc: How To Thrive at Work…Wherever You Are. Tech speaker. Writer & data journalist for Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review & more.

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