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Methodology or Approaching things Methodically

by Kerry Dawson

You might look at this title and wonder how does this apply to the Mac and IOS and that would be a good question and I hope it becomes clear as I embark upon writing this post. This blog posting was actually a bit of a tough one for me to develop but I felt it needed doing up front so that you have a much needed framework as you choose your Mac/iPad/iPhone and all the stuff that goes with it such as the software. Its too easy to run out there and grab all of what seems like the latest and greatest or just sit down with what you have and not have a good perspective on exactly what you need and how you’re effectively going to use it. Rather these things need to be approached in a relatively methodical fashion which will ultimately lead to your overall satisfaction and what i hope will lead to good posts on my part.

Methodology and Methodical Defined

Its first helpful just to understand what I mean by the terms methodology and methodical and in many ways they are very much intertwined. A methodology is basically just the technique that one employs to define how something should be approached. Such a methodology could be actually fairly loosely based or rather more structured and based on a model. Regardless, in either case, it is helpful, especially where it comes to computers and software to have a methodology so that the outcome is based on certain principles which one can both utilize at the time and fall back on. To summarize the dictionary definition of methodology it is:

a system of methods used in a particular area of study or activity: a methodology for investigating the concept of focal points | courses in research methodology and practice.

Connected to this is the idea of approaching things in a methodical fashion or a fashion in which one sort of thinks it through. So if you were sitting there using a PC but had heard all this great stuff about using a Mac instead you’d want to methodically give this a fair bit of consideration from a number of angles lest you might be very disappointed in your decision to switch platforms. Again, just to highlight the dictionary definition of methodical it is:

*done according to a systematic or established form of procedure: a methodical approach to the evaluation of computer systems.

We All Utilize some kind of Methodolgy

In life, we all tend to utilize some kind of methodology to the functioning of our lives and the decisions and choices we make. Some of these approaches can be very loose in their structure and may not even be perceived through to the ad hoc and finally to relatively rigid. Not one is necessarily better than the other but it can be easily said that having no approach to how we engage things is not going to produce or only with a large degree of luck the kind of outcomes we’re looking for. This especially applies to the area of computers and their use or non-use. Thus, the way you approach something provides you with a frame of reference and a way of moving forward. The more methodical we are or to the degree we employ some kind of methodology it is likely we are going to achieve better results than not and thus a much better level of satisfaction with those choices.

Why a Blog Post Like this One

As I said, this one is a toughie but really before we can discuss choosing or using a Mac and/or IOS device we need to have a framework so that we can obtain the greatest value from our products. Whether that be being more productive at what we do in our personal or professional lives or just relaxing, enjoying and having fun with our Macs a framework is rather essential to ensure these outcomes. I’ve seen too many posts where a person has said I thought things would be easier when I left my PC behind and chose the Mac or this piece of software only to find things are more frustrating and thus disappointing. To make the right choice you need to sort of have done your homework somewhat to determine that what you’re doing does make sense relative to what you have to do and want to do. A well thought out strategy and possibly a researched approach will lay the foundation for a good choice and therefore one’s satisfaction with the outcome of the choice be it to get a Mac, buy this piece of software or that or get that AppleTV. Even what some consider the little things such as a home WIFI network can prove very disappointing or frustrating at a minimum if the choice say was solely based on cost as opposed to that which is what’s my environment and what do I expect to happen. Buying PC gear in a Mac only household might and be cheaper but it will come at a cost of time, effort and it just may not work quite right.

So its easy to choose something but at the same time you don’t want to be let down by that choice nor find that you’re spending hours kicking what have you to get it going. Its important to set expectations and utilize some form of methodology to do that. Approaching your choices methodically and with a little effort will pay off generally big time in the end. As an example, tons of software is thrown at us constantly some which is very good but if you’ve already chosen something based on your approach and it works and works well then is it worth it to switch horses only to find you’ve lost your well garnered proficiency with what you had. Probably not but maybe. In the end its likely that you could:

  • waste time
  • energy
  • efficiency
  • productivity
  • money

and be no better off for it. Rather, after much frustration you might just find yourself going back to what you had, which if it was based on a methodical approach, was probably the right choice and not all that bad. There will always be something that sounds better and there are times when a switch is totally necessary but your methodology for choosing and your methodical consideration will likely lead you to the best conclusion.

As an example

For many years I used a tried and true word processor and it served me well. However, it was getting to a point where it was going way beyond my needs. Further, as opposed to being an efficient environment for me to write in it was becoming a distracting environment with all its bells and whistles. So much so, that I was having to relearn it and with great effort. It was sort of what I had employed and enjoyed for years but it was really changing so much so that it had morphed into a slightly different beast. It was not enhancing my productivity but was now beginning to get in the way of it.

At this point I began to think there must be a different approach to writing as what I was using had been around really since the beginning of time and there was. It was called a Markdown editor and it was just based on writing in plain text and using some simple symbols for formatting purposes. I must admit, when I first did a tutorial on this I thought “what have I gotten myself into” and where did this come from. I somehow missed something but I had read all this great stuff about how writing with a good Markdown editor was a very effective writing tool that allowed you to just focus on the writing (methodical consideration). So I decided to push through what I refer to as the learning curve which wasn’t as steep as I had thought and I sure am glad I did.

Having decided that this is the approach I’d take for writing I now had to decide on a tool or a software product. I did a fair bit of research and I decided on Byword although others swear by what they use. Byword though is highly regarded for the type of writing that I do and I certainly am happy with my decision. Thus, approaching this whole thing applying my methodology and considering things methodically I’ve ended up as a happy camper. That’s what I’m hoping for you and why this post at this point in time.

Approaches: Highly Structured vs Loosely Structured

As I said earlier any approach, be it structured or only loosely employed is better than no approach at all. That is, wow that sounds good. I’ll take it only to find that it is sitting in a corner possibly not even opened once one has read the system requirements or the learning requirements that go into the decision. In this case, probably the decision will not lead to a sense of satisfaction in any regard.

A very structured approach may not suit your personality and in that case one that is more in line with your personality style is better. However, not having any kind of methodology or at least considering the implications of a decision in some methodical way is bound to lead to at a minimum frustration and dissatisfaction and at its worst some level of chaos. No, its important to employ some level of structure in the way you approach both your personal and professional life and that can be no more true than for computers and our trusty Macs as kind as they are to us.

I myself tend to take a more structured approach based on David Allen’s model from his book “Getting things Done”. I have always tended to like models but I’m not rigid about this either. Some people are so rigid they can’t function if they’re not functioning within their chosen model and that can be self-defeating. Its probably not right for your personality style if that’s what’s happening. However, for me the GTD model is effective and I employ a software system/solution called Omnifocus which is based on the GTD model. I only reference this as a point of discussion and that there are different models and that some are better suited to one’s personality whereas others aren’t but as I’ve said nothing is not good!

Moving forward while Reducing Stress

Your chosen methodology might be structured or of a looser nature but either will move you forward while at the same time reducing stress. A more structured approach might be more appropriate wherein your decisions and actions have to produce highly productive outcomes. Should that not be the case a looser methodology can still provide for this but might be more appropriate for those things that do require forethought but don’t require a strict adherence to a set of goals that have to be achieved in such and such a timeframe. Rather, each approach or methodology will lead a more satisfactory outcome where it comes to our Macs and all that goes with them. At some level, where it comes to choosing, using and employing our Apple products in our work and personal lives or both, research is what is required by:

  • reading the literature and articles that are more than abundant
  • try it out
  • once chosen and if you like it stick with it
  • get proficient
  • get productive
  • and above all else enjoy

With all that said

Well I hope I’ve laid out in this post, before I go on to talk about some of the more fun stuff we can do in our Apple ecosystem and the ways in which we can be more productive, that the reasoning behind outlining the need for a methodology and a methodical approach are more transparent now. With all that said its now time to go and get that Mac if you don’t have one, go to it if you do with the software tools you’ve chosen and:

  • get to work
  • learn
  • enjoy
  • have fun

Hopefully, this will lead to a satisfied you who is both more productive yet feeling less stressed and enjoying a newfound sense of accomplishment in the decisions you’ve made.

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