Consolidation to Reduce Anxiety

Too many apps. Too many profiles. Too many inboxes. Not enough of the right attention going to the right places.

The joke used to be: the first step to any new business idea is securing the domain name. The result was a lot of clever domain names that were registered even though they never went anywhere. Then, the joke evolved to include social media handles: because why do you need the website when everyone would just go to your Instagram instead?

A few years ago I moved my websites to Squarespace because enough YouTube ads deemed it a necessary addition. How easy it is to create these websites! They would all proclaim.

Yes, but it was another login. Another place to manage. Another connection to repair when things went awry. The complication grew at the end of last year when I clicked the button to create a Google Workspace specifically for OutWord – an entirely new identity for the business, the brand, and all of the work that went into it.

The idea being: well, now I had the means to expand. But that quickly turned into – damn, now I have to grow into this. Of course, this all happened right when other things were taking more of my attention and interest – reading, working on my own books, drawing, and working on my mental health.

Beyond all of this is a constellation of applications out there all running in the background, each keeping track of one little thing, each sending me some kind of reminder or digest or update. Every tab in my browser was a division of my attention.

It was time to consolidate. I already had a loose idea of what needed to happen.

  • A single calendar
  • Something that reminds me what is in progress and what deadlines are approaching
  • A place for notes and drafts. Somewhere to keep the ideas that creep up while I’m out and about.
  • Photo storage and archiving
  • A place to host websites.
  • A place to keep archived projects, web pages, documents, scans, etc.
  • Some kind of email distribution thing.

By and large, everything was reduced to a single Google account. The same one I’ve had for years that has served as my default inbox and login for so many things. A standard, generic Gmail account that hosts pretty much everything. When I bought into Google One, I got a mess of cloud storage (also a factor in picking my apps) which granted me a few extra Workspace features most Gmail accounts don’t have – at least, not yet.

Yes, a SINGLE calendar. I had three, which meant there was a mess of duplicated events that never synced up properly. I’d get notified of all manner of things. Also – it was a minefield of spam invitations. My calendar had so much going on it was essentially useless. Now, with ONE calendar that the world feeds into, things feel sorted. I am learning to just trust the environment these apps all fit into. The calendar places notifications from Google Tasks and Google Keep – the apps that are replacing my quick capture notes and deadline notification (not to mention they both work well with Docs and the Inbox, letting me capture and link items so I don’t lose them – which was also a problem).

All inboxes feed into one. It took a solid afternoon of reminding myself how POP accounts work, but all of my email addresses end in one spot. This means a bit of hosting was required – which I nail down through For the price of what I was paying SquareSpace, Podia, and the second Workspace, I can use their baseline hosting service for a decade. Domains (dtpennington, Outwordcopy, and others) flow through to my one inbox. A few months ago I re-established this blog on this domain when I was reminded, once again, that it was the only place that would be truly safe from platform or policy changes (I had thought of having everything host through Substack – a platform which will inevitably change for the worse).

Photo backup is simple. Google Photos backs up everything I take on my phone and it serves as fairly easy gallery backup for whatever comes out of Lightroom, Photoshop, or just from an SD card dump.

Drive has been solid enough on handling the ridiculous number of digital files, PDFs, Scans and other things I save (I’m not much of a collector, except when it comes to notes, and then it is endless). The sticky thing is, and likely always will be, is keeping the docs somewhat straight enough to stay useful. I want to say that Gdocs should have some sort of tagging capability – but I also likely just need to learn to use the search functions more effectively (and, therein, generating better file names and document metadata).

Is it really such a good idea to rely on one provider for all of this? Probably not. And since I have an unending anxiety about losing everything, everything gets backed up to a local drive AND to a remote iDrive. Nothing to manage or update – everything gets copied over there automatically, waiting for the day when this all goes to hell.

The idea is always simple: do as much as you can with the bare minimum. All of us have access to a free suite of applications that do 98% of what the “premium” products do – take a note, set a reminder, keep a calendar. The other 2% is likely something you’ll never notice you missed out on.