Every so often, a piece of software comes along that is so helpful it changes how I do my digital work. This doesn’t happen regularly, and this makes ‘Drafts’ remarkable.
Ideas come first for most of us. We think of something, and then we immediately think about the best way to capture it. The best way to capture it depends on what we plan to do with it, and so the options are many.
We immediately find ourselves in a situation where several decisions need making before we can get any further. Which detracts from the important thing, that idea you had a moment ago.
This is where Drafts comes in.
The easiest way to think about Drafts is as a pile of notes that you take throughout the day. The interface is clean and pretty. When you open the app, or click on a widget, you are presented with a new sheet. You write the thought you wanted to get down and that’s it—for now at least.
Open it again and another new sheet appears—ready for your next idea. You can decide how long Drafts waits until it creates a new sheet for you. If you like to keep everything together and accessible you can turn this feature off.
I write almost everything in Drafts first. There are all sorts of text-formatting options, but I rarely use any of them. I have no interest in my writing looking pretty at this stage, and find that the clean, minimal interface functions well as a ‘blank canvas’. I want to get the ideas down before they melt away.
Having one icon on my Mac and iPhone to hit each time something occurs to me is an absolute game changer for me.
Whether I’m writing a text message, an email, a tweet, email, a to-do, thoughts on a current project, it all goes into Drafts first. The same goes for links. If I see something online that I want to read later, I hit the share to Drafts extension in Safari. The app helps me to focus on what I want to capture, I’ll decide where it should live and what to do with it later.
This is the whole point. Whatever my writing eventually becomes, it always starts here, in Drafts.
When I have time, I’ll sit down and go through all my sheets. There are many free extensions in the ‘Drafts Directory’ that enable you to do all kinds of stuff with your text.
If I want to tweet my text, there’s a button for that. Same for emails, messages and all the usual stuff. Dig deeper, and you can send your text straight to a new sheet in Ulysses, or to a Day One journal entry. Apple Notes, Reminders, Omnifocus, Notion, Things, the list goes on and on.
There are so many useful extensions. Like the button that simply turns your text into a Google search and opens your browser.
For those of you thinking that this is an ‘extra’ processing step, fear not. In reality, most things can be done quicker using Drafts. There is rarely any switching between apps at all, which saves time and makes it much easier to stay ‘in flow’.
Drafts is close to the perfect inbox for your creative process. Dump everything in there and then flesh it out or send it on when you have the time.
Capturing your output like this makes for a smooth process that is less prone to mistakes. Half-baked or poorly crafted messages are more likely to get spotted and amended before they get sent. Even better, some messages don’t get sent at all. The passage of a little time often offers up answers or alternative, more constructive ways to deal with something.
The software itself is rock solid, fast and completely reliable over the time that I’ve been using it. The sync between devices is faultless and quick. Drafts is also free, which is astonishing. I’ll be upgrading to the Pro plan soon—not because I need any of the Pro features, but because I want to support the developers.
In some ways, there’s nothing special about Drafts. At the same time, it’s been revolutionary. I feel much more in charge of my creative process and free of both distractions and the mental clutter that usually arises from my futile attempts to multitask.
Drafts is the one app I currently use that I would be lost without. It has changed the way I work in a very specific way, and I’ve never found anything quite like it. Weirder still, I can’t think of any way that it could be improved. I hope it doesn’t change much, or try to be anything besides what it already is—a true productivity enhancing tool.
Thinking of nothing but my ideas and the words I want to use to capture them is both liberating and addictive. I’m a massive fan.