The Art of Disagreeing and Building Your Personal Productivity Stack

Alessio Frateily

Hatched by Alessio Frateily

Sep 05, 2023

4 min read


The Art of Disagreeing and Building Your Personal Productivity Stack


In today's world, disagreement is becoming more prevalent, often fueled by the ease of communication through digital platforms. However, it's crucial to understand how to disagree effectively and constructively. At the same time, personal productivity has become a significant concern, given the overwhelming amount of information and tasks we face daily. Building a personal productivity stack can help streamline our lives and enhance our ability to achieve our goals. Let's explore these two topics and find common ground between them.

The Levels of Disagreement:

When it comes to disagreeing with someone, there are different levels that range from name-calling to well-reasoned refutations. Understanding these levels can help us engage in more productive and meaningful discussions. The lowest form of disagreement is name-calling, which adds no value to the conversation and only serves as a personal attack. Moving up the ladder, we have ad hominem attacks, where we criticize the author instead of focusing on the argument itself. While this carries more weight, it still fails to address the validity of the author's points.

Responding to tone is another level of disagreement, which often distracts from the actual content. Criticizing someone's tone without addressing the substance of their argument is shallow and unproductive. Contradiction, the next level, involves pointing out inconsistencies or errors in the author's statements. While this can be convincing, it's essential to ensure that the opposing argument is directly related to the original point.

Counterargument, which combines contradiction with reasoning and evidence, is the first form of convincing disagreement. It aims to address the original argument directly, making it more compelling. However, counterarguments can sometimes be aimed at slightly different points, leading to misunderstandings and ineffective discussions. To engage in meaningful disagreement, it's crucial to clarify when we are addressing a different aspect of the argument.

Building Your Personal Productivity Stack:

In the realm of personal productivity, email overwhelm has become a common challenge. With numerous notifications, subscriptions, and to-dos flooding our inboxes, it's easy to get lost in the chaos. David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology introduced a systematic approach to managing these open loops. Digital apps like OmniFocus, Todoist, and Wunderlist gained popularity for their ability to capture and organize tasks effectively.

However, as the use of these apps expanded, they started housing more than just to-do lists. People began using them to store reminders, notes, and inspirations, cluttering the simplicity of the original concept. This task overload creates difficulties in identifying the most important actions, as they get buried beneath non-urgent information. To combat this, personal dashboards emerged, providing a big-picture view and guiding daily decisions.

Personal dashboards go beyond traditional note-taking apps by using curated knowledge and data to facilitate action and decision-making. They allow for customization based on individual needs, making them powerful tools in managing information overload. The rise of the "no-code" movement has made personal dashboards accessible to everyone, with apps like Notion, Coda, and Microsoft Loop offering extensive customization options without requiring coding skills.

Creating a personal dashboard requires careful thought and planning. It's crucial to define the problems you want to solve, envision the ideal future state, and focus on essential information while ignoring distractions. This process ensures that your dashboard aligns with your goals and helps you make progress towards them. While it may take more time and effort to build a personal dashboard compared to traditional note-taking, the benefits of a structured and dynamic tool far outweigh the initial investment.

Finding Common Ground:

As we explore the art of disagreeing and building personal productivity stacks, we can identify common points between these seemingly unrelated topics. Both require a systematic approach and thoughtful consideration. Just as structuring a personal dashboard helps declutter and streamline information, employing a logical framework for disagreement can lead to more meaningful and respectful discussions.

Three Actionable Advice:

1. Prioritize Substance Over Tone:

When engaging in a disagreement, focus on the author's arguments rather than their tone. It's essential to address the validity of their points rather than nitpicking about their delivery. This approach promotes constructive conversations and avoids unnecessary conflicts.

2. Refute with Reasoning and Evidence:

When presenting a counterargument, ensure it is backed by sound reasoning and evidence. Simply contradicting the author without providing supporting information diminishes the effectiveness of your disagreement. By offering well-reasoned refutations, you increase the likelihood of productive engagement.

3. Start with Clarity and Intent:

When building your personal productivity stack, begin by clarifying your goals and intentions. Define the problems you want to solve and envision the future state you desire. This clarity will guide your decisions and help you build a stack that aligns with your unique needs and aspirations.


Disagreement and personal productivity may seem unrelated at first glance, but they share common principles of organization, clarity, and purpose. By understanding the levels of disagreement and applying a systematic approach to building a personal productivity stack, we can navigate the challenges of communication and information overload more effectively. Prioritizing substantive arguments, supporting counterarguments with reasoning and evidence, and starting with clarity and intent will help us engage in meaningful discussions and achieve our goals.

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