I’ve seen a ton of information on the web about choosing and using email apps and systems. I’ve even debated making a course about it from time to time. But I never felt like I was the right person to put it together. Thankfully, The Sweet Setup just launched (note: this is an affiliate link) just a course and I can tell you that it’s well worth your time and dollars.
A recording of the webinar from 20200918.
This has an interesting take on the Bullet Journal monthly task list.
It’s a new month! Which means it’s now time to migrate your Bullet Journal!
An interesting question to pose. Does it qualify or not?
We have a Bullet Journal with stickers that made it out with a rating of 3/5! Who knew that was possible?
We all do this. And we do it too often in most cases. But the question is why? And how often should we change?
This graph is pretty slick. But it’s also helpful to keep it in the same place each month so you can compare them.
I decided to convert Analog Joe to a webinar membership site a few months ago now. And when I did that, I considered many ways of building the website for it. Most of those would have been quicker than what I am about to describe. But none of those would have given me the flexibility that I now have with the site.
In this stream I talked about the background behind Analog Joe and why it’s different. But it also gave me a chance to devolve into my thoughts on Roam Research, note taking apps, and give a tour of my fountain pen collection.
Yesterday I took a couple hours and live streamed my entire June 2020 Bullet Journal migration process on Twitch. It was a lot of fun to join a handful of people online and do it together. They even helped me find mistakes in the process! I have certainly been bit by the streamer bug.
When I switched this blog to Jekyll, one of the features I lost was the ability to schedule posts for the future. Yes, Jekyll can handle future dates on posts, but you still need to run a command to build the site and then deploy it to your web server.
In the last month, I have expanded a little over 1,000 snippets in TextExpander. And given the complexity of those snippets, it has saved me over two hours worth of typing in that same period. And although that sounds impressive, I’m guessing the real number is closer to double that number. The snippets I’m using often save me from switching back and forth between applications or hunting down information.
When you first build your GTD system, it’s easy to focus on the tools and setting up the correct lists. At that point, it’s important to build the infrastructure and get your projects under control so overwhelm can vacate the premises. But it is common to let the system slide after a week or two or maybe a month.
For a couple of years now, I have been weaning myself off of Google’s services. I am simply tired of volunteering my information for their algorithms and seeing it used to create a confirmation bias that is unhealthy in the long-term. Yes, there are other companies doing the same, but for the sake of this article, let’s focus on Google. Here’s a look at the services I’m using to avoid them.
Save yourself the trouble. Set up a bank account for your blog or podcast early on in the process. The accounting mess of managing the finances within your personal account isn’t worth the trouble. This is especially true when there are online business banks that make the process smooth.
I keep my iPhone home screen empty. This is a commitment that is either a fad or a convergence of technology writers wanting better control over their handheld computers. Despite the scenario, I find that a blank home screen forces me to consider why I have unlocked the device.
The GTD Weekly Review is likely one of the most talked about and most resisted aspects of following the GTD methodology. And it makes sense. It takes time to do it right and it requires thinking at a level that is less than enjoyable.
When I re-committed to writing back in July of 2019 I started doing so in MultiMarkdown Composer. I learned about the tool from Brett Terpstra at MacStock and having learned that my brain works in many similar ways to Brett’s, I figured it was worth a try.
This past year I made numerous changes to my workflows and the tools I use to get my work done. And those tools are ones I love talking about. Thus, I needed to put this together.
What better habit to build than reading your Bible daily? This is something I have been working on for five years now, reading my Bible in its entirety in 365 days.
I want to help you out. It’s the time of year when a lot of us take a step back and reflect on what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. We do our annual reviews, set some goals, or make a plan for the upcoming year. But it’s also an excellent time to reflect on the tools we use to do all of the above.
I can’t say I’ve seen The Sweet Setup do this before, but today they have a deal running on ALL of their training courses. Having been through a couple of these and knowing the team behind them, I can tell you this is an awesome deal we should all join. I especially have my eye on the photography course.
You can get the entire bank of training courses from The Sweet Setup for $99 when it’s normally $270. That means the total price is $171 off! Check it out here.
Well, folks, it’s time. Working With OmniFocus 3.0 is officially available!
My main web browser of choice for almost a year now has been Brave. I love it because it takes the guts of Chrome and puts a privacy layer on top of it. It strips all the tracking and blocks ads out of the box. But you don’t have to sacrifice the great rendering and developer tools in Chrome to do it.
I have used Hover for almost four years. They were the first dedicated domain registrar I used, which was primarily due to the ridiculous number of times I heard about them in ad spots on podcasts. They are phenomenal at marketing and getting their name out there. But despite my history with them and their marketing, I have decided to move on.
At this point, you have most likely heard of SetApp. But not everyone believes the subscription is worth it. In my case, it’s an easy sell since there are two or three apps I use constantly that on their own would have cost me more than the SetApp subscription itself. But it’s the full spectrum of apps available that make it worth so much more. Just being able to download them to explore them is worth a trial. And to show you how much I get out of it, here’s a look at every single app I downloaded from SetApp.
There’s a trend. It’s a typical trend. It’s one you see in many sectors. It’s a trend that comes from one of two sources. One, people need a break. Two, people know and understand more about their sector than the general population. But the question is, what do you do about it once you know?
David Sparks has done it again. He’s just released a brand new Shortcuts Field Guide specifically geared towards iOS 13. I haven’t had a chance to go through the whole thing, but I can tell you it’s intense. There is a LOT of great video here. And since it’s so great, I figured it was only fitting to create a Siri Shortcut that takes you to the Shortcuts Field Guide.
A little over five years ago I took a small stack of index cards and clipped them together with a small binder clip. The idea was simple and it was one I took from Merlin Mann. It seemed like a helpful tool at the time and it was one that filled the need for ubiquitous capture. Five years later I’m still using the hPDA, but the ways I have used it are different from my original intent.
It’s official. I’ve come back to OmniFocus in full force. But after making that decision, I realized that my life is very different from where I was when I was using OmniFocus previously. And that means rethinking the whole structure. So I went on a search for inspiration and came up with a plethora of valuable resources.
The seed was planted about two years ago. I learned about the world of white-hat hacking and Hacker One. And although I haven’t done much of anything with my hacker account there, I did spend a lot of time researching and developing a knowledge of what it takes to make any decent money on the platform. But that research showed me how easy and prevalent the exploitation of user privacy has become. It opened my eyes to the lack of privacy we truly have online.
Macstock was especially awesome this year. Each time I return home I try to dedicate time to reflect on my time on the event. And I always come away with a better understanding of the Mac community, deepened friendships, new friendships, and way more tools to play with than I should ever download.
A couple of years ago I became familiar with the Audiogram tool created by NY Public Radio. I was enamored and immediately set it up. I created a couple and shared them, but it was a bit tedious and I could never get it to look quite the way I wanted. Some of that is due to my limitations in time dedicated to the process and some of it was due to motivation. But recently, I discovered a tool that helps automate the process and gives me the design features I want.
I could see the rage building in her eyes. This had come up many times before and it had now reached critical mass. Something was about to break and regrettable words were about to be turned loose if we couldn’t find a solution. That is if I didn’t find a solution.
Contexts are forever a sticking point for new adopters of Getting Things Done (GTD), but they are also an extremely popular discussion point for long-time practitioners, including myself. They are highly personal and dependent on your daily routines, hardware, software, lifestyle, personality, company policies, and hair color. And that means there are just as many variations on how to use them.
It’s a bittersweet moment to see a fountain pen begin skipping on the page. On the one hand, frustration takes over. The half-written words will need to be re-written and you’ll have to bring yourself back into the flow of writing. But on the other hand, it creates an opportunity to choose a different ink and rediscover the pen in a small way. Which means your love for the pen may deepen.
This past week I had a chance to jump on Free Agents with my good friends Mike Schmitz and David Sparks to talk about a pretty big transition I’m working through with my work. It may not be a popular decision I’m making, but it’s definitely the right move and I’m certainly excited about it.
This was a really fun show I did with Matt Ward and Dan Candell over on the Square Peg Round Hole Podcast. We get to talk about building online communities (in my case Productivity Guild) and how those compare to FaceBook communities. Ultimately, treat your community like a close friend.
As you can tell by my co-hosting of three different shows, I have embraced my love for podcasting. But, apparently, running three shows of my own isn’t enough. I started doing some interviews on other shows and the first of these to release is my chat with Jay Miller over on the Productivity in Tech podcast.
I’ve been tracking where I spend my time for a while now. In the majority of cases it has been purely for personal use and decision-making, but since I have now taken a part time IT position, I need to know exactly how many hours I spend on the job and calculate whether or not I’ve met my expected quota for the week.
On occasion I find myself with a sliver of free time. And it seems inevitable that I use it to tinker with this site. Given my latest obsession with page load speeds, this time I directed my attention towards the implementation of a CDN.
As I write this, my wife and I are expecting our third baby girl to join us within the next week. I wish I could say there is nothing but pure excitement in our house, but as anyone who has kids knows, there are a number of things to do once you know it is “time.” Depending on your situation, which you can’t predetermine, you may not have much time to accomplish everything and get out the door, so most of us put together a checklist to help us remember.
Searching is one of the most technically complicated processes to build and yet the simplest to use. And it’s almost universally accepted that every website has a way to search the entirety of their content. Connect this with the ability to search websites directly from Alfred and you can create a one-stop shop for searching all your favorite sites.
I’m a fan of Discourse. That should come without surprise at this point. As a fan, it’s natural for me to see the potential for Discourse to solve communication problems and create selective visibility within an organization. So it was easy for me to gravitate toward it for the IT communication structure at my church.
There’s a common misconception in the productivity world that when you develop a new process or system it needs to be entirely digital or entirely analog. Or the more common version of this dilemma: to work toward the use of a single database for your tasks. That may be nice, but it’s far from necessary.
We all need to eat. The consequences of rejecting that fact are far from pleasant and none of us would argue this reality. The problem comes when choosing which foods to consume. It’s not enough that our supermarkets are overflowing and options are endless; we have corporate marketing schemes, dietary standards, and fear mongering to battle.
One of the strongest fears I grapple with is that of rejection. Like most, I want people to appreciate the work I do and me as a person. My struggle develops when I sense a dislike or underappreciation directed towards me in some way. Red flags start flying and I find myself searching for ways to get out of the scenario.
I was an avid reader in grade school. Any program the school put in place to encourage kids to read, I completed as fast as I could. That trend continued until I made it to junior high.
The concept of resistance is getting to be common knowledge. In its original context as posed by Steven Pressfield, resistance is entirely negative. It is the internal and sometimes external force keeping us from doing our best work. As good brainworkers we consistently look for tactics, methodologies, and habits to remove and eliminate resistance.
I have tried numerous methods of managing my daily tasks digitally. But no matter the tool or the method, I am unable to replicate the clarity and motivation that comes from using pen and paper to plan and reflect on my day.
More often than not, I find myself surprised by the questions I get after releasing a new script or product. After releasing Working With OmniFocus I received more emails about how the site is set up then I did about the course itself. It’s apparent to me that this is something different that others are interested in. So here’s how I did it.
For years, Disqus has been the commenting platform of choice. It’s what I used when my site was on WordPress. When I switched to a static site generated by Jekyll, I pulled commenting entirely. But given the topics I write about, comments can be quite helpful and I realize that was a mistake. So I brought them back with the help of Discourse.
Drafts is easily one of the most used apps on my phone. To me, it is the pinnacle of resistance-free digital capture. If I look through my list of processed drafts, the most common forms of text I capture are content ideas and book suggestions. This tells me I read, write, and record a lot.
I’m all about reviews. I think their value greatly outweighs the time involved and energy expended. Most of the time it’s easy for me to initiate a review and step through its checklist, but there are days when I see a weekly review coming up on the calendar and start dreading it immediately.
One of my most hated tasks is setting the price for a new product. It’s painful and it seems like I can never get it right. The bright side is that I’ve been able to learn a lot in the process and that has led me to a price simplification, effective immediately.
One piece missing in my Drafts actions arsenal was the ability to create a single draft with multiple tasks and send them all to OmniFocus via the new URL schemes. This isn’t something I use often but there are times when it would be useful and can be the difference between capturing everything and missing a vital thought.
This past weekend my wife was gone on a retreat. That meant I took care of our girls on my own. They go to bed about an hour and a half before I do, and like any self-respecting web developer with an aging web design, I took advantage of the extra free time and made some major changes to the look and feel of my home on the web.
I’ve always admired the thought and intentionality that Kourosh Dini applies to his methods of working and developing structures that help him accomplish his tasks. So I was excited when he gave me the opportunity to go through his video course, Zen & The Art of Work, prior to its launch. I must say that I think this is his best work to date.
I’ve been impressed by the speed of the Omni Group’s release cycles lately. It’s obvious they are hard at work on the automation methods for both iOS and macOS. One of these recent releases introduced the ability to create new projects within a specific folder on iOS.
Folks are quite passionate about the software they use to access their email. I fell in that camp for a while but anymore I just don’t get it. I think that stems from my intent to touch emails only once, keep my inbox as empty as possible, and use a single archive folder for all emails I want to keep.
I’m always looking for a way to automate a process or develop a structure that removes steps from a frequently repeated task. That’s to be expected since I enjoy the world of productivity and do a fair amount of development.
When the Omni Group implemented the new automation methods in OmniFocus for iOS, I was both excited and worried. I had over 30 actions in Drafts that send text to OmniFocus using background emails as an action method. Switching all of those to use URLs was going to take some time.
There are a plethora of articles promoting and dissecting the tenants and principles proposed by Cal Newport in his book, Deep Work. That’s what led me to picking it for an episode of Bookworm. After implementing my takeaways for about a month, I can see a decided difference in my productivity and effectiveness. It’s what allowed me to release Working With OmniFocus when I did and to develop the depth of detail in those videos.
For the last year I’ve been running my business from a MacBook Pro and an iPhone. No iPad. No Watch. And no external monitors.
I hear people refer to information overwhelm more often than I would expect. The context varies but the idea is the same: finding information on the internet is so easy that the person has a hard time deciphering what is right and what to question. Some even take it as far as to suggest Google is making us dumb.
One of the most difficult aspects of building websites or doing knowledge work full-time is the lack of motivation and pride that typically comes from physically seeing the work of your hands. Yes, it is possible to achieve this sense of accomplishment when working purely with information and computers, but it’s far from natural.
One of the common threads in the books we’ve read for Bookworm is the impact of computers on our effectiveness, self-control, and overall happiness in life. Their prevalence and ubiquity in our world coupled with the newness and speed of their adoption has a lot of us wondering and speculating about the positives and negatives of this shift. So I would expect any book written in the last decade to incorporate thoughts on the topic.
When Smile introduced the new “Snippet As A Service” version of TextExpander, there was quite an outcry. To be completely honest, I was confused by and resistant to the change at the onset. However, if I look at the new version without allowing my previous experience to color my opinion, it is striking how similar it is to my other choices for software.
It’s been about nine months since I released Working With OmniFocus. A lot has happened in that time and my systems around OmniFocus have morphed quite a bit. Throw in a pile of learning accrued from other projects and I have decided to make some significant changes to the book.
TextExpander and OmniFocus are two of the first tools I install on any new device, so it’s no surprise that the two work well together. You may expect some kind of Applescripting or shell magic, but I keep this extremely simple and only use true text expansion with OmniFocus. I run the scripts manually or behind the scenes with Hazel.
Our ability to come up with ideas is like a muscle. If we work on it and develop the right habits, we get stronger and have more options available to us. But it’s difficult to build muscle if you don’t understand “how” the muscle works and the mechanics behind its improvement. Getting ideas is challenging until you learn what they are and how they work.
Every time I come across an article that compares applications or declares an app to be the best at something, I cringe. Very few of them explain the scenarios necessary to make their conclusion valid.
In order to read a book every two weeks (and sometimes every week) I have had to make reading a practice that is incorporated throughout my day. Having a single time for reading isn’t enough and it has become a ritual I like to incorporate as many places as I can.
There are times when you realize a project needs to take a hard turn. Your original intent is good, but it doesn’t accomplish your goal as well as it might.
We’ve come a long way since we met five years ago. And I cannot thank you enough for the clarity and direction you’ve given me through the multiple transitions and big decisions I have faced in recent years. Without the systems and tricks you’ve taught me, I would accomplish much less and fall short of numerous goals. For that, I am grateful.
For years I have wanted to read more books. Prolific readers rave about the benefits and world-renowned leaders often attribute their ideas and successes to their habit of reading, but to me the benefits of having read a lot of books was secondary to the innate sense that a realm of knowledge and experience was available to me, but I was missing it.
It’s a trap so easy to fall for: we find ourselves spending multiple hours fine-tuning, tweaking, and developing the simple structure that will automatically create more time and 3X our daily productivity.
The purpose of my inbox consolidation project is to cut back on the number of places I go to make decisions about my “open loops”. Between feeds, social media, and our always-on expectations, it becomes a habit and struggle to keep up with the mass of apps and information thrown at us. My theory was to create an aggregated inbox via email that combines these potentially overwhelming sources of inputs. The hope was to build a system that helps me scale back on the time and impulse to repeatedly process these inboxes.
One habit that Evernote taught me was that of creating databases, collections of text and pictures that revolve around a specific topic or item. I’m yet to export my Evernote data into my alternative storage system but I have solved my most glaring issue: searching and viewing these databases on iOS.
Keeping different types of information in separate apps or systems is sometimes worth the extra infrastructure. But there is also a lot of value and mental freedom in using an existing process for multiple forms of data.
As part of a new project that will be released in a few weeks, I recently reread Getting Things Done by David Allen. I found it interesting that David hasn’t changed his tune when it comes to information overload. Despite a dramatic increase in technology and the volume of inputs as compared to the original writing, he still advocates for the same capture mechanisms and clarification process.
When I started with GTD five years ago, I was certain it was the missing piece to my mental overwhelm puzzle. It was the five-step framework that would keep me from procrastinating and give me the motivation to accomplish everything to which I kept saying yes.
I began hand writing articles with a lot of skepticism mixed with hope. I didn’t know what to expect but I wanted a positive outcome. As much as I lean toward an integration of technology in every aspect of my work, I felt a sense that paper had benefits I had never understood.
Over the past month I’ve made some design changes and layout alterations here on the site. Some of that was purely for aesthetics and ease of use, but it also included some back-end alterations to allow guest posting. I’ve debated this for a long time and I’m finally ready to pull the trigger.
There’s something liberating about putting a name to something you didn’t understand. This was my exact experience when I learned I am ADHD. It gave me words to explain the way I think and those words have given way to a deeper comprehension of how I operate.
The longer I practice GTD principles, the more intentional I try to be with the time I spend updating my systems. I need my commitments to be thought through and my decisions to be made ahead of time. Knowing that I am prone to starting new projects before I have time for them leads me to a need for a recurring time of reevaluation.
There are times when you need a feature in software that doesn’t currently exist. Sometimes that leads to exploring alternatives or even creating your own, which is how inventors and entrepreneurs get a lot of their ideas.
I used to just pick up a book, start at the beginning, and read it to the end. I tried not to bend any pages and always used a bookmark to make sure the book still looked brand new when I was finished. I had an unwarranted fear of ruining my books because I held them in such high regard.
After almost three months of typing with a Dvorak keyboard, I’ve reached some conclusions about this QWERTY alternative. Like most comparisons of this nature there are some significant pros and cons between the two. But I don’t think it’s fair to draw any conclusions until you’ve experienced both sides.
I’m guilty of looking for ways to accomplish tasks on the computer long before it crosses my mind to try paper or the whiteboard. It’s almost embarrassing sometimes. The idea of going to a notepad as a first instinct is hard for me to grasp.
I write and talk about my OmniFocus Dashboard a lot. And that’s for good reason: it’s the central hub of my day-to-day work and the place where my decisions about the day surface.
After working on multiple sides of agriculture and seeing how the back-end of the food industry operates, I’ve come to the realization that there is some really bad information out there about agriculture and how we decide what to eat.
We all have those projects that we know we should be working on, but without a deadline or someone relying on you it’s hard to keep it going. Things come up and the easy tasks to put off are the ones without urgency pushing them on.
In a previous role I spent some time researching project management software and evaluating it for company use. One of the turn-offs that my end users brought up was an extreme distaste for running a stopwatch on the tasks being tracked. I get it. No one wants to be stuck to a clock, especially when those reviewing the numbers are your managers.
It never fails. I sit at our kitchen table over breakfast and mention to my wife that it’s going to snow that day. The first question she asks? “How much?” I don’t know! All I know is that my alert says it’s supposed to happen!
No application setup is complete without tweaking the settings to your liking. This is the power (and struggle) of OmniFocus. Some of the available options make drastic changes while others lead to subtleties you may not notice.
There are times when I want to look back and see what I did on a specific day. This is extremely helpful when I need a record for a client, but no matter the reason, I find myself referring to my task history frequently.
I’ve got a bonus for you this week: my Alfred theme. I’ve tweaked the look of Alfred quite a bit over the few years I’ve been using it. I wanted something simple and unobtrusive, but I also wanted it to be compact and cram a lot of data into a small space. If that sounds appealing, give it a try.
You’re reading them right now. And the medium that they arrive in will change their weight. Words. Words in email have less impact than a handwritten letter. And a conversation over coffee has more sway than a phone call.
Almost daily, I get an email from someone interested in how I have this site set up. “It’s not WordPress and Disqus. What are you using?” We can talk about that, but why not take it a few steps further? Let’s go from domain registrar to the reader.
Hobbies are great candidates for GTD. With all the commitments we tend to take on, free time to spend on our hobbies can be elusive. That means it’s helpful to have a system in place that keeps track of where we were and what comes next.
To be honest, I struggled with this article. I wanted to write it but wasn’t sure how to convey what I was thinking. GTD has helped me as a man more than I realized but the impact has been implicit, not obvious.
One of the greatest things a dad will ever hear is the sound of his kids squealing in joy while they play games together. It’s energizing and pure pleasure to see the delight and sparkle in their eyes as they ask to “do it again!” Those are the memories that we hope to multiply.
I find it easy to let my marriage slide. We love each other so it should come naturally, right? Roses every Valentine’s, daily love notes, and genuine conversations each night. If that’s second-nature to you, I envy you.
It never fails. I’ll be mowing the lawn or riding my bike and that’s when it hits me. There’s nothing I can do about it. I wish it would leave me alone until I could do something about it, but there I am; trying to figure out how I’m going to write those lines down.
Most of the time when I’m discussing GTD with a friend or online it’s in the context of getting more work done more efficiently. I agree that this is the easy target for the framework; our jobs and the work we do each day are the most pressing and stressing in our lives. We need as much help as we can get to stay on top of it.
Having young kids has made us think consciously about the traditions we want to pass down to them. What do we want them to learn? Will our traditions help them see the importance of our view of the world? Are they fun?
I’ve been a supporter of Evernote for a long time. I’ve written a number of articles on it and convinced a number of friends and family to start using it. But I’ve run into some issues with it and it’s come time to throw in the towel. I’m leaving Evernote.
You’re cruising along and your bank account is looking good. But then, surprise! You get the bill for your car insurance premium and everything is out the window.
It’s easy to present data in a summarized table, but what about turning it into a data visualization?
When I started my business, I wasn’t in a place to say no to anything. I needed to provide an income, and every little bit helped. But recently I’ve had to start deciding which activities are most worth my time and which ones need to be put aside.
It’s time. I’ve been talking about starting a new community for a couple weeks now and we are moving forward.
When I started my business I made the shift from three 27” monitors to just a laptop screen. That shift has taught me a few things about how I work.
Dictation is becoming more and more commonplace, and as the software behind it continues to get better we’ll likely see it become a bigger part of our daily lives.
Nerdy Mac users are known for customizing their machines. Between keyboard shortcuts, Spaces, and third-party apps, you can effectively set up a computer that is perfect for you and unusable by someone else.
I’ve had an interest in the Dvorak keyboard layout for a couple years now. The concept makes sense to me and I’m finally doing something about it.
With 2015 completed, we’ll start seeing numbers roll in summarizing what happened throughout the year. So I thought I would pull together this site’s numbers for 2015. It’s been a ride.
A lot of time and effort go into writing a book. It gets even harder when you need to collaborate with your editor and make revisions.
It takes time to develop consistency in a task management system. I forget. I climb back on the horse, but fall off again. It looks easy - and it is at times - but other times it feels like one more item on my to-do list.
In previous roles I worked on data analysis and visualization. When you boil it down, that just means I was well versed in Excel and building charts.
I’m thrilled to give you a gift for Christmas this year. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time and the opportunity is finally here.
We’re sneaking up on the annual goal setting push. It’s exciting to sit down and dream about what you want to do next year. But what if your life moves and changes too fast for annual goals?
Ideas are sometimes hard to come up with. But what happens when you have so many that you get lost? You have all these ideas begging you for attention and it becomes unclear which ones you should take on and which ones you should let go.
I had never thought of myself as a creative person until recently. Math and science have always been my strengths, so the arty side never took center stage.
It’s time for a confession: I’m addicted to my phone. I want to check Twitter every five minutes and find myself refreshing Feedly every ten. And I hate it.
Numerous times I’ve said that being able to put off work is an important step of being productive. And when you have a big push, it’s even more important to stop.
In the two days before this book launched I checked off 387 tasks in OmniFocus. And there’s no other tool I’d rather do it with.
There are a lot of productivity bloggers and podcasters out there. And we’re all looking for ways to get better, faster, and create higher quality products. That’s pretty obvious when you read our articles.
This website has run on WordPress and Google Analytics from day one and they’ve both treated me pretty well. But I’ve started to see a need for more flexibility in the site, so it’s time for a big change.
When I was 16 I bought my own Compaq laptop. Remember those? I had been using the family computer quite a bit, but this was my own computer. That was the beginning of my journey with technology.
When I switched to the MacBook Pro, I also switched from using two computers to one. I know, I know, I was spoiled. But it made my life a lot easier and helped me accomplish a lot more.
I love it when my systems do things automatically. In this case, I can capture an idea for a someday/maybe list and it ends up in the right place in OmniFocus.
I pulled my computer mouse out of my bag and the first thing he said was, “What on earth is that thing?” It was yet another confirmation that I’m strange.
Last week, I mentioned I had purchased a new MacBook Pro. Instead of the migration process, I set it up as a new machine. That means I had to decide which apps needed to be installed first. Simple, right? Well, not so much.
I’ve recently undergone a work transition that led me to purchasing a new MacBook Pro. My traveling work machine was a MacBook Air and I’ve found a few differences in the two that make me wish I’d done this earlier.
Task managers. There are so many options available and it’s painful making a decision, especially when it takes real dollars to get into them.
As a homeworker, traveling has to be simple. If I need to connect with coworkers in person, I’m either on an airplane or in a rental car. In an effort to make it easy on myself, I have a backpack that serves as a mobile office.
Memory is a limited resource. And we usually ask it to do too much - from what task to work on to our kid’s birth date to a new business strategy.
At 13,000 notes, I like to think I’m a big user of Evernote. From meeting notes and travel receipts to manuals and quotes, I keep a lot in Evernote.
It’s been a little over a year since I started blogging and I’ve had a number of folks ask me what tools I use to write my articles. This is an outline of my process from idea to publish.
Remember the goal setting push at the beginning of the year? I’ve done it professionally and personally every year for four years and it can be motivating.
When I was getting started with GTD (Getting Things Done), I wondered what a week looked like for someone who used it. I never found anything along those lines and I recently had a week where I flexed it pretty hard. So I decided to give you a snapshot into my crazy week and see my GTD system in action.
I read a lot of articles about time management and how to “reclaim an hour a day!” Most of those seem unrealistic. But in an attempt to find more time I discovered a single area that needed a lot of improvement.
When I started writing for this blog, it was easy. It was new and shiny and I wanted to sit down in the mornings and write for it. Eleven months into it, it’s harder.
If you’ve been to this site in the past, you probably saw the email sign-up form slide up in the bottom right-hand corner. If you’ve been here on a mobile device, you saw the sign-up bar across the bottom. They’re both gone.
For a long time, I kept my active Next Actions in Omnifocus and my potential (someday/maybe) actions in Evernote. It worked, but it felt a bit cluttered so I moved it all into Omnifocus.
Everyone has a morning routine of some kind - even if it’s just “get up before the kids.” But I think it should be intentional and you can find yours by experimenting and learning what others do.
I’ve always struggled with the contexts portion of GTD. I’ve tried tools, locations, energy levels, times of the day, mindsets, and on and on.
I was enjoying one of our first daddy-daughter dates. Of course, it was at a coffee shop. It was great! I drank my coffee and Cutie watched the constant movement of people between bites of her cookie.
I don’t have a daily commute but I still find myself in the car having ideas from time to time. I don’t want to lose those ideas, but I shouldn’t be typing into my phone or writing things while I’m driving.
We do it almost every day. We communicate with another person using a screen of some kind - social media, texts, emails, instant messages.
There is no shortage of articles on the web. Reading (or at least skimming) hundreds of articles can be done easily in less than an hour. But have you ever tried keeping a record of all those articles?
If you’ve read one article on this blog, you’ll know that I’m a productivity nut. But there’s a side to productivity that I haven’t seen mentioned very often - life.
One of the first notes many Evernote users create is a checklist of some kind. It could be a grocery list, a to-do list for the day, or a morning routine.
I finished (second) breakfast and sat down at my computer to pull together analytics on one of my company’s websites. At that moment, a coworker texted me a question. I don’t remember what the question was about, but I do remember that it was almost an hour before I managed to get back to work.
Have you ever had a feeling that someone is uncomfortable in a conversation? Were you able to point out the nonverbal cues that gave you that feeling?
Evernote is a handy tool with a lot of ways to use it – so many that it gets really hard to figure out how to set it up.
An infinity app is one with a never-ending stream of some kind. It’s an app that always has new updates for you to consume.
It’s resolution time! Or not. There are a plethora of articles telling you to set goals as opposed to resolutions. The term doesn’t really matter. They’ll fail without a plan behind them.
An inbox can be your mailbox, your email inbox, and even a physical tray. But those aren’t the only places that stuff lands.
We are taught to accomplish tasks. In school and work, grades and reviews measure our ability to accurately complete an assignment.
There are a lot of articles about setting up GTD. But I don’t see many that show what a typical day looks like when you adopt the framework.
Deciding what to work on can be simple – it doesn’t have to be stressful. GTD can help you make the decision quickly and easily.
The Weekly Review is the most important part of the GTD process. Without it, you’ll have loose ends and you’ll no longer trust your system.
A lot of people write things down but fail to do anything with it afterwards. It just dies on the paper. Why write it down if you’ll never look at it again?
Capture is the process of collecting ideas and actions. You’re accumulating task items, reference material, or even trash and putting them in an inbox of some kind.
Why do we think we can manage our lives with only our memory? It’s certainly flawed. It doesn’t even remind us of what we need when we need it. It waits until we’re in bed and can’t do anything about it.
It’s 4:55 am. I roll over to check the clock and realize I’m awake before my alarm goes off. That’s always a good feeling. But why am I awake at this time of day?
The mornings are getting colder and the animals are preparing for winter. Another weather change is coming. And it’s a great reminder that we, too, should be preparing for the next season.
There’s a lot of advice on the web about managing your time. Everyone seems to have the golden ticket that will pull time out of thin air. But what if time isn’t the key to being fully engaged?
Using David Allen’s definition, a project is anything that requires more than one action to complete. This can range from building a new web application to replacing the refrigerator filter.
Naming and organizing files is extremely important. In today’s world, we can keep track of thousands of files. And with versioning getting to be a big deal, we have to have a way to keep track of it all.
The search capabilities of many tools today is impressive. We can search titles, notes, filenames, and even the contents of a file. But if you’re searching for a tag, it can give you a lot more than you expected.
Recently a coworker confronted me on something I struggle with. Communicating. I’m introverted and love to come up with ideas, but I’m terrible at deciding when to share those ideas.
We’ve always done it that way. But it works. Why change it? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. When I hear these phrases I cringe. Yes, it works. Yes, it’s a smooth system. Yes, we’re familiar with it. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t change.
I’m terrible at estimating time. I always think that I can complete more than I truly can. I throw 8 things on a list for the day and go. I can complete them all… or not. If I’m honest with myself, I know that I can’t do it all.
I started keeping lists a few years ago. I had a lot going on and forgetting things was becoming normal. I needed a way to manage tasks since my brain was terrible at it.
How many times have you closed up shop for the day and wondered what happened? Ever get up in the morning and ask yourself what you should do today?
I had just introduced myself to the executive leading the meeting. He handed me his business card and I quickly snapped a picture of it with my phone. A few seconds later his phone dinged. He glanced at his phone, then looked at me in shock.
Do you ever find yourself typing the same thing over and over again? Stuff like an email address, the date, a URL, or even a template of some kind? If so, a text expansion app might be just what you need.
OmniFocus is a powerful tool designed to follow David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I go into the details of GTD here but the simple version is that it’s a method of getting things out of your mind and into a trusted organizational system. The main purpose is to free up your mind to have ideas, not hold them.
Ideas and reminders come to us when we’re not ready for them or when we can’t do anything about them. We remember to clean out the gutters when it’s raining. An idea for a new website comes to us when we’re eating dinner. What do you do with those?
Have you ever intentionally left your phone in the car while on a date? Was it freeing or did it feel like prison? Have you ever, like me, found yourself on Twitter while at the dinner table? Was that any different?
I used to pride myself in having one of the fastest email replies in the office. If you sent me an email, I was back to you in less than 10 minutes. Sometimes 5.
I didn’t want to write this post. I don’t want you to read it. My wife wanted me to write it. I hesitated. Writing it forces me to admit that I’m picky and maybe neurotic. So it’s probably a good thing that I did write it.
We have everything at our fingertips. We can look something up instantly and connect with almost anyone at any time.