Seven years ago today it was a Saturday morning, and I was standing in line to buy an original iPad.
Since then I’ve owned an iPad 2, iPad 3, and a 2nd-generation iPad mini. The latter is the one I’ve been using most for the past few years.
Until last week when I bought a 9.7″ iPad Pro. I picked up this iPad Pro for two very good reasons:
First of all, I’ve begun traveling quite a bit more, and needed a portable computer for when on the road.
Secondly, I’ve been trying to keep my home office reserved for work-only. Which means that in the evenings or on the weekends when I have home-related computer-y stuff to do, I needed another device I could use upstairs on the kitchen table.
It’s now been seven years since the original iPad shipped. And the basic landscape hasn’t changed all that much. This is simultaneously good and bad.
…bad because the iPad is fantastic device, and yet it’s not the go-to platform for the best apps and innovations.
But good because it means the iPad is still full of simplicity and promise.
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P.S. Here are a few other fun articles I’ve written over the years:
Tuesday, March 28
Need a better way to manage clients & projects than spreadsheets and emails? Try Daylite, the CRM & Project Management app for teams on Mac, iPhone & iPad.
New in Daylite is Team View on the Mac. Get a quick overview of your team’s workload by seeing everyone’s tasks, appointments, and project due dates all in one view.
Daylite helps you manage leads, customers, and projects – all in one app. Track communication with clients so you remember every detail and anyone can be brought p to speed in seconds.
Tag your leads and clients in Daylite so you can easily segment them for targeted email campaigns.
Track projects and sales with customizable pipelines. Share projects and tasks so everyone is clear on the status and what needs to be done next. Delegate tasks to each other and get notifications as soon as they’re done — without interrupting people or having to send around emails.
Daylite helps your team work more efficiently so you can close more deals and manage more projects together.
Try Daylite free for 30 days!
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My thanks to Daylite for sponsoring the site this week!
Tuesday, February 7
…is MarsEdit, of course.
I’ve been using this app for a decade. (!) Here’s my original review from 2008 (which still stands up pretty well, if I do say so myself).
Struggling to juggle business coming in while managing current projects? Then Daylite is a tool you definitely want to check out.
Share contact and project information, delegate tasks, share calendars and emails, and track projects – all in one app.
Daylite is used by lawyers, consultants, real estate agents, photographers, designers, and other small businesses all over the world. It helps you organize and share information so you can win more business and get more done.
The best part about Daylite is it’s not a web app, so you can keep working even when you don’t have an Internet connection.
Try Daylite free for 30 days!
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My thanks to Marketcircle for sponsoring the site this week.
Thursday, December 1
Someone who plans every minute of their day, and every day of their week, is going to accomplish an order of magnitude more high-value work than someone who identifies only a single daily objective. […]
In other words, don’t settle for a workday in which only an hour or two is in your control. Fight for every last minute. Even if you don’t always win, you’ll end up better off.
I couldn’t agree more. Since I began scheduling every minute of my day I get far more of the important work done each day. And, I rarely end the day with that feeling in the back of my mind where I’m wondering “what did I actually do today?” and it feels like no matter how many hours I work, I still haven’t gotten it all done.
Though the Most Important Thing is not enough, it is still very important.
I always take a few minutes at the end of my day to write down what tomorrow’s most important task is going to be. Having that ever-so-basic starting plan for tomorrow helps tremendously (James Clear has written about it, calling it The Ivy Lee Method).
P.S. Speaking of Cal, I had the opportunity to talk with him on my podcast earlier this year, and a lot of what we hit on is along these lines.
Wednesday, November 30
All this week over on the (new!) Focus Course blog, we’re posting some short and sweet video previews.
Here’s what’s been posted so far:
All these previews are just 2-minute clips from the conversations that will be published next week as part of the Creative Focus Online Summit.
We’ve got more in the pipe for the rest of this week. And then, on Monday, we kick off the summit itself. If you want to get access to the Summit, it’s free to register.
Bring your home to life. Cue the perfect ambience simply by entering your room. Eve Motion detects movement, allowing you to set scenes and control your connected accessories via your presence, even when your iPhone is not around.
Rule your home.
Create powerful rules with conditions to control your HomeKit-enabled accessories. Automatically activate your “I’m home” scene when you or a family member roll up the driveway, but only after sunset. Or switch on a fan when you enter your living room, but only if your climate sensor has registered a specific temperature. With Eve Motion, make your accessories work in harmony with your lifestyle.
Eve Motion connects directly to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch using Bluetooth low energy technology, without the need for a hub, gateway, bridge, or complicated WiFi configuration. And, with Apple TV at home, Eve Motion detects presence and prompts your HomeKit-enabled accessories even while you’re away.
Find out more
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My thanks to Elgato for sponsoring the site this week. Sponsorship by the Syndicate.
Tuesday, November 22
Secrets is now Free on the App Store! Secrets is a simple, secure password manager for Mac and iOS. It leverages industry standard encryption algorithms to provide secure storage and macOS and iOS native features to facilitate automatic filling of logins in the browser.
Version 2.0 is the culmination of months of testing in the real world. Bugs have been squashed, important features have been added and polish has been applied throughout. With this new version you can use Secrets and all of its features for Free with up to 10 items.
Download it now on the App Store or the Mac App Store.
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My thanks to Secrets for sponsoring the site this week.
Wednesday, November 9
With Eve Light Switch from Elgato you can turn your lights on and off using Siri or with a quick tap on your iPhone. You can further create scenes to control Eve Light Switch and other HomeKit-enabled accessories with a single command. Leverage the power of automation and attune your lighting to your routine.
In short: Enjoy the comfort of connected lighting.
Eve Light Switch transforms any single or multi-bulb setup into an intelligent lighting system, so can use your existing bulbs regardless of their shape, size or color. Taking advantage of Apple’s revolutionary HomeKit technology, Eve offers unparalleled ease of use, advanced security, and tight integration with Siri. Eve Light Switch connects directly to your iPhone or iPad using Bluetooth low energy technology, without requiring a hub, gateway or bridge.
With Eve, see your home at a glance right on your iPhone and iPad. The Eve family of HomeKit accessories gathers data on air quality, temperature, humidity, air pressure, energy consumption and more. Gain insights that help you improve your comfort, and make your home a smarter place. Use the free Eve app to view all data collected by Eve and control all accessories featuring HomeKit technology.
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My thanks to elgato for sponsoring the site this week. Sponsorship by Syndicate Ads.
Wednesday, November 2
Jane Portman was kind enough to have me on her design-centric podcast to talk about building creative habits. We dove into how to set goals, avoid distractions, build personal integrity, adopt the right habits, and live a focused life.
Tuesday, November 1
Need an easier way to keep track of client follow ups, emails, meetings, projects, and new business opportunities? Try Daylite — the business productivity app for the Mac, iPhone & iPad.
Review all emails and notes for a client before a meeting or call. Track projects and share tasks between people on your team. Get reminders to follow up on new business opportunities. Keep track of referrals and relationships between contacts.
Daylite integrates with Apple Mail to help you achieve Inbox Zero. And because Daylite is a native app, you always have access to your info whether you have an Internet connection or not.
“Without Daylite, my revenue would take a nosedive because it increases my efficiency.” — Lawrence, Mighty Prose
Start your free 30-day trial of Daylite today.
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My thanks to Marketcircle for sponsoring the site this week!
Thursday, October 27
My thanks to Trev for sponsoring the site to promote his blog about Apple and design. This week’s feature is about Gil Amelio.
He had to pay me to read it.
Tuesday, October 4
Speaking of Jeff Sheldon, here’s another fantastic post he wrote just recently.
Jeff has become a good friend, and it has been exhilarating watching him push the Ugmonk brand to the next level the past couple of years. Not only has his skill for product design improved, but the way in which he presents and sells his work has simplified. That alone is a magnificent feat!
As I find myself in a similar situation with The Focus Course brand — seeking to improve how we present and sell our products — keeping things simple and avoiding complexity has proven to be a huge challenge and an uphill battle. Things just naturally want to become more complex than they need to be.
Posts like this one from Jeff that share some of the behind-the-scenes lessons and mindsets related to business development are so helpful and encouraging.
For me: (a) I keep a Spark List in Simplenote that serves as a running list of random ideas, and (b) I mostly jot stuff down in my Baron Fig notebook (which has become the driving engine behind my day-to-day productivity).
The takeaway however, is not what you do to capture your ideas…
Here’s what you need to know about ideation:
- Don’t be afraid to write down every whopper of a bad idea you have.
- Have a system plus some sort of movement in your day-to-day life that will help you synthesize your ideas, test them, and then take action on the ones that matter.
Anyway. So long as we’re on the subject of ideas, I wrote more about ideation last summer in what has turned out to be one of my favorite articles.
Managing tasks, files, projects and clients is nobody’s idea of a good time, but Pagico will make your life easier by letting you manage all these things in one elegant package. It is one of the few apps that combines task and data management into one easy-to-use package.
Imagine having boarding passes right next to travel itineraries, or design drafts together with meeting notes. Then, see the big picture of your workload in interactive flowcharts compiled automatically from all your projects and contacts. Easily browse and archive your projects even when there are hundreds of them. With the carefully crafted user interface and unique features in Pagico, getting stuff done and staying on top of your business can be both easy and enjoyable.
Available for macOS, Windows and Ubuntu, Pagico 8 brings over 50 amazing new features and hundreds of user experience enhancements that make existing features easier to use than ever.
Ultimately, what Pagico 8 brings is much more than just a task manager. It’s an elegant work environment that helps you get organized, be more productive, and feel awesome.
Download today and try for free for 2 weeks to see how Pagico 8 can make your life easier.
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My thanks to Pagico for sponsoring the site this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.
Monday, September 12
There is no better feeling than stumbling upon something delicious that you can’t find anywhere else. The hot sauce addicts over at Fuego Box scour the globe every month and sift through thousands of sauces to deliver you the tastiest of the tasty. They’re a subscription service that delivers nuanced, flavorful hot sauces, showcasing flavor and food instead of heat. Available as a quarterly or monthly subscription, sign yourself up or give as a gift. Just hurry because you’re already missing out on the best hot sauces you’ve never heard of. No long-term commitment necessary.
Pricing starts as low as 12.95 a month, and they are offering our readers $10.00 of your first box, just visit Fuego Box or enter the code: TOYS
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My thanks to Fuego Box for sponsoring the site this week. Sponsorship via Syndicate Ads.
Thursday, September 8
Last year I made the mistake of paying full-price for an unlocked iPhone 6s Plus so I could get out of my 2-year contract cycle with AT&T. If I had thought a bit harder about it, I would have gone with Apple’s Upgrade Program.
From what I can tell, the numbers I crunched last year still stand. In fact, if anything, the Apple Upgrade plan is even a better deal now than it was last year.
As I said in this article last fall, if you like to upgrade every year, if you’re not ultra-thrifty, if you don’t care about keeping your old hardware, and if you like to pay for convenience, then Apple’s Upgrade program actually sounds like a pretty sweet deal.
The only “inconvenience” of the Apple Upgrade Plan is that you have to make an appointment at an Apple Store to swap out your old phone for the new one.
Speaking of podcasts, I was just recently interviewed by Nick Snapp for his productivity show, Make it Snappy.
Nick and I had a fantastic conversation. We discussed living a focused life, building a business, balancing creative entrepreneurship while raising a family, how do develop habits, doing karate moves, and more.
Tuesday, July 26
Transform your home.
Avea transforms any place with beautiful dynamic light moods. Control your ambience from your phone, iPad, or Apple Watch, and unwind in one of these carefully crafted settings with subtly changing light:
- Magic Hour
- Northern Glow
- Mountain Breeze
- Cozy Flames
- Sunny Field
- Fairy Woods
- Caribbean Sea
- Candy Land
- Calm Provence
- Cherry Blossom
With Avea Flare, bring dynamic light moods anywhere. The battery-powered, wirelessly charged LED lamp illuminates any place for more than 8 hours on a single charge. And the best: with IP65 water resistance, your home atmosphere can now extend to the outside, too.
Avea connects directly to your iPhone, iPad or Android phone using Bluetooth Smart technology, without requiring additional gateways or bridges. But it doesn’t stop there: once you have chosen a light scene, the smart LED lightbulb will take care of the rest, not requiring a constant connection to your phone or iPad.
Avea on Apple Watch makes it easier than ever to pick the perfect lighting for your mood. Simply raise your wrist to view the current status of Avea at a glance, and effortlessly transform your home with a simple tap.
Get Avea Flare now and enjoy an immersive atmosphere.
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My thanks to elgato for sponsoring the site this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.
Monday, July 18
Wouldn’t it be great to have a personal task management app that integrates with the tools you already use, allowing you to seamlessly view all of your tasks on one screen? Rindle does this and more, making it easier than ever to keep your day organized.
Your tasks are everywhere: email, to-do apps, project management apps, and collaboration tools… to name a few. Many people are using multiple tools for their personal tasks and projects, which wastes time and complicates their day. Rindle brings all of your tasks together into one place, helping you to simplify your personal workflow.
Leverage the tools you already use to centralize your information into one easy location. If you use apps like Gmail, Slack, Trello, Basecamp, Todoist and Github, you’re going to love how you can aggregate all of your tasks into a single screen, providing some zen to your hectic day.
If you are jumping between tabs in your browser to track down work, or sifting through email to remember something you had to get done, then you are wasting precious time each day. Let Rindle keep everything in one central location for you. Get instant access to our private beta today.
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My thanks to Rindle for sponsoring the site this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.
Tuesday, July 12
Amazon is a great place to shop, but it’s not the best place to discover new, beautiful things.
Canopy brings a more curated, community-driven experience to shopping on Amazon – with an organized catalog of beautiful products recommended by experts and people with great taste.
You can see what’s new and trending, shop by category or brand, or even shop for gifts by personality type. Community members can save products, organize them into collections, and follow their favorite curators to receive personalized recommendations.
Also, to celebrate Amazon Prime Day, the Canopy team has been working around the clock to hand pick all the best products from the promotion.
Check it out on desktop, iOS or Android.
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My thanks to Canopy for sponsoring the site this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate
Wednesday, June 29
We spent a lot of time putting together this behind-the-scenes case study that shares all the details about The Focus Course launch. (Which, as a matter of fact, was exactly one year ago. Waddayaknow?)
Over the years, as I’ve been working to build this small corner of the internet into a thriving business, I have gleaned so much from others who have been transparent with their numbers and processes.
Thus, my hope in sharing all these numbers is that I can be of help to those of you who are also trying to build an audience-based business — one that values showing up every day, doing your best creative work, and genuinely caring for your audience.
Monday, June 27
Beautifully simple. Showcasing your creativity is easy with Portfolio.
When your creative work is your life’s work, nothing is more important than having a beautiful portfolio website. With Portfolio – which comes free with any Adobe Creative Cloud plan – you can quickly and simply build a website to showcase your creative work, so you can get back to doing what you do best.
Flexible Custom Design: Our layouts are the foundation to build your own unique Portfolio. Pick one as a starting point, and then customize it to create a tailor-made website. Your work looks beautiful and polished in Portfolio, whether you choose an “off-the-shelf” layout, or prefer to customize.
Responsive Design: Ensure your work looks great across devices with a responsive layout optimized for all screen sizes. Preview your website on desktop, tablet, and mobile as you edit.
Painless Customization: Our editor is designed to take the pain out of editing and creating your website. Focus on what you’re creating with a distraction-free editor, and see your creative vision come to life in just a few clicks.
Watch your changes as you make them, using the simple editing remote. Anything you can see, you can customize.
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My thanks to Adobe for sponsoring the site this week! Sponsorship by The Syndicate.
Monday, June 20
Mobile app revenue is on track to exceed $100 billion by 2020. A few apps are making over a million dollars a day but unfortunately the large majority of app publishers today make less than $500 a month. The publishers that dominate the app stores are the ones with the deep pockets required to collect, process and utilize data at an extremely sophisticated level. The rest, whether it’s indie app developers or many Fortune 1,000 companies, simply have basic mobile analytics to try and understand their users.
Pyze Growth Intelligence brings the same sophisticated intelligence and marketing services that big companies use to the fingertips of all app publishers. Pyze automatically understands the entire userbase, uses machine learning to create clusters of similar groups and automates interactions with each user to put your app’s growth on autopilot.
Intelligence Explorer selectively targets the entire user base through automated segmentation and real-time explorations across key behavioral attributes like engagement, loyalty, revenue, attrition-risk, and more.
Growth Automation creates interaction points used to onboard new users, engage active users and resurrect users in attrition, automatically driven by behavioral intelligence, milestones and key user actions.
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My thanks to Pyze for sponsoring the site this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.
This interview with MetaFilter founder, Matt Haughey, has made the rounds. It’s an excellent read, a difficult story, and is filled with a ton of business lessons.
My two biggest takeaways from it were regarding (a) the importance of income diversification and (b) the importance of an business operations savings fund that holds at least 6 months of operating expenses.
While these two principles have always been a part of how I run my business, reading Matt’s story about MetaFilter reminded me not to get lazy about them at all.
I also was thinking about how the fine line it is between running a bootstrapped business that has plenty of savings in the bank but that also doesn’t operate with a scarcity mindset, and becoming fearful or anxious about cashflow.
The key there, I believe, is having the long-game in mind. It’s not wise to hoard all your cash, but neither is it wise to spend too quickly. Once you have that healthy amount in savings, then stop saving and start investing more aggressively.
Related reading and wisdom:
Thursday, June 16
We know what needs to be done. The strategy part is almost laughably simple. But the execution… the execution phase is the graveyard of good intentions.
Showing up day after day after day, to do repeatedly do something, requires incredible self-discipline and focus.
Tuesday, May 17
Have you ever wanted to schedule your email rather than send it right away? Or sent an email to a wrong person?
If your answer is yes, then MailButler is just the right thing for you.
This program allows you to schedule an email to be sent at a specific date and time. So you can fulfill lots of tasks in advance by writing several emails at once and letting MailButler ensure their scheduled delivery later.
Or another familiar situation: incorrectly addressed, unfinished, or in any other way mistaken email. Luckily, MailButler keeps the email in your computer’s outbox for a short while once you’ve pressed “send”—just define how long you want this safety period to be. During this time you can undo the sending of the email and correct it the way you want.
There are 7 other cool features that MailButler adds to your Apple Mail, such as the ability to convert emails to notes, upload attachments to the cloud regardless of size, create beautiful signatures, and more. The developers are regularly adding new components to this list.
Check it out now! Use this coupon code to get a 20% discount (valid for one month): TOOLS_TOYS20
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My thanks to MailButler for sponsoring the site this week. Sponsorship via The Syndicate.
Monday, May 16
The silliness of the name is (I hope) inversely proportional to the awesomeness of what we’re doing…
In a couple of weeks I’m leading a group through The Focus Course. I’ll be doing the course myself — sharing my daily progress on the community forums — and so will hundreds of other folks.
Click here to find out more and RSVP.