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.
Thursday, May 12
There is never any secret to someones success. There is only one foot in front of the other. There will always be someone ahead of and behind you. There will always be an unfair advantage. There will always be an excuse not to do it.
Back in 2012, I went to the first Circles Conference, and Kyle gave the opening talk. He spoke about the challenges of design from both a skill standpoint and a philosophical standpoint. His point, in a nutshell, was that learning Photoshop is easy compared to learning how to solve problems.
Monday, May 9
When Marco shared his AppleScript for “Automatic Social Discipline” last fall, I built a Keyboard Maestro version of it. Except that my Keyboard Maestro version had this weird bug where it would just quit Tweetbot or Mail after 10 minutes the moment those apps were “out of focus”.
Marco’s new Mac app, Quitter, is much better.
Live smarter by knowing more about the place you care about most. Eve Energy understands your energy consumption — instantly see how much energy your devices are using, and switch them on or off with a simple tap or using Siri.
Taking advantage of Apple’s revolutionary HomeKit technology, Eve offers unparalleled ease of use, advanced security, and tight integration with Siri. Eve Energy connects directly to your iPhone or iPad using Bluetooth Smart technology, without requiring a hub, gateway or bridge.
- Know your home: instantly see how much energy your devices are using
- Convenient control: switch your devices on or off with a simple tap or using Siri
- Gain insights: understand your energy consumption
- HomeKit-enabled: unparalleled ease of use and advanced security
- Works with Siri: control your devices connected to Eve Energy with just your voice
- Easy setup: direct connection using Bluetooth Smart technology, no hub or gateway required
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 The Syndicate.
Wednesday, April 20
Have you ever wanted to schedule your email rather than send it right away? Or wondered if the person has actually opened your email?
MailButler allows you to schedule an email to be sent at a specific date and time. Thus, you can fulfill lots of tasks beforehand by writing several emails at once and letting MailButler ensure their scheduled delivery later.
Or another familiar situation: you sent an email several days ago, but still haven’t received a reply. What is the best way to react in this case?
Email Tracking, MailButler’s new feature, allows you to know if the recipient has actually opened your email. If you know that the first email has already been read, you can proceed with a follow-up. If it has not been read, you should rather wait a few days.
There are 6 other cool features that MailButler adds to your Apple Mail, such as the ability to convert emails to notes, upload email attachments regardless of size, and more. The developers plan to add new things to this list.
Check it out now! Use this coupon code to get 20% discount on the original price (valid one month): MAILBUTLER_BLANC
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My thanks to MailButler for sponsoring the site this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.
Tuesday, April 12
ReadBundle is back, with an unbeatable collection of books and resources for freelancers, designers, marketers, startups, and growth hackers. In our second bundle, you can save 93% on 11 fantastic eBooks — usually $395, this bundle is yours this week for just $29!
In this bundle, books include Design for Founders by Heidi Pungartnik, Bootstrapping Design by Jarrod Drysdale, Emails That Win You Clients by Robert Williams, and Aspirational by Erin Walker.
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My thanks to ReadBundle for sponsoring the site this week.
Wednesday, March 16
We’ve all come to expect the most from our athletic clothes. But for some reason, the clothes we wear to work – when we’ve got to perform at our best — still hold us back. In an age where clothing is getting more and more capable, our everyday wardrobe still feels stiff and constricting — as if it were designed for a static mannequin, with fabric and construction that hardly changed in decades. The time for change is now.
Spearheading the long-overdue reinvention? Ministry of Supply, a menswear brand that uses performance technology and real-life experience to create professional essentials – think dress shirts, slacks, and sweaters — that wick sweat, ventilate, and enable movement just like your gym clothes do, while still looking like traditional office wear.
Take their Aviator 2 Suit, for example. It’s designed to enable extreme movement without losing its formal structure, thanks to a special stretchy knit fabric that looks and feels like traditional woven material. To prove just how capable the suit is, Ministry of Supply co-founder Gihan Amarasiriwardena ran a half-marathon wearing the Aviator 2 (along with a dress shirt and dress socks from the brand), and broke the Guinness World record for fastest half-marathon time while wearing a suit.
Not only do the garments adapt to factors like body temperature and movement, but their classic, minimalist aesthetics and color palettes work for virtually any occasion, whether you add a tie for a big meeting or go untucked for weekend errands. Give Ministry of Supply a try for yourself — with 15% off first purchases, now’s the time. Use the code TOOLSTOYS16 for 15% off your first purchase.
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My thanks to Ministry of Supply for sponsoring the site this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.
Monday, March 7
Half of us will lose data this year, but you don’t have to. Just back up your data using Backblaze online backup. A mere $5 a month gets you unlimited, unthrottled, uncomplicated backup.
With Backblaze, you’ll know your data is safe — movies, music, photos, tax returns, important work files, or anything else. Backblaze continuously, securely, and reliably backs up all the data on your computer and external hard drives.
Restoring files using Backblaze couldn’t be easier: You can download a single file or all of your data through any web browser, or even using your iPhone. Don’t want to deal with downloads? Backblaze can even FedEx you a flash thumbdrive or a USB hard drive.
You never know when disaster will strike. Hard drives fail, computers stop working, gear goes missing or gets stolen. A spilled glass of wine or a hard drop to the floor can destroy months or years worth of work. But that doesn’t mean you have to lose your data or stop working. Backblaze can help.
For just $5/month, you can securely back up all the data on your computer. It’s easy. Stop putting it off. Start your free trial, and get your backup started now.
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My thanks to Backblaze for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. I’ve been using Backblaze for several years — highly recommended. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.
Monday, February 29
As your company grows, so does your need for technology to support it. Even with a small number of iPads, iPhones, or Macs, it becomes time consuming to individually configure settings. It can be challenging determining which apps to download, how to distribute them, and who’s Apple ID should be associated with the app. Modifying even a single setting requires a user to manually update each device. This job often gets pushed to one or two people taking them away from their primary job function.
This is why we created Bushel — to help eliminate these manual tasks with an easy-to-use tool that requires little investment of time or money. Say goodbye to the manual configuration process of yesterday. By offering Bushel for free for the first three devices, we make over the air device management easy and affordable for organizations of any size. Additional devices are only $2/month with no contracts or commitments.
Save time and money all while keeping your company Apple devices secure. Sign up for free and try Bushel today.
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My thanks to Bushel for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.
Thursday, February 18
This coming March 14-17, the organizers of CocoaConf will be holding a special event in the heart of Yosemite National Park. It’s called Yosemite, and it’s a conference for Apple developers, designers, and enthusiasts.
Speakers this year include Andy Ihnatko, Serenity Caldwell, Jonathan Mann, Neven and Christa Mrgan, Jean MacDonald, and Jim Dalrymple. The conference also features two photo walks led by TED photographer James Duncan Davidson, and a Breakpoint Jam with James Dempsey of James Dempsey and the Breakpoints.
Use code “BLANC” to save 20% on your tickets when registering at cocoaconf.com/yosemite.
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My thanks to CocoaConf for sponsoring the site this week.
Monday, January 25
ReadBundle is an unbeatable collection of books and resources for entrepreneurs, designers, marketers, startups, and growth hackers. You can save 90% on 12 fantastic eBooks — usually $285, this bundle is yours this week for just $29!
In this bundle, books include Everything I Know by Paul Jarvis, Email Field Guide by David Sparks, Design for Conversions by Brian Casel, and Build & Launch by Justin Jackson.
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My thanks to ReadBundle for sponsoring the site this week.
Friday, January 8
curbi gives parents peace of mind; helping manage screen time while providing the best solution so the entire family can enjoy the online world as much as the real world.
curbi is now available on Android as well.
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My thanks to curbi for sponsoring the sites this week. curbi is pretty incredible, especially if you’ve got a family of devices you’d like to help safeguard.
Thursday, January 7
Just a friendly reminder that the special price for 2016’s big update to The Focus Course ends today.
As you know, The Focus Course was just updated with about 50 new videos! It’s awesome.
The Course is normally $350, but right now it’s just $297. And, if you hadn’t noticed, today is the last day it will be available at this price.
If you’re ready to bring your life into focus, I’d like to humbly suggest that right now is an excellent time to sign up. It’s the beginning of the year, there’s a slew of new folks just starting out the course, and, well, the price is right.
When you sign up, you’ll get instant access to everything in the course right away.
Now, of course, you don’t have to start right now. The Focus Course is self-paced and you have lifetime access. Which means you can start The Focus Course whenever you’re ready, and you can move through it at a pace which works best for you.
(In other news, tomorrow we’ll return to our regularly scheduled publishing, as Fantastic Friday will be making its debut appearance here on the website itself. And there are some awesome things in the pipe for the rest of January and February. But more on that next week…)