A Small Observation About the iPad and Note Taking

A couple weeks ago I hosted my third annual Breckenridge mastermind retreat.

And I noticed something was different this year compared to the previous years: The most common note-taking tool was an iPad (with GoodNotes).

There were 11 of us there. And of the group:

  • 6 were using an iPad.
  • 2 used Macs.
  • 2 had a pen and notebook.
  • And one odd bird did not take notes at all (that I noticed).

Of the 6 on an iPad, only one had a 3rd-party keyboard (Brydge). The rest of us were using GoodNotes and an Apple Pencil.

A Small Observation About the iPad and Note Taking

My good friend Havilah Cunnington recently shared on her Instagram about the pain of choosing to turn down a huge opportunity because it conflicted with her boys’ first days back in school.

I so appreciated Havilah’s transparency on this. Especially sharing about how sometimes, when you say no to an opportunity, it doesn’t come back around.

The truth is, we can’t do everything. Sometimes we can’t do everything because we literally don’t have the time and energy.

But sometimes we can’t do everything because something that’s great has to give way to something that is essential.

Living into our values means there will be trade-offs. And sometimes those trade-offs are not easy to accept.

Trade-Offs in Real Life

Seth Godin:

When you live in surplus, you can choose to produce because of generosity and wonder, not because you’re drowning.

And the wonderful thing about choosing to live in surplus is that it’s up to you. Your definition of surplus — and the actions you take in order to live that way — are your own.

Living in Surplus

Mike Schmitz, writing over on The Sweet Setup:

We’ve noticed that the way people use their technology has changed over time.

In short, we’re consuming instead of creating. By default, we’re constantly chasing “more.”

The Sweet Setup will be six years old later this fall. And we have been thinking and talking a lot about how we can better serve our readers. We will continue to find and surface the best apps. But we are also wanting to find more ways to help you use your apps and gadgets with efficiency and intentionality.

A Mindful Approach to Technology

Dam Foggy

Bull Shoals Dam

Over the summer, some friends and I went to Bull Shoals for camping and spearfishing.

After our first day there I noticed that in the early mornings and in the evenings the river would get a huge blanket of fog. So I spent part of my afternoon scouting out some spots that I wanted to shoot from. And then, once the evening fog rolled in, I would be prepared — knowing exactly where I wanted to be and what shots I wanted to get.

Here are a few of those foggy dam shots. I have some other shots of the river bank that I’ll post later.

Bull Shoals Dam

Bull Shoals Dam

Bull Shoals Dam

Shot with the Leica Q and edited in VSCO on my iPad Pro.

Dam Foggy

If you want to get access to The Margin Course, you must sign up now.

We are closing the doors tonight at midnight EST.

This course is so timely and important. I have seen first hand the positive impact of Margin in my own life and in the lives of my loved ones. And I have also seen the challenges that a life without margin brings.

If you’re on the fence about the course, then take 3 minutes to watch this video:

And then, use this link to register before it’s too late:

thefocuscourse.com/margin

Last Call for The Margin Course

Here’s How I Hold on to Margin

First off, thanks so much to all the kind and positive replies to my story from Friday about the tumor they found in my wife’s eye.

It was not easy for me to write that story. But I wanted to share it because it hits on a deeper topic that I think is so important and timely right now.

As I wrote, the thing about Margin is that you can’t go get some in the moment when you need it. Because when you need it, you need it right away.

You either have the margin you need, or you don’t.

. . . .

The story I shared on Friday was a difficult example of how margin helped my wife and I make it through an extremely challenging time without being left completely broken in the end.

Today I want to share a few other examples of what it looks like for me to prioritize living with Margin in my life.

Time to read

The average American watches 5 hours of TV every day! Five hours! As much as I love Downton Abbey, I get more rejuvenation from a book. And so I choose to spend time reading each day. (And yes, I definitely do binge watch a show from time time time.)

Time to exercise

I also prioritize my physical health. It rarely ever feels convenient to do a workout, but that hasn’t stopped me from working out every single day for over 300 days in a row now. I make the time for it because working out does more than just give my energy. It also helps me think more clearly during the day.

Financial Breathing Room

With finances, I living well beneath my means. I have a healthy emergency fund in place for my both my family as well as my business. It’s enough to keep us afloat for several months in case all income were to completely get cut off.

Less frustrated at my kids (hashtag the struggle is real)

My wife and I have three boys. They are 2, 5, and 7 years old. And they are exploding with energy and fart jokes (and real farts, too).

Our evenings of dinner time and bedtime are crazy! And it used to be that I would regularly find myself frustrated and short with my kids.

But a year ago, I noticed a lot of my frustration was beginning to dissipate.

In the spring of last year I chose to try an experiment by cutting back on my hours and responsibility at work. I gave up little bits of control over certain projects, and setting boundaries around how much I would work each day. Then, I filled that time with a focus on my physical and spiritual health.

After I had reclaimed margin at work and in my physical health, I discovered that I had also been able to calm down emotionally as well.

I wasn’t so on edge in the evenings. I had more patience. I could be more present in the moment, and honestly just enjoy my boys for who they are.

. . . . .

If you are at your limit, then you have no margin. You have nothing left to draw on in your times of need or overwhelm.

Margin is a choice.

And I choose a life WITH margin.

At times it’s not easy.

Which is why many folks feel that they just can’t do it.

Perhaps you see margin as a luxury you can’t afford.

You are counting yourself out…

…saying that you don’t have the margin you need in the first place in order to get the margin you need.

Not true.

And that’s what The Margin Course is all about.

You CAN restore breathing room to an overwhelmed and busy life, even when you don’t have the time.


If you want to get access to everything I have about Margin, you need to act soon.

Tomorrow — Monday, August 5th — is the last day to sign up before we close registration.

thefocuscourse.com/margin

Here’s How I Hold on to Margin

The Tumor

They found a tumor in my wife’s eye.

Earlier this year she went in for an eye exam to see if she could get Lasik. The doctor did a double take and asked if anyone had ever told her she had a freckle or something in her eye.

48 hours later my wife was at a retina specialist where they told her they found a tumor in her right eye.

She called me immediately after the appointment. She was surprisingly calm.

I was at home with our 3 boys. My 7-year-old was in the kitchen with as his mom relayed the news to me. I scooped him up, and we sat together. I just held him. Crying.

He didn’t know what was going on. He didn’t know why I was sad.

There was a possibility that the tumor could be harmless. But the doctor had said it didn’t look benign.

I was weak. I felt as if everything around me was suddenly made of dust — slipping out, slipping away, completely outside of my grasp and control.

My son and I said a short prayer for mommy’s eye. Asking God to make it better.

. . . . .

When they find a malignant tumor in your eye it usually means that it’s already too late. It usually means there is stage 4 cancer somewhere else in your body. A malignant tumor in the eye is usually a “secondary” cancer, showing up from something that has already spread.

However, it was difficult for them to know for sure merely by taking pictures of my wife’s eye. And they don’t like to biopsy a tumor that’s in your eye because of the huge likelihood of losing vision in that eye.

So they ran a dozen tests on my wife to try and find out if there was cancer anywhere else in her body.

Over the next 8 weeks, Anna and I spent a lot of time at hospitals, labs, and doctor’s offices. In 2019 we had our first visit to a cancer center.

Through all of it, my wife was so calm. Physically, she felt fine; strong. She was confident that her body was healthy. She knew that everything would be okay.

I, however, was a complete wreck. I went with Anna to every appointment; I couldn’t bear to be away from her.

I’d bring my iPad with me to the waiting rooms, hoping to get some work done while Anna had radioactive sugar water injected into her veins. But I rarely got any work done.

Most of the time I would just sit there. Mindlessly watching the people activity around me as I thought about how much I loved my wife. How much her boys and I cherished her.

There were times when I’d be driving down the road and a fleeting, tragic thought would pass through my mind. It would completely overwhelm me. Tears would flood my eyes and I’d have to pull over because I couldn’t see the road to drive.

Over the course of those 8 weeks, each test they did helped to fill in a piece of the puzzle. The CT scan. The PET scan. MRIs. Blood work…

And test by test, they slowly began removing possibilities of different cancers. There was no lung cancer. No breast cancer. No liver or thyroid cancer.

Finally, on a late Friday afternoon we got a call from our oncologist’s office.

They called to cancel our Monday appointment…

There was no need to see us on Monday because the results had come back from the last test, and there was nothing to be found.

No cancer!

Thank God.

The tumor in my wife’s eye was diagnosed as vascular and benign. A few months ago they did a cold laser treatment to cut off its blood supply and now all is looking well.


Those few months were perhaps the most difficult, challenging, and stressful of my entire life.

Fortunately, we had the margin we needed to make it through.

Financially, we were able to pay for all the medical costs of the tests and labs.

Our schedules were able to accommodate the massive interruptions without causing any damage to my business or our other responsibilities.

We had friends, family, and co-workers who were able to help us, listen to us, and be there for us as we navigated the unknown.

My wife and I both have a daily routine of exercise that helped us stay active. This was especially important for me, as I tend to get lethargic in the midst of intense stress.

These areas of margin gave us the capacity we desperately needed in order to make it through unbroken.

. . . . .

To be candid, this was not an easy story for me to write and share.

But you’ve seen this video, then you know just how important Margin is and how deeply personal and real this topic is for me.

In a couple days I’ll share another side to the story.

Because here’s the thing about Margin…

…You can’t go get some in the moment when you need it.

…When you need it, you need it right away.

…You either have the margin you need, or you don’t.

It’s why we built this brand-new course on Margin. Registration is still open until Monday. You can sign up here, and I hope you will.

The Tumor

You may have heard… yesterday we released a brand new product: The Margin Course.

What you may not have known is that my Production Manager, Isaac Smith, had a TON to do with the development and creation of this course over the past several months.

Isaac wrote up his story of how he was able to create and lead his first flagship training course, while also remodeling a new home, while also giving focused time for his pregnant wife and their two young boys!

I love what Isaac shares at the end of the article related to how and why he set goals, and how he structured his time to accomplish them.

Creating The Margin Course

Big day here at Blanc Media HQ. We just opened up registration for our brand-new course.

What you will discover in The Margin Course are the same tactics, ideas, and mindsets that have allowed me to keep breathing room in my work life and personal life.

These are the things that have helped me recognize when I am lacking margin as well as the tactics I employ in order to regain it and — most importantly — keep it.

And, if you haven’t yet seen the video we made, that’s a great place to start.

The Margin Course