Give Yourself Time

When I sit down to plan my week, I always write down the two or three most important projects I’m going to focus on.

Sometimes those projects are easy and obvious: fix this; build that; finish the thing.

But sometimes a project’s outcome is not obvious. Or, perhaps I don’t know if I will be able to finish it this week or not because I don’t yet know how much time is left to find the solution.

Instead of committing to a finish line that may not be possible yet, I simply commit to spending time working toward my desired outcome.

Not all goals need to have a specific outcome or milestone right now.

Sometimes my most important project for the week is to spend uninterrupted time working on a project so I can keep making progress.

Give Yourself Time

How to Plan Your Week Like a Boss

If you feel that your productivity has been hitting a slump, I highly recommend planning out your week ahead of time.

Getting clear about what you’ll be doing during the upcoming week will help you stay focused on those things that are most important to you.

Here’s how to plan your week:

  1. Start by writing down everything you need and want to get done this week. From the bigger projects all the way down to the smaller tasks.

  2. Now look over your “master list” and select the 3 most important things that you will actually focus on. This is how you will define success for your week.

  3. Bonus: For each of those 3 most important things, write a a few words about WHY that task or project matters. What is your motivation and reasoning for wanting to get it done? (This will help you follow through later on in the week when you’re not feeling it.)

  4. Lastly, look at your calendar for the week and schedule the various blocks of time that you will spend working on your 3 most important things. Or at least select the day(s) of the week that you will focus on each thing.

I do this process every week, usually on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning. It only takes me about 20 minutes, and it sets up my whole week for me.

I also plan each of my days in a similar fashion: listing out the day’s most important tasks and then scheduling it onto my calendar so that I have time blocks for my main tasks and activities.

Why take the time to do this? Two reasons:

  1. Clarity cures busywork.
  2. Your to-do list should exist on your calendar.

It is liberating to your schedule and your emotions when you know WHAT you will be doing and WHEN you will be doing it.

(That’s why I built weekly and daily planning templates right into the design of our iPad Digital Planner. It makes the above process faster and foolproof.)

How to Plan Your Week Like a Boss

Tommorrow (Wednesday 15 July) I’m hosting a webinar to talk about all the ways I use Ulysses to keep my ideas (mostly) organized.

I’ll be sharing some easy ways you can make the writing process easier and more productive on yourself. And I’ll be sharing some simple suggestions for how to organize all your ideas, and notes, and writing, etc.

RSVP here so we can send you the link to the live room.

The Focused Writer (a TSS Webinar)

Something a lot of folks ask me about with Ulysses if it can be used for collaborating.

While Ulysses doesn’t support “native” collaborative features (such as what you get in Google Docs or (kinda) Pages in iWork), you can sync external documents, which means that if you use a 3rd-party service (such as GitHub) then you can write in Ulysses and then sync and collaborate in the background.

It’s a little bit nerdy to set up. But it’s something that can be very much worth it because, well, Ulysses is the best writing app out there.

And so that is why we put together this step-by-step guide for how to collaborate in Ulysses.

You can read the full guide — or watch the videos that Marius made — right here.

The Ultimate Guide to Collaborative Writing in Ulysses

Speaking of the WWDC Keynote, yesterday the TSS team and I hosted a live webinar to share our initial Keynote reactions with the TSS community.

Mike, Josh, Rose, and I discussed our overall thoughts and impressions from the Keynote as well as which new features of iOS, iPadOS, and macOS we are most excited about — including some features that didn’t get airtime during the keynote but that are pretty fantastic.

TSS Webinar Replay: Our WWDC 2020 Keynote Reactions

Mike Schmitz put together a fantastic summary for The Sweet Setup, covering all the highlights from Apple’s keynote yesterday.

I thought this was one of the most polished and entertaining Apple keynote events of the past decade. Obviously there are some advantages to having a pre-recorded broadcast rather than doing a live event. But Apple’s production team did an excellent job with making it feel authentic, whimsical, and intentional. And that’s just the production

The announcements around iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and more were all huge.

As a long-time Apple nerd, it is encouraging to see Apple’s software continue to mature and expand in both useful and whimsical ways. And, as someone who uses an iPad for the vast majority of just about everything I do, these next iterations of refinements and features to iPadOS just keep moving things forward for power users.

Everything You Need to Know from Apple’s WWDC 2020 Keynote Presentation

Update: You can read our Keynote Summary here and watch the replay of our reaction webstream event here.


WWDC 2020 is in a few days, and it’s fixing to be a doozy.

Will Apple be announcing new iMacs? What updates will there be to iPadOS now that it’s been a full year? What one more thing might there be?

Apple’s main keynote presentation will be broadcast live at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern.

After the main keynote is over, me and the TSS crew will be hosting a live, WWDC Reactions webstream for anyone to join in and watch.

We’ll be talking through the announcements from Apple, what things are exciting to us, and what it might mean for us all. There will also be a live chat room so you can interact, share, and ask questions if you’d like.

Join TSS for our WWDC 2020 Keynote Reactions

Checking Out the Fuji X100V

“Sometimes the truth of a thing is not so much in the think of it, as in the feel of it.” — Stanley Kubrick


I rented a Fuji x100V for the next couple of weeks. And it arrived yesterday. I am wanting to shoot with it and compre it to my Leica Q that I’ve been shooting with for the past two years.

I’ve been super interested in the new X100V since it came out a few months ago. I’ve been waiting for some of my favorite photographers to write about it (and even compare it to the Q), but so far nobody’s really dug in. So I thought I’d rent one and see for myself.

If you were to compare the two cameras on paper, the Leica might seem to have some obvious advantages. The Leica is full frame versus the Fuji’s APS-C sensor. The Leica has a faster lens: f/1.7 versus f/2.0. The Leica is, well, a “Leica”.

Though, the Fuji has some pretty great advantages as well. It has USB-C, in-camera charging. It has weather sealing. It’s smaller, lighter, and 1/3 the price. It has some pretty great in-camera coloring to dissolve your post-processing workflow and let you just shoot.

Both of these cameras are great and capable of producing great photos. My aim isn’t to see which one is better. I simply wanted to try out the new X100V to see how it feels to use, and compare it to the Q in that regard. Again, it’s not in the think of a thing… but in the feel of it.

(Also, let’s be honest: I wanted to try out a different camera for the fun of it.)

Checking Out the Fuji X100V

5 Quick Links for the Weekend

How goes your quarantine life? Does the outside beckon? What new hobbies have you begun?

Me? In the past week I ordered a Costco-sized container of artisanal pickling spice and have begun to research kitchen knives. Let the reader understand.

Today I have for you a handful of links to some things I have found to be interesting, fun, and worthy of your inbox.

I’m only going to share 5 links today (don’t want to overwhelm). But at this rate I’ve already got more than 3 weeks worth of these types of “quick links” queued up. I recently set up a new folder inside of Ulysses solely for the purpose of collecting these quick links into one spot as I come across them and save them (which is a whole other workflow that probably I’ll share about one day).

I’m not yet sure how to best share these quick links more consistently. I might start sneaking them in to my Friday newsletter more often. Or perhaps begin posting them here to the site the way I used to circa 2007 – 2013. Or, perhaps something else entirely.

Anyway…. Enough with the overthinking. Enough with the dilly dally. On to the links!

. . . . . . .

Seth Godin hates being organized. And in this interview he shares about how you (and I) might be wasting time organizing instead of shipping.

Here’s a Twitter thread of artist’s desks covered with a whole bunch of stuff (books, papers, computer monitors, stacks of stuff…)

Four things that Sarah Peck is doing to claw back some sanity amidst quarantine life. Including working out in the afternoons, which is something I also have began doing and am a big fan of because it gives me more time in the morning to spend writing.

One Switch is a simple and beautiful menu bar app for your Mac that gives you quick access to a slew of helpful and clever settings. I installed it last week and it’s fantastic. Been using it regularly for things like getting my AirPods to connect and hiding my Desktop icons during a Webinar.

7 things that can help you make it through another week. Plus a list of some unhelpful things as well. Yay for new hobbies.

5 Quick Links for the Weekend

Avoiding the black hole, 5 minutes at a time

As has become my new norm over these past few weeks, I am sitting at my kitchen countertop spending the first hour of my day writing.

The coffee this morning is from Yes Plz.

My soundtrack is an early morning rain coming down outside. It’s heavy enough that it’s just a solid wall of sound on the roof, not a pitter patter. It’s creating a white noise of sorts to play in the background as I write.

Living life at home for 7+ weeks now my whole family’s routine has been disrupted.

We have zero obligations outside of work and school at home. Which means that we actually have more time than we normally used to in our previous life.

More time to be around and with my kids during the day.

More time to spend making and eating meals together.

More opportunity to focus on side projects and hobbies in the evenings.

We are not running to and fro with errands, pickups, dropoffs, hangouts, date nights, or anything like that. None of us are traveling anywhere. We are always at home.

And… as a result, I just have more small moments of down time during my day.

Basically, even though life is significantly different with its own set of new challenges — this new normal of life also contains more breathing room in some ways

I’ve noticed some good and bad tendencies arising for myself during these occasional moments of downtime that I have during my days and on the weekends.

Perhaps you also are noticing that, even though life is so different, you also have more breathing room at times.

Today I wanted to share how I am trying to be smarter and more intentional with that time. And what things I am doing which actually help my day to feel more calm and peaceful rather than frantic and gone before I know it.

Let’s dive in…

. . . . .

I believe there are two ways to spend the occasional moments of down time during the day.

  1. You can do something that will “slow down” time and creates a restful pause.
  2. You can do something that will speed time up. Something that gets you lost into a black hole where you emerge on the other side not knowing how long you were out of it.

Here are a few examples of each type.

Let’s start with the latter — these, to me, are the things which should be avoided when possible or at least kept to a maximum.

  • Scrolling social media
  • Checking email
  • Checking the news
  • Watching TV or a movie

I can easily spend 20-percent or more of my waking hours just perusing and triaging my inboxes and news feeds. And when I do that, my time gets sucked up like a black hole and I’m not sure what good was actually accomplished and it went by so fast I didn’t even realize it.

Additionally, I always find that I have less energy (creative and emotional energy) after I’ve spent time scrolling social media or checking my email. I don’t feel better or recharged at all. I don’t feel creative. I feel more bored. Ugh.

On the other hand, there are many things which help time to slow down. Things that create a true “pause” or a restful moment in my day. Things that will leave me feeling rested and recharged.

Some examples:

  • Sitting and thinking (or heck, just sitting)
  • Walking outside
  • Reading a printed book or a magazine
  • Listening to an audio book
  • Talking with a friend on the phone
  • Writing
  • Making photographs
  • Sketching or creating in some way
  • Cleaning or organizing a space
  • Playing cards or a board game
  • Making dinner

Having our whole family living inside these same 4 walls all day ever day, there are definitely moments where we all feel the need to escape — we each need moments to ourselves during the day.

Sometimes I have 5 or 10 minutes before the boys come inside for dinner. Sometimes it’s an hour before everyone wakes up. Or it’s half an hour before I go to bed.

In those moments, I’m trying to just be careful that I’m not always defaulting to spending that time on Twitter or email or news.

But of course, there is balance.

I haven’t abandoned all the mindless and fun things altogether. I don’t force myself to always do something that is “productive” or restful.

I am definitely okay with Netflix, Nintendo, YouTube, and RSS. I love these things! But I don’t want them to be the ever-present defaults for all my moments of down time.

I think it was Greg McKeown who I first heard suggest the following:

  • Have a minimum amount of time set aside for the good, the deep, and the essential things.

  • And a maximum amount of time set aside for those things which are shallow and not essential.

Yeah. I like that approach.


Side note for further reading: this piece I wrote about how I use time blocks and planning to identify work focus and rest focus each day.

Avoiding the black hole, 5 minutes at a time

Thank you for a great April

This April 2020 was our best April ever, and it was our 7th best month of all time in terms of net business revenue.

Thank you!

In these uncertain times, my team and I are incredibly grateful to have such amazing readers and customers like you who show up, share our work, buy our courses, and are enabling us to keep going with Tools & Toys, The Focus Course, and The Sweet Setup.

Because of your support we are able to continue focusing on what we know and do best. Which means we have a lot of new and exciting things in store for you…

Thank you for a great April

Over on The Sweet Setup, Josh Ginter just published a fantastic review (with photos!) of the new Magic Keyboard for iPad.

A lot of the early-access units and first reviews that came out were of the 12.9-inch model. Josh, like myself, has an 11-inch iPad and his review is of the smaller size.

There were two points that stood out to me most in Josh’s review.

First of all is just how great the hardware connection is between the iPad and the Magic Keyboard. You attach them and you are good to go. You detach them and you are good to go. There is no pairing or unpairing required.

This lack of friction is such a massive advantage that — even for me — I will often just use the attached keyboard even though I have a fussy, clickey bluetooth keyboard already on my desk and ready to pair with the iPad. (More on that another time.)

Secondly, I love how Josh highlights the “philosophical” positioning / signaling of what the iPad Magic Keyboard means for the iPad as a whole:

If ever there was a sign that Apple was working on the iPad’s perceived shortcomings, it’s this: The Magic Keyboard dramatically improves — I’d venture to say “flips on its head” — the notion that the iPad has poor keyboard and trackpad support.

As John Gruber commented regarding Jason Snell’s review of the Magic Keyboard:

Apple has made iPad better in new ways without making it worse in any existing way.

Magic Keyboard: Turning the iPad Into Something New