Here, at the End of 2012, Let’s Look Back


I’ll never be able to say enough how just thankful I am to the members of this site. Thanks to those of you who are willing to pitch in $3 every month, I’m entering into my second year of writing this site full time.

This year I recorded 156 episodes of Shawn Today. Among my favorites were the week-long coffee-gear video series, the new “Ask Shawn Today” series, and the oodles of shows talking and musing about diligence and focus. Believe it or not, I’ve heard from many who claim they’ve listened to every single episode. Amazing. I haven’t even listened to every episode, and I was there when they were recorded.

The Boy and The Schedule

This year, Anna and I had our first kid. Noah. Having a kid is so wonderful. It’s been amazing and beautiful and oh so inconvenient.

Being a dad is the best thing in the world and I would never trade it for a second. It has also been the most disruptive thing to happen to my working life.

Anna and I share responsibilities with Noah. I watch him about 20 hours a week, mostly in the mornings. For a guy who likes to have a semi-regular work pattern and who does his best work in the pre-lunch hours, this new routine has been murder to my work life.

The changes to my working (and sleeping) routine have forced me to write when it’s time to write, not when I feel inspired. And though that’s not quite as fun, it’s shown me that when you write day-in and day-out, words start to get in you. You begin to trust your subconscious a bit more and you’re okay with not waiting for that magical moment of inspiration. You sit down, you write, and later (after a few tears and edits) you realize, hey, that’s not so bad.

A Few Faves

Some of the most fun I’ve had on this site has been with the members-only podcast. The near-daily show hit a stride this year and the feedback with listening members has been great.

And, of course, I’ve had a lot of fun writing.

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All this to say, thanks for reading. I am seriously looking forward to doing awesome work in 2013 and I bet you are too.

Here, at the End of 2012, Let’s Look Back

Patrick Rhone:

But, to me, what makes Peter most interesting is his hobbies. He always has one. They always involve making something by hand.

People who work with their mind, rest with their hands. For me, that usually means woodworking.

Also, I bet you that a lot of readers here can identify with what writer-turned-knifemaker, Joel Bukiewicz, said in his profile interview found in yesterday’s aforelinked Made by Hand video:

I had this period of fear that I was going to lose writing. I had this thing that I just really loved and I was afraid I was going to lose it forever. I decided to take a 3-month hiatus from it — just stop altogether. And when I stopped, I found that I’d developed this need to make these sort of creative offerings on a daily basis. To basically make things.

When I recognized this need, I started making stuff. A set of bookshelves. A set of canoe paddles for my dad. Jewelry, tables, various things. Whenever there was an occasion I would just go: Oh, I’ll make something for that. Or: Oh, I’ll fix this at the house. And that was kind of filling that need for me.

“By Hand”

Over at Tools & Toys we’re giving away 3 Neu Year Calendars (I’ve got one on my office wall right now and I think it looks even better in person than it does in the pictures).

Now, obviously I can’t enter the giveaway, but if I were, one of my goals for 2013 is a refined daily schedule and stronger resolve to do some of my best creative work yet. Of course, truth be told, this is an ongoing goal for me. But Noah will be 1 in just 8 weeks, and his napping and feeding schedule is now changing quite a bit. Which means that as his routine shifts, so does mine.

Neu Year 2013 Calendar Giveaway

Shiny Things and Little App Factory are holding a sale on our iOS education and Mac media apps with deals of up to 50%. Titles include the fun new Jungle Picnic, Quick Math, the award winning RipIt and Tagalicious.

Available for a limited time only, don’t miss out!

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My thanks to Shiny Things and Little App Factory for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

Sponsor: Shiny Things and TLAF Xmas Sale

Inbox Intentions

Recently I’ve read a few new articles about scaling back from Twitter and RSS. This is a common theme, especially amongst the group of bloggers I follow. And I’m glad that it’s a common theme because things like scaling back, clarifying our goals, identifying distractions, and the like are all moving targets.

There is no set-it-and-forget-it because small distractions are always creeping into our lives. It’s a constant battle to keep even a modicum of focus and creative breakthrough as a part of our daily lives. But it’s a battle worth fighting.

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Patrick Rhone, “What is Enough?”:

I’m convinced that a successful life is largely driven by balance and moderation. […]

We all have a center of balance that is unique, different from everyone else. My center of balance is different from yours. My daughter’s, from mine. As she walks the wire, hands out, wobbling to and fro, this is what she is in search of. As she gets older, this process might become easier, faster, with less wobble, but it will never end. No matter how good she becomes, she will always need some device to assist her — arms stretched, a long pole, a racquet or fan. Even the Flying Wallendas, perhaps the greatest wire act to ever perform and a family team stretching back 10 generations, still wobble and use devices to maintain their balance.

Frank Chimero, “Digital Jubilee”:

The Jubilee offers a way out of oppressive expectations, even if they are our own. This year, I’m practicing a digital jubilee by archiving my inbox, deleting my RSS subscriptions, and unfollowing most everyone on Twitter. These, of course, will fill back up as time passes, but now I have a recurring way to purge. Practices like these have been coined “declaring bankruptcy” by the digital lifestyle blogs, but I think the phrase misrepresents the practice. Cleaning the digital slate is not a practice of giving up. It is one of self-forgiveness.

Yours truly, in an interview with Matt Alexander:

I’ve never felt that technology itself was too entwined in my life, though I have gone through seasons where I feel the need to slow down or step away. But that could be true for any and all hobbies or distractions. There are people who admit to spending too much time wrenching on the car, or too much time golfing, or whatever it may be.

Technology, gadgets, and the like are not bad in and of themselves, it’s us who need self-control to live balanced and purposeful lives.

Adam Brault: “I quit Twitter for a month and it completely changed my thinking about mostly everything.“:

I used to believe that time was the most important thing I have, but I’ve come to believe differently. The single most valuable resource I have is uninterrupted thought.

Paul Graham, “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule”:

But there’s another way of using time that’s common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can’t write or program well in units of an hour. That’s barely enough time to get started.

When you’re operating on the maker’s schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in.

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For a maker, uninterrupted work time is valuable because it allows us uninterrupted thought. Large blocks of free time so we can focus, freely (or not so freely, because, well, you know how it goes sometimes).

But when we interrupt our own time with habitual checking of email, Facebook, Twitter, et al. then it’s like having micro meetings all day long.

Unfollowing everyone, unsubscribing from everything, and setting up auto-responders in our email seem mostly seem like band-aid fixes. They help in some regard (I’m trying something similar myself with Twitter) but underneath the problem is still there. Yes, apply the band aid, but that alone does not mean the “problem” is “healed”.

Because it comes down to our own choices. Are we going to spend our time the way we want to or not? Are we going to do the work we say we want to do or not? Intentions are dandy, but real men get to work.

Inbox Intentions

John Gruber:

…one recurrent theme I see in nearly every single “how I write on the iPad” story is Dropbox. It’s the linchpin in the workflow. Scary, because Dropbox is outside Apple’s control. Scary, because if not for Dropbox, many of these people would not be using their iPads as much as they are. Scary, because Apple’s iCloud falls short of Dropbox.

Agreed. I wouldn’t be able to use my iPad a “laptop replacement” nearly as easily if not for Dropbox. But I rarely ever use the actual Dropbox app. Rather, most of the apps I use sync with my iPhone and Mac via Dropbox. Byword, Writing Kit, 1Password, TextExpander, and DropVox. Just to name a few.

Dropbox: The Linchpin

My thanks to Today Weather for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. It’s a new iPhone weather app built by the same guys behind Agenda, which I consider one of the best iPhone calendar apps out there. And right now, Today Weather is on sale for just a buck in the App Store.

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Today Weather is a beautiful, gesture-based weather app for the iPhone.

Your weather needs change. Usually, you just have to understand what’s happening now but sometimes you need to plan ahead.

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Weather conditions are handcrafted and the icon looks great on your Home screen.

For a limited time, Today Weather is just $0.99 in the App Store.

Sponsor: Today Weather for iPhone