It’s Thanksgiving week, and my book, Delight is in the Details, is on sale for 25-percent off.

For you, hopefully the holiday season will include a little bit of down time to do some extra reading as well as some time to think about new ideas and projects you want to tackle the upcoming year. Also, perhaps you’ve got a road trip and the need for something great to listen to.

Which is why Delight is in the Details is on sale this week. You can read it on your Kindle, iPad, or Computer; between the audio book and the interviews, there is 7 hours of audio; and the whole book and interview series is geared toward doing our best creative work.

If you’ve been on the fence about picking up a copy, now’s a great time.

On Sale: Delight is in the Details

My First Baron Fig

It was the middle of March that I began my first Baron Fig notebook. About 255 days later, I’ve now hit the end of its 192 pages. Roughly one page every 32 hours.

Baron Fig

I ordered the Dot Grid, of course. As water tends to flow downward, I tend to choose black when buying gadgets, devices, and cars and I choose grid when buying notebooks.

The design of a Baron Fig notebook itself is full of character. The yellow ribbon and the grey cloth cover are both unique and friendly. The binding is of the upmost quality. And the notebook is sized to the exact dimensions of an iPad mini. Making it an ideal analog sidekick to the mostly-digital worker.

Baron Fig

Baron Fig

There are flaws to the notebook. For example, the cover doesn’t lay flat when closed. And I had to take a lighter to tend of the ribbon because it was fraying. Yet, after 9 months of use, these flaws are not points of frustration. Rather, they’ve become endearing shortcomings. Much like the flaws found in ourselves and in our friends — these are no longer flaws, they are quirks we’ve come to love.

Baron Fig

Baron Fig

I’ve owned and used many different journals and notebooks over the years. I have a growing collection of Field Notes which I don’t even use, but love to collect. My first foray into the world of “GTD” was my own version of a Hipster PDA (remember the Hipster PDA?). Mine was a pocket-sized Moleskine, with a few sticky-notes for tabs.

The Baron Fig may be my favorite notebook I’ve ever used. If I’m at my desk, it’s at my desk. I’ve taken it with me on many trips this year — traveling to WWDC in San Francisco; a family vacation to Colorado in August; Portland for XOXO; Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And it’s been to just about every (good) coffee shop in the greater Kansas City area.

As may be evident with my aforementioned collection of mint-condition Field Notes, I often self-sabotage my own notebook usage. A brand new notebook is too nice to be used. Paper is so full of character. It’s tactile. Real. Fragile. Permanent and impermanent at the same time. It just begs to be used for something awesome. And I never feel that my silly ideas and temporary to-do lists qualify. But if not those, then what?

My Baron Fig and I made a pact. I would use it for the most mundane, menial, impermanent things I could think of. And if I ruined this book by filling it with nothing of consequence, then I would order another to sit on the shelf and collect dust as it waited patiently for something more historic and epic.

But the truth is, when it comes to using our everyday notebooks, quality is found in quantity; meaning in the mundane.

As I thumb through the pages of my spent Baron Fig, the early pages reveal tasks both accomplished and unacomplished. The very first to-do item is a reminder to buy a screen protector for my then-new Olympus E-M10 (something I never did get around to doing until many months later). A few pages further I find my review notes for the Flickr iPhone app which came out in March.

Further in I continue to find scattered notes, ideas, and sketches for the big update to Delight is in the Details that I shipped a few months ago. I also find outlines for reviews I was working on and have since published, notes for the book I’m writing now, budgeting math, and more.

Since I started this notebook, my wife and I celebrated our 9-year anniversary as well as each of our birthdays; my youngest son turned one; a huge re-design to Tools & Toys was conceived, built, and launched; and I wrote and shipped a significant update to my book, Delight is in the Details.

The two biggest trends found in my notebook are regarding my daily tasks and my podcasts. I often write down the talking points and outlines for my Shawn Today and The Weekly Briefly podcasts. And the vast majority of pages are filled with my daily action items and schedule.

According to my own handwriting, it was on May 6 that I adopted a much more analog approach to my tasks and routine. It was then that I began writing down my “big three” projects for the day along with any additional admin tasks, and then scheduling time for those things to get done during the day. For most days from May until October I did this. I would sit down with OmniFocus on my iPad and I would review through the items which were due, and I’d transfer things out of OmniFocus and in to my Baron Fig.

Baron Fig

I’ve slowly moved away from this routine over the past month or so since I re-vamped my usage of OmniFocus to make better use of due dates and flags. However, there is something awesome about having 255 days worth of crossed-off to-do items, notes, and the like. And the fear of losing this ability to flip back through the pages is one thing that keeps me tethered to the analog.

As interesting as all of the text in this notebook is, aside from what’s written down on the most recent 8 or 9 pages, I’m not sure if anything is still needed. My Baron Fig is has 192 some odd pages of nothing in particular. And yet, in aggregate, it’s everything. In here are the footprints of my life from the Spring to the Fall of 2014.

Baron Fig

Baron Fig

Comparing the old notebook to the new one, I am impressed with how well it has worn. There are a few scuffs and stains on the old cover, but it’s not dramatic.

As I open up my new notebook, the binding cracks and stretches. It’s now ready to get to work. This new one will probably see me through to next summer, sometime around my 34th birthday. What will be done between now and then?

Baron Fig

My First Baron Fig

This week I’m publishing an early episode of The Weekly Briefly because it’s Thanksgiving week. On today’s show I talk about the glories and the perils of running your own business. Why showing up every day is important for building an audience. Why trust and transparency are important for keeping an audience. And why doing our best creative work has very little to do with the tools we use, and quite a bit to do with knowing where our best creative work is born.

Sponsored By:

Knowing Where Our Best Creative Work Comes From

TOM BIHN has been designing and making backpacks and travel bags since 1972 — it’s what we know. We use the best materials, innovative design and superior construction techniques to build a better bag.

* * *

My thanks to TOM BIHN for sponsoring the site this week. They’ve got an incredible array of laptop bags, travel bags, backpacks, and more. Need something simple and low-profile to carry your iPad and a notebook? Check out the Cafe Bag. Need something handsome and rugged that you cantravel with? They’ve got you covered there, too.

TOM BIHN — world-class travel bags, backpacks, and messengers (Sponsor)

Owen Williams (via The Tech Block):

When trimming down your notifications, ask yourself these questions: Am I willing to let this interrupt me at any given moment during my day? Is this information critical to my life?

Glancing in my iPhone’s system settings at the apps which I’ve granted permission to send me push notifications, I see a lot listed in there. However, most of them don’t actually send any push notifications. The notifications I do get on a regular basis are:

  • ESPN: Injury / projection updates for my Fantasy Foobtall league
  • Email: Emails from my VIP list (which is just my CPA and my wife)
  • Twitter DMs
  • Slack mentions and direct messages
  • Flickr comments
  • Dark Sky weather updates
  • Calendar alerts
  • Reminders: (time / location)
  • Deliveries: when a delivery status changes
  • Overcast: new podcast episodes are available
  • Circa: breaking news alerts
  • The Magazine: new issues available

I’ve decided to turn off notifications for Overcast, Deliveries, The Magazine, and Flickr.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’d wager that most of you have a pretty conservative approach to push notifications as well. But what I just realized after reading Owen’s article and then thinking about what push notifications I have on, is that there’s a difference between needing to be informed of something and wanting to be informed.

With notifications from Overcast, Deliveries, and Flickr — yeah, it’s great to know when a new podcast episode is available or to know that my recent order is on the truck for delivery, but those are also bits of information that I seek out on my own anyway. And so the push notification is superfluous.

Treating Push Notifications as Sacred

This week’s setup interview is with Faith Korpi, writer, ballet teacher, and co-host of the IRL Talk Podcast. I loved this bit at the end of Faith’s interview:

Well, my ideal setup would be a tree house high up in a tree guarded by panda bears. There’d be a desk with an old tangerine iMac that I’d use exclusively for writing and another desk with a new iMac that I’d use for recording and video editing. It’d be the only tree house in the world with Google Fiber and my internet speed would make you weep tears of joy.

The Sweet Mac Setup of Faith Korpi

On this week’s episode of The Weekly Briefly, I talk about hiring help and how it should be seen as an investment.

I share about the people I’ve hired to help me with Tools & Toys and The Sweet Setup, how I found them, and why I brought them on. I also discuss knowing when it’s the right time to hire help, and how you can get out of the way so that the people you’ve brought on are empowered to do their best work.

Sponsored by:

Hiring help: Why, When, and How

Over on the Sweet Setup we compared Delivery Tracking Apps. Just in time for the holidays!

Many of us have been using Deliveries for years and it’s still the best one out there (though there are some other great options as well).

I’m an Amazon Prime member, and so I get a lot of stuff shipped from Amazon. (What’s that? We’re out of organic coconut oil? Just get it off Amazon. It’s cheaper than driving to the store, and it’ll be here in 2 days and we aren’t going shopping again until next week.) Anyway, one of the best things about Deliveries is how it can connect with Amazon to auto-import your shipments. Also, you can forward emails to the Junecloud server and it can grab the tracking number out of the email. Really cool.

Our Favorite App for Tracking Deliveries

An excellent review:

[T]he most impressive thing about the iPad Air 2 is not its screen or its thinness or its camera, though those are all quite lovely. It’s the speed, and the extra RAM. Using the iPad Air 2 while flipping around from app to app feels like an entirely upgraded experience from performing the same tasks on my iPad mini 2. You learn to blot out the time you spend waiting for apps to open and Safari tabs to reload, but once you spend time on a device that doesn’t need to take those pauses, they become obvious. Painfully obvious.

I wish the iPad mini 3 featured all these same improvements, but it doesn’t.


[W]hen I look at the power that Apple’s dropped into the iPad Air 2, I’m convinced that the use of iPads as everyday tools will just keep on growing. These devices are in their infancy; the iPad has existed for less than five years, and is now on its sixth generation. They’ve come a long way, and in some ways the software hasn’t really kept up with the hardware.

Jason Snell’s iPad Air 2 Review

Josh Ginter wrote an excellent review of a seemingly mundane product: a laptop stand.

The Rain Design mStand hoists your laptop up to a height that promotes better posture and viewing angles. Combine excellent utility with a solid aluminum design that matches the aesthetic of your MacBook Pro, and you’ve got yourself one of the best laptop stands you can buy.

Over the years of doing the Sweet Mac Setup interviews (both the original series here, and the new ones over on The Sweet Setup), I’ve seen this stand being used by a lot of folks. In fact, it was in the very first Sweet Mac Setup interview ever with Mark Jardine.

Great for ergonomics and also great if you use your laptop with an external display but don’t want to do clamshell mode.

Review of the Rain Design mStand

Speaking of Spotlight add-ons, Nate Parrott has a workaround/hack/plugin system that extends the functionality of Spotlight in Yosemite to include Wolfram Alpha searches, weather reports, and more.

Via Federico Viticci, who stumbled across a few bugs when using it:

I got similar results with weather and Wolfram Alpha integration, although also I stumbled across bugs as Parrott cautioned in the release notes. Weather correctly fetched my location, but Wolfram Alpha didn’t accept the (theoretically supported) “wa” command and some queries just didn’t work. And, obviously, being this a rough hack that’s not officially supported by Apple, memory consumption of the Flashlight plugin occasionally went through the roof with hundreds of MBs reported in Activity Monitor.


Here’s a clever way to increase the functionality of Spotlight in Yosemite. Sam Soffes and Louie Mantia wrote 7 simple applications: Screen Saver, Empty Trash, Lock, Log Out, Sleep, Restart, and Shut Down. You drop the apps into your Applications folder and then you can “launch” them via Spotlight.

Most of you (all of you?) probably know that these sorts of actions work out right of the box with LaunchBar and Alfred. But Yosemite brought many cool new features to Spotlight that make it a more compelling quick launcher than it was in previous versions of OS X.

Spotlight Tools