iOS Shortcut for Importing Photos into Lightroom

Speaking of very simple shortcuts, the latest update to Adobe Lightroom CC now has support for the Shortcuts app. It’s not much support, but it’s exactly what I wanted for my iPad photography workflow.

Basically the only option you have is that you can import photos into Lightroom and apply a filter to those photos if you want.

This is perfect for me because my iPad photography workflow is already such that I import photos from my Leica Q onto the iPad Photos app, and then I cull my list from there. Then, what I used to do was open up the Lightroom app and import photos. But being able to select a group of photos right within the iOS Photos app and can send those photos directly to Lightroom is much easier and more intuitive for me.

So I created a shortcut that lets me do exactly that:

How I use it that I first select one or more photos, then I tap the iOS Share sheet, I tap the Shortcuts and select my Send to Lightroom shortcut. The photos are then sent to Lightroom and the app is opened up for me to begin editing.

Download the Shortcut here.

Note: You could also create a shortcut that automatically grabs all the photos from a recent import, or from a specific album or something. But since I don’t do my photo culling inside Lightroom, I prefer to choose the specific images I want to send into Lightroom for editing.

iOS Shortcut for Importing Photos into Lightroom

My Travel Packing List Shortcut

Having a pre-populated packing list is one of the greatest “travel hacks” I’ve ever done.

It takes all the guesswork out of packing. And it saves me quite a bit of time as well. I just follow the list and when I’m done I don’t have to worry if I forgot about anything.

I used to keep my packing list in the Apple Notes app. It was easy to use because you could toggle the to-do state of the whole list by selecting all items and then tapping the “checkbox icon” in order to uncheck them in one fell swoop so you can start over with the list.

But with iOS 12, I thought it’d be nice to set up a Shortcut for this instead.

So I built a very simple Shortcut that will create a new note for me with my packing list ready to go.

The way the Shortcut works is very simple: It takes a block of pre-written text (my packing list that I wrote) and then passes it into Bear as a new note filled with check-box items.

The reason I prefer to have the list created in Bear is because then, once I’m done packing, I can just delete the note.

One important thing to note when building this shortcut is that you want to write your list text in Bear’s flavor of Markdown so that it will create your packing list as to-do items so you can check them off as you pack them.

That syntax looks like this:

- [ ] ITEM A
- [ ] ITEM B
- [ ] ITEM C

Download the Shortcut Here.

My Travel Packing List Shortcut

On the Necessity of Rest and Relaxation

Greg McKeown, from his book, Essentialism:

If you believe being overly busy and overextended is evidence of productivity, then you probably believe that creating space to explore, think, and reflect should be kept to a minimum. Yet these very activities are the antidote to the nonessential busyness that infects so many of us. Rather than trivial diversions, they are critical to distinguishing what is actually a trivial diversion from what is truly essential.

On the Necessity of Rest and Relaxation

Snow Day

Leica Q Snow Photos

Leica Q Snow Photos

Leica Q Snow Photos

Leica Q Snow Photos

Leica Q Snow Photos

This morning, we woke up to a dark and cold house with about 10-inches of snow outside. The storm had knocked out the power to our neighborhood sometime in the middle of the night.

I made some “coffee” in the french press by heating up the water on our gas stove (lit with a match) and then “grinding” the coffee beans by putting them into a zip lock bag and crushing them with a rolling pin.

We all spent the morning building Legos and doing crossword puzzles. For a few hours we had no heat, but I discovered that our fireplace (which has an eclectic pilot) also has a battery backup. So I was able to get it started and that was definitely the highlight of our morning.

Alas, around noon, the power came back on.

Snow Day

A Review of the Clear Habit Journal

Clear Habit Journal

A few days ago I received my pre-ordered copy of the new Clear Habit Journal.

This notebook is a collaboration between some good friends of mine: Joey and Adam at Baron Fig and James Clear.

I have used a Baron Fig notebook just about every single day for the past five years — it’s a central tool in my Hybrid Productivity Method.

So needless to say, I was wildly excited to check out this new notebook. I may or may not have completely geeked out last Saturday when my copy arrived.

The design of this new notebook is absolutely fantastic! I love the feel, the colors, the type, the layout, the gold foil stamp on the front. Everything about this notebook just screams quality and attention to detail.

What I also love about the Habit Journal is how simple it is. For me, as a hard and fast notebook user, the Clear Habit Journal is exactly the right mix of useful templates with open, blank pages.

In the front of the Journal is an “Index” spread followed by a “daily log” section where you write down one line per day.

The Index is where you build your own table of contents as you go, writing down any important sections and the page number(s) they’re on. I do this in all my journals, so it’s great to have it pre-templated already.

The One Line Per Day section is absolutely brilliant. You choose your own writing prompt, and then have one line to answer that prompt each day. There are 31 lines per page, and 12 pages. So you get a section of your journal that has an easy-to-read summary of your entire year.

Clear Habit Journal

Your daily prompt can be whatever you want it to be. For January my prompt is “Highlight of the Day”. But you could do anything. Such as your Most Important Task, or Something You’re Grateful For, or Something You Learned, etc.

In the back of the Journal are two more sections. A “Habit Tracker” and a “Toolkit” section.

The Habit Tracker is nice and simple. You simply write down the habit / routine that you are workin on and then you check the box that corresponds with the day of the month.

Having clarity about your goals for the year is critical. And then tracking your progress on your goals is what turns them into reality.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, there are two new routines I’m focusing on this year: more time reading and learning and more time writing and editing. So I have my normal routines that I already track, which include my workouts and personal prayer times, and now I also am tracking time spent reading, writing, and editing.

Clear Habit Journal

Then there is the Toolkit section which has some ideas and instructions for how to use the 167 dot-grid pages that comprise the bulk of the journal.

James wrote out several suggestions for how to make better decisions, how to think more clearly, how to prioritize things, how to be productive, how to log your workouts and/or your diet, etc.

One of the pages is on how to make smarter decisions by writing out your prediction, the decision, and then reviewing it again at a later date. That is a brand-new approach for me and look forward to implementing it.

There are other helpful little details as well. Every page is numbered, there is a pocket in the very back cover, there are two bookmark ribbons, and the Habit Tracking pages are perforated so you can remove them if you want.

All in all, the Clear Habit Journal is a great mix of helpful templates and then blank space. It’s useful and adaptable. And it fits exactly how I do and want to use a notebook. I really love this notebook.

But… (and this is a very big but)

There is one — ahem — large problem: The size of notebook itself.

My singular frustration is that the Journal comes in only one size: the normal-sized, “Flagship” Baron Fig.

I have used many of this sized notebooks over the years. And so I know from my years of experience that this sized Baron Fig will last me about 6-9 months at most. However, the way that the Clear Habit Journal is set up, you would ideally use it for a full year because it has 12 months worth of daily prompts in the front and 12 months worth of habit tracking in the back.

In early 2017 I began using the new “jumbo” size Baron Fig and I absolutely love it. Not only do I love the largest pages because they give more room to write and draw and just spread out my ideas. The bigger size pages also make it so that a Jumbo notebook lasts me more than a full year.

I decided to throw my gripe out the window, and began using the Clear Habit Journal for a few days. But I just couldn’t do it. I kept thinking about how once August got here I’d be out of the dot-grid pages and would have to start a new notebook, and my year’s worth of one-line prompts and habit tracking would have to either be migrated or split up.

But then, also, the smaller pages just felt too crowded. I really missed the extra real estate to let my writing and ideas breath and spread out.

So, alas, I ended up switching back to my Jumbo size notebook. But I brought with me some of the ideas and design elements from the Clear Habit Journal (thanks, James!) and I am incorporating those elements into my own notebook to improve the way I use the jumbo Baron Fig.

Basically what I’m doing is combining the daily prompts and the habit tracker into a single spread that looks like this:

Bullet Journal Daily Habit Tracking

Thanks to the larger size of the Jumbo Baron Fig, I have space to fit the “one line per day” prompt and also track up to 5 or 6 daily habits… all in one spot. I reserved 12 pages toward the front of my Jumbo Baron Fig notebook to accommodate a page like this for each of the 12 months of the year.

Clear Habit Journal

One huge advantage of a notebook like the Clear Habit Journal is that a lot of the template design work is done for you. This can save a lot of time and mental energy. (I, for instance, spent about 90 minutes last night manually creating the new index page, monthly habit tracking page, and hand writing in the page numbers for my Jumbo notebook.)

I am sad that I won’t be using the Clear Habit Journal, because it is such an excellent product. But at the end of the day the size turned out to be a deal breaker for me.

But I am probably more the exception here. I know that there are many people who prefer Baron Fig’s traditionally-sized flagship notebooks. And then I heartily recommend the Clear Habit Journal. It’s fantastic. And if they ever make this notebook in the Jumbo size then I’ll be the first in line to get one.

A Review of the Clear Habit Journal

Regret vs Celebration

You’re probably very aware of just how challenging it is to try and keep up with multiple areas of your life all at the same time. Between your relationships, health, finances, work, hobbies, and personal time … how do you get it all done?

The truth is you can’t. Or at least, you can’t get it all done at the same time.

I love how David Allen says that you can do anything you want but you can’t do everything you want. And that is an extremely liberating mindset.

It is all too easy to feel regret over not having gotten everything done during a certain timeframe. (Such as at the end of a calendar year.)

But depending on what it is you’re feeling regret over, perhaps you should turn that regret into celebration instead.

Now, if someone had taken a significant amount of their time and squandered it on something that didn’t even matter to them, then, well, yes, I would regret that as well. That is a regret in having neglected to do something awesome by do something lesser-than instead.

But perhaps you’ve had to compromise something good so that you could do something great. Perhaps you didn’t get your book idea written last year because your free time was spent focusing on your family or your health…

You probably had several great things you wanted to do, but had to pick just a few of them. If so, then consider thinking of it from a place of celebration.

Instead of feeling regret over what you didn’t do, celebrate what you did do.

Regret vs Celebration

How I Approach My New Year Goals

Don’t go crazy.

I approach my New Year Goals by first looking at the things in my life that are working well and the things that are not.

Then I choose a few small course corrections that will help move me more in the direction I want to go.

I do not overhaul my life on January first. Instead, I pick a few things that I know I can stick with. The compounding impact of small routines done regularly is so much more powerful than that one giant event.

Here are two actual examples for me in 2019 — one related to health and the other related to writing.

I have already been focusing quite a bit on my physical health in 2018. I finished out the year with 90 days in a row of perfect activity on my Apple Watch. I did that by focusing on one thing: doing one workout every single day.

Now that my workout routine has settled in, I’ll be taking the next step by also getting more focused on my diet. I don’t yet have the specifics, but I do know that I will begin taking small steps to improve what I eat to help give me more energy and long-term health beyond what I am currently eating.

My second example is with writing. In 2018 I spent quite a bit of time writing every day. But very little of my writing got published here to this site and, to be candid, that bums me out.

The slow publishing cadence here is not for shortage of time or ideas. I take time every day to write. And in my “ideas” folder in Ulysses has 213 notes that total up to roughly 35,000 words!

So the bottleneck with publishing to my site is that I have not been taking the time to turn my ideas and notes into edited blog posts that I can publish.

So, as I move into 2019, one thing I’ll be focusing on more is to get my writing out here onto the blog. Thus, my focus will be to spend at least 15 minutes per day editing my ideas and notes, so as to turn them into published posts.

While I’m not yet committing to a specific cadence of output here on this site, between you and me, I’d like to publish 100 posts in 2019 with one going up every Tuesday and Thursday.

How I Approach My New Year Goals

How and when do I carve out time to read distraction free?

September and October have been good to us readers this year. I have a pile of brand-new books that I can’t wait to dive into.

Yesterday I tweeted about how if you’re also diving into a new book (or 5) then you might be interested in how to build your own, alternate index of notes and ideas. Having your own index is, to me, a game-changing strategy for reading and studying any non-fiction book. (See also: My approach to learning and taking action.)

In response to my above tweet, I was asked how and when I’m able to carve out time to read.

Well, the way to make time for reading is the same way you make time for anything else. You pick a time (schedule it) and then you show up.

  • I wake up an hour before my kids in order to make time for my workout and to read.
  • After the kids go to bed and I have tidied up the house, I try to read for at least 15 minutes before doing anything like watching a show or working on other projects.
  • Before going to bed I read for 20 – 30 minutes. This is usually fiction (if I read non-fiction business or finance books, then my brain gets going and I can’t wind down for sleep).
  • Saturday and Sunday afternoons we (usually) have quiet time during my youngest son’s nap. While my older two are doing their quiet activity, I will usually read for a bit.

To be candid, I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like to. And I have two things I want to adjust in my daily rhythm to make more time for reading and studying. One of them is to switch to audio books rather than podcasts when I’m driving in the car. The other is to make more space for reading at the start of my work day and in the afternoon. I’d like to at least double the amount of time I spend reading each day.

However… right now I am focused primarily on a new workout routine (which is something I hope to write about soon), and I have about three more weeks to go before I feel that my new workout habits will begin to settle in and become easier to follow through with.

I try to only focus on one big area of change in my life at a time. And since I’m focusing on my health right now, I’m not worried about changing my reading habits just yet. I will wait until I’ve hit a stride with my new workout routine and thus can give my energy to focus on building a new reading routine.

How and when do I carve out time to read distraction free?

The Very Definition of Overwhelm

Have you ever looked up the dictionary definition of “overwhelm”? It’s pretty intense, actually.

  • bury or drown beneath a huge mass
  • defeat completely
  • give too much of a thing to someone

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, then perhaps you feel as though you have been given too much. In fact, you’ve been given so much that you’re to the point of feeling buried and drown beneath a huge mass of stuff — from urgent issues, undone tasks, incoming requests of your time and energy, and more. And as a result you feel overpowered and defeated.

When you’re overwhelmed with too many priorities, it can feel impossible to find the time you need to get everything done.

Even worse is when everything is important.

How can you possibly put aside 99% of your responsibilities for a few hours in order to focus on just one thing?

I don’t know about you, but I used to feel guilty at neglecting all the other important things I wasn’t doing, when I would try to focus on at least one thing that was important.

It’s nonsensical that you can work on everything all at the same time. But who says we humans are rational, sensical people?

How to Make Sense of Things When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

Do this. Make a note or a list or just mentally take inventory of the following:

  • What urgent issues do you have right now?
  • What areas of responsibility are you managing?
  • What projects are you working on?
  • What things do you feel that you should be doing but you’re not?

Now, take that list and put each item into the proper box from this matrix:

  • Box 1: Things you enjoy that ONLY YOU can do
  • Box 2: Things you enjoy that ANYBODY could do
  • Box 3: Things you dislike that ANYBODY could do
  • Box 4: Things you dislike that ONLY YOU can do

Now, looking at those boxes, how does it make you feel?

For reference, here’s what my matrix looks like (for the sake of brevity I focused only on high-level areas of responsibility and the tasks that fall under those domains):

Looking back at your own matrix, consider this:

  • The items in boxes 1 and 4 are things which you must choose to take personal ownership of and prioritize into your life. 


  • What things are in Box 2? It’s awesome that these are things which you love, but make sure they’re not keeping you from the things in Box 1.

  • What things are in Box 3? These need to go! Delegate them to someone else. Get assistance, learn how to automate the process of that work, ask your boss if you can be relieved of those duties, etc.

Looking again at my matrix above, let me share a few insights.

You’ll see that I put writing and project management in Box 2. The truth is, my job within my company as a writer, designer, and project manager is totally replaceable. Even though those activities are critical to what we do, I could train someone else to do that work.

But what’s NOT replaceable within the company is my leadership as the owner. My taste, values, and vision for the work we do are unique.

Therefore, if the work I’m doing in Box 2 begins to interfere with my responsibilities in Box 1, then guess what? Time to make a change.

I love looking at the things in my life that ONLY I can do, and nobody else can do for me.

  • Only I can be a husband to my wife.
  • Only I can be a father to my kids.
  • Only I can take care of my health by eating well and staying active.
  • Only I can lead my business in the direction I want it to go.
  • Only I can take responsibility of my personal development through reading, learning, and living a focused life.

It’s liberating to know exactly what I’m in charge of.

When you’re feeling buried under a mass of so much stuff, it can feel as if you’re responsible for everything in the whole world.

But it can be liberating when you step back and get clarity about the things that ONLY YOU can do.


By the way… those things in Box 4? The the things you don’t like, but that only you can do?

Here’s a tip: Put systems in place that help you automate those things. Habits and routines help keep important areas of your life on track even when you can’t — or don’t want to — give those areas your full attention.

(This is something I’ll be sharing more about in the coming weeks, and it’s something that I cover in a ton more detail within The Focus Course.)

The Very Definition of Overwhelm

Apple Watch Series 4

Apple Watch Series 4

Last Friday, an Apple Watch Series 4 was delivered to my house around 8:45 in the evening.

I’ve been wearing an Apple Watch every day since the spring of 2015 when they first came out. My first watch was an original, Series 0. Then, after holding out for a while, I upgraded to a Series 3 with LTE and was totally blown away by both the huge speed increases and the usefulness of cellular service and being able to leave my iPhone at home.

The Series 4 is, without a doubt, the nicest Apple Watch to date.

Apple Watch Series 4

I went with the larger, 44mm size so I could keep using all of my watch bands that were from my previous 42mm Watches. The larger screen is wonderful — it has a higher pixel density and (at least to me) seems noticeably brighter. The slightly larger casing compared to the previous generations fits me just fine.

There are so many things about using an Apple Watch that I love. It has helped me tremendously in my personal health and fitness goals as I track my workouts (the gamification of closing the rings is a gimmicky yet real motivator).

But perhaps what I love most is how Watch has allowed me to decouple from my iPhone far more often.

My Apple Watch is, more or less, my “dumb phone”…

It allows me to leave my smartphone at home but still be reachable by text or phone (and I can still stream music to my bluetooth AirPods if I’m at the gym or driving the CJ), but I don’t have the entire Internet in my pocket. And there is just something liberating about being out and about without having email, Twitter, Instagram, and the like at my fingertips.

Apple Watch Series 4

Two Months With the Leica Q

Leica Q

It’s now been two months since my used Leica Q arrived from eBay, and gosh am I smitten.

I am still struggling to describe how awesome and delightful this camera is.

While I feel as if I am taking the same shots that I always take — like my shooting and editing style has not changed significantly over the past 2 months — yet the photos that are coming out of the Leica are vastly superior to what I’m used to from my M4/3 gear. (Surprise, surprise.)

Now, I know that “tools do not an artist make”. But I also know that when you reach certain points in your skills, using a better tool will bring about a better end result. Tools and gear may not matter the most, but they do matter.

My Leica Q has become a part of my Every Day Carry. After it arrived on June 26th, I made a commitment to shoot with it every single day. Even if I’m going somewhere that I don’t expect to take a photo — such as out to lunch with my dad — I still choose to take the Leica and I still choose to find and take a photo.

And would you believe it, but I haven’t yet edited a single photo on my iMac. Yep… every photo I’ve take in the past two months has been edited on my iPad or iPhone using either VSCO or Priime.

I’ll get more into the details of my photography workflow in an article next week. For now I just wanted to finally get some of these photos posted onto the site and to share this quick update that, yes, after two months with the Leica Q it awesome.

All that said, here are 14 of my favorite photos that I’ve taken over the past two months with the Leica Q.

Leica Q

Leica Q

Leica Q

Leica Q

Leica Q

Leica Q

Leica Q

Leica Q

Leica Q

Leica Q

Leica Q

Leica Q

Leica Q

For more photos, I’ve been posting daily on Instagram

Two Months With the Leica Q

Lake at Sunrise (Wallpaper Image)

If you’ve been following me on Instagram the past few weeks then you probably know my family and I were in Colorado for the month of July.

While I was there I made a commitment to take my Leica Q everywhere I went and to shoot at least a couple of photos each day. I’ve only had the Q for a month now, and I’m still getting comfortable with it. And the only way I know to get confident and familiar with it is to just keep shooting. So that’s what I’ve been doing. And, I have to say, the more I use it — and the more accustomed I get with the wide, 28mm lens — the more I like the camera. But now I am getting ahead of myself.

Every evening I would import the day’s photos onto my iPad, pick out my favorites, edit them in either Priime or VSCO (which is another story for another day), and then post one of them to Instagram.

I’ll be sharing more of those images over the coming days here on the site.

To kick things off, one of my favorite photos so far is the lake photo above. This image was taken around six in the morning at Arapaho Reservoir while my brothers and I were fishing.

The Leica Q shoots images at 6000×4000 resolution — which is big enough even for the Retina 5k iMac.

Thus, this image is my current iMac wallpaper, and I thought you might like it as well. And, of course, you can also put it on your phone, iPad, et al.

Download the full-size version here. »

Lake at Sunrise (Wallpaper Image)

Giving Up Control at Work

Earlier this year I became aware that, in my business, though I was focused on things that were important, I was too focused on things that were not essential for ME to be doing.

It’s not that I was working too many hours. I am pretty focused with my work time. The issue is that I was taking on too much control; I wasn’t delegating or trusting enough.

As a result, it was eroding the mental and emotional margin in my work life. It was also holding back the creativity of my own team because I wasn’t giving them as much autonomy as they deserved.

In his his awesome book, Essentialism, Greg McKeown writes:

Many capable people are kept from getting to the next level of contribution because they can’t let go of the belief that everything is important.

I think I was pretty good at knowing what was and was not important. But, as I said, I was doing things that I should have delegated instead.

And so, about 4 months ago I began intentionally focusing on ways to let go of things in my life and business that are are non-essential so I can more diligently focus on what is most important for me.

My process for focus was an odd one, and it’s something that I felt embarrassed to talk about in public.

But what I did was this: I cut my work week in half. I limited my working hours to only 20 per week — roughly 4 hours per day.

By giving myself half the normal amount of time to get my work done, I was forced to do the things that only I could do. Everything else had to be delegated or else eliminated.

The results so far from this focused time have been great. I’m experiencing a calmer work life with less stress and anxiety. I’ve spent more time with my family and in personal development. I’ve delegated more to my team, and as a result we’re even seeing an increase in our creative output and business profits.

Giving Up Control at Work