Where I Am Now

Where I Am Now

Yep, I’ve been quiet. Very quiet recently! In truth, it’s been a really busy time, so I thought I’d take this opportunity at the beginning of the New Year to tell you what’s been happening and peek behind the curtain a little more of my life so you can understand why articles have been rare of late (however, will be more regular very soon). 

Life has been very busy professionally. Being a small business owner, this cannot be a bad thing and certainly not something I’m complaining about! My income currently comes from several sources:

Consultancy - I’ve recently taken out a three month Project Management consultancy contract, which is a pretty much full time role given the scope of the Project that is being managed. This is great, giving me a real chance to showcase some of the Productivity tips and techniques I of course advocate. It’s a good project, managing the upgrade of a local council’s network infrastructure with lots of challenges therein. 

Training - I’m delivering Productivity workshops with Think Productive in the UK and this is amazing stuff. It doesn’t feel like work at all and I can finally say that standing up in a room/meeting space or even on a stage finally feels natural. It’s tiring though - there is a lot more work both pre/post workshop than I realised and I underestimated the physical effects that all-day workshops can have. On the train home I sometimes feel like I could sleep for a week!

Writing/Video Production - As some of you know, I write for several third parties and have now started creating videos/screencasts as well. Again, this doesn’t feel ‘worky’ at all as it’s something I love and have a deep passion for. 

That’s a lot of hours taken up in the week. The goal for 2019 is to slowly take away the reliance on the consultancy and develop MyProductiveMac into more of a brand, with my own products released regularly, enabling more of a passive income stream than I currently have. 

This means that there are some serious decisions to make in 2019 regarding where my hours are spent and calendar management is going to need to be at its most efficient. I’m going to be making frequent use of time-blocking to ensure that I’m spending my hours as frugally as I spend my money

It’s going to be hard work, I’m under no illusion of that but with the support of family/friends/colleagues and my loyal readers, I know it’s going to be a great year. 

Learn OmniFocus Live Session - Special Guest = ME!

Those of you who read my posts here regularly will know that I love the work of Tim Stringer over at Learn OmniFocus. He has a great set of resources available that have been professionally produced and I”m happy to say that I have been a keen student there myself. 

I’m therefore very excited to announce that I have been asked by Tim to be his special Live Session guest this November. Past guests include such aficionados as David SparksShawn BlancKourosh Dini and Joe Buhlig as well as others who have provided some great insights to their workflows. When imposter syndrome stops kicking in, I’m confident I’ll be able to add my name to that list with pride!

The event takes place on November 8th, 19:00 (GMT) and lasts approximately one hour. During my presentation, I’ll be offering many insights into my usage of OmniFocusincluding a detailed look at my Perspectives, Contexts, Routines and how I interface OmniFocus with other applications in my workflow, such as AirmailBetterTouchTool and DEVONthink

Booking can be made through this link and if you are joining, feel free to contact me beforehand!

I look forward to seeing you.

Streaks update includes 3D Touch

Streaks has been my habit tracking app of choice on iOS for several months now. It's so easy to use and the integration with the Health application on iOS is great.

Now, they have released an update which provides:

  • a widget, allowing for quick entry of habits from the Notification Centre

  • the ability to use 3D Touch on the Home Screen to mark a habit as complete.

It's a great update to a great application. Grab Streaks here!

My Day at the BTN Bash

No question - it was a long drive. Margate to Water Orton, in Birmingham, is not just down the road, however after leaving at 7am, I found myself driving down New Road, looking for the hall at around 11am - not bad timing. Looking around, I wasn't sure exactly where it was but whilst looking, I saw a very suspicious character, that I thought I recognised, sloping down a side-road. As I'm always a good citizen, no matter where I am, I thought it only right to follow this potential miscreant and check everything was OK - lo and behold, it was Wrighty! (@paulums).  I pulled over and offered him a lift back before he got into trouble, which he gratefully accepted, and then he showed me the way to the hall. 

The Hall at Water Orton

The Hall at Water Orton

On arriving, I have to say I was nervous. I'd been listening to these guys for the last year and conversing with them on Twitter and via email, but meeting them was a whole new ball game. As I walked into the hall, there weren't many people there at the time so it was VERY easy to pick out Paul Wheatley (@paulwheatley) and Ewen (@BritishTech). They were trying to organise the draw for the World Card Cutting Championships. 

The most technical draw witnessed by man. . 

The most technical draw witnessed by man. . 

Essentially, this involved writing everybody names on napkins, cutting them up and putting them in a bowl for people to draw. That's right - this is the British Tech Network and that's how we performed the draw. I have to say, any nerves I had at the point were wiped out pretty quickly! Paul and Ewen made me feel very welcome. And for those of you who are wondering, yes, Ewen actually is as intimidating in real life as you would think. 

People started arriving at this point and I did the usual nervy meet and greet with people who I knew only from their Twitter avatars and occasional emails. I was pleased to meet Charlotte Henry (@charlotteahenry) who shares my love of all things Tottenham Hotspur and Mac - I reckon you should watch this space for a Shared Blog if you are of a like mind!

At this point, I was wishing that my kids didn't have dance rehearsals for their upcoming production as there were lots of others children their age to play with and things to do. Next year let's hope. 

With the arrival of the Naybours, we were off. Expertly compered by Steve Naybour (@stevenaybour) the itinerary was delivered. 

The World Card Cutting Championships were then underway. To the relief of all under 10's there, Wrighty was knocked out in the first round. After despatching cheeky young upstarts with ease last year, he wimped out meekly on Saturday. 

Wrighty going down......

Wrighty going down......

After the first round, we were on to the Egg and Spoon race, which worryingly was taken extremely seriously by all involved. It's true that the stewardship of the course was not quite up to the standards we would expect from somewhere like Brands Hatch or Silverstone (there were frequent 'gaps' appearing in the track to allow for shortcuts when certain people raced who will remain nameless Wheatley) but for an amateur event it was well run. 

Yes - that's a Connect 4 set acting as a Field Marshall. 

Yes - that's a Connect 4 set acting as a Field Marshall. 

Next was the Help Show - and it has to be said, Paul Wheatley did a great job of trying to act professionally and with great responsibility - however after taking almost half an hour to read out one listener's question, he was onto a loser I'm afraid - but it was excellent watching him struggle and being heckled and a reasonable highlight of the day. 

A true professional - with his kids watching from the side. 

A true professional - with his kids watching from the side. 

The second round of the World Card Cutting Championships was a mixed bag for me - you see, I was excited because I was up against someone who is admittedly a bit of an idol for me - none other than 'The Don' McAllister (@donmcallister), owner of www.screencastsonline and all round Mac legend. I'd met him about half an hour previously and have to say he is one of the nicest gentlemen I've ever had the pleasure to meet. I spoke to him about a couple of the projects I'm working on and he seemed genuinely interested and offered help with a couple of elements which was greatly appreciated. So when I despatched him with ease with expert use of a Queen (???) I felt a twinge of guilt - but hey, the winner gets an Apple TV - there's no room for sentiment. 

Lunch followed and kudos to the caterers who laid on the greatest Pulled Pork Baps I've ever tasted (OK, but no matter how I write that, it's always going to sound weird). 

An excellent selection of salad and the greatest brownies I've been lucky enough to eat. Seriously, these things were made in heaven, they were IMMENSE.

For some unearthly reason, the Sack Race followed this gorgeous feast which, rather unsurprisingly, didn't have many takers - and as soon as we had a retiree with a Twisted Knee (which got better very quickly after the application of yet more free booze), it died a rather abrupt death. 

Then my highlight - Will Green (@britishmac), THE Will Green, presented the Mac Show live. 

And it was a corker. 

Although I'm still baffled as to why Will took such offence to Don McAllister's Pebble Watch. 

Ewen let Will take control just so Will can say he's done a podcast this year.

Ewen let Will take control just so Will can say he's done a podcast this year.

This was a unique show in that Paul, Ewen and Steve's kids made valuable contributions all the way through and the undoubtedly impressive alcohol consumption form all involved did not actually lead to a loss of quality compared to the norm. 

Which now I read that back, is quite worrying. 

The absolute professional in action. 

The absolute professional in action. 

The semi-finals and finals of the World Card Cutting Championships followed and it was contested solely by females. Clearly the fact that to win you require zero skill and 100% luck played a massive part in this turn of events. However those stats were quickly called into question when, for the second year in succession, one of Steve Naybour's kids won the final. Now either that man has purely golden sperm or there was some very clever deck switching going on. Either way, there is another Apple TV heading to the Naybour house this weekend. 

Due to the long drive back, I had to call it a day at that point, but I have to say, it was one of the best days I've had in recent memory. I feel I can now call people that I would have referred to before as celebrities, friends. Paul Wheatley, Ewen Rankin, Paul Wright, Will Green, Don McAllister, Charlotte Henry, Ian Lewis, Princess Bagel Helen, Batwench, Alan Howshall - all people I had been following on Twitter on Friday, all people I can say that I've spoken with, respect, and am looking forward to meeting again. All amazingly normal. All top people. 

It was everything that Ewen said it would be and I'm certainly looking forward to next years one. If you are reading this, having umm'ed and ahh'ed about whether it was too far to go, whether your family would like it, whether even you would like it, don't hesitate next year. Just go. 

Thanks to all the BTN guys - (and their wives, the BTN gals) for organising this year and making me feel as though I am part of your BTN family.