The Focus Course ›

WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE WHEN IT COMES TO FOCUS?

I’ve been following Shawn and his blog for years. He was one of the first people I met when I started my first blog way back in 2006, whether he’s aware of it or not he’s been one of the people who’ve inspired me the most in the last ten years. It’s no surprise to me then how postively his new project,

Barriers

Barriers are a strange thing. In the real world they exist to form a separation, a physical division between two things. They can be permanent or temporary, but they exist for a specific reason. Their purpose though, is always the same, to prevent you from going somewhere you shouldn’t.

In the mental world things are slightly different. Barriers exist of course, but for different reasons, though their purpose is similar to their real world counterparts, they stop you going somewhere or doing something. The trouble is, they aren’t physical and that makes them immeasurably harder to overcome.

Eighteen weeks ago I started posting a weekly article with a collection of links to interesting articles I’ve read during the week. I started it because I wanted to get back into writing for my blog. I thought having a regular post to commit to would remove the barrier that I seemed to have errected over the last couple of years. To a degree it’s worked, posting to my blog regularly has helped me to rebuild my interest in it, it’s helped me to establish a desire to post, but it hasn’t removed the barrier.

For the last few weeks I’ve started each week with the aim that this week would be the one that gets me writing a post a week. Several times I’ve drafted something, but each time I’ve failed to publish it. Fear seems to be the barrier preventing me from clicking that button. That little voice that says “No one will read it, no one really cares what you have to say” squarks away as my mouse hovers over the publish button.

So I’ve decided, this week is going to be the week that I breakdown that barrier. The little voice will be silenced and I will post an article every Wednesday from here on out. It is a challenge, but one I want. I have no idea what I will post about, but as Shawn Blanc says I have ideas it’s just a case of letting them grow and taking a bit of action on some of them, regardless of whether they are good or bad, as well as having a bit of courage to press publish at the end of it.

The Week in Links

This weeks edition of The Week in Links covers a rande of topics. There’s the usual dose of Apple things, some thoughts from Shawn Blanc on focus and creativity, an obituary to one of the greatest type designers of all time, a moving video from Israel and a moving story from the Welsh valleys.

With the edition also falling on Father’s Day it would be remiss not to mention my Dad. So just a quick note to him to say thanks for being my Dad, you support me, you help me and you guide me and as well as being my Dad you’re also a great friend. Have a beer on me tonight!

The Week in Links

The latest edition is a bit late in arriving. I’ve tried something a bit different this week, just adding a few thoughts to each link. Enjoy some Monday lunchtime reading.

  • Initial Thoughts on iOS 9’s iPad Multitasking: A Deep Transformation
    Thanks to iOS 9, I put The Talk Show’s video player in a floating popup, opened Twitterrific, and continued watching. When I wanted to take notes, I swiped from the right edge of the screen and I started typing in Notes – all while still watching the video and having Twitterrific open at the same time. It all felt natural, and it was glorious.

This is one of the things that’s intrigued me the most about the iOS 9 announcements. Apple paid the iPad some much needed attention and it grew up, making it an extremely compelling device once again.

  • The Apple Watch
    I’ve been waiting for this review from Ben Brooks, he’s waited and spent time with the device for publishing his thoughts to the world. What’s interesting to me is that the Watch seems to be genuinely helping people become less connected, and to have more space and time away from their more intrusive devices. I was convinced the Watch would just be even more intrusive.
  • Building an audience – Matt Gemmell
    There’s not much to add about this, other than a big YES!

I’ve been writing on the web since 2005, one of the biggest regrets I have is that I let that first blog die out and it’s posts disappear into oblivion. Building an audience takes time, and it’s taking a long time to rebuild it.

  • MessageKit
    I really the concept outlined in this post on Medium. I have a load of apps installed on my iPhone that only get used occasionally. It doesn’t play well on a 16GB device, this seems like a great solution. With natural language coming in Spotlight on El Capitan, maybe it’s not a far off idea…

The Week in Links

The sun has been shining here this weekend and I’ve been out on the bike I enjoying it. Consequently this weeks edition of The Week in Links is a bit later than usual. There’s still some interesting reads to enjoy with your Sunday evening glass of beer or wine!

The Week in Links

Issue 15 of The Week in Links is a very visual one. Photography is at the heart of it, with photo stories from a trip to Vancouver, an Apple Watch review, different ways a design team uses notebooks and the story of one of my favourite cycling races. Enjoy!

The Week in Links

This weeks edition of The Week in Links is an eclectic mix. The history of Japanese business culture, workspaces, Ethiopia, Apple Watch and a look into designing a typeface to represent a nation to the world.

The Week in Links

This weeks edition of The Week in Links is a small one, but features some great projects. An insight into developing a consistent branding for one of the most recognisable brands and some tips on starting a business. Finishing the edition is a look at the process behind a brilliant personal project. One I would love to do myself one day.

The Week in Links

This weeks edition of The Week in Links is packed with some great reads and a stunning video. It covers notebooks, Antarctica, workspaces, focus, learning and a stunning piece of branding. Grab a coffee, beer or glass of wine and sit back and enjoy.

The Week in Links

Writing, future uses of new technology, design processes, an interview with a design legend and Apple Watch. The range of subjects covered in this weeks edition of The Week in Links, has a bit more variety in it than previous weeks. Sit back and enjoy.

My Homescreen: May 2015

With this week completely focused on finishing phase one of a client project, I completely missed that it was the 1st of the month yesterday. So now that the working week is over and I’m sat back relaxing it’s time to sort out this month’s edition of my homescreens. I’ll tackle both iPhone and iPad at the same time, since the changes to both are identical and for the same reason.

iPhone

iPhone May 2015

Dock

The Rest

iPad

iPad My 2015

Dock

The Rest

What’s New?

  • OmniFocus – Since the start of the year I’ve been using Things to manage my tasks, in the last month I’ve ended up switching back to OmniFocus. Partly because one of the porjects I’m working on has needed breaking down further than Things can cope with, and partly because of OmniFocus MailDrop.
  • Outlook, Gmail, Inbox by Gmail and Mailbox – Recently I’ve been having some issues with the provider of my email, lots of servers down and unreliable delivery. As a self-employed person I need to be able to rely on my email never failing, and so my work email has now switched to Google Apps. I’m still deciding on my personal email setup.

One of the advantages of moving to Google Apps for Work has allowed me to test out a few email apps I couldn’t use previously, and also to combine my email with IFTTT so that it works harder for me. Part of that IFTTT integration has been to combine the Gmail channel with the email channel and my OmniFocus MailDrop address. I’m still refining things and trying to decide which apps to use, but I hope to be able to explain further how I’m making my email work for me rather than having to work to keep on top of it.

Rediscovering the Personal Site

It’s been an interesting start to the year to say the least, but one positive from it has been the renewal of my interest in both my own blog and the blogs of others.

I’ve been reading blogs, or personal sites would probably be a more accurate term in 2015, since I came across them in my second year at university in 2006. Back then I loved the idea of people publishing something to the internet and quickly set my own blog up. I came across a number of great writers who like me were just finding their feet in the world of Web 2.0. In the 8 years that have passed since then, I’ve had a number of my own blogs and lost my motivation/desire to post to them all at various points in time.

In the early days of the blog, there was what felt like a strong community. A group of people writing about what interested them in a way which was new and exciting. It was inspiring to see others sharing in this way and it made me want to do the same. In the years since I left Uni in 2007 there seemed to be a change amongst the blogs I read. They became focused and somewhat same-y in their content, it felt like the blogs lost their personalities as their authors pursued a desire to be better writers. A few of them managed to maintain the personality that drew me to them in the first place, but, many didn’t and as a result the blogs either died off or my interest in them waned. It was sad and with that homogenising of content my own inspiration and desire to write also dried up.

Over the last few months I’ve started to notice something different. Perhaps it’s just that my own mindset has changed, or it could be that I’ve been finding a bunch of new sites, or a reaction to the likes of Facebook who seem to want to be the internet rather than part of it. But the personal site seems to be rising like a phoenix from the flames.

Many of the sites are specialised, with focused content, but they no longer seem to be of one voice talking about the same thing all the time. They have personality. The posts, whilst often being focused around a similar subject, are varied and seem to be a reflection of the people who write them. It’s both inspiring and a joy to read these sites. They might be writing about a pen, a notebook or a new Mac, but they are doing it in a way which is interesting and engaging.

These personal sites have the polish and high standard that the web in 2015 demands, but they seem to be returning to the personality and interest that was so apparent in the the rise of the blog back in the mid naughties. It’s refreshing and I’m thankful for it. I applaud those behind it and I hope it continues long into the future.

River Path Grass from Baron Fig ›

My favourite notebook creators have just realised another limited edition of their Apprentice note books. The River Path Grass edition has just been announced ad it looks just as nice as the previous editions. I own all three of the previous limited edition apprentices and use one everyday (more soon) and they are becoming indispensable to me.

Give a Damn ›

As I read Give a Damn by Bruce Layman I found myself nodding a long in agreement. Perhaps it’s just the way I’ve been thinking of late, or perhaps it’s because of the new focus I seem to be finding for my business, but something about it resonated with me. Resting well is important, I know only too well as I recover from the effects of doing too much in the last half of last year, but there’s a difference between rest and laziness. Doing something can, and should, be a part of that rest.

The Week in Links

This weeks edition is a bit of a bumper one with a combination of interesting and geeky. There’s a look at what London could’ve been, some thoughts on work and showing up, a history of a typeface, a pen review and reflection with the benefit of hindsight.

The Week in Links

This weeks edition, covers the new MacBook, a review of the iMac with 5K retina display, the struggle of packing the perfect bag, and the emotional rollercoaster of being a freelancer/self-emlpoyed developer.

Merci Wiggo: An interview with Sir Bradley Wiggins ›

I was going to add this post to Sunday’s edition of The Week in Links, but felt it deserved a link of it’s own. Bradley Wiggins finished his road cycling career with Team Sky in this year’s Paris-Roubaix, or The Hell of The North, and embarked on his run in to winning his sixth gold medal at the Rio Olympics. Sponsor and producer of the kit for Team Sky, Rapha, conducted this interview prior to the race.

Chapeau Sir Brad.