My name is Bob LeVitus, better known as “Dr. Mac.” Back in 1987 I quit my job in advertising and became a full-time writer. My wife was the only person who believed I had even half a chance to succeed, and everyone else thought it would be a miracle. My friends and family will gleefully tell you I’m the laziest person they know—a world-class procrastinator with the attention span of a gnat to boot, and everyone who has ever talked to me for more than a minute can tell you that my stream-of-consciousness rants jump from topic to topic like a hyperactive SuperBall. I also have the annoying habit of changing the subject mid-sentence, often for no good reason.
Becoming self-employed was the best decision I ever made, but I quickly realized I’d have to learn to lick my laziness and stop procrastinating (or learn to procrastinate less). Luckily, it worked out and I now have over 80 books (iPhone For Dummies, iPad For Dummies, and macOS Sierra For Dummies to name a few), and thousands upon thousands of columns, reviews, and articles in dozens of magazines and newspapers to show for it.
I won’t subject you to the long, rambling walk down memory lane I originally wrote for this introduction. My editor hated it and you would have, too. But, since many of these long-ago events had a profound influence on my lifelong obsession with personal productivity, I distilled it into a pithy list I call:
The Ten Events that most Influenced My Life and Obsession with Personal Productivity:
1. As a kid, everyone said I was a handful—my mother, my teachers, and at least a couple of principals. Mom also called me her “little perpetual motion machine,” and “the only 6-year old who knows better than any adult.” (Notice she didn’t say, “who thinks he knows better.”)
2. My third-grade teacher once wrote on a report card: “Bobby will either joke his way into the White House or into prison.” Nice.
3. My parents sent me to military school in a last-ditch effort to break my spirit and set me straight. It backfired, though, and I left Wyler Academy with a thick layer of newfound rebelliousness, non-existent impulse control, and an impossibly short attention span. Just to mess with everyone’s minds, I graduated the 8th grade with the most demerits ever awarded to a cadet in a single year, and, although I made the Commandant’s honor roll for academics, I was politely invited not to return the following year.
4. My issues with impulse control continued throughout high school. Here’s an example: I once blew my nose on a teacher’s tie while he was wearing it. And yes, that resulted in one of my many suspensions.
5. In high school and college, I was fired from more part-time jobs than I remember and quit just as many after disagreeing strongly with management.
6. In spite of items 1 through 5, I managed to graduate from California State University Northridge with a B.S. in Marketing in 1977. To this day I refer to it as, “my degree in B.S.”
7. After graduation I busted my ass at a Los Angeles ad agency and market research firm for 7 years. At this point, I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I only knew that it wasn’t being an ad man. So I somehow convinced my wife that one of those newfangled Macintosh computers would allow me to make a lot more money while working a lot less.
I was, of course, lying through my teeth. All I knew was that I didn’t want to wear a tie or hate a boss for the rest of my life.
8. I didn’t know if I was cut out for self-employment or working without adult supervision for the first time—with or without a new $2,495 Mac. But bless my wife’s gigantic heart, she said OK and agreed I could quit the job I despised and buy a Mac.
After brief stints as a freelance typesetter, freelance market researcher, and freelance take-out menu designer, I was hired to run a feisty little Mac magazine called MACazine in 1987.
9. In 1989 I was approached by a publisher (Addison-Wesley) to write my first book, a book. I called it How to Become a Macintosh Power User and it detailed the myriad ways I’d discovered to use a Macintosh, “better, faster, and more elegantly than other users.”
10. The publisher hated the title; when it came out it was entitled, Dr. Macintosh: Tips, Techniques, and Advice for Mastering Your Mac. I wasn’t thrilled at the time, but have come to love it. Plus, it gave me the coolest nickname a guy who does what I do could ask for, “Dr. Mac.”
Fast-forward to the mid ‘90s: I had sold a few more books (do you remember Stupid Mac Tricks?) and was making a comfortable living as a writer. The problem was that I was exhausted all the time. I was “making it,” but making it was killing me and it felt like I never had time for my family or other things I loved like playing my guitar or any half-decent video game.
While I never missed a deadline (and still haven’t), I was irritable all the time, had the shortest of tempers, and was a frantic, sleepless mess.
Then, I read Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood through Adulthood by Edward M. Hallowell, M. D. And John J. Ratey, M. D. and it changed my life forever. I know people toss that phrase around carelessly, but I really mean it. At age 40-something, it was the first time I considered that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (A.D.H.D.) might be involved in my lifelong issues with attention and impulse control.
As it turned out, I have it—in abundance—and have since childhood. They didn’t have a name for it then, much less treatment, but I found a great local shrink who specialized in adult A.D.D. After my initial assessment he told me, “You have so many A.D.H.D. markers you could be the poster child for adult A.D.H.D.”
It rocked my world, but it also explained a lot about my difficulties in school and at work. So I read everything I could find about A.D.H.D./A.D.D., and how it’s theorized that my brain chemistry is different from “normal” folks. After lots of therapy—both individual and group—I realized the key to becoming more productive was to retrain my brain. Now that I knew I had this A.D.H.D. thing, I needed to take action to compensate for my short attention span, difficulty focusing, and propensity to procrastinate. So I read even more books on how to prosper in spite of A.D.H.D., then went on to read many more books on related topics like personal productivity and avoiding procrastination.
The thing that stood out was that few of the books offered advice for computer users, much less Mac users. Discussions of essential time management tools and techniques such as to-do lists, calendars, and journaling—tasks that are arguably better suited to a computer than pen and paper—usually dismissed using a computer or addressed it in a throwaway paragraph or two.
You can see why I felt that I had to write this book. And while I may have had to write it, it’s going to be very different from the 80 tech books like macOS Sierra For Dummies, iPhone For Dummies, and iPad For Dummies, which have been my bread-and-butter for the past 25 years.
In printed books I have no control over the size and placement of screen shots and illustrations. I’ve been told by countless readers that some illustrations are so small they’re illegible. In this book, I made sure every picture was large enough to be legible. And if you don’t think so, just click or tap to make the illustration larger. Let’s see a printed book do that!
Another great thing for you and for me is that I can include video. I’m having too much fun editing together short video demonstrations of things that are difficult to describe concisely in words. There aren’t that many but I think you’re going to love ‘em.
And finally, because this is an ebook, it will never go out of date. That means that for the first time, I can update things when necessary, instead of only when my publisher prints another batch.
Let me leave you with this: I spent over 25 years figuring out how to do more work in less time and avoid procrastination, but I promise I’m going to teach you how in however long it takes you to read this book.
But before we dive in to the meaty, beefy stuff, there are a few more things you need to know. So, I created a brief Prelude to set the stage for what is to come.
I hope you find it both enlightening and entertaining.
Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus
January 16, 2017