It’s Episode #3 of Drivin’ with Dr. Mac!
This post is adapted from Chapter 1 of my eBook, Working Smarter for Mac Users.
The Keyboard System Preferences pane lets you create keyboard shortcuts for menu items that don’t have them by default,
While I use the $36 third-party automation app Keyboard Maestro to do this (and many other tasks), you can add your own keyboard shortcuts for free using nothing more than the Keyboard pane in System Preferences.
1. Launch System Preferences.
2. Click the Keyboard icon.
3. Click the Shortcuts Tab.
4. Click App Shortcuts.
5. Click the little +.
6. Choose an application from the drop-down Application menu (Microsoft Word in the illustration above).
7. Type the menu item’s exact name in the Menu Title field (Word Count…in the illustration above).
8. Type the shortcut you wish to use for this item in the Keyboard Shortcut field (Control + W in the illustration above).
9. Click the Add button.
Now, when I press Control + W while using Microsoft Word, the Word Count dialog pops open instantly. I’d estimate this is at least twice as fast as reaching for the mouse, pulling down menus looking for the command (it’s in the Tools menu, in case you were wondering), and then selecting Word Count.
Drivin' with Dr. Mac Episode 2:
A two-minute video that could double your productivity!
Welcome to the second episode of Drivin' with Dr. Mac, a two-minute discourse that could double your productivity in two weeks or less!
Snippets rock. Read the post to learn why...
Instead of copying and pasting, reformatting, checking links, and reproducing the whole newsletter in a blog post every week, from today forward back issues of my newsletter will be available in the Newsletter Archive instead of being posted in their entirety. This is much easier for me each week while only adding one additional click for you.
Here's where you'll find back issues of Working Smarter Newsletter 2.0:
- Newsletter 2.0: Issue 1
- Newsletter 2.0: Issue 2
- Newsletter 2.0: Issue 3
- Newsletter 2.0: Issue 4
- Newsletter 2.0: Issue 5
- Newsletter 2.0: Issue 6
- Newsletter 2.0: Issue 7
- Newsletter 2.0: Issue 8
- Newsletter 2.0: Issue 9
- Newsletter 2.0: Issue 10
One last thing: If you enjoy my newsletters, please consider sharing them with others who might benefit.
I just made a little public service announcement about World Backup Day (March 31).
If your data isn't backed up redundantly, or wouldn't survive a fire, theft, hurricane, tornado, or other natural disaster, please take two minutes to watch it.
There is one more thing... I also lifted the backup lessons from my 10-hour Working Smarter for Mac Users course and created a 1-hour standalone course on backing up properly.
I call it: Working Smarter for Mac Users: The Backup Course.
In Issue 4 of Working Smarter for Mac Users Newsletter 2.0 you'll find information aimed at helping you become a raging thunder lizard of productivity.
First up: A look at the mouse I love (and a few of the reasons I love it), followed by a short public service announcement about typing skills.
Then: A gruesome reminder about redundancy, and why it's such good thing when it comes to storage and backups.
Finally, we'll end on an upbeat note with a link to a James Clear essay that reveals, "one simple trick that doubles your chances for success."
Welcome to issue 3 of my Working Smarter for Mac Users newsletter.
Here's what I've got for you this week:
- Two useful utilities at a nice price (free).
- A recommendation for a pervasive spelling and grammar checker that's free but worth paying for.
- Two ways to make Siri pronounce a name properly.
- A chance to win one of five free scholarships to my Working Smarter for Mac Users course.
Let's dive right in:
A pair of free yet useful utilities
Last month I wrote a column for MacObserver.com about a pair of free yet useful utilities I'd been testing:
I recently started using a pair of useful and free utilities—Rocket and Vanilla—that I heard about on one of my favorite podcasts for nerds, Mac Geek Gab. Both are Mac apps created by a guy named Matthew Palmer, who describes himself as "a full stack software engineer who loves to make things for people."
I don’t know Matthew, but I can tell you that his two little apps are elegant and useful. They remind me of the olden days, when freeware and inexpensive try-before-you-buy software was the rule rather than the exception it is today.
Both apps offer free and pro versions. The free versions of Rocket and Vanilla are both exceptional and useful, and both can be unlocked to provide even more useful "Pro" features for five bucks or less.
While Rocket is fun and will save you time if you're a fan of the emoji, Vanilla is truly useful, hiding all those menu bar items you don't need right now, and bringing them back when you need them.
A (perhaps) shocking confession
I have a confession. I have a spelling and grammar checker called Grammarly running 24/7 and use it on almost everything I write on my Mac in any app, including Word, Ulysses, Mail, Safari, and pretty much every other app in which I write more than a few sentences.
I used the free version for a while, then decided to try the Premium tier for three months at $19.98/month ($59.95).
I completely expected to go back to the free version after my three months ended unless Premium was terrific...
But, it is—at least it is for me.
When the renewal notice arrived a few weeks ago, I ponied up for another three months without hesitation. And, when this quarterly subscription expires, I'll almost certainly pop for a full year so I get an even lower price ($11.66/month; $139.95/year).
Why do I find Grammarly Premium worth paying for?
Well, for one thing, I'm a professional writer. It's my nature to take spelling and grammar a bit more seriously than most people. And, I really hate making mistakes, especially in public.
While I don't always obey Grammarly's suggestions, I do feel a whole lot better knowing my prose is almost certainly free of any obvious spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors.
Here's what a flagged word looks like in the web-based editor I use for these newsletters (from Active Campaign):
The little red "1" in the lower right corner alerts me that there's one error in this block of text; the error is highlighted in pink.
When you hover the cursor over the error, you see your options—Add to Dictionary, Ignore, or See More here.
I like Grammarly 'cause it's unobtrusive, yet it catches almost all of my spelling, grammar, and syntax problems before they can embarrass me.
Teach Siri to Pronounce Any Name Properly...
It always irks me when Siri mispronounces a proper name. And it irks me even more when Siri mispronounces my surname.
"Calling Lisa Luveeetus"
"Calling Allison LeeVeeTes"
"Calling Jodie Levitt-Us"
(If you're curious, it's pronounced, "love-I-tis.")
So, I took it upon myself to figure out a way to teach Siri to say LeVitus properly. It was most definitely a rabbit hole, but, in the end, it was worth it.
My solution was to edit my contact record on my iPhone, scrolling to the bottom of the record, and clicking "Add Field."
I added a new field called "Pronunciation Last Name" and typed "love-i-tis."
It worked pretty well after trying a few different pseudo-phonetic spellings, but last week I read an article at iMore.com by Lory Gill, which described a much faster and easier way to get Siri to say a name correctly.
The next time Siri mispronounces a name, just say, "You're pronouncing the [first/middle/last] name wrong," and you'll see something like this:
Listen to each option, and then tap to Select your favorite.
Win one of 5 scholarships to Working Smarter for Mac Users!
Finally, last but certainly not least, I'm trying something new to celebrate and publicize the grand opening of my Working Smarter for Mac Users course, I'm giving away five full scholarships valued at $499 each.
I encourage you to enter and hope you'll share it with your friends. As an incentive, you'll receive three additional entries for each friend who enters.
The contest ends March 31, and the winners will be announced on April 2.
That's all I've got for you this week, but I've got plenty of good stuff planned for you in upcoming issues.
All the best,
The Working Smarter Newsletter V2.0
By Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus
Issue 2 • March 5, 2018
Welcome to the second issue of the Working Smarter Newsletter, V2.0.
This week we start off with an interesting idea by James Schramko about the difference between effectiveness and productivity.
Next up: Last week's Dr. Mac's Rants & Raves column for The Mac Observer was all about the Reminders app and why I find it so useful on all my devices. If you forget stuff, you ought to read it. 😜
After that: A pair of Rants & Raves columns from late last year. Last fall I carried an iPhone X in one pocket and an iPhone 8 Plus in the other for months before sitting down to write my two-column real-world test of iPhone X vs. iPhone 8 Plus.
Spoiler alert: The excellence of the iPhone X camera (and the ability to send animated talking poop, unicorns, and more) made it a clear winner, at least for me.
Last, but definitely not least, reader David C. submitted a tip about one of his favorite utilities, KeyCue, which helps you remember keyboard shortcuts. Even though it's not my cup of soup, given my love of keyboard shortcuts, I'm surprised I had forgotten all about it.
Let's dig in!
Productivity vs. Efficiency
I recently began reading a fascinating book that a friend recommended: Work Less Make More, by James Schramko.
Since I love the concept of working less and making more, I'm about halfway through it already. But, a brief passage on page 1 of Chapter 1 caught my attention immediately.
As you know, I've been obsessed with productivity my whole life, and I became even more obsessed with it when I learned I have ADHD.
Here's how Schramko begins his discussion of how to work less:
You need to shift your thinking about doing less and feeling totally okay about it.
And, the best way to change your focus is to increase how effective you are.
Notice I didn't say 'how productive you are.'
He goes on to explain that being productive while doing the wrong things won't help you reach your goals; being productive at the right things is what he considers being effective.
If you've read Working Smarter for Mac Users or taken either course, you know that I agree wholeheartedly with this philosophy,
I'm just not sure about his semantics. I think of being productive as "working on the right things (i.e., Most Important Tasks) without procrastinating."
That sounds suspiciously similar to Schramko's concept of being effective.
In spite of our linguistic differences, I think Schramko and I agree more than we disagree when it comes to doing more work in less time.
My conclusion: One man's effective is another man's productive.
Like an Elephant, Reminders Never Forgets
In last week's episode (Episode #267) of Dr. Mac's Rants & Raves at The Mac Observer, I discussed my love affair with the Reminders app.
Here's a taste:
I remember my father saying, "the older you get, the more you forget," when he forgot about something. He sometimes used a little calendar/notebook, but he often forgot to use it.
I’m no spring chicken. I’ve been doing what I do for the better part of three decades. I’m sad to say dad was probably right. As the years have passed, I’ve learned to use my Apple technology to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
Why Reminders Rocks…
There are several reasons the Reminders app on macOS, iOS, and watchOS is the near-perfect assistant to my ever more forgetful wetware. The biggest one is that it’s completely pervasive. Whenever I need to remember something, Reminders is a click (or tap) away, on my Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch, one of which is always close at hand (especially the watch).
For Photos (and Videos): iPhone X or 8 Plus?
Late last year I wrote a pair of columns about my experiences toting an iPhone X in one pocket and an iPhone 8 Plus in the other for several months. If that's of interest, here's where to read both parts, which include a handy table of current iPhone models including sizes and weights in Part I and my thrilling conclusion in Part II.
For those who aren't inclined to click the links below, here's a picture from Part II that I think is worth at least 1,000 words:
Spoiler alert: Not that I'm a Consumer Reports fan, but I was happy to see that its review came to the same conclusion as mine:
A Keyboard Shortcut Cheat Sheet on Demand: KeyCue
Reader David C. recently wrote me to recommend an app called KeyCue (19.99€), saying:
"KeyCue is a macOS app that reliably displays keyboard shortcuts for the currently used application by merely holding down the ⌘ key—one of the first apps I add to a new Mac."
I still think my way—printing a cheat sheet with the shortcuts I'm trying to commit to memory and taping it to my display—is better. But opinions are like noses—everyone's got one. So, for those who prefer an "always available" keyboard shortcut cheat sheet, KeyCue is 19.99€.
Such a Deal!
One more thing before this issue draws to a close...
I want to make you an even better offer this week. I thought last week's offer of 75% off was pretty good, but some of you still resisted. So I'm going to sweeten the pot one time, for one week.
As you may recall:
- The S.R.P. for the course is $499.
- The Grand Opening special price is $249 (50% off).
- Your special Insiders price was $124.75 (75% off).
Are you ready for the lowest price ever?
- Your extra special Insiders price until March 12 is just $99 (80% off)!
Just enroll by Monday, March 12 and use coupon code reader80 at checkout to pay just $99 and save 80%. This offer will NOT be repeated so if you want to get in before the price goes back up, enroll today!
And that's all I've got, but I'll be back before you know it… Stay tuned!
All the best,
P. S. There is actually one more thing. Since I want to help as many people as possible with my Working Smarter for Mac Users course, if you're unable to afford even $99, please reply to this message and request a partial or full scholarship.
By subscribing to this list you've demonstrated to me that you're interested and eager to learn about being more productive on your Mac. And, I want you to succeed more than anything. Even money.
So, if you really want to take the course, and you really can't afford $99, I want you to have it and will work something out for you if I can.
P. P. S. If you know someone who might enjoy and benefit from my occasional musings, here's a link you can share so they too will receive all the delightful freebies and useful tips and hints you enjoy as an Insider:
...or use the buttons below to share this newsletter via your favorite social medium.
Thank you again for your support!
The Working Smarter Newsletter V2.0
By Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus
Issue 1 • February 26, 2018
This is the first issue of the rebooted Working Smarter Newsletter, aka version 2.0. My goal is to provide you with useful tips, hints, and techniques you can use to work smarter, along with links to tips, hints, and techniques of others you might find beneficial.
First up, a quick tip about the WiFi menu on your Mac:
The old Option key trick for your Mac's Wi-Fi menu
I heard this today on one of my favorite podcasts—MacGeekGab—and it reminded me that if I had forgotten about it, so (perhaps) have you.
So, here's the tip: Hold down the Option key before you click the Wi-Fi menu to see additional useful information regarding your connection and available networks.
Here's my Wi-Fi menu without the Option key:
And, here's my Wi-Fi menu with the Option key:
The most important bit of information (at least to me) is the MCS Index. While not a precise measure of network throughput, I've found that the higher the number, the better/faster the connection in that spot, at least for downloading or streaming media.
I did a few quick spot checks around my home and office and they seem to confirm my hypothesis:
Before you write to tell me that neither the MCS index nor the Speedtest app are particularly accurate, save yourself the trouble—I know. The thing is, this tip gives you a handy, free way to get an idea of your current connection quality.
Next up: An article I read on Fortune (dot) com last year about multitasking (and why it may not be good for you). I blogged about it last year, and it's still a winner. And, I still couldn't agree more.
Here's a brief excerpt; click the headline to read the rest:
Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Multitask, According to an MIT Neuroscientist
by Earl Miller
"Start by blocking out a period of time to focus. Eliminate as many distractions as possible: Put away your phone, turn off extra computer screens, shut down your email if you have to. Don’t try to mono-task by willpower alone; it’s too hard to fight the thirst for new information. Instead, prevent the urge by removing temptation. If you find yourself unable to concentrate, try taking a short break and move around. Increasing blood flow to your brain can help restore focus."
One of the cornerstones of Working Smarter for Mac Users is that you get more work done when you focus on one task at a time. I knew this instinctively, but only after years of trial and error, which is why I found the science that seems to prove it so fascinating.
Moving right along… (with apologies to Monty Python)… And now for something completely different…
Setapp: Like Netflix for Mac apps
Ten bucks a month to "rent" a single app (I'm looking at you Photoshop and Word) really irks me, but I have no problem at all with Setapp, a service that charges ten bucks a month for access to more than 100 high-quality Mac apps
I like it a lot, calling it, "Netflix for Mac Apps" in a recent Rants & Raves column for the Mac Observer.
Here's what my Setapp dashboard looks like:
And here's the Setapp detail screen for BeFocused, (an app I discuss enthusiastically in the new Working Smarter for Mac Users online course, by the way).
by James Clear
I read a lot of stuff about being more productive and improving my concentration, and James Clear is one of my favorite gurus writing on the topic. I love his stuff and find most of what he says inspiring. He doesn't send stuff often, but when he does, it's almost always good stuff.
One last thing:
I'm going to begin a Grand Opening promotion for the new 10-hour Working Smarter for Mac Users course this week, but I wanted you (my loyal newsletter readers and friends) to have an even better deal.
The retail price of the course is $499; the Grand Opening deal I'll be promoting next week will be 50% off ($249).
The better deal for you, gentle reader, is this:
Enroll by Monday, March 5 using coupon code reader75 at checkout to save 75% and pay just $124.75!
That's all, at least for now, but I'll be back. I'm going to try to send you something useful at least once a week, but I've learned my lesson, so that's not a promise.
Have a great week. I'll talk to you soon.
All the best,
Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus
Creator of Working Smarter for Mac Users
P. S. Are you on my Insiders email list? If not, you're missing out.
You're gonna miss out on great tips, hints, techniques, reviews, recommendations and more.
I never clog your mailbox with garbage; if I send you an email, I guarantee it'll be good and handcrafted by me, just for you.
There's no cost or obligation... the only reason I can think of not to try it would be... I can't even think of one.
You're gonna love being an Insider — I guarantee it.
So if you're not an Insider, or you know someone who might enjoy and benefit from my occasional musings, here's a link to get all the delightful freebies and useful info you enjoy as an Insider:
I just sent the email below to literally everyone I know to bring them up to speed on what I've been up to, since I haven't posted here or sent out a newsletter in months.
If you've ever signed up for one of my mailing lists, or were ever in any of my Contacts databases, you should have received the message (I'm Back!) earlier this morning (February 19, 2018 at 10:39 AM Central as I type),
If you're not already on my email list, why the heck not? You'll receive all manner of free goodies, including (but not limited to):
- and more.
If you want all that and more, just click this big, honkin' button:
Now, here's the aforementioned email:
I know it's been a while since last we spoke. I'm sorry. It's just that I've been busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger with my latest project (more on that shortly) and haven't had time for much that wasn't mission critical. And, I'm sad to admit that personal correspondence and newsletters weren't mission critical.
So I'm sending this message to everyone I know, every person on every list I have. So you, Your_name_here, are probably receiving it because you're:
• a close personal friend
• a personal friend
• an acquaintance I've corresponded with recently
• a business associate
• a family member
• a student or former student
• a subscriber to any of my lists over the years
If you're none of the above and have no idea who I am or why you got an email from me, I apologize for the intrusion. Please click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of this message and you won't hear from me again. Or, if you are one of the above but still don't ever want to hear from me again, please click the unsubscribe link.
I'll be sad to see you go, but I'm launching a new chapter in my fledgling business (Working Smarter for Mac Users), and I only want you on my list(s) if you want to be on my list(s). 😜
Moving right along, the thing that's kept me so busy for so many months is a brand new 10-hour course I wrote, produced, directed, and edited, called (of course) Working Smarter for Mac Users, based on my popular 2017 eBook of the same name.
I couldn't be happier. It came out great and I know it is going to help many Mac users learn how to do more work in less time so they have more time for things they love.
Enrollment starts tomorrow, so watch for the grand-opening announcement and special "friend-of-bob" pricing in your inbox (as soon as I confirm that everything works as well with real students as it did with my beta testers).
Have a fabulous week; I'll be in touch soon.
P. S. This also marks the return of my newsletter, with all the tips, techniques, and advice on becoming more productive you've come to know and love. I'll get the first one out as soon as I can, so please stay tuned.
One Last Thing: If you don't want to miss any of my email messages accidentally, add me (or more precisely, my email address—firstname.lastname@example.org) to your Contacts database or white-list. 😎
I Wanted to Give This Course Away… But Mrs. LeVitus Won’t Let Me!
As you may recall, I released my first self-published e-book, Working Smarter for Mac Users back in February and was touched to receive many reviews like these:
Then, a few months later, I released my first online course, Working Smarter for Mac Users—Improve your Efficiency, which is based on the first section of the book—Improve Your Efficiency—and was even more touched to receive reviews like these:
But… as good as I think the Working Smarter for Mac Users—Improve Your Efficiency course is, it's only Part I of a three-part solution.
Here's What Happened
I didn't plan to release Working Smarter for Mac Users—Improve Your Efficiency as a standalone course.
In my mind, the course was always going to cover all three parts of the book.
- Improve Your Efficiency (green in the Table of Contents on the right)
- Plan Your Activities (red in the Table of Contents on the right)
- Banish Procrastination (red in the Table of Contents on the right)
But when I finished shooting and editing Part I, I was so thrilled with the way it was coming out that I couldn't wait. Against my better judgement, I released only part of the solution. Even though I said very clearly in the Prelude to Working Smarter for Mac Users (the eBook):
So, now I feel bad for offering only part of the solution... But the toothpaste is out of the tube—more than a hundred and fifty Mac users have enrolled in the course already. And, for what it's worth, nobody has complained yet.
So I Turned Lemons Into Lemonade
But I feel bad. And I wanted to come clean with y'all. And last but not least, I wanted to turn lemons into lemonade. So, I was going to turn my misstep into a marketing opportunity by giving the course away for free until the rest of the course is ready in early 2018.
But when I told my wife of 34 years (and my only business partner), she blew a gasket. She said, "After all the work you put into that course, you can't depreciate its value by giving it away for free!"
I argued that giving it away would introduce hundreds, or even thousands of new Mac users to Working Smarter, and that if they liked Part I, they'd be likely to buy Parts II and III when they're done.
She countered that would be like burning up hundreds or even thousands of dollars for no good reason.
I know the secret to a happy life is having a happy wife, so I asked her what I should do and she said, "Don't give it away, just sell it at a big enough discount to attract hundreds or thousands of users. That way everyone wins."
That Way Everyone Wins…
She's damn smart, my wife. So that's just what I'm going to do. From now until Parts II and III of the course are finished, I'm reducing the price by 80%, meaning you can enroll for just $19.99 and save a whopping $80.
But wait—there's more! By taking the Working Smarter for Mac Users—Improve Your Efficiency course now you'll be among the first to know when Parts II and III become available and I guarantee you the lowest price I'll offer to anyone, ever. All you have to do is enroll in Part I before January 1, 2018.
Just don't wait too long. This offer will expire as soon as I finish Parts II and III or on January 1, 2018, whichever comes first. After that the price will be at least $99 for each of the three modules.
There is one last thing:
Please use the Share button below to Share this deal with your friends and family. My wife and I thank you very much!
After 16+ Years of Nearly Continuous Development, My New Online Course — Working Smarter for Mac Users: Improve Your Efficiency — is Now Open for Enrollment!
After more than 16 years of nearly continuous development, I'm proud to announce that my first video training course — Working Smarter for Mac Users: Improve Your Efficiency — is now open for enrollment.
It would be an understatement to say I'm proud of Working Smarter for Mac Users: Improve Your Efficiency. I’m more than proud — I’m ecstatic. And, I'm tickled that more than 150 Mac users have already enrolled!
This has been a dream of mine for over a decade and I'm just getting started! Working Smarter for Mac Users: Improve Your Efficiency is merely the first in a series of video training courses; I expect to have three or four more available next year.
This new venture got me thinking about when, exactly, I was first bitten by the video teaching bug... So, I've been poring through my archives to determine the very first time I wrote about teaching via video and I'm pretty sure I've discovered the oldest known artifact:
So, here is the story of how it all began way back in 2001…
Working Smarter for Mac Users: Improve Your Efficiency — The Origin Story
The NBT ("Next Big Thing") Recording Company never came to be, and all that remains of that proposal today is the cover page and a low-resolution QuickTime demo.
I'd love to share that demo with you, but I was consumed with such incredible hubris in 2001 that I used Survivor's, "Eye of the Tiger" as background music.
What can I say? I was dead certain that Bob-O-Vision was going to be “the next big thing,” and our millions of dollars of VC funding would let me license any music I cared to.
Boy, was I wrong.
I sent the proposal and demo to every vulture capitalist I could find, as well as book publishers, CD and DVD-ROM publishers, movie studios, television networks, and everyone else I thought might, "get it.”
But, nobody got it.
The demo infringes on Survivor's rights and the silent version sucks eggs. So, here's the next best thing—a series of screen shots from the Bob-O-Vision demo circa 2001 (click to enlarge):
It took another 16 years for me to get it right, but I think I did. Check out Working Smarter for Mac Users: Improve Your Efficiency and see for yourself.
Or, sign up for my new mailing list and get free training guaranteed to save you precious time every time you use your Mac:
DON'T BUY the softcover version of Working Smarter for Mac Users... A short film by Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus
My editor Bryan Chaffin says one of the best (and most unique) things about Working Smarter for Mac Users is that I don't try to convince you there's only one way to do things, or that my way is the best or only way. Rather, one of the hallmarks of my eBook is that I offer you tips, hints, and techniques that have worked for me, as well as tips, hints, and techniques that may not have worked for me but may very well work for you.
One of the things I hated about the myriad productivity and time management books I've read (not to mention the workshops, seminars, and courses I've attended) is that they're so rigid about the right way to do things.
“This is what you must do. Now, here's how to do it the right way,”
In other words, they make you believe their way is the one and only right way.
Working Smarter for Mac Users, on the other hand, is chock full of tips like the one below, a tip Bryan felt was so important he urged me to typeset it in both bold and italic: "That’s what works for me. If you prefer all-digital, all-analog, or any combination of the two, that’s excellent. The important part is that you make a plan, and then use it."
In this case I was talking about my SuperPlan Daily Productivity Planning Worksheet, which you can download for free, so please do. I must say it's one of the most powerful tools I know of for keeping me on track and avoiding procrastination.
Now, the reason I mentioned it here is that I posted a note in social media recommending an article by Brian Tracy about setting priorities using the ABCDE method: .
Brian Tracy's method is similar to my SuperPlan worksheet but different. Where I define up to three "Most Important Tasks" each day and make them my priority, Tracy's method asks you rate all of your tasks with an ABCD or E and then use those ratings to sort them accordingly.
I tried it, and while I still prefer my method of storing and managing all of my tasks in Reminders and Calendar and then hand writing my daily plan, (on a SuperPlan worksheet, of course) every morning,
That being said, I definitely understand that the ABCDE Method might be valuable to others. So, I recommended this article everywhere I could think of.
The best part is reflected in this series of comments on my Facebook post.
This is exactly what (I think) my editor Bryan is talking about... And precisely the kind of thinking I want Working Smarter for Mac Users to foster.
Please help continue the conversation by posting your favorite tips and tricks for getting more work done in less time in the comments section below. (And don't forget to check out the free SuperPlan Daily Productivity Planning Worksheet here.)
We’ll begin with a bit of advice on working with and managing windows, including how to quickly hide and show them, the four ways you can view Finder windows, and how to tweak the Toolbar and Sidebar to make them more useful.
I work with a dozen or more apps running at any time, and most of them have more than one open window or tab. So, at any moment there are at least a dozen windows on my two displays. I learned a long time ago that a big part of staying focused is eliminating distractions—managing windows efficiently makes it a lot easier. And the easiest way to eliminate everything except what you’re working on is to hide everything except what you’re working on.
There are a couple of ways you can do it. My favorites are the Hide and Hide Others commands in the Application menu (the one bearing the app’s name).
I use the Hide Others command dozens of times a day to banish anything and everything that might distract me from the task at hand. This hides everything but the app I’m using (Microsoft Word in the figure above) and makes it a lot easier to stay focused. Then, when I’m done using whichever app I’m using, I Hide that app’s windows before I switch to another app.
Of course I don’t use the menus—I only Hide and Show windows via keyboard shortcut, and so should you.
So memorize the shortcuts for both commands immediately:
- Hide: Command + H
- Hide Others: Command + Option + H
Got ‘em memorized yet? I can wait.
OK. Now, in case you forget them, here’s another way to use Hide and Hide Others without reaching for the Application menu.
- Hide: Hold down the Option key when you click a window from another app, a Dock icon, or the Desktop. The windows from the application you’re using hide and the windows from the app you Option-clicked become active.
- Hide Others: Hold Down the Command + Option keys when you click the Dock icon of an app to activate it and hide all other apps.
I usually use these shortcuts when I’ve got one hand on the mouse and one hand on the keyboard.
So give Hide and Hide Others a try if they're not already part of your workflow.
Here is another skill I recommended in the first chapter of Dr. Macintosh (1989) and still recommend to this day. That skill is reducing your dependence on the mouse. Many of the things you do with your mouse can be done faster and easier with a keyboard shortcut.
If you’re not familiar with keyboard shortcuts, look in just about any menu in almost any application and you’ll see some. Take the Finder’s Edit menu, for example:
I can’t remember the last time I opened this menu to use any of its commands. They’re so important and I use them so often, their keyboard shortcuts are embedded in my muscle memory. It would behoove you to memorize them all (or at least the four in the middle: Cut, Copy, Paste, and Select All).
Here’s another useful example: Instead of selecting the Icon, List, Column or Cover Flow view from the View menu, try using their keyboard shortcuts instead:
- Command+1 to switch to Icon view
- Command+2 for List view
- Command+3 for Column view
- Command+4 for Cover Flow view.
See! Isn’t that faster than taking your hand off the keyboard, grabbing the mouse, moving the cursor to the View menu, and then clicking an item?
I used that menu as an example for a reason: You want to memorize those commands or at least the first three (unless you’re among the handful who find Cover Flow view useful).
In any case, switching views quickly make it easier to work in the Finder. For example, if I am browsing a folder with a lot of pictures in List view (background window below), I just press Command+1 to switch to Icon view so I can see thumbnails of the images (foreground window below).
Switching Finder views with a keyboard shortcut is handy, but it’s merely one of the thousands of shortcuts available in the Finder and almost every Mac app that can save you oodles of time every day.
Whenever you find yourself using a menu item more than a few times a day, look for a keyboard shortcut on its right. These are the four symbols you might see next to a letter, number, or punctuation mark in a menu:
So, look for these shortcut symbols in menus, and memorize the ones you use most. Trust me, keyboard shortcuts are faster every time; you’ll save many minutes every day not reaching for the mouse/ trackpad or moving it up to a menu item, which slows you down more than you think.
I created a two-page PDF you can use to memorize some of the more useful shortcuts; you can download it here. Now, tape both pages to your monitor, and then don’t remove them until your fingers automatically perform these shortcuts every time and you never think about reaching for the mouse.
I know it might seem weird that I’m telling you to print it, but that way you won’t need a mouse to find it. Plus, if you only keep it as a file on your hard drive you’ll surely forget about it.
Multitasking is vastly overrated according to one neuroscientist...
Copywork is not the same as copywriting (or plagiarism, for that matter)... But it may help you not write like an a-hole.