Mac Power Users 740: “From The Beatles to The Libertines,” with Lee Garrett

Lee Garret is the new owner of ScreenCastsOnline. He joins Stephen and me on this episode of Mac Power Users to discuss his background in technology, his Apple gear, and how clear communication and processes are key to any successful endeavor

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • 1Password: Never forget a password again.
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On Avoiding Email: Second, Consider the Tool

Last week, I addressed avoiding email with the fundamental question of motivation. Specifically, are you using the easy stuff to avoid doing the hard stuff?

Despite its widespread use, email is not an efficient tool for all types of communication. We’ve overlooked its limitations in our attempt to make it do everything. It’s time we acknowledge that email is often the wrong tool for the job.

Numerous approaches to team communication can free you from the constant need to check your email. While these methods require some initial investment of time and thought, they can ultimately save you hours that would otherwise be spent on lengthy email threads.

For example, I have a scheduled weekly call with my editor where we talk about existing projects for about an hour. During that hour, we get everything handled for the week. Throughout the rest of the week, we keep notes for each other on individual project pages in Notion. Any question that doesn’t fit with a specific project goes on a separate page called “Open Questions.” Then, about a half hour before our weekly call, I go through all open loops and open questions so we can get on the phone and move through them. That one hour every week saves us multiple hours of messages and emails. With a bigger team, that saved time grows exponentially. Additionally, the back-and-forth nature of a phone call often yields better results.

If you are working with a team on a project, a setup like this is way easier than constant email chains with multiple people on it. This gives you one source of truth and one place to go to. It’ll take a little convincing with your team, but once you establish it, they will see the wisdom of it.

Also, try to schedule an in-person meeting regularly to review any open loops. When I was an attorney, every day at 4 PM, my paralegal and secretary could come in and ask me any questions they had. But it was understood they would not pepper me with emails or questions throughout the day.

Finally, there is an ancient bit of technology called the telephone. I put effort into my relationships with coworkers to make them understand that if they have something urgent, they can call me, but it better be urgent. I also make sure they understand that if they email me with something urgent, they will not get a timely response; I’m not your email monkey.

Many other tools are therefore better suited to team communications than email threads. Use your creativity to find a few that can work with your team. Only then can you loosen the grip email can have on your focus.

Focused 201: What to Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way, with Haemin Sunim

Bestselling author and Zen Buddhist teacher Haemin Sunim joins Mike and me on this episode of Focused to talk about gratitude, mindfulness, compassion, and dealing with disappointment when things don’t go your way.

This episode of Focused is sponsored by:

  • Nom Nom: Healthy, fresh food for dogs formulated by top Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists. Prepped in our kitchens with free delivery to your door. Get 50% off.
  • Squarespace: Save 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain using code FOCUSED.
  • Indeed: Join more than 3.5 million businesses worldwide using Indeed to hire great talent fast.

Rumination on the Action Button

The rumors surrounding the iPhone 16 get more accurate as we get further into the year. One prevalent idea is that an additional button, dubbed the capture button, will be added to the iPhone 16 on all models. The idea of this seems simple enough: You hold up your phone, point at someone, and capture a picture. It’s unclear whether this will be addressable, like the Action button, that you can set to trigger an automation or other actions. But if I had to bet a nickel, I’d say you will not be able to do that. I think the idea is for Apple to have a button on the phone that will always take a picture.

It’s intriguing to witness the emergence of this button at this particular time. The iPhone has been around for a long time now, and the concept of a capture button isn’t novel. In fact, Apple introduced one on its battery case a few years back. I can’t help but speculate if the timing of this addition is Apple simply seeking to introduce something new.

Either way, I expect the capture button is aimed at the general market and not just us geeks. (I’d argue that the Action button, in contrast, is aimed at the geekier customers.)

Many people would appreciate the ability to quickly take a picture with their iPhone without any other manipulation but pushing a single button. It’s still early, and this capture button is not confirmed, but there is a lot of smoke around this idea, and I hope it comes true.

Book Report: Slow Productivity

I recently read Cal Newport’s latest book, Slow Productivity. Cal Newport is one of the leading voices in productivity, particularly for knowledge workers. One of the things I like about him is that he covers a diverse array of topics, from planning your career in So Good They Can’t Ignore You to finding focus in Deep Work and now slowing down for the important stuff with Slow Productivity.

book cover from Cal Newport's book titled slow productivity. it shows a wooden cabin on a cliff in the background, with multiple pine trees in the foreground, with a winding path made of stone in the middle. Way in the background is snow-covered mountain.

There’s a movement afoot concerning productivity and slowing down, and it’s a good one. With the emergence of technology, we all came to the idea that we needed to do more faster, which led us into this current crisis where we’re all so busy doing the little things that we never have time to think about the big stuff. Even though this is normal to us, it is unusual in history.

In this book, Cal goes back through history and explains how, normally, people spend a lot of time thinking about important questions to come up with valuable and important answers. Sir Isaac Newton didn’t have to contend with an email inbox. In this book, Cal talks about ways to bring us back to those roots where we can focus on the big things and a lot less on the small things.

This has been an overall trend for me as well. So much so that one of the video lessons in the Productivity Field Guide is called You Have To Do Less. This is straightforward advice to give and hard advice to accept.

In this book, Cal gives some great examples of practical ways to turn slow productivity into a reality. The book is entirely digestible at 220 pages and full of good ideas for exploration. As a complete aside, I will note that of all of Cal’s books, this one has the best cover.