Vision Pro Notes: Productivity

Yesterday, I wrote my notes about the Vision Pro hardware and its interface. Here are my notes on productivity:

  • visionOS has roots in iPadOS, and it shows. You’ll be disappointed if you are looking for a Vision Pro to replace a Mac.
  • Instead, I’ve focused on ways Vision Pro is superior to the Mac for productivity, like my writing cabin.
  • Vision Pro is very good at keeping me isolated for focused work. I can already be productive with the device where that focus matters.
  • We don’t have enough environments to get the most out of that last point.
  • I found an attached Bluetooth keyboard a big help. I use a connected trackpad much less, but it also can come in handy.
  • That said, dictation is much better than it used to be, and don’t forget to use it with the Vision Pro.
  • Fantastical is a stand-out app. Putting up your calendar and make it the size of the wall is pretty damn cool. It works particularly well for the big picture of monthly, quarterly, and yearly use. I’ve got a massive version of my monthly calendar installed on my ceiling. As I think about next month, I can look at the ceiling to see what’s on deck.
  • MindNode Next is also an interesting early entry. It’s a mind-mapping app but also a brainstorming app where you can locate ideas in space.
  • Ideation development (like MindNode) is an excellent use case for Vision Pro. Apple’s Freeform could also serve in this capacity, but it’s not yet there. My experiments continue.
  • If you want to capture a lot of text, try Aiko, an AI-based transcription tool. You just hit the record button, which converts the recording to text with the Whisper AI engine. I checked with the developer, who reports all work is done on-device.
  • Mac display mode acts as an escape hatch, but I don’t see it replacing monitors for extended work sessions. It makes tons of sense to have a big display attached to a laptop in a hotel room or to give you the ability to move your desktop Mac display to a different room, though.
  • We are in early days for the productivity question on Vision Pro. There are still many workflows to be explored and apps to be released.

Announcing The Productivity Field Guide

I’m thrilled to announce the release of my Productivity Field Guide. You can get it now with a special launch discount (code below).

Here are the Quick Details:

Productivity Field Guide Plus Edition (or Standard Edition)

Limited Time 10% Launch Discount Code: PFGLAUNCH

Productivity Has Become A Dirty Word

We often associate productivity with life hacks and quick tricks to speed through our emails, but this approach doesn’t truly address the core issue. The real solution isn’t about doing more; it’s about doing less while focusing on what truly matters.

However, identifying what truly matters can be a complex and personal journey. Moreover, you ultimately have to draw your own map. This isn’t easy, but you’re not the first person on this journey and there is help in the recent and ancient past.

I’ve Been on a Quest

I went on a deep dive through modern productivity literature and theory. At the same time, I went back to people like Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius for advice.

I ended up with a productivity system that takes advantage of modern ideas, but is founded on ancient principles.

What I ended up with was a productivity system that let me ship my best work and enjoy life at the same time.

And I will share that with you in this Productivity Field Guide.

The Productivity Field Guide has a lot of pieces:

  • A five-hour video course including 50 instructional videos that will get you up and running.
  • There is also a 100+ page book in both ePub and PDF formats.

The videos and the book are there to get you going. I can’t draw the map for you. (Nobody can.) Instead, I give you the tools to draw the map for yourself.

Each tutorial includes closed captioning in multiple languages.

I’ve Been Busy

  • I’ve published 16 Field Guides (Now 17)
  • I’ve recorded some 1,500 hours of podcasts
  • I’ve written a blog since 2007
  • … and I practiced law for nearly 30 years.

Perhaps the most frequent question I’m asked is, “How do you do it all?”

This course answers that question.

The Productivity Field Guide Details:

  • 50 Video Tutorials
  • 5 Hours of Content
  • A 100-Page Book
  • An in-depth guide into a unique productivity system that combines the best parts of modern and ancient thoughts on the subject.
  • Captioning in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Tagalog

Plus Edition Content

In addition to the video content and the book, with the Plus Edition, you get:

A Twelve-Part Webinar Series

  1. Getting Started
  2. Roles and Arete
  3. Quarterly and Monthly Planning
  4. Weekly and Daily Planning
  5. Projects and Habits
  6. Maker, Manager, and Consumer
  7. Hyper-Scheduling
  8. Doing the Work
  9. Shutting Down
  10. The Best Tools for Productivity
  11. Questions and Answers
  12. Productivity Spotlights (Currently booked: Shawn Blanc and Chris Bailey.

All webinars are recorded, edited, and later added to the course.

Access to the Productivity Field Guide Private Community Message Board

You can get The Productivity Field Guide now with a Launch Discount:

Productivity Field Guide Plus Edition (or Standard Edition)

Limited Time 10% Launch Discount Code: PFGLAUNCH

This course is very special to me and I hope you enjoy it.

– – –

The early testimonials for the Productivity Field Guide have been amazing. Here are a few:

Watching the Field Guide is like sitting down with a good friend and talking about your priorities in life. Compared to other productivity resources, this guide is not about figuring out how to do more things in less time; this field guide is about figuring out how to give more time to the important things.

– Philipp

MacSparky’s Productivity Field Guide is his best work ever! He teaches a productivity system that is unique to you: it grows out of your life roles and what is important to you. It’s comprehensive: it deals with all of your life, not just what you do at work. It’s practical: he gives you step-by-step instructions on how to set up your unique systems. And I can testify that after following his system for the past couple of years, it is transformative: it can change your life for the better and help you to become the best possible version of yourself. Amazing value for the price: buy it now!

– Jim E.

The chapter on roles and arete blew my mind.

– Irene K.

I’ve been playing with Productivity systems for nearly 20 years. I wouldn’t expect to have anything new to learn. Sparky proved me wrong. He just saved me from a painful annual review process and has me incorporating my varied roles into my process more.

– Mark L.

The Perils of Streaks

A few days ago, I broke a long streak in Readwise. Frankly, it was a relief. A popular feature in applications these days is streaks. Apps keep track of how many days in a row you use it, and, like a monkey, you get invested in that integer. Before you know it, you’ve got this long streak and feel you must keep it going. But generally, streaks are beside the point. They become an artificial source of stress for no reason.

Many apps these days feature some streaks system to try and make sure you touch the app every day. This isn’t just true for creepy social media apps. Plenty of productivity apps are in on the action, too.

This “don’t break the streak” mentality is table stakes for most habit apps. These streaks can quickly become a weight around your neck. You get more invested in continuing the streak than the actual benefit of the visit. In the case of Readwise, I found myself tempted on busy days to click through the daily quotes without really meditating on them because I didn’t have much time, but I didn’t want to break my streak. Why not in that case take the day off and not worry about an artificial streak? Generally, when I’m working on a habit or trying to maintain a daily practice, I am much more concerned about missing two days in a row than I am about keeping up a streak.

It is for this reason that I turn off streaks whenever possible. Instead, I have a repeating task in OmniFocus with gentle suggestions like “consider reviewing Readwise”. Don’t become a slave to your streaks. Don’t be a monkey.

The Morning Routine Journal Template

A few months ago, I did a webinar about how I journal. Since then, several folks have asked for copies of some of my templates. The first one I want to share is my Morning Routine template. I look at, and fill in, this one nearly every day.

My Morning Routine Template

  1. Daily Priority
  2. Morning Gratitude
  3. Daily Meditation
  4. What’s on My Mind
  5. How will my actions today show my character?
  6. Morning Checklist
    – AM Meds
    – Meditation
    – Journal
    – Blog Post Up
    – Weigh In
    – Brush/Floss

Daily Priority

I’m a big fan of the idea of a daily priority so the first thing I write down is the one thing I want to get done during the day … my daily priority. You’ll be tempted on occasion to write down two things here, but don’t do that. It’s “priority”, not “priorities.” Forcing myself to pick just one thing is a great way to inspire some focus. I usually pick the one thing the night before, but if I didn’t do it the night before, this prompt forces me to do it first thing. Very rarely do I fail to get the one thing done. I think it is this process of writing it down is where the commitment becomes real for me.

Morning Gratitude

Getting caught in a negative loop any more is so easy. I try to avoid that trap with gratitude. I find taking a few minutes to think about something I’m grateful for every day really helps me start the day right. For bonus points, try to never repeat a gratitude entry. Find something new each day. You’ll surprise yourself.

Daily Meditation

Every day I find something inspiring to mull over. For everyone this is different. I have friends that will use a bible verse. For me, the daily meditation usually arises from my morning review in Readwise, my spaced repetition system.

I don’t just block and copy, though. Instead, I’ll take a passage and try to summarize it in my own words. I’ll also go back and read it throughout the day. I try to get it to stick for me. I also will journal on it for a few sentences (or paragraphs) on why it is important to me.

What’s on My Mind

This is the actual journaling part of this template. If I’ve got a problem or concern or something I’m particularly happy about or something special planned for the day, I’ll take this time to brain dump it onto the page. This is the section I’m most likely to dictate in this particular template.

I find the process of emptying my brain into the journal gives me a way to examine my thoughts from a different angle. It also helps me let go of anything I’m obsessing on so I can get focused back on the daily priority.

If you wake up with worries or concerns, use this journal entry to work through them. Then when you set down the pen (or keyboard), they have much less of a hold on you.

Some days this section is just a few sentences. Other days it is a lot more.

How will my actions today show my character?

This is in my morning template for a few reasons. First, it’s a reminder that my character will come out in all of my actions. It is too easy to forget that. Second, it gives me an opportunity to keep myself honest. The older I get, the more I realize that moral ambiguity is bullshit. There is a right and a wrong. The more I can be clear about that in my own head, the more I can make a difference everywhere else.

Morning Checklist

I used to keep a morning checklist in OmniFocus but about a year ago I sent it into my morning routine template. These are a few items that I want to make sure to get done every morning. I don’t keep a database or track streaks with any of this stuff. This list is just a gentle reminder to brush my teeth, take my pills, meditate a bit, and get rolling.

We are all different and this Morning Routine list has evolved (and continues to evolve) for me. I hope it gives you a nice place to get started building your own Morning Routine list.