Make Progress on Your Most Important Projects with Your Calendars and Tasks Lists (Sponsored by Daylite)

I’m often asked about the distinction between task lists and calendars. Some folks track tasks in an app. Others do so in a calendar. I get asked where I fall, and my answer is always both. I track tasks in an app, but I block time in my calendar to make sure the most critical tasks on that list get done. It is at that intersection between your task list and the calendar blocks that progress is made.

If you have an overflowing task list but a sense of dread about making any progress on your most important project, this technique can help you. Find one project that is important to you and block some time this week to make some progress on it. This isn’t rocket science, but does take some discipline. Nevertheless, that practice of calendaring time for the big things actually moves the needle.

And on the subject of moving the needle, you should check out this week’s sponsor, Daylite. For small businesses, it can be challenging to stay on top of clients, leads, and projects that are evolving every day. Here’s how Daylite can help supercharge your team to shine brighter, handle more clients, close more deals, and execute more projects. Designed for Mac, iPhone, and iPad exclusively. 

Daylite empowers small businesses by improving team efficiency and making collaboration easy—everything is organized, searchable, and accessible (even offline). You can easily access information and segment data tailored to your specific client’s history. You can manage and share everyone’s schedules, project status, and next steps.

Not only does Daylite make the best Mac CRM software, but they also let me use this sponsored post to write about being more productive. If you live by the Mac, you’ll love Daylite. Start your free 30-day Daylite trial today!

Unleash Your Creativity with DEVONthink (Sponsor)

This week MacSparky is sponsored by DEVONthink. There are a lot of ways to manage a database on your mac, but in my opinion, there is no better tool than DEVONthink. Just a few of the things I use DEVONthink for include:

  • A reliable repository of research documents. DEVONthink will hold as many documents as you can throw at it. In addition, it makes import (and export) easy, so you can have all that power without feeling trapped.
  • A research assistant. DEVONthink uses artificial intelligence to analyze and connect your documents in ways that may not otherwise occur to you.
  • An OCR Tool. Everything you store in your DEVONthink Pro library gets OCR’d. It just happens.
  • An Automation Tool. DEVONthink lets you build powerful automation subroutines into your library to help tag, move, and organize documents.

As a lawyer, DEVONthink was my legal research assistant. I dumped legal cases, statutes, regulations, and law review articles in DEVONthink and whenever I worked on a thorny problem I let DEVONthink grind on the documents before I did. It is spooky what DEVONthink could find for me. You could also do the same with all of your personal records. Dump them into a DEVONthink database and let DEVONthink sort it for you.

DEVONthink supports multiple sync methods and lets you even use your own sync password, so everything is encrypted. If you’ve got an iPad or an iPhone, you can access your DEVONthink data there, too, with DEVONthink to Go.

It is this combination of power and security that makes DEVONthink the clear winner. You can think of DEVONthink as your paperless office. You can automate your workflow from capture to filing, editing to publishing. It stores all your documents, helps you keep them organized, and presents you with what you need to get the job done.

Interested? MacSparky readers can get a 20% discount on DEVONthink. This is a limited-time offer, so check it out now.

SaneBox (Sponsor)

My thanks to MacSparky’s sponsor this week, SaneBox. One of SaneBox’s nifty features is that it can keep your email attachments in the cloud. If you’ve got Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, Evernote, or IBM Smart Cloud, any attachments that come through your email account can be automatically uploaded to your favorite cloud service with SaneBox’s SaneAttachments feature.

Some attachments, especially larger ones, can be trouble. They can fill up your storage or be hard to find. Some take too long to download and forward, especially if you’re using a mobile device. SaneAttachments solves these problems by automatically moving your file attachments from incoming emails and organizing your attachments, making it easy to find. And you can still forward these emails as you normally would, or you can send someone the link to the attachment. This way, you can keep your inbox fit and trim and make sure that only important email stays, and you can still find and get your files when you need them.

You can try SaneBox out for yourself. Use this link to sign up for a free trial and get a $10 credit you can use towards a SaneBox subscription.

Tinderbox – The Tool for Notes (Sponsor)

This week MacSparky is sponsored by Tinderbox, the tool for notes. Tinderbox is a Mac App that lets you collect your thoughts and slice and dice them any way your brain prefers. The application does a great job of adjusting to the way you think. With Tinderbox, you can make a mind map, a checklist, timelines, charts, outlines, and more. My favorite feature is that you are not tied to any paradigm with this app. Put your data in and start moving it around to help you make connections that weren’t there before.

People are using Tinderbox in all sorts of ways, from writing novels to planning a computer network to organizing a complicated corporate merger.

Tinderbox is now at version 9 with many new features, including string processing, user-created functions, stamps, and actions, where you perform processing and automation-related actions from inside Tinderbox. For example, do you automatically want to fetch information from web services and create a new note? Now you can do that. Also, Tinderbox runs great on your Apple Silicon Mac. Check out Tinderbox to visualize, analyze, and share your ideas.

Take Your Business Out Of The Dark With Daylite (Sponsor)

For small businesses, it can be difficult to stay on top of clients, leads, and projects that are evolving every day. Here’s how Daylite can help supercharge your team to shine brighter, handle more clients, close more deals, and execute more projects. Designed for Mac, iPhone, and iPad exclusively. 

Daylite empowers small businesses by improving team efficiency and making collaboration easy—everything is organized, searchable, and accessible (even offline). You can easily access information and segment data tailored to your specific client’s history. You can manage and share everyone’s schedules, project status, and next steps. 

Seamless Apple Integration 

Daylite is the only Mac CRM and productivity app that integrates with Apple devices and most of the built-in Apple apps and features, like direct Apple Mail integration. You and your team can capture all email communication in one place and create opportunities, appointments, and tasks right from Apple Mail. 

Linking 

Its linking capability is what makes Daylite shine. You can link emails, notes, tasks, projects, appointments, and other records to existing contacts in Daylite. This enables teams to quickly and clearly view an organization’s structure and access the information they need in a unique way. 

CRM + Project Management 

Daylite’s productivity-focused design helps you and your team get more done throughout the full customer lifecycle. From meeting prospects and winning business to managing the moving pieces on projects, all the way through to following up on referrals and repeat business, it’s all done in Daylite.
If you live by the mac, you’ll love Daylite. Start your free 30-day Daylite trial today!

DEVONthink for All of Your Research (Sponsor)

I often hear from listeners/readers looking for a research solution in the Mac ecosystem. My favorite app for this, without a doubt, is DEVONthink. DEVONthink is the most professional document and information management application for the Mac. It’s the one place for storing all your documents, snippets, or bookmarks, and working with them.

The Integrated A.I. assists you with filing and searching, while the extensive search language with advanced Boolean operators.

DEVONthink features a Flexible sync system that supports many cloud services – or lets you synchronize over the local network too – with everything securely encrypted. This gives you the choice for however syncing works best for you!

It has Smart rules and flexible reminders that let you automate all parts of your workflow and delegate boring, repeating tasks. Let DEVONthink automatically organize your data with rules you define!

DEVONthink’s AppleScript dictionary is one of the largest on the Mac. There’s no part of DEVONthink that can’t be automated. Extend DEVONthink’s functionality with your own commands by adding them to its Scripts menu.

Even templates can have scripts inside and you can set up new documents with data from placeholders, or inserted by your own AppleScript code.

And, of course, there’s so much more, from an iOS companion app, email archiving, scanning, or even an embedded web server for sharing your data securely with your team.

I use DEVONthink for document storage and organization. I also use it for research both as MacSparky and a lawyer. I love the way the DEVONthink developers have thought through all the little details from syncing to using the built-in artificial intelligence.

I find the combination of innovative features and automation support irresistible. Interested? MacSparky readers can get a 20% discount on DEVONthink..

Use TextSniper for Easy OCR on Your Mac (Sponsor)

My thanks to TextSniper for sponsoring MacSparky.com this week. I’m a fan of this app.

TextSniper is a Mac OCR app that can extract text anywhere on your Mac’s screen and automatically save it to your clipboard so that you can paste it anywhere you need it. It can even read the text to you. The whole thing works a lot like the built-in screen capture on the Mac, just way more powerful.

Also, TextSniper doesn’t collect your data. The text recognition is processed on your Mac and does not require an internet connection. 

With TextSniper, you can:

  • Quickly get a text from PDFs, Zoom calls, Presentations, and Videos. 
  • Copy text from anywhere, even images and websites that don’t let you select text.
  • Quickly grab data like email addresses, phone numbers, and links.
  • Read QR codes and barcodes.
  • Get text out of just about any image format, including JPG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, and BMP.

I find myself using TextSniper constantly in my daily work. As an example, my wife sent me a picture of a letter she received. I needed to grab some data from the letter (account number, etc…) TextSniper came to the rescue.

TextSniper works with macOS Catalina and later and also works with Parallels Desktop

Get TextSniper now and enjoy the fastest way to copy uncopyable text, wherever it may be. Use promo code TS2022 to get an additional 25% off. 

Never Forget to Follow Up with SaneBox (Sponsor)

Do you ever feel like you forgot to do something, but you can’t remember what? Oh, yeah, that email you meant to respond to but just didn’t because … life. SaneBox, this week’s sponsor at MacSparky, has got you covered. 

SaneNoReplies tracks emails that you haven’t responded to yet. With SaneNoReplies, you can monitor who you haven’t replied to yet and follow up with them. “What’s this magic,” you’re asking. All of the emails you haven’t responded to end up in one place with SaneBox: the SaneNoReplies folder. Emails that haven’t received a reply go in here, allowing you to keep track of whom you’re supposed to get back to. Now no one will slip through the cracks. It’s a round up of the emails you need to follow up, all in one place.

Interested? SaneNoReplies is included with all SaneBox plans. Click here to sign up for your free trial, and you’ll get a $10 credit you can use towards a SaneBox subscription. Give it a whirl.

HyperScheduling Block Sizes (Sponsor)

This week MacSparky is sponsored by Daylite, the best native CRM app for your Mac. It is that simple. Daylite has been around a long time, yet it has evolved with great features like cloud sync and a modern user interface. You should check it out. Rather than me waxing on poetic about Daylite, the team at Daylite wanted me to write about productivity this month (after all, Daylite is all about boosting you and your team’s productivity!), and I’m glad they did because I’ve got a lot on my mind about time block lengths.

One of the most common bits of feedback I get from people trying to hyper-schedule is that it falls apart on them after a day or two. This, most often, is the result of people making unrealistic block lengths. For example, say you want to work on your personal cloaking device tomorrow, and you give it an hour block. Then when the time comes, you spend three hours working on the project. That’s great that you got three hours of deep work done, but it blows your daily schedule to pieces. Then you feel like you’re behind on everything else for the rest of the day.

The failure when that happens, usually, is in the planning. Specifically, as humans, we tend to be way too optimistic in estimating how long things will take. If you had thought about it the day before, could you have anticipated you’d need three hours instead of one? If you’d planned your day around three hours (instead of one), wouldn’t things have gone a lot better?

If you want to seriously give hyper-scheduling a go, I’d recommend a few things:

1. Overestimate the time it takes.

If you think something is going to take an hour. Multiply that by 2 (or 3!) when making your plan. This is particularly true for project work. The kind of stuff that requires you to dig in always takes longer than you think. If you over-estimate and finish early, give yourself a break (or work on something else). Most likely, though, by doubling your estimate, you’ll just be giving yourself adequate time to finish your work. Once you consistently land within your time estimates, you’ll see the real benefit of time blocking.

2. Keep score.

Whether you do time tracking or keep notes, find a way to track how often and how badly you miss your estimates. That can create a feedback loop for you when planning future blocks. By paying attention, over time, you’ll get much better at estimating how long your work will take, and your scheduling will get a lot more effective.

3. Be kind to yourself.

You will make mistakes when trying to make these kinds of changes. As you are learning how to get better at this stuff, do not beat up on yourself. This stuff is hard. With a bit of patience and time, it does get a lot easier. You’ll see.

When blocking your time, your calendar is your friend. And do you know an app with excellent calendar integration? Daylite! See how I did that? (Daylite has a whole suite of tools for small business including a calendar.) My thanks again to Daylite for sponsoring MacSparky this week and letting me turn this sponsored post into a content post.

Make an Impression with Hoban Cards (Sponsor)

Looking your best isn’t just about what you see in the mirror. When you hand someone your business card, you also want to look your best. Thoughtful. Classy. Refined. Memorable. Is that you? 

That’s also Hoban Cards. Hoban Cards is a tiny letterpress printing shop that specializes in minimal printing for creative individuals and small businesses. They not only print business cards but also calling cards, stationery, thank yous, invites, wedding invites and RSVPs, dinner menus, wine lists, coasters, and clothing tags. Watch their letterpress in action craft tiny pieces of personalized art.  

You could pay less for something that will come off a laser printer. Or you can take it to the next level with a Hoban Card. There are beautiful templates and typography to choose from. The crisp letterpress impression will make a splendid notable impression when you hand them out. Use “MacSparky” to get $10 off any order. Get yours today.