Short Hiatus

Why hello there. It’s been a while. The summer time is normally hard for most people, with big events, family vacations, and the extra daylight to spend all your time outside.

Except this summer hasn’t been that for me. It’s probably the busiest, craziest summer I’ve ever had (at least that I can recall). It’s been full of ups and downs, and non-stop action every day. I can’t remember the last time I had some true down time.

So what’s been going on? Well, there’s been a lot of personal stuff – too personal to get into on a public site. I’ve extensively journaled about it, which has been great. Personal life has influenced the vacations I took this summer – a grand total of zero. Kids have been active this summer, there’s a ton to do around the house, and things slip through the cracks. It happens. I’m originally from east of Cleveland, so I know what it means to have it not be your year.

Work has been hellacious, but in a multitude of great ways. It’s been busy with so much going on, but I’m managing more than ever. There’s a shift in the perception of who I am and what I can bring, which has been fantastic. I’ve even switch to a single task manager rather than having two. Even though I enjoyed the bifurcation, this has been better for me this summer with everything going on. For now – and you know it is always subject to change – I’ve settled on Todoist. A huge reason why is the addition of the Todoist script objects in Drafts and the speed at which I can enter everything in. But more on that at a different time.

I have spent the summer doing a few things to take care of me. For too many years, I let certain things go. But in the spring, I came to the realization that I put off me too much, and I needed to reclaim some of it. So I’ve been working out regularly – three to five times a week. I’m making sure to complete those goals not for the gamification, but because I know the end result will be a healthier me. I’m going to bed at a reasonable time, and waking up at 5am every morning to get this done, but it’s been better.

All this to say: all of this has made it so that I haven’t been writing as much. I had planned on writing more on some aspects of Drafts after I wrote the review. I still have those plans. And I will do them. Life often just finds a way to get the way of some personal life stuff. But I don’t regret the decisions I’ve made in reclaiming some “me” time. I’m working on a better balance, and a better me. A short hiatus every once in a while is a wonderful thing.

Homescreen Update (July 2018)

People often post about their homescreens. I’ve shared one of mine in the Club MacStories newsletter, but I thought it might be time to give an update.

A great homescreen starts with the wallpaper. I generally like a dark background for visual deference to the icons, and I like to have the same wallpaper on both. This means I need a high-resolution option. And with WWDC happening, I turned to 512 Pixels for my even-darker Mojave wallpaper.

My second pages on both devices are nothing but folders. This allows me to group apps that I search for via Spotlight search or don’t regularly use into like categories. There are a bunch of apps on both devices on the second screen, too many to cover here.

The main focus for homescreen layout should always be around the dock.

The iPad Dock

When iOS 11 was introduced and the iPad dock was changed to be different than a larger iPhone dock, my homescreen immediately changed. I needed to move most apps into the dock to facilitate multitasking with apps in layouts. The usefulness of dragging an icon out of the dock and into a split view or as the slide-over app was a fundamental shift in the way I was using my device.

With using an external keyboard – first the Logitech Create, then the Smart Keyboard – it became apparent that I could use the shortcut of ⌘space to pull up Spotlight search from anywhere, and it meant that unless the app was in the dock, I didn’t need to have it on the main homescreen. All I have to is search for the app I want, and then I can either tap to open or drag it into one of the app slots on my screen.

The apps I use the most are in my dock. The three center icons of my dock are similar to what I have on my iPhone. I like having those central in both places. Surrounding them are apps that frequently use during the day and/or in a split-screen setup. I have folders on either side of the dock: on the left is a folder of the “creative” apps that I use to generate podcasts or images for my site; on the right is a folder of reference apps.

Here’s a list of the apps that are in my dock:

The iPhone Dock

I tried a new setup a while back after seeing the homescreen master do it for his iPhone X. I thought that it would be great for using a larger variety of wallpapers, and allow me to break from my typical black and white image to something with some color. At first, I was hesitant to do this: it seemed more cumbersome and inefficient. But then I remembered my iPad homescreen, and thought that I should give it a try.

While the mechanics of the screens between the iPhone and iPad are different – largely due to the multitasking abilities of the iPad – the end result of this path has been the same: my most important apps in the dock, and other apps grouped into folders. I’m a proponent of the three-icon dock, and that has remained unchanged for a while. So for me, I needed to put the folder in the center for balance, with Drafts and Things 3 flanking either side. In the folder are my most-used apps: it is a mix of apps that change from time to time, but are all vital to my daily workflow. The folder contains (from top left to bottom right): Calendar, Music, Safari, Mail, Castro, Workflow, Slack, Twitterrific, and Messages.2

And the rest of the rows are blank. Which, as I said, seems to be very odd when you first see it. But, there are a few benefits. First off, I don’t have the temptation: no tapping all the icons on the homescreen, no badges on the screen to pull my attention, reduced stress. I don’t feel compelled to dive into Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube to look through content. It’s clean, it’s focused, and it helps me not sit and waste idle time. The other nice benefit is that I have a giant area to pull down on the homescreen, allowing me to quickly access Spotlight search. I’m actually faster at opening my apps now because I just pull down, type a few characters, and I’m there.

One of the biggest enablers for me was the new update of Drafts, and the subsequent updates after it was released. It has replaced so much for me that I find myself not using other apps and figuring out new ways to use Drafts in my daily workflows.

I’ve tried going back to icons in other rows. But it fills me with more anxiety, mental overhead, and makes me feel like I’m serving my apps instead of my apps serving me. Maybe one day I’ll go back to it, especially with Screen Time, but for now, this is what I need and I love using it this way.


Homescreens are very personal. I often change my mind about them, but this is the first time in recent memory where the layout had remained the same. The apps in certain spots may change, but for the most part, the layout has remained the same for months now. I’m happy with it. I’m sure this will change when I get a new device, but for now, I’m happy to have it figured out and have less stress facing me in my daily life as a result.

  1. Soon to be Shortcuts.
  2. I’m right handed, so Drafts is on the right for better access when I’m using my phone in one hand. I also have the folder set up to be more accessible while using my right hand as well.

Drafts 5.1 Update

While I’m working on another large post, I wanted to put out at least a small bit about some of the added features in the 5.1 update of Drafts that has been released.

Tag Filter Improvements

I really love the addition of tags, and more importantly, workspaces. I did, however, have a couple of gripes about the features. My single gripe about filtering using tags from the review:

A nice addition to tagging not present in the app is an or function, which would expand the filtering to get drafts that are tagged with red or blue instead of red and blue as it is today, giving better functionality to the feature.

This has now been fixed. Whether in the tag drawer or within a workspace, you can specify “All” or “Any” for the tags. This distinguishes the behavior of the tags so that you can include the correct one(s) as you filter. For example, I have a GTD workspace. Previously, I’d have to rely on a single tag for this to work, and I settled on gtd. But now I can create new tags to not only add new drafts with similar tags, but I can also provide context within the workspace. I can have tasks, events, lists, calendars, etc. included in my GTD workspace simply by choosing “Any” for the tags.

Tag filtering has been improved

This added flexibility I wanted to see has been quickly added, which is already reaping dividends for my productivity. Now all I need is the ability to set a default action group for my workspace, and I’ll be all set.

Action Debugging Features

Action logging has been added to the action drawer. In the top right corner of the drawer, you’ll see a clock-like icon located in between the search and menu icons. This contains the log of every action run, rather than finding it in the draft information screen, which is on a per-draft basis. This not only provides a nice log, but provides quick access for when you’re de-bugging scripts. I’ve been doing a few large scripts as of late, and it has been saving me time along the way. You can also delete the logs as you go, if that’s your particular cup of tea.

In addition to the log, individual action steps can now be disabled in your actions by swiping on the step in the action editor. This is useful when you want to troubleshoot errors and check steps along the way. Another useful option for this is for when you are someone who likes to move around apps. For example, many of you know that I like to change up my task management app of choice. Rather than create all-new actions every time I switch, I can simply disable the URL block for GoodTask and add a new URL block for Things or OmniFocus or 2Do. I don’t need to clutter up my action drawer with similar actions that are based on a URL scheme any more. I’m going to need to refactor some of my actions, but I can already see how this is going to benefit me in so many ways. I’ve even done a packing list action for you already to show you how it works.

Event Action Step

You can now create calendar events by simply tapping on an action which brings up the default system card for event creation, as you would see in Calendar.app. There is a simple default action in the directory which creates a single event that takes the first line of your draft as a title, and the body of the draft as a note. You can select the rest of the parameters as you would in the calendar. when completed, you’re back in Drafts, ready to go.

I’ve already modified this to take a selection rather than a draft (I don’t usually use the note field in a calendar event entry), so that I can quickly add meetings or personal events from a larger note, rather than having to create a new draft when I want to create an event.


We’re a month into the new version of Drafts, and already there’s been some added features which were missing from the previous version, as well as some carefully considered features to help make life a bit easier for users. There are some other small features added, so be sure to read those in the release notes.

GoodTask 3.6 Update

There has been an update released today for my task management app of choice, GoodTask. There is a lot to unpack with this update; you can read more in the full details for the update.

There are some great things that I want to quickly highlight:

  • Full Drag/Drop support: There is a comprehensive list found in the full details. A couple of really nice touches include the ability to drag one or more tasks onto another task to create subtasks. You can also drag subtasks out to be full tasks.
  • Smart Button: Navigating your lists is now easier than ever.
  • Enhanced Tasks page: if you swipe from left to right on a task, it now puts you into the Quick Actions screen of your task. From there, you can use swipe to go to the other screens or the buttons at the top to change from screen to screen.
  • Subtasks: Subtasks have been improved by including them inline as part of the task. This allows you to see what is left of a small project and move forward.

I’m sure I’m missing some items, but it’s the things that are making me stick with this. I’m absolutely loving my time with GoodTask.

GoodTask is available on the App Store for Free with an optional (but highly recommended) IAP of $5.