That Mac Nerd

Posts - Page 10 of 13

You Are Not A Machine

  • 1 min read

Optimized-machine I am trying to remember this:

You are not a machine.

[Tweet “You are not a machine.”]

Working late into the night, working on weekends: it’s killing us.

We’re unhealthy. We don’t take time to exercise and eat right and how could we? There’s just no time. From emails, Slack messages, crises at work, staying late at the office, time is a lost commodity.

But there’s hope.

Setting Yourself Up for Success By Saying “Yes” to You

You should be the focus of everything you do.

[Tweet “You should be the focus of everything you do.”] Taking care of your body is only going to give you more energy to get things done.

Sleeping seven to eight hours a night and going to bed at a reasonable time can help you focus and ready to start your day. There’s nothing worse than being sleep deprived. Your eyes glaze over and you can’t focus.

Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel happy and alive. I know when I come out of the gym, I feel incredible. I am trying to lose weight and get fit. The more I push myself to exercise the better I feel about myself. I have more confidence I have to tackle any of the school/work/life problems. Endorphins matter that much.

Eating healthy is super important to feeling good, as well. When we put good foods in our system, they fuel us and give our brains much needed energy.

Learn to Say No To Others

I struggle with this. I say yes to a lot, as someone who is in school and trying to get ahead in life faster than I did when I was younger. I would go to school, drop out, go back in an attempt to keep relationships. I was struggling with self-confidence.

Today, I have learned to say no to a lot of projects that have come my way. Saying no to other commitments, you’re signaling to others that your time is valuable. This will boost self-confidence and lead others to respect your time.

You Matter

Remember this. If you allow yourself to let others influence your behavior, you compromise your well-being.

[Tweet “Remember this. If you allow yourself to let others influence your behavior, you compromise your well-being.”]

Have anything to add? Let me know in the comments.

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The Importance of Getting Up Early

  • 2 min read


I admit— I am usually not a fan of getting up early. I would stay up until 3 in the morning and get up around 12 PM. The alarm would blare Junior Senior’s Move Your Feet, a catchy tune that implies a good day ahead. I would lay in bed for hours and scroll through email or Twitter and Facebook, and waste half the day. Then I would muster up the energy to go work on something.

This is, as many would tell you, the absolute worst thing to do. First, that time you’re scrolling through email and Twitter is time that you could be using to do the big tasks that require you to eat the frog first, or get to something far more important than triaging email.

There was some research done a few years ago about this: a lot of when we wake up or our chronotype is genetic, but it isn’t immutable.

Early Bird Gets the Worm?

“The early morning has gold in its mouth.”_shrink


There is something to be said for getting up early.

In the HBR article, it found that while night owls were on average smarter and more creative, business success and better grades were a characteristic of those who get up early.

“The early morning has gold in its mouth.”-1_shrink

Since your chronotype is not a fixed part of your circadian rhythm, there are steps you can take to get up early. This is what I am doing, as a lifelong night owl:

  • Small steps: I am trying to get up an hour earlier every week. This way I can get my body acclimated to getting up earlier in more manageable intervals.
  • Find something you enjoy doing in the morning. I enjoy researching articles to write, going through the day's news in Reeder, Instapaper, Flipboard, and the like. I also cook a healthy breakfast to start my day and then head to the gym a couple hours later.
  • Get an alarm clock. I am working on this. Don’t use your phone to wake you up. There are some benefits to this, like the iPhone app Sleep Cycle which is a wonderful app to help you gradually wake up. But if you’re anything like me, you wake up and close the clock app and open your email app, your Twitter client, and Facebook or Tumblr. Getting an alarm clock and placing your phone on the charger across the room or in another room will go a long way to getting you up and out of bed.


Have Anything to Add?

Are you a night owl? An early bird? What techniques do you use to get up and start your day?

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10 Best Productivity Apps for Mac

  • 5 min read

Following from my last post about The 10 Best Productivity Apps for iOS, I wanted to dig into the best for OS X as well.

I use a lot of apps on my Mac that automate tasks and keep me productive. I’ve narrowed them down to 10 with a few runner-ups.

Best Productivity Apps for Mac

  1. Todoist - I don’t need to talk more about Todoist. But here’s another screenshot.
  2. Todoist
  3. MindNode - This is a mind mapping tool that is beautiful and intuitive. Watching Travis Neilson from Dev Tips use it to map out a portfolio site he was helping new developers and designers build was enough motivation to download the trial and then finally purchase it. I use it for connecting different thoughts for the content I create.
  4. MindNode
  5. Hazel - I just realized the sheer power of Hazel. With Hazel 4, the guy at Noodlesoft has really stepped up his game. I have tons of files and I used to go about sorting them half-heartedly with Hazel— I’d dump old stuff into a folder on my external hard drive to sort through later. After listening to Mac Power Users #322 about Hazel, I knew instantly what I could do with it. The upgrade from Hazel 3 to Hazel 4 couldn’t have been cheaper— $10— a steal.
  6. Hazel
  7. Alfred - Alfred is where all my searches and app launching starts1. With the addition of workflows in Alfred 2, it made Alfred leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. It is also fast, faster than the rest. I tried Launchbar but the search syntax is bizarre. A lot of old time Mac users love Launchbar but it isn’t for me. With Alfred 3, everything has gotten flatter and more in line with native OS X UI, and the Workflow Editor makes it even more powerful.
  8. Alfred
  9. DEVONthink Pro Office - This is where all my digital information— documents, pdfs, videos, podcasts that I made, blog posts, web articles that I need for research, tutorials, all of it, gets stored in DEVONthink as opposed to Evernote which I used for 7 years. The turmoil within the Evernote camp and the fact it is difficult to get stuff out of Evernote led me to abandon it for and plain text. Anything else gets stored in DEVONthink.
  10. DEVONthink Pro Office
  11. Airmail - I just switched to Airmail 3 in the process of writing this article. My first choice,, was a good option for a long time, but I missed Airmail, which I was using exclusively for a year and a half. The integrations, as well as the recently added snooze and send later features2 made it ideal for me again.
  12. Airmail
  13. BusyCal - This is an ugly calendar, for sure, but it is really powerful. The integration with BusyContacts makes it a definite must have if you are using BC as a contacts manager. Fantastical is the darling of Mac users currently— it’s beautiful and plenty powerful. But I use BusyCal and BusyContacts as a CRM so I stick with them. Now if Flexbits came out with a contact manager that integrated with Fantastical, I’d be all over it.
  14. BusyCal
  15. Ulysses - This could be my favorite of all. I use Ulysses to write blog posts for my various blogs. I use an Automator app to publish to WordPress that Jennifer Mack wrote to post to all my blogs3. I also use it as a Markdown editor to update my portfolio, to write video scripts, and to compose my monthly newsletter.
  16. Ulysses
  17. Keyboard Maestro - This is the swiss army knife of automation on your Mac. I have a lot of macros, some I built, some I downloaded from the Keyboard Maestro forums and from various Apple enthusiast websites. It is a great tool with a lot of power and is essential for productivity on a Mac.
  18. Keyboard Maestro
  19. TextExpander - I know a lot of people have given up on TextExpander. I get a lot of value out of TextExpander— I have over a thousand snippets there. I don’t remember the shortcuts for all those snippets and some I downloaded and never used4. I pay a small monthly fee for a service/app I get a lot of use out of, so I won’t complain.



  1. BusyContacts - This is my contacts manager of choice. It is smart, powerful, and the backup feature is a killer feature that I’ve used a lot while testing an app and ultimately screwing up my contacts database. I recommend at least giving it a try and it you do, check out BusyCal as well. The integration between the two is what makes the whole widget work.
  2. BusyContacts
  3. Mac App - I love I get a free subscription through my school and also our great public library system here in Pittsburgh gives free subscriptions as well. I have downloaded a ton of videos from the site, from developer, business, and graphics, to video and audio, this is the place you want to go to learn. The free Mac app is great. You need to have an annual plan to enable video downloading, however. At $360/yr that might be a deal breaker for some just for downloading the videos. Check out your library and see if they have access.
  4. Lynda
  5. Mail - The only reason I still use it is for DEVONthink Pro Office plugin.
  6. Mail
  7. 1Password - The password manager of choice for so many Mac users.
  8. 1Password
  9. Chrome - As a developer, I use Chrome’s Dev Tools to help me figure out what is going on with the things I am building. Besides this, I use it to access Gmail and other web services that have integrations with each other.
  10. Chrome
  11. PDFPen - This is my pdf reader of choice. With plenty of power and a good looking interface5, it is the first choice in a world dominated by Acrobat.
  12. PDFPen
        1. Safari - I read all my Apple news sites in Safari. I would keep them in Reeder for Mac but I want to keep my business separated from my other, nonessential reading.
        Safari What are your must-have Mac productivity apps?
          1. well, apps that aren’t in my dock, anyway ↩︎
          2. send later is only for Gmail and Exchange accounts unfortunately ↩︎
          3. I duplicated each app for each WordPress blog ↩︎
          4. remind me to clean up my snippets ↩︎
          5. at a price Adobe Acrobat can’t touch ↩︎

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