James Olon

James Olon

Me, Productive

So one of my monthly challenges this year was to work on my productivity workflow. It was my April challenge, It took me the better part of the month to really nail it down. That was in part of getting and returning a 21 inch 4K iMac and then purchasing a 2011 MacBook Pro. I also updated from an iPhone X to a Xr. So lets start with that.

My X was fine but the monthly payment was a bit more than I could stomach for “older” tech. Thats not to say the X is old or obsolete in any was shape or form. And being that we lease our phones through our carrier I looked into what I could do to get that price down. The X was $43 a month. I decided on the iPhone 8 in the 256GB flavor for $13 a month, thats just absurd. Once it arrived I set it up and used it for a few days but I knew almost immediately that it wasn’t going to work out for me. I spend the majority of my device time on my phone and for me the 8 wasn’t going to cut it for me. As far as LCD vs. OLED I honestly can’t tell them apart, Apple makes great LCD panels. I got fortunate and Was able to take advantage of special monthly pricing on a 128GB Xr, $30 a month. SO thats where I ended up. My wife has had her Xr since last November and it seems to work just fine for her so I figured why not?

Now that my phone is sorted here is what I’m using on it. My main todo/task manager is GoodTask 3. All of my daily reminders for meds, feeding the pets, bills that need paid, it all goes there. Thats its home. It also lives on my Apple Watch in the form of a complication. I tried and failed many time over trying to use more complex apps like Things and Omnifocus, I tried to implement the GTD method with them but in the end I found it very overwhelming. GT3 also shows me Calendar events and appointments which is great because on my phone I only use the stock Calendar app. My reasoning for that is If I have a date or something that needs a date I input that info into Drafts, which I check every evening. “Event 5” goes into Drafts, then it goes either to the calendar, GT3, or Notion. Simple as. I use Drafts as a inbox of sorts, I know that I could just as easily use Things or Omnifocus for inbox and tasks but I just seem to work better my way. It gives it more of a separation. An d I like that.

Notion has recently come to my attention. I’m using it in a few different ways. Let me try to explain, The first page I created is a list, like a schedule of sorts for my days during the summer. Its like an outline, I don’t have to check it every day but I do keep a window open on my MacBook at all times. For me having it open helps me stay on track for the day. The second page is a list of summer activities to do with my family, its a running list I’m adding stuff to it very often. The last page is where I’m keeping track of books I want to read and books I have read this year, thats really just for piece of mind for me. I run the app on my phone just to have access to it if I need it.

The heart of my productivity lives at my desk. My battle station. I got a wild hair up my ass toward the end March and decided that I needed a new iMac. So I went to Best Buy and bought one. It didn’t last 24 hours and I returned it. The main reason for the return was the price $1400 is a lot of money. My wife was not happy about that at all. Plus I figured I could do just as good for a fraction of the price. Enter my 15 inch 2011 MacBook Pro, Bought it for $299, upgraded the RAM to 16GB and installed a 256GB SSD.

And I love it, its perfect, no it won’t run Mojave but I can live with that. I have it hooked up to a 24 inch Dell LED display and its my go to machine to get things done. GT3, Drafts, and Fantastical run the show. I keep Fantastical open on the MBP full time, again it helps knowing whats going on, it also shows the reminders that are input into GT3, because GT3 is based off of the reminders app. So at a glance I get all the info I need. So good. If I’m home my desk is where I get most everything done. Otherwise you can find me outside on my iPad.

I recently picked up a 6th gen iPad with 1st gen Apple Pencil support. I picked this up through my cellular provider, it was free with a 2 year data commitment, I know I started out trying to save a few dollars and ended up spending more that before. The main reason for this iPad was for my 4 year old, she does ABC Mouse on our old iMac but its from 2009 so its on its last legs, and she prefers a tablet and her Kindle just doesn’t have the power to run that app. So, enter the iPad. She uses it during the day and I use it after she goes to bed or when she isn’t using it. ABC Mouse is the move if you were wondering, my two older kids used it and they are both on the honor roll at school. I have it set up for a work/media consumption device, I pair it with a cheap Bluetooth keyboard and I can actually write and schedule stuff on it. I had an original iPad Pro years ago and during the time I had it it was my main machine. For a lot of people its very doable. I do wish apple made a keyboard for it but the one I have works just fine.

So that’s my productivity setup. I hope that I was able to explain it in a way that makes sense to the reader. I’ve also submitted a set up interview to thesweetsetup.com so potentially be on the look out for that.