Master Todoist with 5 Minute Productivity

My friend, Chris Gmyr just launched a new Youtube series called 5 Minute Productivity and the first set of videos is all about Todoist. According to Chris, here is the inspiration behind the series:

I’ve been interested in productivity over the last few years and trying to improve my own systems. There are already a ton of information out there, but I wanted to make a learning resource that was simple to follow and easily digestible.

All of my videos will be around 5 minutes long (but definitely not over 10). And will touch on all aspects of productivity and use cases. The initial videos below are only a starting point and primer for what I’d like to do to get my recording and editing workflow improved.

If you’ve wanted to improve your productivity with Todoist definitely give the series a watch.

Book Review: Finding Flow

I just finished reading Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on the psychology of engagement with everyday life and it’s a book I thoroughly enjoyed.  It’s designed to show you how most of us go through our lives unaware of our emotions, which causes us to bounce between anxiety and pressures of work and passive boredom in our leisure activities.

To give you an example of one section that resonated with me is washing dishes. I know people who absolutely hate doing that task and will grumble the entire time. I personally am not fond of it either, but internally I always make tasks a competition with some strange internal goal. For washing the dishing I might see how I can arrange the dishes to turn the process into an assembly line or see how fast I can get it done. The same with unloading from a dishwasher. I try to see how few trips I can make to put them in the proper place.

This is just but one example of the book and it’s full of great insights on how to get into a state of “flow” where you forget your surroundings and focuses totally on the task at hand. I know most of you are developers and I feel like this book is one that many of you will enjoy.

For a little more on the book check out his Ted talk below:


If you’d like to get a copy of the book check out the Amazon details page and look under the “Used” page. I was able to pick up a paperback for around five bucks.

Apple Mail

With the demise of Google Inbox coming soon I decided it was time to make a switch and start exploring other alternatives. In the past week, I feel like I’ve been through every email app on the market and they have something that annoys me.  I’ve come to the conclusion that finding the perfect email app is like finding the perfect to-do app. Or the perfect editor. It’s just not possible.

After trying a dozen and becoming fed up I just tossed up my hands and said enough. Then I set up Apple Mail on all my devices and decided to just embrace it. I have no trust the 3rd party apps will be around in five years, and as of right now, I don’t like Gmail. I don’t like the colors, the fonts, and the way it feels. It’s just not for me.

As I made the switch to Apple Mail it got me thinking, why not embrace all the Apple apps? There are quite a few that come standard that I’ve never given a real chance. I decided to change that and I’m giving myself a week to go all in on just Apple apps. Reminders, Calendar, Notes, Mail, Music, and News. I’ve removed all 3rd party apps off my iOS device that are competitors to those and I’m curious to see how good or bad this change will be.

Here is my current iOS homepage to give you an idea of what I’m trying to do:

iOS Home Screen

This next week might be painful or I might find new workflows. That’s why I embrace change, especially in tech, and without change, we get complacent and stale. I like to push forward, not look back.


My First Half Century Bike Ride

Yesterday afternoon I decided to hop on my bike and just go riding. This was the first weekend day in a long time where we had no family plans and I just needed to be home for dinner.

Off I went.

I had no map, no real goal, just ride at my own pace and enjoy the day. I went south toward South Carolina and the first ten miles was on a busy road that I didn’t like at all, but after that, I hit some nice backroads where I could relax and look at the scenery. Here are a few photos from the ride and all photos taken with an iPhone XS:

I’ve been riding mountain bikes a lot lately so I assumed my legs would be fine but what I didn’t realize is how painful it would be on the other body parts. After an hour and half my feet started hurting. I don’t know if it’s my shoes or my clipless pedals, or what, but I had to stop and take a break and they then stopped hurting for a while, only to have the pain come back.

If you are interested here is the Strava ride that shows the loop I made and all the details. I wasn’t trying to break any speed records and my bike is slow with the tires it has. I plan to change those this winter.


All in all, it was a fun trip and I hope to do even bigger rides now that the weather is turning cooler. I do dream of riding a century on all gravel roads or roads that are so backwoods you don’t see a car all day. Now that would be bliss.

Farewell Google Inbox

Google announced today that they are sunsetting Inbox in favor of regular Gmail:

As Gmail continues to improve, we’re bringing the best features from Inbox. In the new Gmail, you’ll find workflows that are similar to your favorite ones in Inbox.

Support for Inbox will conclude in 2019.

On their support page, they include all the things that Gmail can do now that was borrowed from Inbox.

  • Snooze emails
  • Follow-ups (nudges)
  • Hover actions: On your computer, you can point to emails in your inbox and quickly take action, like archiving or marking as read, without opening the email.
  • Smart Reply: Quickly reply to an email using suggested phrases that appear based on the email you received.

I went ahead and started making the transition today and the iOS Gmail app feels pretty nice, but I’m not a big fan of Gmail in the desktop through the browser. It just doesn’t have the same modern feel as Inbox.  Most of all, Gmail has entirely too much red and I find that annoying. The blue that Inbox used was so much nicer on the eyes.

I’m guessing it’s just one of those things that’ll take time to get used to and I’m hoping they keep porting all the features from Inbox. I guess we will all find out in 2019.

First thoughts on the Mastodon Social Network

I keep hearing about this new social network called Mastodon. It’s like Twitter but not exactly. You have toots instead of tweets (huge eye roll) but the biggest difference is instead of one main service it’s comprised of thousands of independent communities. The benefit is that it’s not owned by some huge corp and everything is independent. Here is how they describe it:

Mastodon isn’t just a website, it is a federation—think Star Trek. Thousands of independent communities running Mastodon form a coherent network, where while every planet is different, being part of one is being part of the whole.

Sounds good in theory but after I registered I then realized because I registered my username on I technically don’t “own” the username I signed up with. Someone else could own the same one on another Mastodon instance.  We could have thousands of Eric Barnes and who knows if you are talking to me or talking to someone else?

Then the other selling point is that it’s safer than other social networks:

Mastodon comes with effective anti-abuse tools to help protect yourself. Thanks to the network’s spread out and independent nature there are more moderators who you can approach for personal help, and servers with strict codes of conduct.

I think this is a pipe dream. Maybe the anti-abuse tools are better but just, because there are thousands of independent communities, doesn’t make it safer. Even with more unpaid moderators who still has to make judgment calls on what is right and wrong. Right now the only benefit it has going for it is that it’s still not widely used. If a huge migration of users happens I think it’ll be the same as any other network.

The final complaint I have is that it feels so much like Twitter, yet you have to rebuild your entire following on a brand new platform. That is not something I have the willpower or care to do.

I’ll be sticking with Twitter and Instagram for now and I imagine Mastodon will be extinct, like the animal its named after, in a few years. At best it’ll have a weird cult following like IRC still does. As much as I’d love to have an open source independent social network, I don’t see this being a thing for the masses.

The 2018 Fall Foliage Prediction Map

Looking to head to the mountains this autumn and see the leaves? The Smokey Mountains website has a prediction map so you can plan your trip to see them at their peak:

The 2018 Fall Foliage Map is the ultimate visual planning guide to the annual progressive changing of the leaves. While no tool can be 100% accurate, this tool is meant to help travelers better time their trips to have the best opportunity of catching peak color each year.

According to the map, the North Carolina mountains will hit its peak around October 29th.