The Blank Screen newsletter is out…

It’s out. If you’re on the mailing list, you got it HOURS ago. If you’re not on the mailing list, you can put that right by signing up here.

And you can read this week’s edition online right now.

This week we’ve got a very serious and accurate and useful video about handling your email, especially with OmniFocus, and a very un-serious but highly accurate video about group interviews.

The Blank Screen newsletter for 13 March 2015…

It’s out. If you’re on the mailing list, you got it HOURS ago. If you’re not on the mailing list, you can put that right.

And you can read this week’s edition online right now.

This week we’ve got a video about decluttering your head and all the tasks in there. We’ve some distressingly persuasive information about switching off our bleedin’ phones and we have the tiniest tip for making meetings go better. But then we’ve all been in meetings that we’d take anything, up to cyanide, if it made them finish sooner.

Microsoft’s vision of the future (again)

Microsoft does make a very pretty video. Here’s it’s first completely accurate movie predicting a world in which we rely on Microsoft products and services:


Okay, no, this is what they have just released as a genuine vision of the future. That’s genuine as in they really made the film, not that they really will do any of this.


Use Evernote to achieve your 2015 goals

That’s not my claim nor my suggestion and it is the claim and it is the suggestion of the Evernote company. So, you know, pinch that salt. But there are some good ideas in this and I think the killer persuasive point is the first one: you’ve already got Evernote so why not?

Like millions of other people, I use Evernote as my “digital brain” to store ideas, notes, web clips, receipts, recipes, important documents, event details, and more. I couldn’t get along without it.

But, did you know you can also use it to help you achieve your most important goals for 2015? There are three advantages of doing so:

1. It’s a tool you’re probably already using. You likely don’t have to learn or purchase something new.

2. It’s a tool that is available on every device. This makes it easier to keep your goals visible—a key to following through on them. You can review your goals on your desktop while at the office or on your mobile device while on the go.

3. It’s a tool that is simple and flexible. So many goal-setting apps force you into their system and structure. They are often overkill with too many features. Evernote, on the other hand, is fairly free-form, so you can create whatever structure works best for you.

How Evernote can Help you Achieve Your Goals in 2015 – Michael Hyatt, Evernote Blog (29 December 2014)

Read the full feature for four steps to doing this. It includes how to get tick boxes into Evernote and – surely this isn’t just me? – I never remember that you can do this and then I never remember how to.

Small moves to make big(ish) gains

I liked this from Fast Company about making little changes that can help greatly, though I also enjoy that my iPad just autocorrected “liked” to “lied”.

When we think about New Year’s resolutions, we often think about huge life changes: losing 50 lbs, being happier.

There’s nothing wrong with these goals, except that they’re so big they’re intimidating. A better approach? Look at tiny tweaks that take a few minutes, but have big payoffs. Choose and stick with anything on this list, and 2015 could end with a much happier, healthier you.

According to Cornell professor Brian Wansink’s research, people who have fruit bowls on their kitchen counters weigh eight pounds less than those who don’t. It’s an easy way to turn mindless grazing into increased produce consumption. Try putting a fruit bowl on your desk, too, and an apple might just become your go-to afternoon snack.

Various studies find that breakfast eaters weigh less than those who don’t, and that the vast majority of people who have successfully lost weight eat breakfast. Don’t overthink this meal. Hard boil five eggs on Sunday and voila! That’s a week. Grab some string cheese and eat that. Keep yogurt in an office fridge. Buy a piece of fruit wherever you buy your coffee in the morning. That alone may ward off cravings for mid-morning donuts.

Gyms are great, if you go. Most people don’t (or else they join January 1st and quit by February). But anyone can squeeze in extra movement here and there. If, on each workday, you take 200 steps during a phone call, another 100 steps while waiting for food to heat up in the microwave, and 100 steps while brushing your teeth in the morning, you’ll walk an extra mile each week. That’s 50 more miles per year than you would have been walking.

17 Small (And Totally Doable) Tweaks That Will Change Your Year – Laura Vanderkam, Fast Company

Read the full piece.

Day 3 of Decluttering Omnifocus – and a snag

So, previously I’ve faced up to how by the end of 2014 my OmniFocus To Do database was in a right state. And I’ve been doing something about it. By now I should have my shiny 2015 database up and running – but I don’t.

I also don’t have my messy old 2014 one. I have something from in between 2014 and 2015.

It’s because a) I went through the old one ticking off what I’d done and what I was going to delete and 2) I ran out of time because of deadlines. For the last couple of days I’ve been working from the old database but with its shiny new polish. And it’s been working really well.

Even just doing this much, I am feeling on top of things again. Which, as I’ve said before, is the real benefit of OmniFocus. Above feature set and specifications, if it can make you feel this good about what you’re doing and what plates you’re spinning, I’m happy.

But I must just move it on to a new set of 2015 folders. I must. I will.

Starting over with OmniFocus and Evernote

I think this is digital decluttering. And like all decluttering, I already know which of it I’m going to put off. My Evernote is a steaming mess of about 4,000 notes with 800 of them in the inbox and if it weren’t for the software’s very good search feature, I’d be regularly sunk. But it does have good search, I am not sunk, it can wait another day.

Whereas I’m starting over with OmniFocus.

This is my rather beloved to do app and I put my ability to cope with lots of projects entirely down to this software. But one big new project came in December and is hopefully continuing for a long time. I have two meetings this month that should lead to one enormous project and one gigantically enormous series of projects. Can’t wait.

Plus one big change at the end of 2014 meant a thing I do that has been albatross-shaped is pretty much entirely gone. I’ve walked away from a thing and am feeling so good about it that I think might even start to enjoy saying no.


One bad project gone, one new one in, two new ones looming and most things churning over, it is time to apply that ability to say no. Time to review everything and chuck out what I don’t want to do, what I am not going to get to.

And the reason to do it is not that I’m some kind of OCD-based guy who needs everything in its place. I refer you to the steaming mess of Evernote above. The reason is that lately there has been so much in OmniFocus – I have added so much – that I’ve stopped checking it. You shouldn’t have your head in OmniFocus all day but you really should look at it from time to time. A very sensible thing to do is look at it first thing in the morning, for instance, and that’s where I go wrong.

When you have a lot on and some of it is pressing at you terribly, you go straight to the keys and you start working on that. If checking OmniFocus were a quick thing, as it is built to be, as it is intended to be, then two minutes checking that while I boil the kettle will help my day astonishingly.

I’ve been looking through my OmniFocus now and can tell you that I have 2,513 things to do and they’re arranged in 88 projects. It could be worse: while I was looking, I ticked off something like 30 tasks that I’ve actually done and just not got around to noting.

Take a look at these 88 projects, though:

That is a mind map I did over Christmas: it’s a visual representation of everything I was working on at the end of 2014 and my only hope is that the image is too small for you to see the details. What I want you to see is how steamingly messy it all is. And I want you to see it so that you are hopefully nodding when you see this next shot, which is how I’m doing the projects for 2015:

Is that better? It’s certainly duller with all those colours reduced to just a couple. But I did this in an app called MindNode, which I do recommend a lot, and it chooses the colours. Add a new thing, it gives you a new colour. So that overall purpleness is not a choice, it is a consequence of my collapsing things into fewer categories, fewer projects.

Next job: translate that mindmap into OmniFocus folders and projects. Back in a bit.

Opinion: Don’t be more productive in 2015

I see his point, but.

Here’s the problem: you’re not Superman or -woman, and even if you are, you’ve got it backwards. Have you ever seen Superman embark on twenty adventures at once? Nope, he doesn’t. He only takes on the most badass thugs that nobody else can deal with and goes at them one-by-one. He’s not multitasking to fight one villain at 7 am, save a cat at noon and then yet another villain at 3 pm. Neither should you.

If you want to get more of the great stuff done in 2015, try doing less. That doesn’t necessarily mean working less hours (though that wouldn’t hurt), but spread yourself less thin across a gazillion different commitments. Focus only on those rare activities that really make you happy and truly move the needle, everything else is just noise and wears you out. Trying to do too much at once is what makes you fail at all your good intentions. It’s what throws you right back into your old habits, before you can say “merry Christmas and a happy new year”.

Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Be More Productive in 2015 | Tim Metz | LinkedIn

Read the full piece.

There’s a colour of the year

I didn’t know this and I don’t know what the colour for 2014 was – I’m sure there’s a joke here but I can’t find it – but the colour for 2015 is…


Introducing Marsala – Pantone website (16 December 2014)

Of course, you’ll know it better as Pantone 18-1438.

Here it is adorning the Pantone website:

And because I know you’re looking at me like that, the answer is that 2014’s colour was Radiant Orchid.

Nod of the hat to The Loop for knowing these things.