GIFs, Cloudup, and Simplenote

I have a handy bookmark of a Cloudup stream with a bunch of GIFs ready to go. In Simplenote, a pinned note contains descriptions and URLs of those GIFs for quick searching.

With several of my colleagues as inspirations1, I’m fairly quick to have a relevant GIF for a Slack channel or P2 thread at work.

Priorities. Don’t hate! 😎

In all seriousness, GIFs are fun, and the visual element might be helpful for subconsciously improving recall detail of certain facts.

Consider the NBC TV series, Chuck. Flashing images, then Chuck knows Kung Fu.

Perhaps the connection of a GIF with a lengthy conversation can be recalled in greater detail when thinking about the GIF.

I said “perhaps”.

  1. Thanks in alphabetical order: James, Cat, Kevin, Watkis, and many other Automatticians I missed. 

Alfred 2.7.2, snippets, and Quick Entry for Things

When using Alfred’s clipboard and snippet viewer with the Quick Entry window for Things, the item would paste into the previously active window, not the Quick Entry window.

I use Alfred snippets1 or several items of text in clipboard history when entering new to-dos into Things, and have been annoyed for awhile because I couldn’t do the same with the Quick Entry window.

Today, I’m stoked to see that Andrew and Vero fixed it. Thank you! :star:

I think one—or both—of the first two items from the Alfred Change Log for 2.7.2 addressed this issue:

  • Significantly improve Alfred’s focusing behaviour, not taking active from the currently focused app. This improves a number of things including clipboard history paste behaviour with a multi screen setup.
  • Bring the Alfred window forward in the window hierarchy

  1. Specifically, timestamps. It’s a worthwhile habit to note when you added a to-do, or track how long it took you to complete a to-do. See also: Using Dynamic Placeholders in Clipboard Snippets

Simplenote revisions, you SAVED us!

Last week, I created a new item to document notes, ideas, and tasks for the move to our new place. I’ve shared it with Amy so she can refer and add to it.1

Yesterday, she got distracted, selected all the text by accident, and typed some gibberish — wiping out all the text about our new place.

(I estimate the damage was worth writing and brainstorming for a couple of hours.)

Fortunately, Simplenote — like most excellent products and services — includes revision history.

Yay! :)

  1. I think it’s time to split things up into separate notes. 

Mac menu bar minimalism with Bartender

I bought a copy of Bartender for these features:

  • “Show an app in the menu bar when it updates.”
  • “Menu bar apps still work the same.”
  • Minimalism.

It’s also easy to adjust its settings.

I hope Apple acquires them for direct integration with OS X. (Yes, Windows XP had some of these features.)

Fifteen dollars to help me focus? You got it. I should’ve tried it sooner.

Disclaimer: This is an unsolicited post, and I purchased the app with my money.

How Things makes me even more awesome

Things 2 screenshotAround nine months ago, Isaac Keyet persuaded me to try Things for Mac by Cultured Code. I usually prefer plain text, but that’s too simple for the stuff I jot down.

With keyboard shortcuts galore, I quickly fell in love with this app. It costs $49.99 for Mac, $9.99 for iPhone, and $19.99 for iPad — and it’s worth every penny. I’ll explain how I manage tasks with Things.

At work

At Automattic, we communicate internally through IRC, private P2–themed sites, and Skype. However, I do receive email notifications regularly because it helps with my workflow.

At the beginning and end of each shift, my routine consists of processing my email (new post or comment notifications), and reviewing IRC or Skype messages I missed when I was offline. I skim messages, open batches of five to ten browser tabs, and delete the corresponding emails.

When I come across a post that requires more digging (i.e. longer than a minute), I press Control–Option–Space bar to use Quick Entry, which automatically inserts a link in the notes. That item gets saved to Things. (Inbox, by default.)

Without moving my hands from the keyboard, I can enter a title and tags for the item. When I’m done, pressing Return saves the item in Things and the Quick Entry window disappears, leaving me where I left off.

If there’s a block of text that’s perfect for the notes, highlighting it before pressing the Quick Entry with Autofill keyboard shortcut adds it to the notes after the link.

I also sort my Inbox items into Next or Scheduled after processing email. (This might be against GTD methodology, but I equate the Scheduled focus to my digital tickler file.)

If I have an idea that isn’t linked to a webpage or email, or if someone pings me and I can’t get to them right away, I can press the Quick Entry keyboard shortcut (Control–Space bar) and jot it down in seconds.

It’s exhilarating to know that I’m not missing anything as long as it’s in Things (or my calendar, of course).

Pro tip: Read through the keyboard shortcuts a few times, or print it as a reminder. I’ve been using my trackpad too much.

Not at “work”

Away from my desk, I can write new items or ideas quickly with Things for iPhone. I add items from the Things home screen, saving to the Inbox by default.

When I get home, I add additional context (tags, notes). If I’m browsing a site or Twitter, and something piques my interest, I’ll take the extra few seconds to copy the URL in my clipboard to paste in the item notes.

I used their mobile app with local sync via Wi-Fi (before cloud sync), and I think it’s superb now that cloud sync works perfectly.

Wading through tasks

I’m infatuated with tags, making sure I assign the correct one for each item. By doing this, my Next screen is super focused, allowing me to ignore stuff I can’t handle at the moment. Here are a few examples:

  • At work, my Automattic tag allows me to ignore errands and tasks I need to do at home. (Tag management side note: computer is a parent tag, while Automattic is a child tag since I’m in front of a computer when working.)
  • My home tag removes items I need to do at home and away from a computer.
  • My errand tag focuses my view to tasks when I’m out and about.


This process allows me to batch tasks. I’m not constantly changing gears between P2s, Trac, updating support pages, helping people using through email/forums, processing photos, or writing posts (like this one).

I’m also not worried about forgetting the context of an item. I add just enough notes to describe what needs to be done.


If you work on a Mac every day, you should check out the 15–day free trial. I’m pretty sure you’ll love it.

Thank you, Things, for keeping me sane. :)