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Announcement: Build Your OmniFocus Workflow →

Today I’m very excited to announce a book: Build Your OmniFocus Workflow. I’ve been hard at work on this for the last 3 months – but not alone. My fabulous co-author, Ryan Dotson, has been hard at work right along side me (admittedly with a timezone difference) – and we have 150 pages ready for you!

This book is designed, as the name implies, to help you build a workflow which works for you with OmniFocus – whether you’ve never used the app before, or if you’ve used it for years and just want to improve your setup. It is comprised of five sections:

  • First Steps: Getting OmnIFocus set up with a basic setup.
  • Fundamentals: Walking you through the default perspectives, and expanding on your current setup – plus diving into settings.
  • Advancing: Diving much deeper, including custom perspectives, creative uses for tags, review and onwards.
  • Final Horizons: Honing your workflow to get the most out of your system.
  • Our Workflows: Ryan and I get personal and tell you about how our setups work.

Throughout the book there are tips, notes, personal comments, and most important of all: activities for you to complete in order for you to create a set up which allows you to be productive and which will hopefully also allow you to feel like you’re fully in control of your life.

Rose has been doing amazing work as long as I have followed her and this is no exception. I bought this instantly and I am about halfway through it right now. While some of the things aren’t new for me (I have been using OmniFocus off and on the past 5 years), it is still a great way to rethink how I use OmniFocus. I am taking this book as an excuse to start a whole new database and use the teachings of this book as my guide. So far, it’s working great for me.

Go buy yourself, or someone you know, a copy of this now before the price goes from $25 to $30.

Blogging on a Mac Instead of My iPad

  • December 10, 2018
  • Blog

Lately I have been using my Mac more and more, and the reason for this is because I find it to have a much easier workflow for my writing than an iPad. This isn’t to say that I can’t do my work on an iPad, I can and I have, but because of apps like MarsEdit and Marked 2 I find that the iPad isn’t my preferred device for writing anymore.

One of my reasons for this are the apps, and how they have improved my workflow when it comes to my writing.

MarsEdit

MarsEdit is probably the go-to application I will tell anyone who is using a WordPress website to use. It has a solid reputation behind it, and it is all apparent after using it for you site. It is built a lot like a standard Mail application with each post being its own item and the data you want to see right there in rows. It allows you to see all your posts easily and select one that might need to be edited or shared.

Once in the editing mode it supports Markdown, HTML, and plain text editing. It is also a really nice Rich Tech editor similar to the WYSIWYG editor WordPress used to have before moving over to Gutenberg. If you want Markdown syntax highlighting, this sadly isn’t the app for you. I spoke with the developer some time ago and I got the feeling that Markdown syntax highlighting isn’t something in the works. I could be wrong about this, and I hope I am, but as of right now there is nothing of the sort in MarsEdit.

Once you are done editing your post, things like the post title, slug, categories, and tags are all available to edit and assign prior to going live. The tags you even have saved on your WordPress website show up when entering them in MarsEdit. You can even use custom fields for things like the Daring Fireball-style Linked List Plugin where you can enter in a custom field with a link and make that URL the hyperlink to your title. You can see a good example of that on my post about the new podcast by Greg Morris called And You Are?.

Finally, this application supports image uploading, meaning that you can insert your image in a post on MarsEdit and when you do hit publish that image is then uploaded to WordPress and attached to the post automatically. This isn’t necessarily anything new as apps like Ulysses also do this. That said, it is a nice touch to not make users have to upload their images and then add them through some kind of library or manually copy the image URLs over.

MarsEdit isn’t just a very nice editing tool for blog posts, it also provides a wonderful array of admin tools as well. For instance, if you want to get the link to a post on your website, you can just select the post and press control+command+C and the link for the post is copied.

Not only that, but with a simple plugin on your browser you can make link-posting on your website a cinch. Simply select the text from an article you want to share, click on the MarsEdit browser plugin and, with the power of the Quick Posts setting in MarsEdit, the link from the site where you selected that text is then formatted however you want for link-posting.

All in all, I think that MarsEdit is a great buy for the price, and if you give it time and really start using it regularly it can be the one and only application you need to post to your blog.

You can buy MarsEdit 4 today for your Mac for $49.95. Which seems high, but if you want a powerful one-stop shop for posting your blog, MarsEdit is by far and away worth the money.

Marked 2

Marked 2 was an app I didn’t think I needed when it came to writing and blogging on the Mac, but once I finally used it I instantly added it to my workflow.

Marked 2 is a simple app on paper, it allows you to open a file with Markdown and see real-time updates to it. Outside of what this does “on paper,” the flourish and polish of this app makes proofreading and quality control smooth and simple.

Along with adding bold text and italics whenever the syntax shows up, it does things like shows the full URL of a link when you hover over it.

It can show the length of selected text with things like world count and character count and sentences in the selection. It allows you to review and check the version your readers will see, making it the last application necessary before hitting publish.

It also has an incredible editing system to show you where you can improve on your writing and grammar. It reminds me a lot of the Hemingway web-app, showing where you write in passive voice, or when you are using words that have preferred alternatives. So instead of saying something is “very large” it could show you something like “enormous” or “gigantic” making for it to be a much more pleasing thing to read.

Finally, Marked 2 also allows you to export the finished product as a slew of different file formats. You can save the finished post as things like a Markdown file, a PDF (paginated and continuous), or even HTML if you want to share it to something like MarsEdit and not have to worry about your WordPress website supporting Markdown formatting.

Marked 2 was the editor I needed when writing as I never feel that my work is worthwhile until I meticulously comb over everything and rewrite draft after draft. Now, with the editing tools and system I can use that as a finish line to when I can stop trying to make it perfect and start making it public.

You can get Marked 2 for $9.99 right now, or become a SetApp subscriber and get access to Marked 2, Ulysses, and a slew of other great apps.

Bringing it All Together

Now that you know both the apps I cherish on the Mac when it comes to my writing, let’s explain the process in my writing and blogging on the Mac.

I first start writing my draft in a text editor. Which is usually Ulysses on the Mac, which can be an alternative to MarsEdit if you just want a text editor that can post to WordPress. One thing I prefer with Ulysses is that it does have Markdown syntax highlighting, allowing me to see more clearly the differences I make when I want to bold or italicize something. However, I am not a fan of how Ulysses handles your posts after you send it off to be posted. It just stays right at the folder you had it in. From there I have to figure out what to do with it. Eventually what I decided to do was make a folder called “Posted” and throw everything I am finished with in there for safe keeping. Once that got cumbersome I decided to make Ulysses my app for writing, and Marked 2 and MarsEdit for editing and publishing respectively.

Anyway, once I am done with my first draft I export the Markdown file of the post to Marked 2 and have both apps side-by-side and make changes to the according to the Keyword Highlight Drawer in Marked 2.

Once done there I send the post to MarsEdit. Once there I add the metadata I need and make sure everything in the post is how I want it. Once I am happy with it I then send it to Rocket Panda for posting.

Conclusion

The workflow is a little crazy seeing that I am using 3 apps to get one post out on to Rocket Panda, but I feel that if I were to exclude any of these in my blogging process it would make for a lesser product.

One thing that I think is something that I prefer over the Mac is just how easy it can be to edit posts and make changes with ease. When it comes to iOS and the WordPress app, which is the only decent app to handle WordPress content on iOS, it is still clunky and ill-fitting to the styling of iOS.

When I am using MarsEdit and Marked 2 on my Mac it feels like it is the perfect way to make sure that my writing is the best that it can be.

David’s Hyper Scheduling Workflow →

David Sparks has been experimenting with Hyper-Scheduling for quite some time now, it started on his podcast Free Agents and trickled into the new podcast he has with Rose Orchard called Automators. It’s no surprise he has now made it into a Workflow.

If you aren’t sure what Hyper-Scheduling is, it’s blocking out time in a calendar as a means to plan out your day. Instead of making a task list and working around that, you instead block out time for the important projects on that list and stick to a plan. The difference is that the when is in tandem with the what.

How it Works

David created a very nice video tutorial on how the Workflow is made, explaining all the different things you can put in each event, and so on.

You can download the Workflow here if you don’t want to make one yourself.

I am going to start giving Hyper-Scheduling a shot as I think it may help me keep on task more often and make things a little more structured. This Workflow is a good jumping off point for me, and I think it may be for you too if you have been wanting to try out Hyper-Scheduling yourself.

If you have any tweaks or changes you would make in this Workflow let me know on Twitter.

Link Post Workflow

With Tablet Habit now going daily, I have found myself wanting to post more link posts. Doing this on my Mac is easy with MarsEdit 4, but it isn’t as easy with iOS, until I created a workflow that is a hybrid between Evan Kline of 40Tech and Christopher Lawley at The Untitled Site.

What it Does

For those who aren’t familiar with link posts, it is a very handy way to post articles from elsewhere and add your own input after quoting a selection of the article. You can find an example of one I used recently to get an idea of what I am talking about.

How it Works

So with Workflow, you can use the Share Sheet as a means to run a Workflow and take things like a URL from Safari, your clipboard, and selected text into the workflow to use within it. All three of these examples are used with the Workflow I have created after taking a look at what both Evan and Christopher have done.

LinkPostWorkflow1

First, you need to find the post you want to link in Safari on your iPhone or iPad. From there you select the text you want to use in the post as a quote. With that text selected, open up the share sheet and run the Link Post Workflow.

Workflow Link Post Prompt

As the Workflow Opens up there will be two questions that it will ask you. The first question being what the publication is. In this case it is 40tech. After that it will ask for the author’s name, which is Evan Kline.

Once both the publication and the author is determined the workflow will then take the URL of the website you shared and the selected text you highlighted to make it into a Markdown ready post.

LinkPostWorkflow result

Once all of the text formatting is done a new Ulysses sheet will be made with the entire link post formatted and linked properly. All that is left now is to write your own response to the link post!

You can download the workflow here and make any changes you need to it. Happy posting!

See More Actions Without Tapping

Matthew Cassinelli:

If you’re like me, you may have been on iOS for years before you learned that when you select text and want to navigate the copy & paste menu, you don’t have to tap the arrows to navigate – you can just swipe to the next page.

Normally I’d select text, try to accurately hit the tiny little next arrow, and usually missed and paste something instead of closing the menu. But when I was at WWDC, I saw someone go to share a bit of text and he… just…swiped on the list of actions

 

After you select some text, have you ever tried to tap on that tiny little arrow on your phone to go to more options? I bet you’ve missed pressing it on more than one occasion. But thanks to Matthew Cassinelli your days of fumbling through the tiny text options are over

I have been on iOS for years and have never known about this little trick. It is almost as good as the precise cursor selection that iOS implemented not too long ago. It is like having the weights on your feet taken off before a run. Give it a try if you get a chance. One thing Matt recommends is to use it in Drafts and Workflow.

For anyone who uses the Workflow action extension often and likes to run workflows on text using the text selection share menu, this is extremely handy. And for Drafts users, this also provides quicker access to the Dictate and Arrange actions available in that second page of the copy & paste menu.

So if you haven’t already, give this neat trick a shot and let me know what you think on Twitter.

Post to WordPress on iOS – Workflow Wednesday

  • April 11, 2018
  • Blog

If you blog on iOS, sometimes you want to send a quick post to your WordPress site as soon as possible. The WordPress app on iOS has come a long way in recent years, but when you are just sending a quick post dealing with the app can be cumbersome. This is where my workflow comes in.

What it is

This workflow is quite simple on the surface. However, thanks to Workflow’s integration with WordPress, you can handle even the most advanced options on every post you share. Things like the slug, post format, tags, excerpt, etc. are all options with this workflow.

What it Does

The Workflow starts by asking you the title of the post, which is then saved for later use as a variable.

After that it asks if you have a featured image for the post. This is an option of yes or no. If you say yes, it then opens up the Photos app to select the photo you wish to be the featured image.

  <img src="hhttps://tablethabit.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/5C19A8B8-AF9B-494A-89E5-1C177873E1EA.png" alt=""/>

Finally comes the fun part. Posting a blog post on WordPress can be fairly easy, but this workflow also allows you to handle the minutia if you so choose.

Once you connect your WordPress site to Workflow you’re ready to start blogging your heart out!

Tweaks You Can Make

I have set this workflow to only ask for the categories and tags, but you can edit this workflow to ask you for more information if you want to have more control in each post you make. Simple go to the section you want to integrate with your workflow and tap the “Ask When Run” option. This will now ask you for an input every time you run the workflow.

I have also made this workflow with Rich Text in mind, if you prefer to write in Markdown you can add an action to convert rich text to Markdown if you would like. Everything I write is in Markdown, but I wanted to leave the option to you.

Also, if you prefer to select images in your iCloud or Dropbox folder instead of Photos, simple replace that action with a “Get File” action within Workflow.

You can download the workflow here. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me.

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