Work Setup

I love reading about tools people use to be effective. Frank Chimero, a graphic designer out of Portland, recently detailed his working setup which inspired me to tell you about mine.


Gmail: Like others in the web industry, I’m a proponent of the GTD system. It’s a brilliant strategy in dealing with overwhelming emails, client requests and constant fractured attention. It allows me to focus on the task at hand while keeping me sane. The Gmail web interface seems like it was designed for GTD, and I use it often. Archiving is your friend, people.

Another email app I have been testing is Sparrow: a light-weight Gmail client that makes it easy to power through email processing sessions. It needs a few more features to replace the Gmail interface (like instant send undo), but it’s a promising alternative and I enjoy using it.

Things: I rely on Thing heavily for my task management. It’s perfect for GTD and critical to my personal process. It’s also beautifully designed. I can’t wait for cloud syncing, which will make the iPhone and iPad versions that much more useful.

Coda: I’ve been using Coda since it was released. I love the interface, how light-weight it is, and the snippet system. I know many prefer Text Expander because of the features, but I’ll take Coda. I really like the company, Panic, as well.

Transmit: Another great product from Panic. You always need a good FTP client.

iWork: After years of suffering through MS office, I now exclusively use iWork. It’s cleaner, lighter, and more polished in every regard. Saves in all Office formats.

Simple Note: I love apps that use the cloud. I can take notes and instantly have them on all my devices.

Dropbox: Another cloud app, but with files. A must if you use multiple computers.

Photoshop: I’ve tried to use alternative image editors, but I keep coming back to Photoshop. It does everything for me from editing photos to designing web graphics. Until someone creates a better, independent layout program, Photoshop will be my main creative tool.


MacBook Air: Shedding 4 lbs from my 15″ MacBook pro has been liberating. The SSD memory is fast, runs what I need well, and is ultra portable. I just need to find a smaller bag now.

iPad: Singletasking: focusing intently and completely on one task at a time. And since you can only use one application at a time, the iPad excels at singletasking. It’s refreshing and meditative. I do some of my best writing while focused on my iPad.

iPad keyboard: If you have never used a keyboard with and iPad, I encourage you to try it out. It give a new dimension to using the iPad and it necessary for real typing.

Recently Watched TED Talks

Why work doesn’t happen at work

Jason Fried talks about how the office is an ironically distracting place to get work done. I unfortunately agree. Though it is difficult to control how people request my time, this talk made me realize I need to be better about how I request other people’s time.

Why I’m a weekday vegetarian

Being a weekday vegetarian is a mindset I try to follow. Processed meat is terrible for the environment, your health, and produces poor animal living conditions. Being a life-long meat eater, going full vegetarian is something I could never fully commit to. This compromise lets me enjoy an occasional steak, and still feel good about my eating choices.

Time & Attention

I’m glad Merlin Mann is back producing content for This improvised talk he did a Rutgers covers work culture, managing expectations, and the 3 deadly qualities of email: all of which I deal with heavily in my job.

It’s long (an hour-twenty), but fun and I got a lot out of it.

I’m also looking forward to Merlin’s new book when it comes out: Inbox Zero.