Two weeks ago, I made a trip to Washington, D.C. for #BestofSMS. Traveling normally stresses me out, but I realized that leveraging a few great apps can make things much easier. Here are the 5 apps that I won’t travel without: Continue Reading…
Last week, I gave a group of artists a full introduction to Twitter along with some recommended best practices. At one point in the conversation, I pulled up my Twitter profile and explained why everything is the way it is. In that moment, I realized something: I take my profile so seriously because I judge the profiles of others.
So I’ve decided to make a list of the four things I see (or judge) when I look at your Twitter profile. Continue Reading…
That is something I do on a daily basis because I recognize the power of the hardware and software I use, and I want to stretch them to take full advantage of their capabilities.
Then something hit me: Am I stretching myself to the extent of what I can achieve?
The answer to that is a little difficult. Yes, I’m in a place right now where I’m creating writing content five nights a week. I’m not really challenging myself to learn technical stuff (like jQuery and JavaScirpt). And I’m not running as much as I want to right now. But I guess I’m okay with the last two not being stretched as long as I’m writing.
A little later, something else hit me: Am I stretching my friends and coworkers to the extent of what they can achieve?
I don’t mean that to seem like I want to use my friends to benefit myself. I mean that, as a good friend and coworker, I need to be helping others realize the potential in themselves, or I need to be helping them with stuff they’re working on.
This was a huge gut-check moment, because the answer is an embarrassing “no.” I can take an easy cop-out and say I’m just not wired that way. But I’m man enough to take this one on the chin. I’m not doing much to help or encourage my friends—and there’s no amount of writing I can do for myself that will make me feel better about this answer.
So I’m going to try to ease into turning my “no” into a “yes” by asking close friends and coworkers How can I help you? and taking things forward from their.
At work, I only keep emails in my inbox when I have to take action on them. Right now, I have 18 emails in that inbox. The sad news is that I haven’t had that inbox empty for about two years, but I’m making a goal to have it at zero by July 1.
My personal inbox is a completely different story. I leave emails unread if I need to take action on them or if I don’t want to deal with them or if I don’t have time for them. I just didn’t have the time to get it under control.
The Mailbox app has been getting a lot of hype since it had over 800,000 people on its wait list a month ago. It took me three weeks before I finally made it to the front of that line, and boy was I immediately disappointed.
Why was I disappointed? Because I had 483 emails in my Gmail inbox that Mailbox wanted me to clear.
(Side note: Mailbox only connects to Gmail right now.)
Granted, Mailbox was created to make emails easy to clear from an inbox, but I didn’t want my thumb to go numb as I tried to clear them all at once.
Fortunately for me, I was inpatient.
While I was somewhere between 400,000 and 200,000 in line for Mailbox, I went looking for another solution that might be similar to Mailbox but without a long wait. After some hunting, I found Mailstrom, which is currently in beta and has a wait list. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to be in two wait lists, so I signed up and found myself much closer than Mailbox being 11,000 in line.
Though this line moved slower than the Mailbox line, I was at the front soon enough and I was floored by what followed.
Mailstrom sorted my emails by sender, subject line, time, social network, and more, which made sorting them into folders much easier. Each time I selected a folder to sort the emails into, Mailstrom gave me the option of setting a rule so that all emails from that sender/with that subject line/etc. would go into that folder. SO HELPFUL!
Before I knew it, I had just two emails in my inbox.
(Before I skip ahead, let me say something about my Gmail emails. Most of them are personal or social network related. Though a lot of those emails get replied to right away, some just sit there. So I followed this piece of advice from an interview with Guy Kawasaki: “You can delete anything 21 days and older, and it won’t matter.” I went through the last three weeks, made sure nothing important was in there, and I moved all of those emails into folders—because I’m too afraid to actually delete emails.)
I opened up my Mailbox app and it looked beautiful. With two quick swipes, my inbox was empty. And I rejoiced.
— Ian Philpot (@iphilpot) March 18, 2013
Since that day…yesterday…I have kept my personal inbox at zero, and I plan to keep it there.
It isn’t long in any conversation before I reference an article I’ve heard on NPR or read online. But recently those news sources have become slightly inconvenient.
Take NPR for example. I generally only listen to it while I’m driving, so the amount of time I’m listening is limited to my commute. Also, I have no control over the articles that I hear, and sometimes I’m driving when a show totally irrelevant to my life (i.e. The Morning Shift—a hyper-local show about living in Chicago city limits) is on.
Then there are online articles. Thousands of them posted daily, often on the same topic, and I have to pick and choose my news sources and filter through different categories and get infuriated with spending ten minutes to find two interesting articles.
Then I heard about Umano—an app that provides audio files of articles, recorded by professional readers, for users to listen to.
And the way I get news has been transformed.
The app has features for users to download stories for offline listening, share stories on social media, and everything else you would want from a podcast app.
But it gets better.
For an app that’s breaking out right now, Umano seems to have its audience pegged. It seems to me like of the articles are about tech, science, business, and economics—all topics I’m deeply interested in. But beyond that, the sources of those articles are mostly from websites I trust: LifeHacker, Forbes, PandoDaily, Fast Company, and the like.
And, in my opinion, the readers are rock stars. These guys (yes, Umano only has male readers right now) do a great job of reading articles with voices not that far from what I’d expect on NPR (though I haven’t feel like the Umano readers are ever trying to slow down their tempo to suck up airtime on a slow news day).
Overall, this is one of the apps I’ve come to use on a daily basis, and it’s changed how I take in information. Definitely give it a try.