Magic Up A Fresh Start To Your Day

I’ve always been interested in technology and its intersection with what we do in our daily lives. I love it when I figure out how to use the interfaces technology provides to make my day go a little easier. There’s so much you can do these days, one of the problems is avoiding getting lost in what it can do and focus instead on how you can use it. The trick is to spend as much time as necessary on the important stuff — but no more time than is necessary.

This morning I woke up and walked into our living room and said ‘Hey Siri play Dire Straits.’ Our Beoplayer A6 is now belting out ‘Sultans of Swing.’ I can use the same trick when in the car, and now I never need to take my hands off the wheel or my eyes off the road — a big help when driving in Doha!

I’ve designed a workflow that I use each day to start my day when I get to the office. It sets me up and gets each day off to a great start. This is what I do and how I make it work.

The Apps

OK so I love Apple products and I’m fully in on that eco-system. That means I’ve got to find a way around the ugly Microsoft Exchange work system. Here’s my daily start the day setup.

The apps I use are:

  • OmniFocus — the best personal productivity (think ‘to-do’ on steroids).
  • DevonThink Pro Office — the best document storage system (think Finder + Dropbox + Microsoft Office sans the dreadful interface).
  • Ulysses — the best long-form writing software.
  • Drafts — the only way to write short form on the iPad and iPhone (think Notes with special magical powers).
  • Workflow — how to unlock automation on your iOS device (think Automator for iOS).
  • Launch Center Pro — the only way to access apps and it plays nicely with Workflow to supercharge your iOS device.
  • Day One — the best daily journaling app.
  • Exist — the dashboard of my life.
  • TextExpander — save time by triggering shortcuts to words, phrases or whole documents you often use.

The Way It Works

Each day I arrive at the office and open OmniFocus. I have a specific perspective that I use to called Dashboard. The video opposite shows what it looks like.

The Dashboard contains any project or task, grouped by context (where I’ll be or what I’ll need to get it done), which is due or flagged, and available to do now.

This workflow is set up to take me through each of the steps in my ‘start the day workflow‘. By setting this up to appear each day I can be sure never to miss something important and it will habituate my behaviour too.

Each day I have a set of tasks to complete. The actions are set up in a Project I’ve called Rituals. The tasks are:

Check Forecast (diary and tasks for the day) and Flag any tasks for the Dashboard (this will mean they appear in the Dashboard which is where I’ll spend the day).

Clear OmniFocus Inbox — it’s so easy to capture any tasks that I need to keep my inbox under control. Working through this each morning means my day gets off to a flyer and I won’t forget to do something I put in my inbox.

Write Day One Entry — I love to record some simple things each day in a gratitude diary. Research shows that doing this regularly will make you a happier more positive person. I’m up for that.


Here’s what I do. Open Drafts, trigger TextExpander (‘.mr’) which triggers my ‘3 things to be grateful for’ questions. I then fill this in and hit the action button which sends my entry over to Day One. The video opposite shows this working.

I then have some more admin tasks before getting to recording my mood in Exist. Exist pulls data about me and then discovers correlations which help me to understand what I’m doing and what is working for me over time.

Finally, I have a meditation reminder which I do each day. The best app I’ve found is Calm.

I have DevonThink set up with separate databases for Work, Home Admin, Creative, Blogging and Research. These are all areas of my life which accumulate emails, documents, notes, pictures and other items. I index them and save them in DevonThink. That way I can immediately find anything I need in the future and it syncs across all my devices.

Last Word

I have spent quite a bit of time tweaking this setup, but it now works really quickly and I can spin through my ‘start the day’ in about fifteen minutes. I find it helps me feel I’m starting each day totally on top of things and I really like the way the shortcuts and automation speed things up.

I know it’s geeky, but this kind of thing makes me smile.

What kind of things do you do to start your day?
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