Last week, I had the pleasure of attending PressNomics again. It seems as if every time I attend, I continue to grow both personally and professionally. I had an incredible time last year at PressNomics, but this year may have completely eclipsed it.

The Gravity Mansion

Current view.

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It all started with what I’m going to call the “Gravity Mansion”. We rented a massive Airbnb for the Gravity Forms crew that was absolutely astounding. With so many common areas, it allowed for community and collaboration, while maintaining a sense of privacy.

If you’ve spent any extended time with me, you know that I love socializing in small groups but also can become somewhat reclusive. Due to the layout and sheer size of the house, I was able to attain both. If I wanted to be social, I could lounge on the patio chairs or watch a game of checkers in the kitchen (Kiko is the current reigning champion). If I wanted some time to myself, I could kick back in the living room with my laptop. In a sense, it allowed me to sit in on conversations without immediate presence.

Looking back, the communal living situation set the foundation for everything else.

WordFamous

Those who have attended conferences with me know to always find me in a common area of the venue. I’m rarely at tables and sessions typically bore me. What makes a conference great for me is the conversations that I have with other attendees. PressNomics was no different.

During conference hours, I spent most of my time out in the courtyard building relationships. I’ve always found that I learn the most from small intimate conversations and PressNomics is the perfect place for that. Chats with Pippin Williamson about documentation, business with Marc Benzakien, podcasting with Carrie Dils, or even guns with Logan Kipp, every conversation has value.

At one point, I was referred to as a “WordPress celebrity” by my friend Corey Hammond of A2 Hosting. I definitely chuckled at the thought, but overall he was right. My relationship-building and social media rants have gained a certain notoriety within the WordPress community. More than anything, that sort of attention gives me the confidence to continue doing what I do best.

A Mountain of Personal Growth

As usual, we took an extra day to relax and have some fun. Like last year, we went to Camelback Mountain to do a bit of hiking. That bit of hiking turned out to be my biggest accomplishment of the trip (and possibly my year).

Starting out, I didn’t have much confidence in making it up. I’m out of shape and have gained quite a few extra pounds over the years, so I was already prepared to head back down the mountain early. That morning I also found out that we would be taking the harder of the two trails, so my confidence was dwindling further by the minute.

After about 1/5 of the trail, I was worn out and decided to turn back. I just couldn’t do it and had accepted that it just wasn’t something I was prepared to be able to handle. Well, until Kiko decided that I wasn’t allowed to quit.

I’ve been friends with Kiko longer than I have been with most others in the WordPress community, and I’ve grown to trust him quite a bit. What I seemed to forget is that Kiko is the kind of person who doesn’t accept failure, especially from others. He will push you until he breaks you. That breaking point is the path to success.

Kiko simply wouldn’t allow me to stop. Eventually, I came to the realization that he would fight me until I made it to the top. I’ve since joked that I kept going just to get Kiko to shut up about it, but the constant rejection of my excuses is exactly what got me to conquer something that I had deemed impossible.

I felt like I was going to die, I felt sick, and I just wanted it to be over. I was miserable during the climb, and everybody could see it. I pushed and pushed as hard as I could, but eventually, I made it to the top of the mountain. I once at the top, I felt a sense of accomplishment that I haven’t felt for so many years. I was genuinely happy.

Top of Camelback this morning. Great times with great friends. #pressnomics

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I can’t thank Kiko enough for that experience. Looking back, I see all of that pain and suffering as a small sacrifice to prove that I can do absolutely anything as long as I’m willing to push myself. I think in the future it may also help with my panic attacks too. Nothing seems too difficult or overwhelming to achieve anymore. My only limitations are all in my head.

Excited for the Future

PressNomics has left an imprint on my future that is everlasting. I’m excited to see what I can attain in the future, and couldn’t be more grateful for those experiences. If I can say that I took home one thing from PressNomics, it would be that the glass ceiling is only a challenge waiting to be broken and I can’t wait to take on the next challenge.

 

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Yesterday, a package containing the JustThree Fortnight Planner by my friend Sam Hotchkiss and his mother Carol, arrived at my doorstep.  Those of you who have spent time with me, know that I love lists, notebooks, and pens.  While I often use Todoist for many of my daily tasks, there’s something magical about quality paper and handwriting. A pen gracefully flowing on quality paper brings feelings on permanence and beauty.

Needless to say, when I was told that I could possibly enhance my daily back-pocket notebook that hold so dearly, with one specifically tailored to people like myself with ADHD, I expressed a bit of a “shut up and take my money”-like reaction. The thought that I could receive a prototype, while shaping the future of it based on my needs and feedback, gave me unprecedented optimism that my ADHD-induced daily chaos and forgetfulness could be relieved; if only a minuscule amount.

Simple, minimal, and attractive

Because nearly everybody reading this is likely hearing about the JustThree Fortnight Planner for the first time, I feel it appropriate to first describe the physical aspects of it.  The design is rather minimal, which is ideal for those of us who need to get rid of panic-inducing clutter, but robust enough to show that it is more than my typical Moleskine notebook in my back pocket.

Because JustThree is meant to be something carried around daily, the size is excellent.  Kept to a standard size, most people who already carry a daily notebook will find the size easily recognizable and accommodating. Considering it is meant to be of daily use for an entire 2 weeks, I’m rather amazed at how thin it is.  Holding side by side, JustThree is about 2/3 thinner than my daily Moleskine, and about a 1/2 inch shorter. It doesn’t seem like a big difference, but it’s certainly a bit noticeable, while maintaining a familiar form factor.

The cover is made of high quality cardboard, that will better form and wear based on how you carry it. The printing and design of the cover allows for simplicity with a bit of elegance. Because the JustThree is meant to be used and set aside, start and end dates are also printed on the front, allowing for easier indexing of completed notebooks.

Due to the cardboard cover, it does appear to show “finger goo” a bit more than I prefer. Being the hermit developer that I am, I already have a bit of grease from the pizza I was devouring at my desk while initially beginning with my journey. It shows some character on the lightly stained cover, but just may be a reflection on my need to be a desk-bound sloth with too much attention to detail and not enough sleep.

Inside, the paper is quality, but not necessarily what I prefer.  It’s hard to explain in words, but the JustThree’s paper doesn’t quite seem up to par for my tastes when compared to my typical Moleskine. The best way that I can describe it would be more of a thinner, more rigid paper when compared to a more plushy paper in my Moleskine. I’m terribly picky when writing, and while not a deal-breaker, it causes me a small amount of discomfort.  Ideally, if a Molekine version of the JustThree were to be released, even for a premium, I would much prefer it over the existing paper.

Taking a peek inside

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Enough of the prettiness and on to function. The first page of the JustThree contains spaces to enter your name in the event of unfortunate loss, as well as a listing of the top 3 priorities that fortnight. Because of its placement on the first page, I feel it will provide a constant reminder of what needs to be achieved in the time period.

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Next, are total of 4 pages to better list overall tasks to be performed during the fortnight.  2 of these pages are listings of things to do for yourself this fortnight, and the other 2 are things to do for others. Personally, I’ve never considered noting things to do for others within my various to-do lists and calendars, but I love the idea. Because plans over the next couple weeks are laid out ahead of time, better critical thinking can be done to make not only increase productivity over the time period, but also assist in becoming an overall better person.

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Following this pattern, weeks are also broken down to their own dedicated pages, with additional space for notes. This is where the name JustThree really begins to reveal itself. Often times, I place far too many things on my to-do lists with unrealistic expectations of myself. With JustThree, there is only space for 3 tasks to do for myself, and another 3 for tasks to do for others. This lack of space is entirely intentional, and provides a clear understanding of the week to come without becoming overwhelmed by tasks.

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Daily items are laid out similarly to the weekly outlook in having 3 daily items that to be completed for yourself and others. Why 6 daily tasks when there are only a total of 6 weekly tasks? Because unexpected goals pop up, and prioritization is done for you before you even realize it. Because of the intentionally limited space, I’m forced to organize my tasks based on priority. If something pops to up, I can place it within my daily tasks without impacting my weekly or bi-weekly goals.

Daily productivity is further enhanced with the inclusion of logging. These logs include 1-10 markers for productivity level, an attractive and unobtrusive way of delegating time, as well as spaces for mood, sleep, substance intake, and exercise. If kept up with, it seems that it could provide a quality understanding of patterns in my daily life, as well as a bit of constructive guilt. It feels good to mark things down and check off boxes,. If I leave the exercise box empty, I’m going to feel lazy and work to get something in that box each day.

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At the very back of JustThree, there is a traditional to-do list marked for additional items that don’t quite fit into a prioritized goal, but are intended to be remembered. I’m the sort of guy that has to use a calendar and to-do list for things as simple as cleaning off my desk or sending a quick email to someone, so this is a must-have. The inclusion of a more abstract list of tasks adds a bit of relaxation to the hyper-productivity of JustThree.

Overall first impressions

Overall, I’m quite excited to see JustThree grow into a tool that I rely on. I’ve an absurd amount of guided productivity notebooks, but always seem to go back to my generic, lined Moleskine. While that usually works great, it’s harder to track goals and progress. JustThree takes those ideas and lays them out in a way that causes critical thinking and prioritization to not only increase productivity, but also quality of life.

Of course, I’m not entirely sure how well I will be able to stick to it at the moment, or how useful it will become over time, but I have high hopes for it. Expect to see another post in a week on my progress.

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This list is primarily targeted at developers and other web-oriented folks, but some others might get some use out of it.  Here’s the various software I have come to rely on.

Desktop Software

Pressmatic

Rather new on the scene, Pressmatic has stolen my heart.  It quickly took the place of Vagrant mainly due to it’s simplicity coupled with extensibility.  It rocks my world.  If you use a local development tool (you should), Pressmatic is the way to go.

I reviewed it not long ago here.

Slack (and the Mac app)

Most people reading this probably already use it, but it’s always worth a mention.  I’m on so many teams it’s ridiculous and the single app helps me to keep track of things.  Integrations with things such as GitHub allow me to track commits perfectly.

F.lux

Your eyes will thank you.  Flux is why my monitor looks orange to most people.  It’s main purpose is to adjust your screen to remove a lot of the blue light, and does so throughout the day.  As it gets later, Flux will remove more and more blue from the spectrum, making things almost orange.  It takes some getting used to, but after a few hours, it becomes normal.  In fact, if I disable it, my eyes start burning.

LastPass

It’s cheap (or free if you don’t need the premium features) and you shouldn’t have a single reason not to use a password keychain.  Use it, automatically generate your passwords, and don’t worry about losing your passwords anymore.  With tools like LastPass (or 1Password), you have zero reasons for using the same password multiple places.

PHPStorm

PHPStorm is a PHP IDE with a ridiculous amount of power.  Every bit of code I write is done with PHPStorm.  Autocompletion, WordPress support, and countless other tools such as automated version control and deployment are insanely helpful.

Display Menu

On a Mac, my resolution options are somewhat limited without it.  MacOS does a great job scaling, but often times 4k makes elements too small, and 1080p is way too big.  I’m a big fan of screen real estate and try to maximize it the best I can.  Display Menu allows me to change resolutions on the fly; even those not selectable within the display settings.

Cloak VPN

I travel quite often and nothing scares me more than public wifi.  It’s absolutely terrifying.  Would anyone target me?  Probably not.  Could I get caught in a broad man-in-the-middle attack?  Certainly.  Cloak puts me at ease and because I don’t need it at home or in the office, it allows me to buy day/week/month passes so that I’m not on something recurring.

Paste

I copy and paste a lot.  Sometimes, I copy something, and miss the “V” key, causing me to copy something else.  Paste allows me to easily store my clipboard into history so that I can just grab the thing I copied earlier.

Backblaze

Backblaze is a backup solution that keeps a changelog and allows for easily reverting my changes.  One click restores a file that I accidentally overwrote. Think of it as version control for cloud backups.

Todoist

My memory sucks and I like lists.  Everything from cleaning my desk to things I need to document in Gravity Forms gets noted in Todoist.  Using the desktop app allows me to hotkey it and access it within seconds.

Other mentions

  • Spotify: I need my tunes
  • Knock: Unlocks my Mac or enters in my admin password by just knocking on my phone.
  • Chrome: Mainly because Firefox is a resource hog.
  • VLC: Plays any media files I throw at it.
  • Clementine: Open source audio player that I mainly use to play FLAC files until iTunes supports it.