Finding Focus on a Mac

I use several tools to help me work on my Macs. Here is a little bit about those applications.

  • Scrivener: This is the greatest writing application I’ve found on any platform. Scrivener is exquisite. Plenty of others have already done an outstanding job reviewing this application and expounding on its extensive set of features, and I am not going to replicate their work here.

    When you have time, go read about Scrivener and try out the demo.

  • TextMate: The support for MultiMarkdown in this text editor is what continues to draw me to TextMate. I get my writing down in a Scrivener project to take advantage of its gorgeous full screen mode and let that application manage my files within a single writing project.

    When I need to add some markup code, I open the file in TextMate (or use the “Edit in TextMate” shortcut). That, coupled with TextExpander, helps me make short work of adding the code WordPress needs to make sense of the formatting I apply.

    Yes, I know the hosted WordPress.com I use does not accept MMD. TextMate allows me to convert the easy to use MMD code to the more confusing and time-consuming HTML code with a single shortcut. I copy and paste that into MarsEdit for tweaking the layout, adding photos from my Flickr page, and posting to my blog.

  • Spirited Away: A ghost sits in my menubar to prevent applications from lurking in the background waiting to steal my attention. I have used Spirited Away in the past, but when I bought my first Intel MacBook, it was among the legacy PowerPC applications I purged from my system.

    Within the past couple of weeks, it bubbled up on my radar in native code and I immediately reinstalled it on my computer.

    The concept is simple. If an application loses my focus for 60 seconds (or whatever length of time works best for you), Spirited Away spirits it away by hiding it. This concentrates my focus on my work and helps me enjoy a great desktop background.

  • iTunes: Ambient music and sounds help me focus. When I pair iTunes with headphones, I go to a very personal and focused place. Nothing helps me think better than this.

  • Sheer force of will: I don’t use applications that bar access to certain applications, websites, or my Internet connection. I believe in my free will, not determinism, and I free myself not to use those applications and discipline myself to focus without their aid.

As I said in my last blog, I hope this article helps someone out there find a little more focus to finish a project.

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