Email sucks

Not a fan of wasting time.

Email sucks because it’s archaic, hackable, and a waste of time.

Email creates a safe space to avoid talking to people directly.

Sometimes it’s easier to pick up the phone.

Take charge of your time


Reduced screen time, halfway through. How are we doing?

Reduced screen time, halfway through. How are we doing?

For the month of February, I’ve taken on an experiment to try to reduce my screen time to improve my productivity. Halfway through the month, it’s shown results so here is a small update.


Reduce your screen time.
Less time on the phone will get your creativity going.

The deeper I go with the experiment (with varying results) the more I realize it’s about changing the way I spend my time. It’s the 20 minutes of quiet at my desk or the 30 minutes in the transpo van that I shut the laptop lid and pull out my notepad. Shutting out distractions to work on my writing has become easier, I write longer, and I feel more focused.


Hacking notifications helped save me time.

It’s like the first rule of Fight Club… don’t pick up the phone more than you need. I pick up my phone less out of instinct but for actual notifications that matter, most noticeably with my emails.

If you want to give it a shot, turn off notifications that don’t matter. Put the phone on silent and get into the habit of keeping the phone out of view. Out of sight out of mind. Utilize Inbox for Gmail to take advantage of email that sorts intelligently, and turn off the personal email. I only check personal email once a day, and that’s it.

I’ll see you next week, where I’ll have more stats to share and new ways to reduce screen time.

Check out the first post if you’re just joining.

Ten minutes to get on track

Ten minutes to work on something you care about can put you on track for something great. Start small and start today, as it’s better than not starting at all.

Need a boost of confidence?

Week 1 Weigh — improving focus

How taking charge of my phone time improved my focus. Successes and failures.

My experiment for the month of February is to do everything I can to rein in my phone use to focus on my craft. A week in, I have mixed yet promising results. While my time has generally reduced about 30 minutes below my average running up to the experiment, I still have a long way to go. Between Saturday (I worked) and Sunday, I admittedly used the phone a little more than what I was trying for, however, I was able to dedicate time to focus on my craft.

Raw Data

Let’s take a look at our trust Moment app for day five since it encapsulates the first few days. I was down below 3 hours of use except for Monday the 5th when I later ended up with 3h 10m screen time. Not a huge decrease, but about 30 minutes saved per day.

Getting there!
Overall getting better, but still a lot of room for improvement.

This week has been more volatile as Tuesday was the best day thus far, but yesterday was crappy. 20 minutes on Amazon, 20 in my pictures, and close to an hour of straight texting. I think Amazon was my downfall.

Improving focus starts by ending mindless scrolling  Focus on your work by being mindful of your usage.


Successes and failures

The goal is to reconnect with the world, to cut screen usage, and focus on my craft. Reining in screen time will improve focus, and help you reconnect with the world. While the first week has been a mixed bag, I’m confident that I’ll be able to finish out the week strong, even if it’s another 10 or 15 minutes. I’ve quickly learned that this experiment is easier said than done because it has become natural instinct to jump on the phone. If I want to improve my time I’ll need to evaluate what works and what doesn’t, and what could be done better.

If you’re into living in the present and taking control of your focus, then follow along and join my quest.

Original post: Take charge of your time (and your phone)

Instagram: @mattyfleisch

I don’t respond well to people saying they’re “living the dream” unless they mean it

I don’t respond well to people saying they’re “living the dream” unless they mean it

I can’t help but cringe when I hear people say they’re “living the dream” when it’s so obviously sarcastic. You gotta hope it’s true to some degree, that we’re not just running the rat race but actually enjoying our craft, but it rings hollow. Have we accepted a reality that is not truly a good fit? I take issue with this for two reasons. 1: We get one shot at life. 2: We’re only young once. For me, my dream is to be paid to sit in a room with peers making jokes seeing what sticks and what doesn’t, and ultimately making people laugh. I feel like that is the best use of my time that honestly lets me answer with “I’m well, you know, living the dream.”

Take charge of your time (and your phone)

Take charge of your time (and your phone)

Commuting home on the subway, I looked up from my reading and noticed a lot of people, like me, were occupied with their phones. It got me thinking about how much time society gives to their screens, and how oblivious it can make us. Think about it, people are so consumed with their devices they’re putting their lives and other people’s lives at risk. I feel compelled to understand my use and rein it in. My quest is to live in the present and to take charge of my time and focus.

As a Producer’s Assistant working in the TV industry I spend a lot of my time on my phone and computer, so getting my screen time down will be a challenge. To get started, I installed a screen tracking app called Moment that will help break down my screen time, app use, and phone pickups. Now on day 8, I think I have a good understanding of my baseline.


There is a premium option but I say save your $3.99 because you probably don't need it.
My worst day was five hours and five minutes. ::face palm::

Breaking down screen time

  • I tend to hit 3 hours of use a day so let’s break it down a little further…

3 hours a day * 7 = 21 hours a week — Close to a day with the screen on.

21 hours/week * 4 = 84 hours a month — 3.5 days a month.

84 hours/month * 12 months = 1008 hours/year or 42 days a year with the screen on.

  • Now, let’s take a look at my worst day at 5 hours.

5 hours a day * 7 = 35 hours a week — Close to a day and a half.

35 hours/week * 4 = 140 hours a month — 5.8 days a month.

140 hours/month * 12 months =  1,680 hours/year or 70 days a year with the screen on.

  • Let’s break it down with a more palatable 1.5 hours a day. This is what I’d like to get to.

1.5 hours a day * 7 = 10.5 hours a week — almost half a day., which still sounds like a lot.

10.5 hours/week * 4 = 42 hours a month — 2 3/4 days

42 hours/month * 12 months = 504 hours/year or 21 days a year.

I don’t know if this resonates with you, but I am not okay with spending 42 days a year looking at a screen. Granted, just because the screen is on doesn’t mean I was necessarily looking at it, but I don’t think it’s that far off.

With the freed up eye-time, I hope to read, write, work on business ideas, and get back in touch with the world I live in. Afterall, are phones really more interesting than real life?

My experiment for the month of February is to do everything I can to reduce my usage especially if it’s not productive to my day job or my craft. I invite you to check out my tips below for streamlining usage, and if you have a tip for what you do, please send! I might feature it in a follow-up post.

Hack your notifications, emails, and texts to take charge of your time

Dealing with a steady stream of incoming information with calls, texts, and endless amounts of email can be overwhelming. It also eats up a ton of time and is extremely distracting. Here are a few tips.

  • I’m turning off all notifications for personal email for the month of February. It’s been off for about a week and I already see a big difference in my pickups. When I’m ready to read, I check it.
  • Keep a separate email for work.
    • I find it freeing because I know what I’m getting into, and I choose to check it when ready.
    • Hot Hack: Direct all new emails to the new address with smart filters and organize them with folders according to the project. Begin answering emails with the new address, and put a notation in your signature that things have changed.
  • I’m muting group chats & non-important conversations because there is nothing more frustrating responding to a message only to have 6 more pour in.
    • Hot Hack: On iOS, swipe left on the message and select “Hide Alerts.” I use it because it still shows my unread messages without the buzzing.

Indefinite silence and Do Not Disturb

If you’re looking to improve your time away from the devices, try turning off most app notifications. I tend to get back to important correspondence quickly and I rather have the quiet.

I use Do Not Disturb but I’m going to tighten my quiet hours to start earlier. Be sure to favorite your important contacts so you’re reachable in an emergency.

Web browsing with time limitations

Extending beyond the cell phone, I plan to cut mindless meandering of web surfing down to essentials. For the rest of the month, I’m allowing myself to do my job, write, and read the occasional news. According to Moment, I used the web for approximately an hour a day, not including my computer. We’ll see how low I can get this.

Reduced time on Facebook and Instagram

Social media brings a ton of positive stuff into our lives, but it also holds our time hostage. While I use Instagram to get my photography out into the world, I plan on using it as needed to maintain my art.

Take a look at your use of social media to figure out what is necessary to your happiness. Be prepared to cut the time-wasting games and other mind-numbing activities.

Goals + last thoughts

This post is for like-minded people looking to take control of their time and focus. I want people to take these small tweaks to pry their eyes away from their devices to be more present to those around them, or to focus on improving their craft.

Keeping the phone in my pocket keeps me available to make a connection with people I wouldn’t normally interact with when I’m out. I’ve found that my best interactions come when I least expect it and it makes me optimistic that we’re all in it together, striving for something great.

If you’re into living in the present and taking control of your focus, then follow along and join my quest!

Update: The week 1 weigh in is live!

Continuously Operating

Continuously Operating

Our gadgets are continuously operating. Ceaseless, relentless, they infrequently turn off.

2 am it stirs and wakes. Its rude light cuts through the darkness and blares through eyelids full of mesmerizing beauty. Like a child that won’t sleep it operates for seemingly no reason. Computers, phones, tablets, televisions, and cars all converging into one existence, ecosystem, and prison.

Obnoxious because we refuse to acknowledge the world around us. Rude, because we retreat to the comfort of the screen when others are around. Sad, because there is so much beauty right in front of us if we care to see it, and it’s easier than making eye contact.

Letting technology get in the way of ourselves is not an option.
continuously operating to the detriment of others

Format a drive in MacOS with Disk Utility

Formatting a drive in MacOS with Disk Utility is simple. I want to use the drive for Time Machine, and I’m going to show you how to do it.


1: CMD + Space to open Spotlight Search and search for Disk Utility. Alternatively, you can dig into the “Other” folder in Mission Control and find Disk Utility.

2: Select the disk on the left side that you wish to format. In this case, ATA Samsung is the drive I’d like to format so select it and choose “Erase.” I want this drive formatted for use in Time Machine (and MacOS doesn’t support APFS for Time Machine just yet) so I set the format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled), and I will keep it as GUID.

Click Erase. You should end up with this:

If you run into a red ! that the erase failed, make sure the drive isn’t mounted. You can save yourself a headache by clicking the eject icon under the drive you’re looking to format. That is, click the eject icon next to “Untitled” NOT “ATA Samsung” because we don’t want to remove the drive itself, only the partition named “Untitled.”

Rerun the erase procedure and presto! Quit Disk Utility.

If you’re looking to use this drive for a Time Machine backup, check out this post.

Micropost: Bulletproof Photo Backup

Bulletproof Photo Backup

If you’re like me, photos are probably the most important data that’s worth holding on to. I’ve lost a lot of data over the years, but with each loss comes new lessons, and I think I’ve figured out a pretty good layering technique to keep everything accessible and safe. I use a hybrid of backing up and free/paid services for a bulletproof photo backup.

Google Photos: Free below 16 megapixels, Google Photos has become my trusted fourth copy of data. My use is slightly unconventional because I use Google Photos in two ways.

1: The Google Photos desktop app keeps all photos pre-2015 synced to my library.

2: The iOS Google Photos app syncs all 2015-onwards media. Note: you need to occasionally open the app to make sure it’s syncing your photos.

This allows for my full library to be accessible on the go. If I ever want to pull up a trip from 2006, or a birthday from last year I can.

New…er info: Google recently updated it’s Google Drive & Google Photos desktop apps into Google Backup & Sync. While I use this service for files, I stuck with the Google Photos desktop app because I use multiple Gmail accounts and Backup & Sync does not support that feature yet.

Google Photo backup

iCloud: For all photos from 2015 onwards iCloud is my main repository. I currently use the 200gb plan, but don’t think I’ll fill it until the end of next year at minimum.

This bulletproof plan combined with My Backup Triad allows me to have five copies of my data in addition to the computer it sits on. I especially want to stress the importance of Google Photos both in its ability to store unlimited photos, but also my system for keeping older photos at my fingertips. I love the system because I can easily pull up anything I need.