Starting an Evening Routine

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I’ve shared about morning manifestos, starting the morning off with meditation, and about my weekly routines of making sure all my bases are covered, but I’ve never shared about my evening routine.

It’s hard to share about something you don’t have.

Normally my evening routine has been to watch an episode of The West Wing with my wife, floss and brush, and pass out with an alarm set for seven and a half hours later.

That’s pretty weak as far as good habits and meaningful ends to a day go.


I’ve been challenged by Shawn Blanc’s The Focus Course to start being more intentional in the way I live. One of the first assignments in the 40-day course is to simply set out your outfit for the next day.

I often experience decision fatigue, and even making minor decisions the night before–like what I’ll wear the next day and what we’ll eat for breakfast–help my morning start off more smoothly.

Another assignment in The Focus Course was to write down a significant thing I accomplished today and two things I’m grateful for. Those are two incredibly easy questions that orient my heart and mind in a good direction before the end of the day. I’ve also half-heartedly tried to start journaling in Day One more frequently, with, as you can imagine, weak results.

So, here’s the new evening routine I’m putting into effect: Continue reading


Due: Making Sure You Never Forget a Tiny Task

I’ve waxed on about eloquent systems for tracking the tasks you need to do every day. I’m still a huge fan of Omnifocus, and it’s my repository for tracking all the things I need to do and would like to do.

However, sometimes I need a quick reminder to do something at a certain time. Because we live in Europe, many times that thing I need to do later is message a family member or friend in the States. because of the 6-hour time difference, I try to be a little more courteous and wait until they are awake, 1 but I don’t want to forget to send the message.Due-Header

The reality is, if I don’t write something down or set an alert, I’ll probably forget to do it. Now that we’re in the stage of taking care of a newborn, the lack of sleep combined with slew of new tasks to keep a human alive keep me constantly disoriented. But some things, like “Take out the trash full of smelly diapers” or “Pick up batteries at the drug store” seem too miniscule to put onto a digital list or task manager like Omnifocus.

Federico Viticci shares:

I don’t want to save a timer for my pasta or a reminder to call my dad in the same service I use to keep track of articles and collaborative work projects.

That’s where Due comes to the rescue.

Due is a fancy little alarm app that allows you to set alerts to remind you when to do something. It’s essentially a glorified alarm app, with a whole lot more under the hood.

So what makes Due better than your standard-fare alarm on the iPhone? I’m glad you asked. Continue reading

  1. Even though they should totally have Do Not Disturb enabled if they are iPhone users


Photography for Complete Beginners

I’ve always enjoyed photography, but I’ve never considered myself a photographer. I can’t pull off toting around a massive DSLR and snapping pictures of people without feeling creepy.

We recently picked up a camera to document the forthcoming life of our in-utero baby, and it was time for me to learn the basics so I could actually use this thing. Here’s to moving beyond the automatic modes into the deep end of higher-quality photography.

As I begin, I should note that I feel as qualified to write about these things as Leonard DiCaprio was to assume the role of a doctor in Catch Me If You Can–I’m not sure I can do much other than say, “I concur,” with what I’ve read in other places. I’m going to distill what I’ve picked up and try to make it clearer without being wrong.

This won’t be a perfect or fancy description, and it may not even be technically how it works, but I wanted to create a way to explain to normal humans what the different settings do on a camera. Let’s get to work.

The Three Settings You Need to Learn – ISO, Aperture (f/stop), Shutter Speed

Aperture / f-stop

Aperture is a fancy word for how much light the lens lets in. This is measured in something fancy called an f-stop, which normally looks like this: f/2.2. The smaller the number, the more light that is let in. You can think of it like the lens starting out as open as possible, then as you move on to higher numbers the lens allows less and less light in, until it shrinks down to the size of a pin hole.


Notice that the lower f-stop has a more open aperture, while the higher f-stop (f/16) has a much more closed aperture. Photo courtesy of Mohylek 

Practically, this means that if you have low light, you should use an f-stop with a lower number. A lower f-stop also means things close to you (the foreground) will be in focus while things in the background will be out of focus, giving you that sweet blurred effect that makes things up front pop.


Here’s a photo with a low aperture (f/2.8) and a focused foreground (up-close) very blurry background. This photo has a shallow depth of field.

In slightly fancier terms, f-stop/ aperture also determines depth of field. Depth of field is another way of saying, “How far away are things in focus?” A shallow depth of field means only things close up are in focus, a greater depth of field means things further away are also in focus.  Continue reading


The Problem With the Way Most of Us Work

For most of us, our priorities are dictated by the most urgent crisis that needs fixed.

  • The car won’t start.
  • The washer is broken.
  • My boss needs a report by the end of the day.
  • My taxes are due tomorrow.

For many of us who are knowledge workers,1 our email inboxes and message notifications often dictate our schedules, our priorities, and what we’re going to achieve for the day.

Stephen Covey broadly popularized an idea originally attributed to president Dwight Eisenhower. It’s a matrix of the and the important.

Urgent imporant

Quadrants 1 and 3 is where many of us spend most of our time–dealing with problems that need fixed immediately and then bouncing from that do dealing with unimportant problems that someone thinks also needs solved immediately.  Continue reading

  1. That is to say, basically anyone who does anything other than physical, manual labor, but many of them likely experience this in some ways as well


Washing the Outside, Ignoring the Inside

I just took our car in for preventative maintenance–an oil change, a few filters swapped, a new belt, checking brake pads, a thorough overview that I can’t do on my own.

Our car isn’t new, but when I wash it and clean it, it looks really nice. But no matter how much attention I pay to the body of the car, it won’t change the way the engine runs. It can look great on the outside and be a complete mess under the hood. No number of car washes can make the car run correctly. So diagnostics and maintenance are required.

The same goes for our health. People can look fit and trim, have impressively-low body fat and still have cancer or any number of destructive internal diseases that can’t be diagnosed by a mere outward glance. So medical checkups are necessary.


Everything may appear just fine from the outside. Our kids can be well-behaved, our smiles plastered on in every picture, but simultaneously relationships can be full of bitterness, debt piling up, and sin eating away from the inside out. A soul checkup is in order.

Jesus summed this all up quite nicely in response to a Pharisee’s question about hand washing and ritual cleanliness.

“You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”
–Matthew 23:26

No amount of exterior cleaning can fix the cleaning that needs to take place inside. No amount of behavior modification can do away with the consequences of sin. No exterior manipulation will take care of the inner problem.

Things may appear fine on the outside, but the inside is what matters. A shiny car with a broken engine is of no use.

We need to seek a checkup with the Lord, to ask him to examine our hearts, to put them in the right place. We need forgiveness of sins no amount of going to church or leading Bible studies can fix. We need to drink deeply from the well of forgiveness of Jesus Christ for our internal self to be made right with God.

Don’t just polish the outside of the cup. Go deeper, check the inside, because that’s what really matters.