Using Omnifocus as a Honey-Do App

Laura and I are trying a formal Honey-Do List. We're both very task-oriented people and we really like lists. There are a lot of things I can do to help with Charlie but have to wait until I get home from work. Vice-versa, stuff I'll think of while I'm at work that Laura should take a look at on the days she's home.

We probably should have done this a long time ago but even suggesting that one of us ditch our to-do app of choice would have been blasphemy. I switched to OmniFocus this year and you'd have to pry it from my cold dead fingers. Laura really likes Remember The Milk [RTM] but I've never cared for it. One option was just use another app just for the HoneyDo list. The front-runner would be Wunderlist. This would work.... but meh. This would mean another slot on our coveted iPhone home screens. A space we didn't want to give up. I personally would have trouble remembering to go into it. If it's not in OmniFocus, it's not in my world.

There had to be a solution. What actually mattered? It boiled down to two things:

  1. The tasks entering "our world" of to-dos
  2. The other party being notified (or at least aware) that a task had been completed (or is still outstanding)

Neither OmniFocus or RTM have the ability to do 2-way sync. But, they CAN take in tasks through email addresses. Ok, there is a way for tasks to get into our respective worlds from somewhere else. Check.

The next step was to have something be the single point of entry for tasks. This entry point would also serve as the aggregate list of both our worlds. Wunderlist and Todoist both have great API's, there had to be something. There was also a good chance that IFTTT or Zapier could connect to everything. IFTTT was a bust, but Zapier hooked us up. I went with Wunderlist because Todoist's notifications are a premium only feature. We're not sure if we'll actually use the notifications, but I didn't feel like switching if we decided to in the future. Wunderlist could also handle shared lists, asignees, and due dates.

How to set it up:

  1. Choose a trigger and action

    When this happens: Wunderlist; New Task

    Do this: OmniFocus; Create Task

  2. Make sure your Wunderlist and Omnifocus accounts are set up

  3. Create a shared list in Wunderlist and add someone to it

  4. Tell Zapier to only trigger on the list you just created. (We'll add advanced filtering later)

  5. Create the OmniFocus task. I put "BroderFam" in front so I know where it came from, the name of the task, and the due date. (I manually set the due date when I process my OmniFocus inbox)

    In the body, I set urls back to Wunderlist so I can mark the item as done in there as well as in Omnifocus. The first URL is for when I'm on my laptop and want to open the Wunderlist website. The 2nd one is a deep link to the iOS app for when I'm on my phone

    Keep note of the assignee ID on the first task that comes in, you'll want it for advanced filtering

  6. Test the Zap and turn it on. Now, any task that goes into your list will go to OmniFocus. But, we don't want that. We only want the ones that are assigned to me.

    Now that you have the assigneeID from the first task, go back into the Zap and add a custom filter

    Also go back in and remove AssigneeID from the body of the task

So, a little bit of double work when marking things as read. But I'm really happy with this system. Let me know in the comments if you have any trouble setting this up and I'll help

The Best Place to Order Baby Supplies Online, In Bulk

We live in an age were BJ's and Costco are no longer the only game in town to get bulk supplies. Many websites are offering very competitive prices to the giant warehouse wholesale clubs. (Thank goodness, those places stress me out). We knew when we had Charlie that joining one of these clubs was probably going to happen.

For a while now, I've been seeing subway ads for sites that are going head to head with BJ's and Costco, but with free shipping and without the yearly membership fee. We've been using Amazon Prime forever and have always loved it. Very rarely has a package not shown up on time or damaged. We get most of our household items from their Subscribe & Save program. On some months this lands us 15% off Amazon's already low prices.

I knew there would be a good chance we'd stick with Amazon, but I wanted to check out the other contenders; Amazon Mom, Boxed.com, Diapers.com, and Jet.com. My test products were:

I had high hopes for either Boxed.com who really tout their competitive prices and free shipping over $50. I have a few friends who swore by Diapers.com for their kids. Jet.com was a new player, and technically did have the lowest overall price. But, they have a secret formula that they apply to your cart which lowers the price. I really didn't like not knowing how that worked of if it would change month to month.

In the end, Amazon won out. We get our usual 15% off Subscribe & Save the months we receive 5+ items (you play with it and game it a little) Diapers always get 20% off. If you find yourself running low, just hit the "I need it now" button and you will get your next shipment early. Bonus points: We also have an Amazon Credit Card (that is only used at Amazon) for an additional 1-3% cash back. We let this charge up and then every few years buy something nice with it. It's how we got our Sonos Playbar.

If you are interested in the spreadsheet above, it can be found here

The Best Apps for New Dads

I posted over on TekSide:

We have a newborn named Charlie. He's 2 weeks old so I'm no expert on being a Dad, but there have been a few apps the have been extremely helpful throughout the whole process. I tried a number of apps with tips, data entry, tools, and other functions, but these are the ones that stuck. As always, my iPhone is constantly by my side and I couldn't imagine going through pregnancy, labor, or fatherhood without them.

Who's Your Daddy? The Pregnancy Guide for First Time Dads

As soon as you find out your pregnant, download this app and put in the tentative due date of the baby. The app will then start giving you daily tips. These range from the practical:

  • Make sure your life insurance is appropriate for a family
  • Create a gift registry
  • Pack the hospital bag (later on)

To things for you:

  • Go out for one last romp with the boys
  • Is your paternity leave sorted?
  • You have one responsibility now: be there for her

To things for her. (These are the true gems)

  • Being home her favorite snacks tonight
  • Tell her she looks beautiful today
  • Kiss her long and hard when you get home tonight
  • Schedule a date at your favorite place tonight
  • Hit the movies one last time

These daily notification were HUGE. They let me know when I should be doing things and gave suggestions on how to do them. The app also has a list of tools including a hospital bag list, baby name tracking, and a contraction counter. We ended up not using the contraction counter though. I didn't trust it. The app closed in the middle of one and it forgot that we had a timer going. We then switched over to the standard Full Term, which is mentioned below.

This app was on my home screen for the duration of pregnancy

Daddy Features Daddy Tip 1 Daddy Tip 2

Nurture

Nurture was great both as a visual log of my wife during her pregnancy, and as an information resource as to what was going on with Baby. Every week, the app prompted Laura to take a photo of herself. It was really cool to see how she changed from week to week. At the end, the app also strings these images together in a nice little animation.

The feature I liked most about Nurture was the description of how big Charlie actually was. It lists a fruit or a piece of candy which really lets you correlate his size to something real. From a Skittle, to a mango, to a melon, we looked forward to seeing the update every Tuesday.

Every week I would scroll through the relevant medical and parenting articles that the app suggested. Most were very good and worth reading. I also read a few books which I'll cover in a future post.

Nurture Screenshot

Full Term

This was our (and everywhere on the internet) contraction counter of choice. Starting and stopping the counter was super easy. Especially at a time where you can't really do more than glance at your phone. The app also presents the last contraction, an average of the last hour, and an average of the last 6 hours in an easy to read format. We ended up going through all of the labor at the hospital where Laura was hooked up to a machine. But, had we done it at home, this app would have been perfect to figure out when we should head in.

My one wish would have been having a watch app alongside this to make start/stopping even easier

BabyConnect

Data Entry! This app looks quite dated (It's still using the old iOS6 design language) but it is very, very functional. It can track:

  • Feedings
  • Diaper
  • Sleep
  • Mood
  • Activity
  • Medical
  • Milestones
  • Daycare Dropoff/Pickup
  • Messages to baby for the future
  • Photos

We've only been using the Feed, Diaper, and Milestone functions so far. Photos we're using a shared album in Photos.app which is shared with immediate family and very close friends. Mood and Activity are on the short list to start using. The app can aggregate any of these data points into graphs which give you quick info when you need it. "How many times per day are we feeding him?" This is handy when we went to the pediatrician early on and he wanted to know how many wet diapers Charlie had per day. (The only measure of if he's getting enough food when breastfeeding)

The killer feature of BabyConnect is it's sync capabilities. We have it set up where both Laura and I are the parents of Charlie and either of us can enter information from any device and it immediately syncs. Just in case we forgot to grab our phone for a night feeding, we also have an iPod touch sitting in the nursery with this app installed so we can track what goes on at night. I also have notifications turned on (for now anyway) so I can see when Laura does certain things with Charlie

BabyConnect Features BabyConnect Chart

Quick Tips

Great quick tips and how-to's for new dads. I find myself browsing these while I'm trying to get Charlie to calm down at night. How to deal with crying or feeding or tutorials on holding, diaper changes, and bath time.

Quick Tips How To

DayOne

I won't go into Journaling as a whole in this article, but Day One is a great app to get frustrations or despair out of your head. Baby will pick up on these and it's a good mechanism to get back in the moment. Whether you are alone or it's not something you can or should discuss with your spouse at that point in time

Omnifocus

My to-do list of choice. Used for things like

  • Set up Will
  • Order Stroller
  • Confirm insurance
  • etc

Non-App Resources

  • TheNightLight - If you like the The Wire Cutter check this site out. It's from the same team and they have great reviews on everything from bottles, to monitors, to strollers.
  • Lucie's List - This is technically a mommy blog, but sign up for their weekly newsletter. The info is great and it's another source that will remind you to do things; Decide on circumcision, Picking a godparent, and more