Automatically Sending Tasks in Bear Notes to Todoist

There were two notable things I did this weekend: spend it with my kids, as it was my wife’s weekend to work (she’s a nurse and must work one weekend per month), and build a series of clever automations using Apple’s Shortcuts app.

I love using the Bear Notes app for most things, like quickly logging tasks. This includes my 5 Critical Actions for the week, and any open threads I have at the end of the day*.

But Todoist is my main task manager, with reminders, subtasks, and the whole 9 yards.

So I ended up building 3 Shortcuts to send tasks from Bear to Todoist:

  1. Process tasks specifically in the 5 Critical Actions note. I did this so I can properly label the tasks as such…Todoist doesn’t let you create create labels on the fly.
  2. Process any note via the Share Sheet
  3. Process every note, looking for tasks in all of them, and creating the tasks plus a link back to the original note for context.

I’ll share the first one with you here…the other two are reserved for members.

Here are the Steps:

  1. Get the contents of the 5 Critical Actions note (you can replace this with the title of any note).
  2. Split the note’s contents by new line.
  3. For each line in the note, do the following:
    1. Look for the characters - [ ] at the beginning. Bear converts this into a tick box in app, representing a task.
    2. If it exists, remove it, leaving only the task itself.
    3. Add the task to Todoist, with the label 5-Critial-Action

That’s it! I’m using Text Case to actually format the text to remove the
 - [ ]. That is a free, tip-supported app.

How it Works

Get contents is a built-in Bear action, but you likely do this with any notes app. Apple Notes, for instances, returns the contents of a note when you search.

Split allows you to break up the contents by some delimiter (or marker). In my case, I did it by new line, but you could do it by any character. This allows me to look at each line individually.

Since I only want to add tasks, I search for the characters I mentioned. This prevents contextual text or footnotes from getting added to Todoist.

Todoist’s (iOS-only) shortcuts allow you to set a label, priority, and more, allowing me to use a label specific to the note:

Unfortunately, Todoist doesn’t let you create labels on the fly.

No Improvements

This is one of the rare automations I built that I don’t feel needs any improvements — but that’s mostly because it’s limited in scope to one note.

As I mentioned earlier, I have 2 other shortcuts to do more advanced stuff, which greatly improve upon the shortcut outlined here.

But you can definitely use those one as a template for your own. Split and Text Case are both worth understanding if you’re going to make your own shortcuts.

Building a Monthly Digest Engine

Earlier this month I made two decisions about the newsletter that you may have noticed:

  1. I got rid of the “Quick Hits” section (which was mostly my own content) in favor of a 300-500 word section on some top of mind topic.
  2. I added a monthly digest of all the content I put out during the month, sent on the last weekday of the month,.

The two are related. I still want a way to let my newsletter subscribers know about the content I’ve put out, in-case they missed it. But it also serves 2 other purposes:

  1. It allows me to promote the month’s podcast episodes one more time.
  2. The sponsors get one more mention in the newsletter each month.

After putting it together manually, I knew there had to be a better way, so I built version one of a Monthly Digest Engine, designed to aggregate and format all of my links, which I can then add to ConvertKit.

Here’s how I built it.

This rest of this post is for members-only. I discuss how I built my monthly digest engine. Sign up here for just $10/mo


I’m Using ChatGPT Almost Exclusively Through Raycast

Today I wanted to do a little show-and-tell for how I’ve been using ChatGPT.

It’s been exclusively through my new favorite Mac App, Raycast. On top of being an app launcher with a bunch if productivity tools built-in, it serves as an interface for ChatGPT.

This rest of this post is for members-only. It’s a video on how I’m using Raycast with ChatGPT. Sign up here for just $10/mo

Effortlessly Efficient: How to Automate and Delegate

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Thoughts and Lessons from the Apple Vision Pro Presentation at WWDC

Let me start by saying before the WWDC Keynote, I wasn’t even remotely excited about Apple VR product.

The Meta Quest doesn’t excite me, and when I had Google Glass, I liked it, but I didn’t love it.

Suffice to say, Apple blew me away with their approach to the Apple Vision Pro. And the early reviews do not disappoint.

From a business/technology/create approach, here were my initial thoughts:

Apple shows you can go cheap, or you can go impressive. Meta announced a $500 version of the Quest mere days before WWDC. Part of the reason I wasn’t excited for Apple’s version is I’m not even remotely interested in the Quest or the Metaverse.

But Apple went high end, making the Vision Pro a full $3000 more than the cheaper version of the quest.

Not everyone will be on board, but there’s no denying that their product is impressive in such a way that Meta is getting dragged on Twitter. Meta basically owned this space for the past 5-7 years and Apple just kinda blew them up.

The lesson: Don’t just race to the bottom. You can create a high-end service and charge a premium if you impress.

They are reusing Aux tech created in VR for other apps. Earlier in the keynote, they showed an iPad feature where they tell you if you’re holding the screen too close.

I can’t help but think this was tech they developed for eye tracking on the Vision Pro, that made its way into other parts of the OS already.

The lesson: use your sawdust. When you create, look at each part of your process and see how you can use it.

They are smartly taking familiar experiences and moving them to a new medium first. One of the problems with the Meta Quest, that Sara Dietschy points out, is the interface and experience is unintuitive because it’s unfamiliar.

But Apple took several things into account when they design the UX for the Vision Pro:

  1. We know how to use our eyes and hands
  2. We know how to use the apps they demoed
  3. The ideas behind the UX are familiar (make a call, send a text, browse a website, etc)

All of these combined means everything comes very naturally to us.

The lesson: Lower your learning curve, lower your barrier to entry, and you’ll create better, happier experiences for your customers.

They are never first to market, but they are much better when they enter. There’s a reason that post-1997 Apple is never first to market on a product.

They do a ton of research on real-world use. During the presentation, they used the term “cheek width” to point out they’ve studied faces.

But with the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and AirPods, they took care to truly understand how people use the current crop of products, and improved upon them.

The VR/AR space is so controversial already; even though it’s been around for 10+ years, there’s still a lot of mainstream pushback.

Creating a whole other world is weird, uncanny valley, dystopian nonsense to a lot of people.

But Apple focused on how their product augments your current experience. You can still see your environment. You can still see real people in the real space. And they can see your eyes.

The lesson: There’s a lot of weight put on being first to market so you can make a name for yourself. But you could just be better. If you impress, reuse lessons you’ve learned, and create better experiences, you can blow up the competition.

Since the Last Time I Saw Blink-182 (2023 Edition)

I’ve seen Blink-182 with my brother Phil in 2001 (our first time, and first concert), and in 2009.

When they broke up / replaced Tom with Matt Skiba in 2015, we weren’t sure if we’d be seeing the original lineup ever again. So we were both elated when they got back together. We purchased tickets ASAP.

It’s been 14 years since the last time I saw them, and a lot has changed. I:

  • Became a college professor
  • Got a job at my alma mater, The University of Scranton
  • Left that job for a WordPress agency
  • Started dating, proposed to, and married my wife, Erin
  • Started my podcast, How I Built It
  • Became a father of 3 kids
  • Left the agency job to start my own business
  • Bought a house
  • Pivoted completely from web development to podcast coaching
  • Published 5 books
  • Created dozens of online courses for colleges and online learning memberships

I was basically still a college student the last time I saw them, so I was wondering if seeing them live would hit differently.

It was like I was a kid again, and it was incredible.