Four Lessons from the Frozen Soundtrack

We recently spent a week at a beach house in Oregon. We drove up the coast, so we spent over 26 hours in the car with our kids in the back seat. We know the soundtrack to Frozen pretty well now.

Music changes how we learn. The more parts of your brain that are engaged, the easier it is for us to learn and remember. If you’ve ever gotten a song stuck in your head, you know how well the melody and meter reinforce the message and make it sticky. Plus, it’s learning disguised as fun! Preschoolers love learning to sing their ABCs; they wouldn’t get as excited about a rote recitation.

Here are five life lessons that stood out to me as we wound our way through the redwoods and rocky coast on US–101. These are by no means the only interpretation, or even what Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez necessarily intended, but they’re good lessons to keep in mind.

Image ©2013 Disney

How to Create Email Templates in Automator

We are constantly sending emails (over 100 billion every day by some estimates). We regularly distribute information via email, and can send the same basic message monthly, weekly, or daily with little variation. As long as the email has to be sent, it’s a great candidate for automating.

I recently helped my wife send a weekly email more efficiently. Each week, she sends out the list of hymns we’ll be singing for the next few Sundays. She had a good process in place, but she was always worried that she was going to forget to add the BCC recipients (and it’s not easy to check afterwards). I helped her automate her process a little so she would have one less thing to worry about.

There are multiple ways you can automate creating an email draft and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Since she uses the built-in and wants something that would be easy for her to maintain, we created an Automator application.

Here’s how to create an Automator action that you can double-click to create a draft message in If you drop files on it, they will be attached to the message.

What Could You Do in Fifty Years?

Start now to become to person you want to be remembered

For some things, you clear your schedule.

For the last couple years, I’ve sung with a choir that performs a couple of times a year—Christmas, Easter, and in the fall. None of us are professional musicians, we just love music, and we love to sing.

Last week, we learned that the woman who has directed the choir for the last twenty-five years was losing her battle with a lengthy illness and didn’t have much time left. An email quickly went out, asking if anyone would be available to gather at her home to perform a couple of John Rutter pieces for her.

Over forty of us showed up the next evening. We held a quick run-through in the driveway—half of us were sight-reading—before filing upstairs for a hallowed private performance to honor the woman who had brought us together.

As we lingered in the driveway afterwards, one of the guys looked back at the house and said something pretty profound:

“Now I know how I want to go, and I have fifty years to figure out how to make it happen.”

Photo courtesy of © iStockphoto/mrdoomits

Tracking Roles in OmniFocus

Why is as important as what, when, and where.

OmniFocus uses two concepts from David Allen’s Getting Things Done to provide most of the organization for tasks: Projects and Contexts.

A Project is anything you want to do that’s going to take you more than one task to do it. It doesn’t have to be long and complicated, with supporting Gantt charts. It’s just a list of tasks that need to be done in order to achieve a desired outcome.

A Context is the person, place, or thing you need in order to complete a task.

These are both great ways to organize your tasks, but there’s one more that I wish OmniFocus properly supported: Roles. They’re a powerful tool for planning your time and making sure your life is heading in the direction you want it to.

Here’s how to set up OmniFocus to use Roles.