Updating Updates

(Brief video at bottom of page.)

The What

I write short snippets of text throughout the week as I work on projects which will be included in an email to clients at the end of each week[1] giving them a progress update.

Creating and sending those updates was a desktop-only task since it was too labourious on my phone; too many clicks disrupts focus and turns even a single task into multitasking.[2]

I’ve found a workaround with two relatively[3] simple steps.


The Why

  1. To regularly add quick blurbs of text to a text file after stating what I accomplished during the work session
  2. Have that text file emailed to the client each Friday as I finish up work.[1]

I accomplished this using Launch Center Pro and Dropbox for the first step. The second step includes TextExpander Touch.[4][5]


The How—now with 100% more How!

I created two actions in Launch Center Pro.

Action 1

Update Text File

This step prompts me to enter text. After entering text it then prompts for which client text file to update in Dropbox. That text is now appended to the text file which is automatically synched to my computer.

This is the url for step 1:

launch://dropbox/append?text=[prompt-return:Text]%0A&path=/Apps/Byword/&name=[list:Client|Client 1=Client 1 email updates.txt|Client 2=Client 2 email updates.txt|Client 3=Client 3 email updates.txt|Client 4=Client 4 email updates.txt|Client 5=Client 5 email updates.txt]

Simply replace the client names and the associated text file names in the list prompt. For example:

General Motors=General Motors Text File.txt
Groupon=Groupon Text File.txt
XYZ=XYZ Filename.txt

Some pointers:

  • The client name can be anything you want it to be.
  • The text file needs to match the filename in your dropbox exactly.
  • You could skip the short names and just put the text filename in the list prompt, it would look like this:

    name=[list:Text File|Client One email updates.txt|Client Two email updates.txt|Client Three email updates.txt|Client Four email updates.txt|Client Five email updates.txt]>

Action 2

Email Text from File

This action has to be created on a client-by-client basis since it’s much more specific. This action puts the appropriate email addresses in

  • TO: client’s email[6]
  • CC: myself[7]
  • BCC: my Evernote Clip email address

It puts the subject as “ClientName - Update Monday, Mar 17” The date is automatically entered using a TextExpander Touch snippet. The action then jumps down to the Body of the email and auto inputs:

"Hey guys,

Here is the udpate for Monday, Mar 17. [extra text prompt which allows me to put in an additional personalized note should I need to do so.]

best

Johnny"


(The text from the client’s text file in Dropbox.)

I then create an alarm for this step in LCP to remind me each Friday at 4:30 PM. If I need to do anything other than weekly updates then I’ll put the launch url in an OmniFocus task.[1]

This is the url for step 2:

launch://email?to=nobody%40fakeclient.com&subject=Update%20-%20&body=Hey%20Guys%2C%0A%0AHere%20is%20the%20update%20for%20.%20[prompt-return:Body]%0A%0Abest%0AJohnny%0A%0A—%0A%0A[dropbox-text:Apps/Byword/Client 1 email updates.txt]&cc=johnny%40johnnyrk.com&bcc=evernoteclip%40fake.com[8]

I hope this helps at least two of you out there in Internetdom.


  1. Different email schedules are achieved by putting launch:// into an OmniFocus repeating task's note rather than rely on LCP’s alarm. The launch url will open LCP thereby adding only two extra taps to perform this.  ↩

  2. Multitasking is inherently evil—so very, very, incredibly, evil—and morally wrong. Avoid multitasking at all costs. Focus.  ↩

  3. Relative meaning it was a decent amount of work to figure this out but it will save me much more time in the long run.  ↩

  4. There are many other ways to accomplish this but you’ll get a generalized idea of the execution here.  ↩

  5. I use Byword on my phone to double-check and edit the text files before they get sent; this is not necessary. I set up Byword to sync through Dropbox, this also allows me to point nvALT at that same folder—Dropbox/Apps/Byword/—and quickly add or edit notes through nvALT.  ↩

  6. can also be read from a separate dropbox text file using comma-delimited text  ↩

  7. I will CC myself on emails for two reasons: (1) so I know the email went through and; (2) so the client knows I know the email went through.  ↩

  8. LCP will replace my characters with the codes, usually they can be switched back in the url scheme but when I put these signs back to regular characters something bad happens and I don’t care enough to troubleshoot it so I just leave it alone. It might look ugly but it works just fine.  ↩


Johnny Knittle

Los Angeles, USA