I have never reviewed an online course on the blog before but I wanted to share my thoughts on The Sweet Setup’s All the Things course. This course caught my attention for lots of reasons. I knew Shawn Blanc used notebooks as part of his productivity method, but the element I wanted to delve into was how he incorporated his digital tools as well.
I had looked at the All The Things course a lot before I eventually bought it. I had watched the trailer several times and kept mentally committing myself to buy it for months before finally doing so. It seemed a little silly, perhaps even wasteful, to buy content on being productive. There are plenty of YouTube videos I could reference and work through but the dodgy shooting styles, questionable content and the authority of the YouTuber put me off. Productivity pointers and advise can feel condescending and a little obvious. However I was pulled back to this course because I had seen content online from Shawn Blanc and knew he was well thought of and respected, which really is why I eventually tried this out.
I had Things 3 downloaded on my phone and had used it a little, mostly to just throw in big to do items that I needed to tackle at some point. As Things 3 made up part of this course, and I was interested in how Shawn combined both the analogue and digital tools in his productivity process. Like most people, I have too much floating around in my head and managing the day to day tasks alongside the longer term ideas, or plans, or places to go, was something I never felt like I mastered. I think it was this that eventually made me check the course out.
All the Things course content.
The course is held in a personal Dashboard on The Sweet Setup website. The content is broken into two parts, All the Things Pro and Screencasts. You can buy these elements individually but I opted to buy both and take advantage of the small saving.
All the Things Pro portion of the course.
This is the section dedicated to productivity learning. There are a series of videos that vary in length from 7 through to 20 minutes covering topics including being productive, a hybrid method of planning, scheduling, planning and journaling. Also included is some written commentary to support each video. All but one of the videos are shot interview style with Shawn talking to the camera and sharing his experience and recommendations for being productive. The final video is shot overhead looking into his notebook, which unsurprisingly is the video I was most interested in.
You then get the same set-up with the screencasts. Shawn walks you through using the Things 3 app on Mac, iPad and iPhone. In this section you get the basics of the app and what it can do, progressing onto some helpful hints and tips on how to get the most from the app’s interface.
Finally there is access to a series of interviews Shawn conducted with other people who use Things 3. These are written interviews and not audio or video. Something I was surprised by and I feel that it’s worth highlighting.
Is it worth it?
I keep coming back to this question when trying to settle my thoughts on the course. Obviously this is a subjective question and really depends on the person. The content is useful and production quality high making it easy to watch and digest. There are helpful suggestions and insights on how to become more productive. For obvious reasons I found this interesting.
I am not sure I needed this course. There wasn’t enough new content to add to the information that I had gathered over many years of reading blogs, books and trying to improve my own productivity. Ultimately these skills are honed and practiced and what works for me won’t work for everyone.
I think the free trailer is helpful and really does give you an idea of the content you get from the whole course. As with most of these things, the video fades just as you’re getting to the interesting stuff, but it is a good marker to understand whether you need this content.
The All the Things course is good there is no doubt about that. The content is helpful, the production quality high and Shawn breaks things down really well into manageable sections. I would have loved some more notebook specific content, but I would say that.
With the interviews it would have also been great to have these in a media format, video or audio. I think this would have enhanced and really elevated the usefulness of these interviews.
I hope you found this post interesting. It’s not going to be a regular on the blog, because I don’t think there are many course relevant posts that would work here. I wanted to share my thoughts on this specific course because some of you may have come across it, or bought it already or looking for something just like this. Either way the next post will resume the normal format here at The Finer Point.