What’s your perfect computer?

Michael behind MichaelSchechter.me blog, shares his perfect computer setup. Getting the right mix of tools is one of the key elements for getting things done.

The applications Michael uses are for a Mac computer but if you want to use his post as an inspiration for creating your perfect mix head over to altrnativeto.net.

This site will help you find almost any alternative for Mac, Linux, Windows applications.

So what’s your perfect computer?

Weekly Links for 24th of October

A weekly collection of posts and articles about productivity, time management, tools and technology.

If you have any interesting articles please share them in the comments section.

Evernote for writing and blogging

 

Have desk, will write

Evernote is tremendously useful and versatile platform. Over the last number of months it became my go to place for filing almost anything.
After reading Evenote ebook by Dan it got me thinking about different areas of responsibility. One of those is keeping up this blog. It involves making sure I have a post ready for each week. One post a week sounds easy right and perhaps it’s for many but for me it’s not always. Having a structure in place which lets me focus on different aspects of writing is great aid. As result of some tinkering and reading few different articles I came up with this little writing/blogging workflow.

1.Make a template for a blog post

List key elements/sections which you normally would include in every post:
     * text
     * links
     * photos
     * sharing platforms
     * mentions of people/blogs that influenced the post

Writing in the spur of the moment is great for capturing that moment of inspiration but more often than not writing is laborious process. Creating consistent and attractive looking posts makes better impression on readers and site visitors. This templates allows me focus on writing and when I’m done with it move to other elements of blogging that otherwise could be forgotten. As result my writing efforts can reach more people (hopefully).

2. Use tags to manage different stages for writing process

     * draft current/on hold
     * idea
     * published
     * to be published

When it comes to writing and blogging there are different stages of the process. In short you start with an idea/rough outline, then you work on developing it, then you publish it or leave it in a queue for later. Tags are perfect way to manage this aspect of flow. Rather than look at all your ideas and half written posts you can select a specific tag.
Splitting different stages of the process allows for greater focus and navigation between elements. Rarely or never you have to look at at published post and ideas at the same time. However at different times you will look at very specific stage. If you look for something new to write simply select "idea" tag, when you want to continue working on something that was open for a while you will select "current" tag.
Easy to manage and configure. I find it quite effective. Rather thank keep a bunch of text files (a good option too) I prefer to have it all in Evernote.

3.Bigger writing projects

Novels or serious post with lots of research and support documentation use a separate notebook or even a stack of notebook.

     * gather what’s needed in one or more notebooks
     * once project is done you can move all the data into single place or assign one tag to find it later.
     * keep a small amount of notes (master note) or combination of notes and tags to manage to final result (copy)

Sometimes using tags to separate the content is not best solution, a physical separation may bring better results. When working on something complex which requires a large number of supporting documentation separate notebooks will allow to divide the research from writing and drafts and notes

Additional stuff

Couple additional tips and features that make Evernote great writing tool:

Full screen mode is great for focusing on task at hand. It so easy to get distracted by other things happening on you monitor, twitter feed. Full screen might be overwhelming especially when it’s just white space but once you start filling that space the sense of progress is encouraging

Inspiration and gathering ideas are very important elements of writing process. Evernote offers simple yet useful ability to record and store voice memos and pictures of thing s that caught your attention.

Often times you will want to share your drafts or finished articles with other people to get their feedback and opinion. To do that you can avail of note links which allow your to send a link to a note via email. You can also use shared notebooks if they are Evernote users too.

One feature that I would like to see in Evernote is a black screen editor for distraction free writing. Sounds odd as it should not matter what you use but somewhat it does. Personally I find that writing on black screen with nothing else on it does really help to keep focused and push that writing forward. Perhaps there will be someone looking at API and thinking of designing a simple and nice editor. For now I’m sticking with WriteMonkey  and coping to and from Evernote. Slightly awkward but WriteMonkey seems like a better tool for writing.

photo by Bright Meadow

Easy reviews: RTM and Wall of widgets

Regular reviews of inbox, action lists and projects let us keep the momentum going and have your list handy. Below post which I found on Remember the Milk blog outlines how you can leverage RTM and your Android phone for better productivity:

Remember The Milk for Android features home screen widgets for you to see what’s going on at a glance. This week’s tip, shared by joooc, shows how to se what’s going on at a glance… four ways over.

I use RTM widgets on my Android phone to split the wall to four different areas:image

top-left: Today Smart List
top-right: "To-Do" – my primary tasks list
bottom-right: Inbox
bottom-left: "Buy" list for items like hangers, toothpaste, present for someone … and milk of course 😉

Together, they occupy exactly one of 7 walls available, creating an RTM wall with all the info and controls I need. It’s the first wall on the left so basically once I unlock my phone on the go, I only need to swipe once and voila – all the tasks are instantly visible to me at one glance.

It’s very practical and fast to see what’s there for the day while still having access to all task just a tap away. The "Buy" list is great for checking what I need to buy on my way home or actually when I’m shopping, not to forget anything. Even more, Inbox serves as a perfect Notepad tool for ideas and tasks gathering that I can’t process right now but neither I want them to fly away.

This is a great example of making the most of available features of an application and a phone. I’ve been using this a similar setup for a while but following this post I’ve added two more widgets on my screen. Now my wall includes following items:

  • Next actions for  today and next 2 days (a smart list)
  • Waiting for
  • Inbox
  • Projects (a smart list)

I definitely find this beneficial. Not only I can see what’s is coming up and where should I put my attention but it also reminds me that I need to do a review once one or more of my list are empty. The other plus is that I can display any sort of list I have created. This way, if I’m working on something big and complex I can set up a smart list for it and put it on my wall. Then all relevant tasks are in front so I know what to put my attention on.

Great way to stay updated with your system and keeping it current.

Weekly links for 10th of October

A weekly collection of posts and articles about productivity, time management, tools and technology.

 

If you have any interesting articles please share them in the comments section.

Weekly Links for 3rd of October

A weekly collection of posts and articles about productivity, time management, tools and technology.

If you have any interesting articles please share them in the comments section.