Thursday, April 27, 2023

Traveling Machine

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I'm typing this on my new Surface Go 3, trying to get used to the keyboard.  I decided recently (as in, Monday) that I needed a traveling computer for an upcoming trip, as I didn't necessarily want to bring my main laptop that is basically my lifeline: all of my novels, my freelance work, my financial information, etc.  And while I could back it up, I just didn't want to put the computer at risk like that.

So I decided to look for a smaller, more portable, and less expensive machine.  I ended up settling on a Surface Go 3.  My last computer before my current one was a Surface Pro, and while it developed an overheating problem in 2020, I liked it as a work computer.  My newer laptop is faster and I don't regret getting it over a Surface, but I decided a mini Surface would be pretty much perfect as a traveling machine.

Next was to get it set up so that I could easily transfer my work between machines.  The first thing I downloaded was Vivaldi, my web browser of choice, and of course synced all my bookmarks.  (Amazing that we can do that now!)  Next I downloaded Scrivener and set up my current projects in Dropbox so that I can work from either machine.  The key will be making sure to close out the program on whatever computer I'm on when I'm finished working, so that the synced files don't get messed up.

I also got it set up with Plottr, which is the software I use for plotting and managing my series all in one place.  It's basically my series bible, so I didn't want to work on my novel without that handy.

After that I got a little overexcited, and loaded a bunch of other projects from my novel series into Dropbox.  I wanted them to be accessible if I need to refer back to one of them.  After some more thought, I also added a whole bunch of various in-progress projects, some of which I haven't worked on in years.  This way I can work on anything I please, any time I please.

I'm pretty excited about my new little work machine and all its potential!

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Google Calender x Toggl for Productivity

I blogged a little while back about using Google Calendar for time management and my to-do list.  As a quick update to my previous methods, I'm still using my calendar to block out time for things, still using tasks to supplement the calendar entries (and give me something to cross off), and still trying to plan out my upcoming week on Sundays.

Sometimes it goes to plan, sometimes it doesn't.  I nearly always overschedule myself and have to put off tasks.  I tend to underestimate the amount of time things will take, and also tend to neglect to schedule enough leisure time for myself, so I end up taking that when I had something else scheduled (and rescheduling the worky work).

Recently I discovered a new supplement to my calendar method: Toggl.  I'd used Toggl before, years ago, and stopped using it because it didn't really help me as much as I wanted it to.  But now it has a calendar view and integrates with Google Calendar, which has made the app much more functional for me.

I still rearrange my calendar constantly to reflect changes I have to make on the fly throughout the day, but Toggl gives me a way to track things as I do them.  For instance, I am tracking the time I spend blogging right now.  I can track the time I spend working on different projects, such as blogging on my various different websites, or working on different novels or short stories.  I can track freelance work according to client and project, and see how much time I spend total on a project.  I also use it to track my time doing chores at the barn, and it'll give me an easy way to tally my hours at the end of the month.

Because of the integration with my calendar, Toggle also allows me to easily start a time entry for something in my calendar, or even copy a calendar entry over as a time entry.  I like how easy this makes it to use, and also the at-a-glance visual representation of my time logs, side-by-side with my calendar for the day.

In addition, it acts as a record of work time for billing or tax purposes, which is especially useful for determining how much my computer is used for work purposes (almost all, honestly).

Do you use Toggl?  Have you found the integrations to be helpful?


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