OK, this actually started a couple of months ago with the Great Computer Crash of 2012.
Like most apparently organized people, I had one place where I dumped all my junk and forgot about it. That place was my PC, which pretty much doubles as my office. I not only am the family CEO, but I work part-time from home, am editing a book, and also am taking online courses toward a certificate. And keep all my recipes, knitting patterns, and genealogy research in digital format.
So, it is possible that treating my computer like a giant junk drawer was not such a great plan. With no warning, and in the blink of an eye, that problem got solved by the Black Screen of Death. AAAGGGHHHH!!!!
I didn’t permanently lose very much, because I at least had the sense to sign up for a Mozy account a couple of years ago. I would have to be crazy to run a home business with no backup at all, and I can write off the annual fee. But, putting the pieces of my digital life together took about one long, tedious, week (and I still haven’t reconstructed my music collection.) So, I told myself, never again. And started looking for alternatives. Which leads to my New Year’s resolution–or maybe I should call it a New Year’s project.
The first program to go was Quicken. I had been using software to track household and home business finances for about a decade. And always had problems with it. I decided to quit being such a control freak, put all the bills on auto-pilot and give Mint a try. So far, it’s working great. I just had to do a bit of tweaking to “teach” mint what some of the German-language charges are, but now most of them automatically go into the correct categories. I can keep track of business-related expenses in the same way, and I use Paypal for invoicing. It was a leap of faith for me to put everything in the cloud like this, but quite a relief as well.
I had also started using Google Drive for some documents that I wanted to be able to access on both my PC and my laptop. After the crash, I decided to keep all my current work files on Drive. Now, I also back them up with Mozy. I would not go so far as to entirely trust Google with my work life! But that backup goes on silently and automatically once a day. It’s no trouble, and a good fail safe.
Drive is good because it has basic word processing and spreadsheet capability with Google Docs. But I don’t actually find the file system to be very useful. It’s just like Windows. I want to do more than just stick things in folders. As a blogger, I’ve learned to think in categories and tags as well. And I am a major visual thinker. So, I loves me some Evernote.
Evernote organizes files in Notebook. The Notebooks can be “stacked” in bigger Notebooks. So, that offers top-level organizational capability. I have one stack for Work, one stack for Household, one stack for Crafts, and so on.
But, you can also tag files. I started using Evernote for recipes a few months ago when my food.com account was deleted with no notice. All my recipes are now in one Notebook, but if I want to see all the chicken recipes, all the soup recipes, or even all the recipes that use parsnips, I just click on a tag. It’s beautiful
I organized my craft projects and knitting patterns the same way. Got socks? I do!
My next project was to create a Notebook with online materials from the first of my editing classes. I lose access to these materials after the final exam for each class, so I wanted to create “textbooks” that I could keep for reference. I used the Evernote Web Clipper to save the text lectures from each module, tagging them by topic. Brilliant!
Not to mention I can access my Evernote files on my PC, my laptop, my e-reader or my mobile phone. Bliss!
I like this way of organizing my stuff so much that I am now starting to move work-related materials into Evernote. My New Year’s resolution that I have been working on today is to create a Notebook for the book that I am editing. I had just dumped all those materials into a Drive folder and kept the relevant emails in a Gmail folder. Now, each author has his/her own Note with contact information, attached drafts, and notes about the chapter. Notes are tagged with completion status, e.g. not received, first draft, second draft, and so on. Finally I can tell at a glance where I stand on the project and can get rolling on it in the new year!
I will still use Google Drive for many work purposes because of the sheer volume of files that I deal with, and the fact that Evernote doesn’t “do” spreadsheets at all. And I am unfortunately required to use Word for my editing classes, so I can’t entirely ditch Office. But I will primarily use Drive for storage from now on, and Evernote to organize individual projects in a way that I find very intuitive and useful.
I still haven’t figured out the best way to get my music collection all back in one place again and backed up the cloud. I have ripped CDs, Amazon music and iTunes all jumbled together. I may just give up and stick with Slacker.com. Any suggestions for an intuitive, drag-and-drop music library that also syncs with a cloud service?
I find that the older I get, the less patience I have with clutter: physical, mental, or digital! So, let 2013 be the year that I get my digital life in order–and, hopefully, keep it that way.
And oh yeah, I’m going to lose five more pounds by next summer. Really!