Path of Least Resistance, or Distracted by the Shiny Software. Again.

product_introI am angry with myself. Last week I fully expected to have made substantial progress in making GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) charts for my main characters by now.

Instead, I managed to insert a table to contain the GMC chart into each character’s note sheet. At this point, I was frustrated by workflow difficulties. The app I’d used to edit this sort of thing on my iPad, which will automatically sync with Scrivener in DropBox via Scrivener’s Folder Sync function, Textilus, well — the developers have fallen ill with creeping feature-itis. New features are introduced before the old ones’ bugs are fixed. Further, it won’t handle tables.

I found a new way to edit the character notes on my iPad and have my changes automatically synchronized with Scrivener on my Mac, one which handles everything that Microsoft Word does, because it’s real Microsoft Office. Since Scrivener’s note files are in RTF, an MS Word format, it works perfectly. It’s called CloudOn. It’s a cloud-hosted MS Office installation, free to use as long as you don’t need “pro” features, and I don’t to do character notes. Pros: It’s easier to work with than a LogMeIn connection to my Mac (so I can use Scrivener thereon.) The CloudOn interface is optimized for touch devices, while LogMeIn has to work with the Mac interface, which is awkward for long work sessions. As well, CloudOn takes less bandwidth than a LogMeIn connection. Cons: It needs an internet connection, so I can’t work on the subway. Those “pro” features that must be paid for include such things as printing and clip art. I don’t really need that stuff for Scrivener notes editing, but might become a problem if I need to use it for my volunteer work.

This got me to the weekend, when even workflow progress stopped…

And has not resumed. I got distracted by obsessed with a new email client for my iPad, Mailbox, and have spent two long days revamping my philosophy with regards to email, and also clearing out my backlog of saved email, some of which dated back to 1998…

The philosophy of the Mailbox app is this: Email has three primary purposes: casual communication, a task list (tasks arrive via email), and reference material. Most email clients are set up to deal well with casual communication and with reference material. What they don’t do well is the task list. Mailbox is primarily a task list-oriented email client.

Even though I’m not formally employed, I am a co-organizer of a new year-round NaNoWriMo write-in (the Sherman Oaks Panera Bread NaNoWrimo Write-in.) Also, I am on the Board of Trustees for an international non-profit organization. As a result, tasks are arriving in my inbox. Lots of them. These don’t necessarily take up a lot of time, but I have vast amounts of non-profit reference material stored in my email, and it’s often hard to see what I’m supposed to be doing. Yet, I must be able to tap into that stuff easily during board meetings, which often dredge up issues we dealt with a year ago (or so we thought.)

The main concept behind Mailbox is to keep your inbox clear. The inbox should only contain mails that are actionable RIGHT NOW. Everything else is either deferred (tasks you can’t do right now but want/need to do), deleted (junk, casual conversation), or archived (reference material). The “lists” in Mailbox are not intended to be filing cabinets (found this out the hard way…) but “to-do” lists for specific projects. It also lets you defer emails until a specific time, so that you can schedule tasks.

Unfortunately, Mailbox, while great in some ways, is still a work-in-progress in others. Specifically, it does not deal well with vast (>500) numbers of archived emails. So, I’ve spent the first part of the week here combing through sixteen years of saved emails, deleting many, reorganizing others. I’ve reorganized my Mac Mail folders to support easy search of archived material. Now Mac Mail, and the built-in iPad Mail, are now used only for research. Mac Mail handles semi-automatic classification of newly archived mail. As well, I’ve reorganized my accounts so that Mailbox can handle all my vast collection of email addresses. And I’ve suppressed the damned automatic notifications and red icon badges (I turned off sounds years ago) — I now refuse to be interrupted by tempting banners or red app dots on my iPad or Mac. I have a set time each day to deal with new mail and deferred tasks I’ve scheduled in Mailbox.

So now, with volunteer work relegated to its proper place, I’m looking forward today to actually filling out some of the character sheets I’ve stuck empty charts into…


2 thoughts on “Path of Least Resistance, or Distracted by the Shiny Software. Again.

  1. You had email from 98 wow. I was bummed when hotmail moved to outlook as I lost all my saved email from before 2010, and unlucky for me product guarantees although registered were gone. When I needed them, the company was so nice about it and honoured them.

    I’m a scrivener fan, although can’t use it yet to its full potential. I’ve loads to learn, will be reading your blog more carefully now. hehehe

    Great to meet you too. 🙂


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