My Digital Life

About 2 years ago, it started officially happening. My paper trail was dissolving. I had relied on a paper calendar for years. I don’t remember how it happened now, but I realized I needed the ability to schedule myself from any browser, and make repeated appointments. Google calendar is now an essential tab in my life.

My to-do list also was shredded. I have casual jots in Simplenote, as well as long lists (what to bring for LA), and life goals. If I want to remember something while I’m reading it, screenshot. If I want to remember something while I’m looking at it, snap a photo.

With Gmail’s Priority Inbox, and the iPhone’s improved search functionality, I keep only a few emails in my inbox, with the action items of the day starred. For better or worse, personal and work email goes to the same place.

I haven’t been able to go completely digital, though. While a lot of my work involves data analysis and writing, a large part of it is still jotting notes, making sketches, and writing out equations longhand. My official work to do list is still a few sheets of paper on my desk, and I have a lab notebook. Of course, anything final gets a digital version, but it is an issue I can’t overcome. Also, my raw data files are so large that I can’t have my project folders on the cloud (yet?). So data has to stay local.

At one point a long time ago, I tried to use the app Papers to keep track of literature. This has mostly failed. The papers for which I have digital copies are random and in random folders. I still print most things I want to read. I haven’t figured this out, though in principle it seems easy. Maybe it’s because I like to highlight and take notes. Maybe it’s because I feel like I’m too far behind. Maybe the organizational scheme seems daunting.

As far as other files, Dropbox has proven indispensable. Almost all of my personal and work-ish (basically anything that’s not experimental data and analysis files) I have instant access to. Google Drive seems to have improved recently; I need to figure out whether to use this more regularly. I definitely need to organize the files there at some point…right now it’s a dump of files that were mostly shared with me.

Unfortunately with Dropbox, I don’t have enough space to store my music collection. I don’t know why I would really need this all the time, but I think it would be comforting to have a copy everywhere. The computer my phone/ipod syncs to stays at home. I carry a Macbook Air with me, which is great, but doesn’t have near enough storage.

I was an early adopter of Amazon and Amazon Prime. But I was not using it efficiently. My Amazon cart had served as some sort of dumping ground for desires, half-desires, and things I was intrigued by.

I’ve reorganized. My Amazon cart is reserved for music only. Books I might want to read are sampled on my Kindle. Pinterest serves as the new file system for half-desires, major purchases, pantry items, and curios.

A podcasting app keeps me automatically up-to-date for my commute.

I have several websites for journaling purposes, though get more and more grossed out by the Blogger layout whenever I come from a WordPress site.

Speaking of websites, I have used Reader for about a year now, and now don’t know what to do when it expires in July! TBD. I never ever got into bookmarks, probably because I always spent so much time hopping from computer to computer. But with Reader and the links on my website, I have managed to patch them together. If something is worth caring about but not worth “bookmarking,” I can often find another digital home for it, even if it’s just a pdf saved to my Dropbox. Occasionally I might (shhhh) print something out.

I still haven’t found the time to organize my photos, but at least now I try to put albums on Facebook with some regularity. I’m one of the rare ones who wants my mom to join FB, so I don’t have to go through some convoluted sharing process.

I also now have what might generously be called a Twitter presence, too. For me FB is personal, and Twitter is for following people and getting some people to read my stuff. The occasional joke. I don’t know if I can deal with Twitter being the new norm, since that’s what the kids are doing. And I like having separate Twitter and FB spheres. I really am hooked to the visual nature of FB. I don’t necessarily see the point of Instagram. Maybe I will someday/I am an old. I sorta get the point of Tumblr but can’t be bothered yet.

I’ve also signed up for Mint, and it’s nice it automatically tracks things. But I can’t say I use the tools. Every once in awhile I just look at it. Maybe a worthy next digital goal?

Oh, and ladies, if nothing else, get a period tracker app. I’m pretty sure this is why smartphones exist.


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