“How I Work” – Student Edition

So, I did one of these posts back in 2013 as well, and as I am in a completely different place in life now, I thought it would be a good idea to write a new one… Without further ado, here are some of the major software tools I use in my life right now:

Evernote is still a major part in my workflow. It houses scans of all my important documents – and I toss/shred everything that is not really vital to keep a hard copy of – as well as various bucket lists, instructions etc. I have also scanned all manuals to various machines etc, to be able to live as paperless a life as possible. Additionally, Evernote contains all my recipes, so that when I am struck by a sudden urge to cook tonight when I’m at the grocery store (yeah, right…) I can just look up the recipe on my iPhone and find all the ingredients needed there.

When it comes to file management on my computer, I have everything in Dropbox, which allows me to sync it with the computer at the folks while still behaving more or less like a local folder on my computer. After accidentally pouring a glass of wine in my old laptop, one of the first things I did when my new computer arrived was to signed up for a CrashPlan account. CrashPlan is an offsite backup solution, that works without me having to worry about it and does backups on a regular schedule. Absolutely priceless if something happens…

Mentioning security – your passwords is something very important! I’ve been trying, and so far it’s gone pretty well, to make unique, random passwords for most of my online accounts. In order to be able to use very difficult passwords (for most accounts I just use a random-long-string of upper-case & lower-case letters, numbers and special symbols) I use 1Password. This is also where I keep other sensitive information, such as passport numbers for myself and the family, bank accounts etc.

As I do almost all my work on my personal MacBook Air as long as I am at uni, I manage all my tasks in OmniFocus – an absolutely superb task manager, but sadly, it only works on Mac, so when I start working again and have use a task manager that is accessible on a PC, I will go back to Remember the Milk – which I used for many years and found perfectly sufficient. I do, however, prefer OmniFocus’ model where you buy the software/app once, rather than RTM’s subscription model. I find that using electronic task managers suits the jobs I have had, as they have all had a lot of repeating tasks, and in an electronic task manager, it is very easy to set repeating tasks.

When it comes to calendars and email, I am fully committed to Google, and find both Gmail and Google Calendar to be two essential parts of my everyday life. I use an add-on to Gmail that is called Boomerang, which is an immense help when it comes to achieving inbox zero, or something very close to it. Boomerang lets you ”boomerang” an incoming email to return at a certain date, send an email at a specified date and time and bounce a sent email back to your inbox at a certain time if it has not been replied to.

Like most other students, I have a lot of writing todo. Theses, papers and a lot of other various bits and bobs that need to be produced. One of the common denominators for these are the requirement to use proper citations and include a biography. To do this, I use a free app called Zotero. Zotero can clip webpages etc. from the web, and if you use one of the major databases for academic articles, like JSTOR, you can click the icon at the citation page, and Zotero automatically imports all data for the article, including (if applicable) a pdf copy of the article itself. Once I am finished, Zotero senses which sources i have used, and can automatically produce a bibliography in a number of different styles (including APA, Chicago and Harvard).

At the moment, I do all my writing in Word, all spreadsheets in Excel and all presentations in PowerPoint, mainly as I’m too lazy to learn another software suite and they all serve my needs pretty well.

Being lazy (some would say bone idle), I like to make things as easy as possible for myself, which makes Alfred and TextExpander two invaluable tools! Alfred is a small app that, in effect, is a Spotlight on steroids. I press a shortcut, and can then search everything from software to applications, contacts, emails etc. directly from the search box. I can also do Google Searches directly from App, as well as do quick calculations. TextExpander lets me use a text short cut to automatically type various text snippets. I use this for a number of things, for quickly typing my email, for various signatures in emails, templates for blog posts etc.

I think that is it for now!

DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend. If you purchase those items through my links I will earn a commission. 


About Petter

Demi-Norwegian Swede in Oxford. Rather churchy type.
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