Keeping my projects in zen-like sync across devices and geolocations
I’m visiting my in-laws in Galicia and the items on the desktop of my (old) MacBook match those on my iMac that’s my main machine. In fact, the amount of sync between my devices is pure bliss; I don’t bat an eyelid picking up where I left off on Friday, thanks to the following setup.
If you’re wondering if it’s worth switching on iCloud backup for all files- it is. I already had DropBox pro, but honestly, with some of the bigger iCloud plans per month, this isn’t necessary except that dropbox integrates with more apps outside of iOS. iCloud takes care of everything I forget to store in Dropbox.
For writing anything from blog posts to webcopy or newsletters, I use IA writer because it’s distraction free, works on Mac, Android and iPad and syncs everything to Dropbox and iCloud. This means I can edit a previous draft on my ipad on the train up here and switch to my laptop when I have some more space.
IA writer publishes directly to Medium and WordPress , and has a satisfying ‘typewriter’ mode in addition to it’s excellent focus mode. On my iPad, I like to combine this with the typewriter keyboard from Hanx writer. It’s ok to make work pleasurable.
InVision & Sketch
For sharing prototypes, version control, collaboration and sharing progress while working, I use InVision. InVision is the solution to a lot of miscommunication problems. You can put comments directly on aspects of the design so there’s no confusion about which title you think is too big, for exmple. It lets you hold VoIP meetings inside the design screen and draw freehand on designs in progress.
Its Sync feature for sketch adds its own folder to your computer to sync online. So when I change devices, I have my files updated on my laptop because of that extension. It also lets you roll back to a previous version of the file in sketch or look at previous versions of the design in the web viewer, which saves time and sanity. I don’t have to fork my files so much and send over both of them anymore.
For handover to development, it has all the specifications in “Inspect” mode. The only thing I wish it had was something like commit messages and an ability to say “this is an official finished version” of a particular design, but it does have a built in kanban board to indicate when a design is approved.
Everything that’s not a desktop wallpaper is either saved to my iCloud (personal files, Numbers files), InVision cloud, or dropbox pro (internal work, side projects and client work). This system made setting up my new iMac a breeze. Once my programs and their plugins where installed, I just waited for my files to sync, and I was ready to roll. When traveling, everything I’ve been working on is current on my MacBook.
Asana and Trello
For organisation of tasks, depending on the project and I’m working with, it’s either Asana or Trello.
Asana is easier on the go because all the functionality of the web version is available on mobile, like being able to convert an item in a checklist to a task, and covert that task to a project (which they often turn out to be). Asana is easier for organising epics and stories, but Trello is more friendly looking to a project management newbie with its backgrounds and stickers and ability to copy public boards means there’s less of a learning curve. Trello is a ‘gateway drug’ for project management tools.
GTD & Paper
I live and die by GTD, and I use a paper planner in an A5 Filofax for this. This is my catch all system for keeping my entire life organised, keeping all those incoming ideas saved so I can focus on the task at hand, and for keeping my calendar uncluttered.
While I do not replicate project planning steps inside the planner, large deliverables are in my paper agenda since they take time in my week and unlike Dr Who, I am bound by the laws of time.
This is another advantage of paper. It has clear limits on what can be put on it and that forces me to prioritize what’s worth doing.
I have a separate planner for product ideas to save and flesh out at home. If you’re in any kind of creative field, I highly recommend a similar system for fragments of ideas. Just reviewing my ideas binder leads to even more ideas. The binder system means I can insert as many pages as I need to while expanding an idea. And I can sketch wireframes in it directly without a hundred euro pen.
Stress is the killer of creativity, the father of inaction, and a sure fire way to burn out.
Stress is a waste of time and energy – and I manage both very judiciously.
In addition to killing my notifications, and I’ll talk more in my next post about how my workflow is structured to deliver calm and quantified focus time so I can review and improve it.