Or, 5 Reasons Why These Apps and Online Tools Will Make You Rich and Successful and Cause Your Wildest Dreams To Come True (Not An Exaggeration)
1. I use OmniFocus.
Now that my work involves pursuing tenure through professional development and scholarly contributions (that’s just the kind of boring sentence a tenure-track person WOULD write), OmniFocus is, like, my crack. I discussed its ridiculous features in this post in some detail, so I won’t expostulate about it too much here. Suffice it to say that OmniFocus is capable of breaking down large goals or projects into small, achievable tasks with plenty of reminder and due date options. I use it to catch all my half-formed ideas when I’m on the run, flesh out projects and objectives, and keep track of my progress. Oh, and lest I forget, it also gives me the opportunity to enjoy a smug sense of superiority whenever I check something off the list. And who doesn’t want that?
I can be obnoxiously smug sometimes. It’s a shortcoming.
2. I keep my meeting notes in an online blog.
So most jobs involve, like, a million trillion meetings. Honestly, what is that about? You really can’t just send me an email? Anyway, all these meetings require note-taking, which means you need a good way to record, organize, access, and preserve your notes (and that’s just the kind of boring sentence a librarian would write). But seriously, y’all, it’s 2012. Time to step away from the notepad and file drawer (or pile of random paper on your desk, if that’s your system). Instead, do this:
- Establish a free WordPress blog
- Adjust the settings to make it completely private
- Enable the ability to submit posts by email
- Create categories for different types of meetings (staff meetings, committees, clients, what have you)
- Establish a standard method for titling each post (“Weekly Staff Mtg 9/27/12” or “HR Webinar 10/4/12”, etc.) and use those titles every time
- Download a note-taking app with rich text editing and email capabilities, like Notemaster
- Use your phone or tablet to take notes in your meetings (and be sure to tell people you aren’t texting or you’ll get some really dirty looks)
- Code your notes with appropriate categories and tags—most important step of all!
- Email each new set of notes to your blog
And voila! Now you have a database of all your notes featuring built-in organization, instant access from any device or machine, and robust searching capability. Do you see the beauty of this system? If you’re trying to remember what your boss in that meeting six months ago about TPS reports, you don’t have to thumb through a stack of paper in a drawer somewhere. Just go to your blog and search your tags, or pull up the “Boss meetings” category and scroll by date. Immediate retrieval FTW!
3. I browse with Firefox.
Look, I know Chrome is a good browser (I actually use it at home), but for work purposes Chrome can’t quite compare to the level of customization that Firefox offers; plus it seems to work better with sites I visit often in the course of my cataloging tasks. And we’re not even going to discuss that other browser. What’s that you say? You like it? Excuse me while I scornfully harrumph. HARRUMPH SNARK HARRUMPH. Anyway, install Firefox. Done? Good. Now install some add-ons. My goal for my work browser is to give myself as much screen space as possible for actual content instead of wasting it on menu and tool bars, and I also like to speed up navigation as quickly as possible (I’m often jumping between six or eight different sites while cataloging), so here are my favorite add-ons:
- Bookmarks menu —> places your bookmarks folders on the nav bar for quick access
- Speed Dial —> make your home page and new tabs a panel of favorite sites
- OmniBar —> combine search engine and nav bars
- Translate This —> no more copying and pasting, just translate right on the page
- All-in-One Gestures —> use efficient mouse movements to quickly navigate through and between pages
With all these tools in place, I blaze through the web like a freaking comet. WHOOSH. That was me, just blazing by. I was probably saying “Suckaaaaas!”
Here’s how Firefox looks with all my customizations (click to enlarge!).
4. I store articles and manage citations with Zotero.
Being a cataloger at an academic library means reading a LOT of scholarly articles, plus a bunch of other documentation on cataloging standards and practices. At first, I was printing articles off as I found them and sticking them in a “to-read” file, but again, I find this paper-based system inadequate. Some of those articles are about the tenets of cataloging sound recordings, but others are about changing standards in encoding bibliographic data. My file doesn’t allow me to easily sort by subject or date or anything helpful like that—instead I just have to thumb through a pile of paper and probably get a paper cut and turn into the Autumn Monster. To prevent these distressingly Hulkesque incidents, I’ve started using Zotero, a free program that will automatically save articles, web pages, and other content to folders which you can label by category, author, format, whatever. But that’s not all—Zotero also generates citation info in dozens of different authorized formats (APA, MLA, etc.) so that if and when you decide to write a brilliant and exciting paper about the use of geographic area codes in the public catalog, your bibliography is already formatted and ready to go. And the very awesomest part is, there is a Zotero add-on for Firefox. It is so easy to grab an article while browsing, stick it in a folder, and tag it “to-read.” In fact, sometimes I feel compelled to say BOOYAH to the computer when I do it. Sorry, coworkers.
5. I stay speedy and secure with LastPass.
If you’re like me, you have approximately five thousand logins to various essential sites online. Also if you’re like me, you’re dumb and use the same password all the time. Well, stop that. ::reaches through internet and flicks your forehead:: It’s dangerous, as I found out when someone hacked my Gmail. I had to fly around in a panic changing Amazon, iTunes, Facebook, bank accounts, bills, and other sensitive stuff. And then I couldn’t remember any of those new passwords. DAMEET. So…enter LastPass. I found out about it from a rave review on a tech blog and I haven’t looked back since. It’s a free service that stores all your login information in a secure vault to which you set one master password and which you can access from any computer. You only have to remember that one single password to open your vault, and LastPass does the rest. The LastPass Firefox add-on will automatically retrieve and enter your login information into all your sites, depending on your settings and stipulations. So when I click my SpeedDial button for ClassWeb, the next second I’m in, no waiting or typing. And LastPass will even generate crazy good passwords for new sites if you want. But for the LOVE OF GOD don’t forget your master password. LastPass can’t give it to you or reset it–they don’t store it anywhere, which makes your account nice and secure but also a huge pain in the neck if you forget. Then you might turn into the You Monster. And nobody wants to see that mess.