Welcome to part 1 of Techno Trauma, a series on the various programs and apps I use as an author–though most aren’t author specific and can be used for everything from recipes to shopping. I admit, I’m not as techno-savvy as I once was. Probably because I just don’t have the time to learn all these new programs that keep popping up. As much as I like keeping up with the latest gadget, I’m also partial to the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. However, as an author in this fast-paced industry, I can’t afford to be left behind. We never stop learning.
For writers, there are countless programs meant to make our lives easier. I don’t always go looking for these programs, because a lot of the time, in trying to make my writing life easier, I end up complicating it. If I invest time in a program, it’s usually on someone’s recommendation or because I happen to stumble upon it and a light shines from above when I learn my way around it in a few minutes. For writing, I use Microsoft Word because it’s familiar, I know my way around, so why change it if it works for me? Obviously everyone will have their favorites programs and apps, but these are my faves and what works for me.
Google Chrome – Yeah, I know, Google evil, taking over the interwebs, blah, blah, blah. The fact is, as annoying as Google can be at times, their apps are easy to use, and the way everything connects makes things easier for me as an author. With Google Chrome, I can have apps I use on a daily basis sitting there when I open my browser. Just one click away. Here’s what my browser looks like when it opens (click image for full-size view):
As you can see, aside the gorgeous theme created by Cath Kidston, these are my most used apps at the moment. When I click on my Gmail icon, I’m already logged in and there’s my email. On the top right hand side, you’ll see a little Y! icon. Clicking on it will take me to my Ymail address which I have set up solely for my yahoo groups. That way I don’t miss all the lovely posts from folks, and my Gmail doesn’t bust something from all the emails. I have 5 email accounts, and no, it doesn’t get confusing, because 3 of them are Gmail and all accessible under one button, which also happens to be next to the Google + button which notifies me when someone adds me to their circle.
But why so many emails? It helps me keep track of everything, prioritize, and not miss anything. Keeping separate emails has been one of the best things I’ve ever done in my world of crazy organization. And aside the rare occasion when something goes to spam, so far it’s worked out great. Let me break it down.
- Gmail 1: For business use. This email is for my communication between me and my publishers, where work-related receipts are kept, this is my personal author email address. Notifications from Goodreads and my author website come here, as well as my website backups. Emails that have to do with my writing and its process, uses this address.
- Gmail 2: For personal author use. This email address is the one I use to chat with author friends, my lovely beta, reviewers, where my subscriptions to author, review, and writing websites come. I also receive Facebook notifications here.
- Gmail 3: Personal. This is the address I use to chat to friends and family. It’s under my real name, and is also where Netflix tells me what DVD has just shipped. Also, this way when I sign up for a shopping website or anything, it doesn’t get shuffled between important emails.
- Email 4: Official Charlie address. This email address is for all things Charlie. It’s where all the lovely readers get in contact with me. It’s where comments from the Tea House come, where I connect to folks and set up promotional stuff. I use Thunderbird for this email address which is the little blue bird pinned on the bottom bar next to the heart. This email address is part of my domain name so I need an email client for it, otherwise it would probably be Gmail too.
- Email 5: Yahoo. I like to keep up with all my different yahoo groups, though I don’t always have the time. Most of my groups have heavy participation which is great. The thing is, if I put my notifications on digest, I never look at them, so I keep almost all of them on individual emails. Of course that means A LOT of emails. So my inbox doesn’t look like a war zone, I keep a separate ymail address for Yahoo related stuff.
I also have all my email addresses connected to my smartphone, so I’m notified whenever I have a new email. My phone is set to either make a notification sound or buzz depending where I’m receiving email. All this makes sure I’m always connected and don’t miss anything. It also makes getting back to folks a whole lot easier. Keeping most of the email addresses with the same client makes it easier, and Google lets you switch between accounts with one click.
I also have Gmail offline which allows me to access my email account when I’m not connected. These days, nothing’s more frustrating than losing your internet connection. I have my YouTube button, my Google Search button, Picassa–where I host my images, WordPress-which I’m always logged into so I can access my dashboards, Thesaurus–for when I’m writing posts. This next one is Wunderlist.
Wunderlist is a nifty, super easy to-do list/task manager which you can set up to email you reminders. I have to have things jotted down in several places to remind me or things will slip my mind. When it comes to scheduling, I use my wall calendar, my daily diary, and Wunderlist. Between the three of them, they keep me informed of when something is due either from me or a fellow poster. (Click on image for full size). I love it’s simplicity and look. You have your lists on the left, you add your item at the top, pick a due date and a reminder date. You will then receive an email reminding you on said chosen date and time. That’s it. Then like any list, you check off an item once it’s completed. And yes, I also have a Wunderlist app on my phone which syncs up with the one on my PC.
The next apps will be featured in other parts in this series. One being Evernote, which I started using recently and LOVE. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to give it a chance. I’ll go more in depth into Evernote in Part 2. Then there’s Feedly.
When Google announced recently that they were going to get rid of Google Reader, my first reaction was, “Well, crap. Now what.” I did a little research and admit that the look of a program does make a difference to me. I want something that’s user friendly, and very easy to access. I have enough content in my reader without having to take up classes on how to use said reader. Feedly, in my humble opinion, is awesome.
Feedly imported all my Google Reader feeds, which I was dreading having to find all over again. It also let’s me sign into Facebok and Twitter, the feeds appearing on the right hand side under recommended Amazon books. You can choose from different layouts, different themes, you can organize your feeds, tick them off as you read them, see how many likes they have, and more. I also have Feedly on my phone. See, with my Gmail email address, I can log into all these apps and have them all synced up on my PC and phone. My Google Chrome app on my phone syncs up with my PC which means all my bookmarks are on there as well. And that’s why Google’s okay in my book.
Thursday, May 2nd will cover Evernote and why you need it, especially if you’re a writer. Soon to come, Dropbox, Google Drive, Photoshop, and more.
Hope this post was a little useful. Stay tuned!
Do you have any programs you’d like to see covered? A program you’re curious about, or do you have one you can’t live without?