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Tech Resolutions from The Blog Studio: Working Smarter in 2011

Lucia Mancuso, 07 January, 2011 0 Comments

We’re just settling in to 2011 here at The Blog Studio, and we’ve been thinking about the New Year for quite some time. We know it’s going to be a big one for us. There is a lot of great stuff shaping up. We’re really excited to get cracking on some huge new projects, where we’ll have the chance to create some truly innovative work.

Starting a New Year is a good time to look forward, but it’s also a great time to look back. What did we learn? What can we change? What can we do better in the future? Personal resolutions are one thing, but we find work, especially tech resolutions much more interesting (We bet you do as well. No one wants to hear about how much less we’re going to drink, eat and smoke in 2011).

We threw this questions out to each other: What changes in your work patterns are you going to bring to bare in 2011?

LuciaPresident

In 2011, my goal is to have all documents using consistent and clear naming conventions. Our business is growing and we are adding amazing individuals to The Blog Studio team. My goal is to ensure any new members of our team can easily find any files needed and instantly know what version of the file they have based on the naming structure that file was saved with.

We deal with many files: revisions of logos, designs files, web code, among others. I’ve worked with many companies and find their naming conventions to be unnecessarily long and confusing. The key to useful naming conventions is keeping them simple and clear, even to those outside the organization.

JessDesign

For my New Year’s Resolution my goal is to: Maintain and organize my reference files a.k.a My Goodies Bag. My Goodies Bag consist of fonts, vectors, images or textures files I use on projects.

Having a well kept Goodies Folder makes your design life so much easier. Start by dividing and concurring your files into smartly named folders, you can base the names on file type, style, topic or even use. In my Goodies Bag, my most organized folder is my ‘Vectors’. Within that folder I’ve divided my files based on ‘Style’, ‘Patterns’, ‘People’, ‘Borders’, ‘Icons’ and so on.

Might take some time in sorting out your files and diligence for the upkeep but in the long run you’ll be much happier.

Mike CaputoDevelopment

I should be doing the backup thing for my personal computer- after I lost my 500gb HD last month… Dropbox works great.

MarkManaging Director

In 2011 I Will Stop Organizing.

Systems are sexy. If you’re a geek you love systems: systems for organizing your music, backing up your data, navigating the transit system, and making french toast. If you’re a geek you have more systems than you realize and probably spend more time maintaining them than you realize.

I recently did a time audit and was horrified to find I spend a full 30% of my waking hours organizing information.

Systems are great because they let our brains focus on the tasks at hand (I don’t have to worry about where my wallet is because if it’s not in my breast pocket it’s on my dresser) but they’re supposed to help us, not be the reason for our existence.

So in 2011, my resolution is to stop mucking around with systems and reaping their rewards instead. Of course my history of system mucking has created the systems that work for me so I’d like to share what I’ve learned in hopes of sparing you some time.

Web clips are the organizers greatest challenge. The randomness of topics is outstanding (eg. cute kittens to optimizing server farms) and it comes in all formats (text, photos, videos, and links).

There is one golden rule: every piece must have only one home. In other words, if someone asks you to find a note you’d know exactly where it is. The natural corollary from this rule is simpler systems are better (more on this later).

Of all the notebook software I’ve tried, I like Evernote, it’s excellent for several reasons.

Everything goes in: text, images, links, audio clips, PDFs

It goes in anywhere: phone, email, Twitter, Read It Later, a browser plugin

And is everywhere: Windows, Mac, a browser, iPhone, Android, BB, even Palm

Evernote uses tags like Gmail for organizing – very flexible but if you have too many you’ve just created a complicated system inside a simple one, not good. Use ‘Movies’ instead of ‘ActionMovies’ and fight the urge to sub-categorize. Keep it simple and you will use it more.

It helps to think of tags in two groups: (1) the type of content, and (2) the topic. For example, my types include Tips, Tools, Thoughts, and News. My topics include Movies, Motorcycles, Tech, Design, Gaming, and UX/UI. Each note has one type but can have multiple topics. When I add a note I ask myself ‘What type of information is this?’ and ‘What is it about?’

Finally, I have a list of tags with the ‘my’ prefix: myPeopletoMeet, myStories, myGoals, myExperienceIt, and myProjects. That yawning kitten video is funny but not something that’ll change my life. But The Death Race, now that sounds like something to do. TAG: myExperienceIt. I check that tag for planning holidays.

There’s a strange satisfaction to nerding out in systems but they’re ultimately tools and not tasks. So in 2011 I’m going to start using them properly and doing something with that extra 1/3 of my life.

Happy New Year. May you have good health, good friends, and good fortunes.

Mike DStrategy & Outreach

I will be anal about backing up my files in 2011.

It seems most people become backup fiends after suffering from a major data loss catastrophe. Luckily, I haven’t had that happen in quite some time (the last time I lost a ton of data it was on a 486DX, so that should put this in the correct time frame).

How am I going to accomplish this? I’ve spent quite a bit of time researching on the web, and picking the brains of my friends who do things like run server farms or spend most of their days on #Rails. So I’ve got a plan.

I created a folder that contains all my truly irreplaceable documents. Work documents, blog posts, contracts, proposals, strategy sets, writing, and photos. I have this folder synced to Dropbox, the wonderful cloud storage service app. Whenever a change is made to one of these documents in this folder, it gets updated and pushed to the cloud for safekeeping. I also created an Automator script, which will backup this same folder each day at midnight, by saving it to a USB stick drive, which lives permanently in my USB hub.

Next, I setup Time Machine, the OSX backup program, to do a complete system backup of all my files each day at 3am to an external hard drive. With the Time Machine backup, I’m able to do a full system restore if a real disaster unfolds, or I spill a bottle of wine onto my Macbook.

With this system I have all my one of a kind work stored in 4 places: on the hard drive of my Macbook, on an external hard drive, in the cloud and on removable media, with the stick drive. Unless the entire Eastern Seaboard gets hit with a comet, a la “Thundar The Barbarian” my data is as safe as possible.

Thundar the Barbarian

Feel free to check in with us, and put the screws on a few weeks from now to see how we’re doing. You can always leave us comment and let us know what we can do to make our resolutions stick. Don’t be afraid to call us out, it keeps us all honest.

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