Tools and Defining Flow
Portions of my work flow are highly automated. I like to let the computers tools do all the heavy lifting, and I stick to the parts that I enjoy the most. I do tend to stray from the grammar checkers as my material is a tad strange, and I still use books to even that material out.
But the tools shape how I work.
That was the premise, and the direction, how the tools I use shape the way I work.
For example, here on the weblog, the journal at astrofish.blog, my wandering miscellany? Two primary pieces of software currently define my workflow. One is obviously the back-end, the web motor, the ubiquitous WordPress. “It’s what’s under the hood.” The other is called “Ulysses,” as a text processor, no relation to the novel of the same name.
WordPress is the motor. Like the metaphor, it’s what’s under the hood, and as such, it is messy. There are valve covers, and brake fluid reservoirs, a dipstick for the motor oil, another dipstick-like thing for transmission fluid, spark-plug wires, then a wire harness itself for the truck’s audio crap. It’s messy. Slam the hood down.
The tools define the current workflow patterns, just because, just because? Just because it seems easier that way. The idea of the tools defining the workflow and then, the tools defining the outcome, that sprang from looking at how I bang stuff together to make this happen.
Because the current typewriter is that “Ulysses” word-processor, although, I think, text-processor would be a more accurate definition, since that’s the starting point, it’s easy. There are three “folders,” although, again, the terms are largely irrelevant as there is no paper. But the three directories each hold current materials with the fleeting ideas hastily transcribed as a single text document.
The top folder is material that is current, ideas that will be hatched, posted, and dropped into the whirling maelstrom of the electronic distribution cycles with almost immediate gratification.
Because I’ll use a window on an iPad or a laptop, I make an effort to only keep, roughly, a half-dozen “working” documents in that top folder. Stuff that needs to be cleaned up, made tidy, and then posted. Will be posted within days, hours, or minutes of opening.
Finally there’s a deep folder, with titles, ideas, and stories that are not fully formed — yet. Typically this would be labeled, “Under construction,” but I use it as a catch-all for ideas. That title, “Under Construction,” with its images? Over-used. Just think of it as material that is in process, some deep and percolating, and some more current.
When I pick up a book to read, digital or dead-tree, I’ll start a document, a page, a sheet, with the book’s title. I can make notes as I read, if I want to.
When I’m working like that, at least I title and document started, in place. I can play fast and loose with that, and frequently, in the cited example, for sure, I get distracted and forget to make notes.
Currently, this is the arrangement, how it works. I stumbled into this portion of the process from using ByWord, a similar front-end text-processor. As a basic tool, it worked great, but the additional file and interface goodies included in Ulysses is a boon for my style. Bit of learning curve, but worth it.
Tools and Defining Flow
The second part of the work flow, the tool, and how that shapes how I work? It’s WordPress itself. My window in the backend of there posts, what I do, how I manipulate the text to get the outcome I desire? Schedules and so forth?
The WordPress default shows the most recent 20 posts, which means, I can have the most recent 20 posts available at a glance. Before I get corrected, this seems to be the static default in WordPress’s control panel, and rather than customize it, I just tend to let it go at that. I can glance at the most recent 20 posts. In my way of working, that means I’ve got around that many written pieces spooled up and ready to post.
Rock shop days, big events in Austin, the various Sunday events in San Antonio, it’s easy to have some material prepared ahead of time. The first year I worked like that, I scheduled out the monthly ephemeris for the whole year, and then, with the rock shop and the changing of the signs, there were close to 40 entries already spooled up.
Was a problem, as I need to check before anything goes live, at least, I try and check one, last time — just to make sure. While it was super-convenient to have all that material ready to rollout on schedule, looking at it from the backside of the website, it was a pain. It was largely inconvenient for me. I would have to click through the first two or three pages of scheduled posts to see what was up in the next week — or tomorrow.
Tools and Defining Flow
The first part of Tools for Defining Flow is about two pieces of software I currently use. This could change, too, as it has, over time. For the time being? These two pieces of software define my work-flow.
The tools dictate the work-flow.
In part, it’s because I want to be able to glance at an open “window” — whatever the correct expression is — a screen, on the tablet, laptop or big monitor, and at a glance, I want that pane to tell what’s on deck, what’s scheduled for immediate publication, and how far I’ve got stuff in the mix, prepped and ready.
When I was looking over a book I was reading, and looking what I thinking about what I was reading, I noticed that the way I worked shaped the work flow, and the tools shaped the flow.
My tools seem to define my work flow.
As always this can be subject to adjustment.
See fineprint for details.