My Electronic WorkflowJul21

Saturday, 21 July 2012 by haemoglobin

After two years of being in London I have refined my electronic workflow to the point where it works so well I’ve been wanting to document it. It has a nature of having circles of information flowing seamlessly between different services, eventually settling in the right place for you to deal with at the right time and in the right place. It also works very well if you spend periods of time with no internet connectivity such as commuting underground or travelling.

The setup for me looks like this, devices on the outside with supporting apps, and cloud services down the middle:

Workflow

 

    A well managed information flow between devices of course requires all information to be stored in the cloud. All the boxes down the middle are places on the internet where my life in essence is stored, and can be accessed easily from any device or any internet cafe.

    These are:

  • Pocket (formerly known as Read it Later)

    • A brilliant service for saving internet articles to read later at a time that is more suitable. The really well made iPhone/iPad app will sync these articles for you to read offline anywhere and at anytime. If offline, it will remember your marking of read items so it will all sync up again when connected to the internet next.

    • Both Byline (RSS) and Echofon (Twitter) have Pocket integration so articles can be sent in from there to read later. Byline does a much better job at queuing links sent to Pocket when offline, Echofon on the other hand annoyingly requires you to be online which not as convenient, hence the dotted line. You can however send links to Pocket via email which will always work offline on the iPhone/iPad.

    • Most of my reading of long articles I wait till I see it inside of Pocket as opposed to reading directly from Twitter/RSS feeds for the simple fact that if it takes too long to read, I’m blocked from seeing any of the other twitter / rss action until I’m done.

  • Google Reader

    • Still the best RSS service around by far and great source of information. Byline is the app I have been using to process these for a while now and it does the job well. As mentioned above, Byline integrates with Pocket very well.

  • Twitter

    • Another great source of information in our industry. Echofon supports online integration to Pocket. 

  • Buffer

    • A service that I have started using for queuing up tweets and sending them to twitter at set times to avoid spamming followers with flurries of tweets all at once and have them more evened out. It is very sleek and allows you to have 10 items in your queue at anytime for free. Buffer accepts email as input which makes it very easy to integrate and send tweets from any application (and allowing tweets to be sent offline).

  • Gmail

    • The best webmail service out there. Syncs great with everything.

  • Toodledo

    • My main to-do list service now which I am very pleased with. I have written about my conversion to Toodledo in a previous post. The main importance in the workflow is the ability to send tasks to Toodledo through email. Most apps in iOS can send email which means you can send yourself to-do tasks from any application that has some information that you want to capture. This is a great way to get info off iOS and into PC land for “proper work” to be done on it. Emails also queue very nicely offline in iOS and all the emails will send out automatically as soon as you walk into a wifi/3G connection again.

    • The  Toodledo app will also sync 100% offline to your iOS device.

  • Evernote

    • A great place to keep your reference material / notes. Evernote does great apps across all devices.

  • Dropbox

    • A fantastic online file storage that most people are already using. Not normally too much part of information workflow, but it can be – for example a to-do list task or an Evernote entry may refer to a file in Dropbox which you can access from wherever you happen to be. 

Circles of Flow

As you can see in the diagram, a piece of information can come into the system, captured and shifted around until it settles to where it should be. For example, someone writes a blog post, it enters your system through Google Reader then shifts through Byline –> Pocket –> Buffer –> Twitter, and all of this can happen even if you are offline.

It’s the level of disconnection I think that is healthy, as opposed to always feeling the immediate need to stay on top of everything, as you know it’s in the system and you can read it later when time and priorities match.

It is also very easy to send myself to-do items to Toodledo via email (either from within various apps or directly) which then come into an inbox/processing bucket there. In true GTD style I then process this inbox weekly into the right area within Toodledo (i.e give it a due date / importance / context). This is another area though I have refined which is essentially a zoomed in part of my overall GTD workflow above, which I can definitely save for a future post.

Bonus: The drawing above was made with Lucidchart, I’m always on the lookout for cheap and easy Visio replacements, this has great integration into google drive and works well!

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