Gagdets and Clouds

This fall I kicked a 28 year-old habit: paper calendars. I attached myself to the cloud, started syncing dates, times, and meetings, and I haven’t looked back. Even though I’m immersed in daily tech (software & cameras), relying on it for day-to-day planning was a leap. I had learned time management using day planners and scribbling things in reporter’s notebooks. They existed physically and even though I only had one copy, I felt secure. Now, my info is in this cloud, and aren’t clouds places where one can go and become lost?

So, no more day planners to carry. What about the other notes and to-do lists I rely on? Where would they live? I’ve set up and tried several self-hosted/project management/web-based software packages, most recently ActiveCollab, and there are plenty of others to try, like Basecamp for example. These corporate-style interfaces are fine and they are for people who 1) like logging on to things and 2) are most likely chained to their desks. For anyone constantly on the move, a trip to the cloud is needed.

Enter Evernote. A simple yet great cloud dweller. It’s free for the basic level of service and for a few bucks a year you can turn on sharing and invite anyone to post, share docs and manage information from their phones, tablets, or desktops.

Since I’m airing laundry, I have one more secret. I use GPS. I don’t need it, I’m one of those odd types who never needs a map. But I’ve learned to trust it. It’s a tool, just like a camera, and for those who live on the road, it’s priceless. Garmin makes reliable devices, ones that link to my somewhat smartphone, double as a hands-free speakerphone, and also maps out directions from places I searched for on my phone.

So what does all of this mean, well, I’m hooked. And you can be too! But before you start searching for The Gadget That Will Fix Your Life, an old-school assessment of your needs, wants & habits is a great starting point to decide how to manage the ever-growing amount of info we all have to embrace.

Previously published on ASMP’s Strictly Business Blog.

John Welsh is a professional photographer from Philadelphia. He’s spending every spare minute in the northern reaches of Pennsylvania filming really old school and abandoned coal tech for a documentary about preservation. John is currently serving as President of the ASMP Philadelphia Chapter.

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