Collaborating with Google Drive

When I think about what I used to do to feed my obsession with word processing, archaic software systems like WordPerfect 2.0 and Lotus 1–2–3 come to mind. I can’t help but remember the negotiating with any and every family or friend with access to the Microsoft Office Suite professional licensing codes. This was before Microsoft introduced Home and Student /Business Professional editions that were slightly more affordable.

I would covet those floppy disks and CD-ROMs as if they family heirlooms, and nostalgically they kind of were. Together with desktop computers, the nostalgia train brings back memories of the mainframe and first iterations of the laptop produced by trusty brands like the IBM Thinkpad, Toshiba, and Dell. This was in the late 1990s before Apple’s iBook disrupted its design, and made laptops lightweight and portable. We sure have come a long way in personal computing.

As for present day, I hail to open source collaboration with the Google Docs suite and Drive filing system. It has become my go-to word processing platform, and I honestly don’t know where I would be without it. I’ve been a devotee since a former manager introduced the sharing tool as a way for our team to live collaborate on presentations, and ease the frustration of accessing the company share drive from home.

Since then I’ve plied it as a consideration for collaborators I work with — friends, colleagues, even organizations with whom I volunteer. That’s not to say there aren’t other collaboration platforms available but Google Docs has proven to be the most effective (at least for me). I particularly like the Suggested Edits features which make it easy to track changes, as you would in MSWord or Pages. And I’m constantly discovering new ways to maximize my experience. For instance, I recently started using Explore, a feature that scans your document and then searches the web for related content to aid in research purposes.

Do you have a favorite collaboration tool? If so, how has it changed the way you work?

This article originally posted on Medium on 10 April 2107.

Driven to distraction: every single day

How many times have you had a great idea and filled with inspiration and momentum switched over to a productivity app or a post-it to jot it down only to be distracted mid-thought? This happens to me every single day.

I troll the Internet for advice on how to thwart distractions and sharpen my focus. The last time I Googled there were 25,000,000 search results to scroll through. 25 million! On just as many pages, I might add. Even Siri couldn’t provide an adequate estimate of time on how long it would take me to read all of it. Although there was a really great article on how to measure the distance of a light-year, but I digress.

And, has this ever happened to you? You’re in the middle of writing this amazing blog piece (literally, this one) and the processing unit on your Macbook starts to kvetch. You know what I’m talking about, the little rainbow pinwheel that seems to spin into infinity as all these thoughts run through your mind like a conveyor belt on overdrive. All the while you’re thumb typing a note on your phone as quickly as possible hoping to not miss a synapse of intelligence as you wait for the disk utility to run a diagnostic test. And you know it’s really bad when Force Quit is frozen.

“You can always find a distraction if you’re looking for one.” — Tom Kite

Then finally, you’re back to it…uhm, if only you could remember what IT was. Just kidding! But seriously speaking nothing is safe from the distractions of living in a technologically connected world. Even as I’m typing a friend is texting me sending a symphony of sounds through the apartment because although I muted my computer, all my devices are connected and well, you can figure out the rest.

The only time I can truly focus is when I’m on the mat. There is something soothing in the voice of the instructor, in the repetition of breath and movement, and yes, even in the ambient noises of my fellow yogis grunting and sighing through the poses.

My yoga studio is a 2-minute walk from my apartment (and my home office). I make a conscious decision to leave my phone in its charger while I’m at class. This is my daily 90-minute technology-free zone. For some, that may seem like a huge chunk of time, and for others, it may not seem like much at all but any amount of time you consciously dedicate to yourself is a positive thing.

When you will yourself to focus, the things that matter most rise to the top of your priorities. When you will yourself to focus, you cultivate resistance to the distractions that may cross your path. When you will yourself to focus you realize you are the key to your own success.

It’s something I have to remind myself of every single day.


This piece originally posted on Medium. Photo Credit: (c) Andrea Preziotti, 2016.