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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Trading a Paper Pile for Web Tools

A stack of research and editing ahead. I'm trying to use more Web-
based tools. What do you use? Photo | Elizabeth Humphrey
When I get busy, my desk tends to be on the receiving end of my chaos...and piles of notebooks and dozens of notecards of research notes. This morning I cleared off the desk (see pile to the left) and vowed to try to stay un-buried from a mass of papers and index cards. Of course, this is the same week I've received a hard copy of a memoir I'm editing and two research-writing projects, so I'm not sure how well my vow will stick.

I confess that I print too much. I realized it was getting out of hand when I thought about printing a 35 pages for a quick turn-around project. This is one of a ga-zillion projects I'm working on. Printing helps to keep the information in front of me, right? Well, if I didn't have my nose buried in my computer I could see the research. So I need to make more of an effort to bring the research to my nose. I'm trying to improve (smarten up?!) my use of the computer and the Web.

I've used Web browser tools sporadically. But I now have three timely reasons to get to know what these browsers have to offer. Some will help me with research and writing projects. One I hope will help me with Thanksgiving plans (which I think we can all relate to!).

1. Talking turkey. What more can I say...we're hosting. But we plan to ask for help and since our 20-something nephew and nieces will be bringing dishes, I plan on putting together our meal plans and recipes then sharing the digital notebook with the other chefs. A tool that has a buzz is Springpad, which has a Thanksgiving-themed contest going on. I'm hoping that using it for Thanksgiving will help me learn more about Springboard's sharing capabilities (for those collaborative projects).

2. Finding (and using) more. I have a few Add-ons with Mozilla's Firefox that I've used, such as Evernote, which can synch to the different computers and mobile devices I use. But it had been a long time since I checked out what Evernote has to offer. Evernote has added its own Trunk Apps that add even more functionality to Evernote, so I plan to re-engage with Evernote and add apps from Evernote's The Trunk. This is great for tracking research and keeping up with various projects.

3. Virtual index cards...and sticky notes. I've been using Google's Chrome and for years, but only as basic Web browsers. This week I stumbled across Chrome's Marketplace. I could spend hours looking at the different applications available. But one that caught my eye to help me stay focused is Scribble, which can send notifications to me and is touted as "stickies on steroids." I just need something to jot ideas on that won't get swept away as the kids whoosh by my desk. (Or eaten by the dog!)

Have you used any of these tools for your writing or life? Any recommendations for online tools that have helped keep you on track and out of the chaos pile?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a North Carolina-based writer and editor. On this 11.11 she would like to thank all the veterans for their service to our country.


  1. Anonymous6:09 AM

    Hi Elizabeth -- ironically I have just read a few posts about "getting back to long hand" with writing-related tasks. I just started exploring chrome apps too. I'll need to check out the stickiness. They sound useful.

  2. @Julie - I am all about "getting back to longhand..." I've done some research on the brain-to-hand connection, and it's important.

    But...I am testdriving evernote right now. I think I will like it, but sometimes I forget I have my that capability and grab a post-it note instead.


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