I have purchased a new PC. Specifically a laptop so I can be a bit more mobile with my digital life. Some of the travails of this purchase are described in this posting, but I haven’t really talked about how much this laptop has upended my workflow.
For one thing, I learned that my long-time personal financial software, MS Money, had been discontinued and that I’d be moving along to Quicken in order to preserve my historical data. This depressed me because I’ve had years and years to get used to MS Money, it’s quirks and it’s keyboard shortcuts. I could enter receipts, balance accounts and pay bills really damn fast. Now I’d have to learn something new. Blah.
On top of that, there’s the fact that this new PC came with Windows 7, yet another example of Microsoft moving buttons around for reasons I can’t figure. They all still basically do the same things, but they’re named differently. Whatever.
Then there’s just plain getting used to a laptop, with it’s different keyboard and form factor, using a touch pad (although I’ve got the wireless mouse at home) and the smaller screen. It also has tripled the number of wires that are running loose on my desk, which is an unfortunate consequence of picking your computer up and toting it around. The only solution to that one is to get a spare charger for the wall a docking station, but I don’t feel like spending money on that.
But the really big impact is to my workflow for handling receipts, bills and correspondence. Not only do I have to change up the way I’m using software, I’ve actually had to physically move the areas I use as holding stations and Inbox because of the way the laptop will take up space and occupy parts of the desk that used to be clear.
It used to be that my desk was divided into thirds, with the left third being the home of my “inbox” area, where I’d toss receipts and bills and notes and anything else that needed to be dealt with, in the manner of the Getting Things Done process. The middle third was devoted to work area and the flat screen monitor and keyboard could be pushed back and pulled forward depending on how much space I needed. The right third was for my general storage area for [stuff] such as things that hadn’t gotten filed yet, pens and paper, desk lamp, cats…i.e. random stuff. Things moved from left to right across the desk. The exception to that is the microphone shown in the image above. It lived on the left side of the desk because I could shove it into the corner when I wasn’t using it, and it’s footprint at desk level wasn’t big enough to interfere greatly with the inbox. As a kind of incentive, it also encouraged me to deal with the inbox before doing any recording so that I wouldn’t scatter things everywhere when I was pulling the microphone out.
Now however, given the position of the wall outlet the laptop will be hooked into, the way cables will be draping to hit the second monitor and the wireless mouse, plus the microphone, I’ve declared that the left side of the desk won’t be suitable for loose receipts, etc. The reason is that every time I drag my laptop charger across it, I’m going to be scattering shit to the wind. That will not only make my life more difficult, but it will also piss me off. So, no more left side inbox. Which means that the right side has become both the inbox and the transition area for [stuff]. I haven’t figured out yet how to keep those things separate in an efficient manner.
So right now, my office is kind of strange to me. It’s also a bit cluttered and I don’t have the easy ability to generate “work” space because my laptop sits in the middle of that and the box holding up the second monitor would prevent me from pushing the laptop toward the wall. When I have a moment, I’ll probably whip up a stand that the laptop can fit under and the second monitor will sit on, but I don’t have the time right now. Too much other stuff is going on. Jenn’s tenure dossier is two weeks from done, Dragon*con is coming up and I have this “work” thing I keep going to every day.
This is rambling, yes, but some people like to read about it.