Alright, so recently I’ve spoken with a number of people about workflow in OSX. Now that so many people are getting Macs (yay!), people are learning to use them to be productive as well as have fun. The following is a quick run-down of how I use my Mac to be productive every day.
First explanation: I stay busy. My “main job” dictates most of my computer usage. I sell promotional products with ACI | Angela Conrad, Inc. I absolutely love my job.
I also work as the Production Administrator for New Life Church, which involves lots of time in Planning Center Online, lots of time in email, and a WHOLE lot of time communicating with our team and our volunteers (around 50).
Last but not least, I own Grocery Gopher. We’re a full-service grocery shopping & delivery firm based in Central Arkansas.
E-mail & communication
I send an average of 250-300 emails a day, while receiving closer to 400 (usually only about 250 requiring responses). I’m also traveling a lot – I work at my office some, at home some, in Starbucks some, in client’s offices some, etc. For this reason I definitely suggest using webmail, or pushing all mail to GMail or an Exchange server… Being able to access all email is crucial to pull back up quotes, proofs, etc. Plus, Apple’s new boolean search features will allow you to use Mail & iOS devices to search all mail on the server (yay for those of us with over 14K saved emails). I also find that responding to email as soon as it’s received is the best bet… If you let it stack up it’s too easy to get behind. If I’m not in the office responding as messages are received, I make sure to respond 3 times daily – once before leaving the house, once after lunch, and once before bed.
My job deals a lot with design. For this reason, I leave Adobe Illustrator & Adobe Photoshop open all day… I only keep open what I’m actually working on, especially in Photoshop. Render files will kill your speed & bog down your hard drive. Now that Adobe CS supports tabs, keeping things organized is much easier.
Notes & important info
I leave text edit & stickies in my dock. Both come standard on a Mac and open really quickly. I leave usernames & passwords that I use frequently in stickies, and current project notes in a file in text edit. I leave a shortcut to my list of projects in my dock all the time (this file is called AC List – as soon as I speak with someone about an order, quote them, or talk to them on the phone about any specifics, the details go into this. I can be on it in seconds flat, but don’t leave it open). Getting to these things quickly without leaving them open all the time is crucial, and for me this is so much better than having them tied up in a web based interface. It’s what’s tried the test of time here.
The biggest thing for me here is definitely how I save & organize files and also how I use Expose & hot corners. This is all found in System Preferences –> Expose. I don’t use Spaces – I found it to be more cumbersome than beneficial. My top left corner is Desktop. When I go to the top left corner, all windows fly off and show the desktop. My bottom right is all windows… it shows everything I have open at the time and lets me access them quickly.
Next, I work off my desktop. All files get saved to my desktop before going to their final destination. At the end of the day I clean it off – delete what needs to be gotten rid of, and then send everything else to the appropriate folders. Since I save so many files, my desktop can get nasty quickly. For this reason I only keep what’s current on there, and I keep the labels as small as possible. To do this, option click on your desktop, choose “show view options”, change icon size to the smallest possible, and put the labels on the right. Then you end up with this:
Next, my top right corner goes to my screen saver, which requires a password 5 seconds after starting (this can be changed in System Preferences –> Security –> General (choose “Require password 5 seconds after sleep or screen saver begins). This way when I get up and walk away from my computer I know that nobody will be snooping.
Finally, I use a MacBook Pro 13” and have some preferences I’ve developed over time. I leave tapping enabled (where I can “click” on something using my track pad without having to physically push on the trackpad – I can just tap it) to make for quieter computing. I leave 2 fingers as a secondary tap and 2 fingers as a scroll. This is the same as the “right click” function and scroll function with a Windows PC or with a mouse. This lets me do all this without having to move to another peripheral or take my hands away from the trackpad. I leave my dock small with medium magnification so I make the most use out of my screen.
This is probably what will vary the most from person to person. I work with a number of clients and have multiple projects going for them at a time. For that reason, I have a specific naming system for everything. For example, if I was doing pens for New Life, I’d name the file as NLCPens6.11. I never leave any spaces in the file name, and the client name is always first. For this reason, OSX’s spotlight feature makes it very easy to find files for clients that I don’t do a ton for (for example, a family that orders reunion shirts from me once a year doesn’t warrant their own folder – they go in a “occasional” folder with the same naming system as everything else). Files are then organized by client:
Inside the client folders, I leave things organized by the Date Modified so I can find what I’m working on:
All this works together to make files quick and easy to find and my workflow goes quickly and smoothly.
Any thoughts or questions? I’m always anxious to find out what other people are doing to make their workflow smooth.