Morning Tech Routine: Top End style

As always, Geniaus has set me thinking with her recent question “What’s your Morning Tech Routine”, originally kicked off by this post on ReadWriteWeb where a number of techies responded to the same question.

Once I convince myself I’m awake, I head downstairs. First chore of the day is to hit the kettle, second chore is to boot up the laptop. When both are ready I’m set for action.

I prefer to start the day  on the outdoor deck/verandah we have – it’s not large but it overlooks the garden and sets the day up nicely. Given our predictable weather this plan works much of the year, except during the Wet, so occasionally I’m driven inside. Plan B: the chair, coffee cup to hand, laptop on the lap.

First things first, and finally learning (a little bit!) from all those staff time management sessions by expert Hugh Kearns, I try to focus on any new writing projects while my brain is fresh and my sub-conscious has had time to cogitate overnight. How long I spend on this will depend on what the activity is and whether it needs photos or more research. This is where the Flip-PalTM  comes in handy for a quick scan of an image – finding them can take longer. If I’m editing a draft I may look at it first thing in the morning with fresh eyes. If it requires detailed research for a blog or family story I leave it to later. In between I top up the coffee, eat breakfast, dip in the pool, shower etc.

It’s only when I’m a bit tired or I’ve got other commitments that day, that I start the day with blogs or emails. Otherwise I can wind up doing everything except what I planned for the day, especially when writing is on my agenda. Some days are really low tech: lately I’ve been reviewing my masses of notebooks to see what I need to get into digital form.

Mid-morning I move on to emails with a focus on the personal ones – the email feeds are read later in the day. I’ll then keep an eye out on emails while I work, as they flick up on my screen en route to Outlook.

Lately I’ve been trying to stay focused on what I want to achieve for the day, rather than be reactive. There are so many family history tasks on my list that I really need to start working through them methodically. What are my priorities, what is really important to my family history? Am I doing a course that I need to do some homework for? Am I maintaining my daily log of what I’m working on as planned?

Fortunately my laptop is small and lightweight so I’ll work outside until the heat drives me in or the laptop battery expires. It’s then into the study and connect to the big screen, superscanner etc –and the air-con at this time of year. I save certain tasks for when I’m all linked up: Transcriptions etc are so much easier on the big screen, as are the fully researched write-ups of family history….the room is lined with books and folders. As an empty-nester, recently retired, my day is my own to a large degree.

Blog reading is usually reserved for my down-time: a chance to see what’s happening in the world of family history and comment on posts I’m reading. For this I often use the ipad for its portability and convenience (scammed the “loan” of it from my husband). I learn so much about different lives, different research strategies, what’s new, etc from the blogs.

Blogs are relaxing so I read them over lunch, for a break from whatever I’m working on, as bedtime reading.. Of course sometimes blogs will send you off on another research trail but usually in a good way…I can end up with lots of tabs open. I follow a lot of blogs on Google Reader and they build up incredibly quickly. Most are family history blogs with a smattering of others for leavening. I like to comment on my favourites, even if I don’t get to them as soon as they’re posted. Occasionally I’ll even tweet….but rarely.

Twitter seems to be a step too far for me much of the time…it’s not that I’m averse, but if I get into tweeting all the time I end up not doing other things. Facebook is a whole other ballpark and I simply rarely bother with it….I’ve never been a fan. Google+ I’m enjoying though still learning…I love the circles and ability to focus on specific circles and to learn from others.

When I’m out & about during the day I’m more likely to check Tweetdeck or emails on my smart phone if I’ve got spare minutes while waiting for someone, or blogs if I’ve taken the ipad.

Living in Darwin, with very limited opportunities to attend information sessions, this is how I spend much of my week. Periodically we’ll be fortunate to have a visiting speaker through GSNT, like Shauna Hicks or Suzie Zada, or a family history session at the Northern Territory Librarybut these are always weekend events. Other than that I try to keep weekends for family time. These days my “outside” family history research is reading the diverse and wonderful microfilms available through the local LDS family history centre where I also volunteer as a co-librarian…a win-win for me as it helps keep the place open. Are microfilms at all techie? Probably not, but I’d give up lots of other things before I’d give them up!

The cat exercising madly...he loves being in the garden too.

Discovering the international world of blogs and daily newspapers, and Google+ with a smattering of twitter, my family history world has expanded and I no longer feel isolated

from what’s going on out there…though sometimes I’m mighty jealous of the sessions others go to, so I need to pay more attention to the available webinars.

What’s lacking: some switch-off time from family history and lots more exercise…like the cat, I’m far too sedentary.

So that’s my (morning) tech routine. Thank you to all those who help me to feel part of a community: even though you’re a “million miles” away.