I’ve been needing to write a paper for awhile now. I’ve started and stopped quite a few times, but have finally planted my ass on the couch and gotten to work. Sort of. I felt like I needed to be more organized before I began, and this is what I ended up with.
Purpose: Research paper, Reading, Writing
Device: Laptop, 13.1″ monitor, touchpad only
Applications: Chromium, WordPress, Xmind
System: GNU/Linux, Ubuntu 12.04
Setting up WordPress
In my WordPress procrastination time, I created a top-level Projects page and wrote a little about the things I’m working on. Later, I realized I could build upon that. I created a page for each project that I’m working on and a new subpage for each aspect that requires more work.
For this particular project, I created a blank Literature subpage. That is the parent of the pages that I am working on. I installed a plugin that enables my theme to show child pages with some shortcode. That way, every time I add another page (document), it automatically appears on the literature page.
For each page that is under revision, I password protect. Two reasons: I’m paranoid and don’t want my pages to be scraped, and I also don’t want to give off a bad first impression when someone stumbles upon my work. When I’m ready, I just change the visibility to Public.
Though I am not a fan of sidebars, I came to grips with it and realized I could actually use it to my advantage. If I find myself wanting to refer back to something within my site (or even external) I could just add a link. Later, remove it. What I would love is if I could just edit the page… on the page (inline?). Then I could always have my sidebar there.
Now I’ve got a document space to work with. I like this setup because I can open each individual page to its own tab. Since I’ve properly titled them all, I know exactly where they are in my browser.
I have not yet installed one yet, but I am planning on getting a Page to PDF plugin. When I’m done, I’ll just convert and submit. Copying and pasting might be just as easy.
I’m working in Ubuntu right now, and I really love the workspace functionality. Here is the visual representation of my setup.
Reference & Editing
Using Chromium, I open my documents hierarchically, giving each one their own tab. In this case, I’ve ordered them from left to right: Research notes/Todo, Overall Concept, Framework, and finally the document I am writing to. The left 3 are for reference, the last one is for editing. These are the only things that are open, and no additional tabs are opened in this workspace.
This is where I drag pages that I want to read after I’ve decided they’re worth my time. They are usually pages (‘unstuck’ from the search browser) or PDFs. Now, If I find something that I want to cite, I just press control+alt+left, and start writing notes into my paper. Back and forth. I can see where it came from by referring to the bottom left workspace.
I open a browser for searching. That browser is only for searching. I set the default action for opening new links to ‘new tab.’ I find its REALLY easy to get lost in searches. They get nested real quick and you forget where you left off. This eases those worries a little bit.
Ubuntu applications, file saving, transferring, navigating, programming, mapping. I also use that space to look back to and edit my Xmind diagram.
I find that the combination of having to use desktop applications and a singular workspace (Windows) was a tedious process that often interrupted my workflow and imagination. I do not like creating hierarchical folder structures and navigating through them on the file system. I have basically created a custom writing workspace where everything is just *right there*
I now feel much more organized and focused. I know what each workspace is used for and how to get there. I can see the heirarchy of my paper and can easily refer back to what I need to, using the Chromium browser for document editing and internet searches. I have a editing spot, a searching spot, a reading spot, and a application spot. There is still room for improvement with my WordPress setup. I could further break each Project into separate subpages.
Using workspaces up to this point has been sort of a subconscious thing, using them mostly to just move windows out of the way. I’m sure that this is what they were intended for, and have been used this way by many people. At any rate, I’m glad I finally figured out how to best use them, and look forward to setting up more environments in the future.