Rebuilt My Computer, Trying to Reorganize My Business and My Life, Using One Note Software as a Tool

As the fall marches forward, I’m in a dismal state of disorganization. The old “it must get worse before it gets better” goes double for me right now. I spent the weekend reorganizing my computer.

I’ve wiped my C drive and fdisked it (I know that sounds dirty, but it merely means it’s all clean and “brand new” in a tech sense) and reloaded the essentials. Now, nothing has gone back on the machine without a considerable amount of thought. I’ve even decided to go back to Outlook and upgraded my Office Pro to accommodate my new needs for a Notes program.

I’ve loved NoteStudio on my Treo. Loved it! But, as I have used it, I’ve wanted more functionality than it provides. I started using the desktop version as my “everything” organizer for client meeting notes, ideas, snippets, writing, article ideas, notes to myself, notes to others, etc. And, since it didn’t have all the functionality I needed, I started looking for a more expansive program like it — one that offered more flexibility AND spell check.

What I found was One Note, a Microsoft program. I looked for another vendor, ANY vendor that had the functionality I needed, but didn’t find one. And, to get the full functionality — I needed to re-adopt Outlook. So I spent last week calling all my techie friends that are still using (or once again using) Outlook to see if the most recent version is worth the upgrade.

I’ve been holding out on the upgrade for about two years, thinking “I don’t need an upgrade, I only use Word and occasionally Excel.” I did upgrade the Publisher product about a year ago, because I found that I needed the new features on that one. I got fairly good responses from the majority, so I took the leap.

I STILL refuse to use IE — until they fix the security nightmares AND give me tabs and the kind of flexibility that I enjoy in Firefox — forget it! That will lose me a bit of function in One Note, but not too much. I’ll accept that loss.

So right now, I’m working on a newly rebuilt machine all loaded up with my fresh new software and nothing extra — and it’s acting a bit flaky. I had hoped to use it as my main machine for another year. I had a PLAN. I’m tired of spending quite so much of my life on staying up with technology all the time.

I want to find my optimum level of technology. My perfect degree of geekdom. Where it benefits my life, and doesn’t take over my life. Where I don’t spend one perfectly good weekend — like the one just past — reworking my computer instead of enjoying my time, writing, spending time with my family, taking a nap, taking a walk, or any other number of things.

So, my plan was to downsize my software holdings. Remove anything and everything that wasn’t essential from my “reinstall” list. I want to be more free with my work.

As always, I’m looking for a more mobile solution. I’ve been seriously considering a tablet PC. If I do that, the Treo won’t have to work so hard, I’ll have a better sized screen for all my work. I know that the tablet PC will never give me the power that a laptop or a desktop can offer, but as I continue to focus my business and deepen my niche — I am losing the need to maintain quite so much software.

Since writing and marketing consulting is my thing, I don’t need all the high-tech geek programs onboard. I don’t need to maintain them all. As time goes by, I continue to focus more specifically on writing. This requires even fewer tools. More creativity, more research, more me — and less “stuff” to tote around.

In the past year, most of my writing is related to marketing for real estate agents. It’s a good niche for me. I enjoy my clients, they like my work and I’m just geeky enough to stay on top of what’s happening on the tech front and how that will affect Internet marketing for my clients.

I use the dual-prong approach of staying on top of the technology changes which impact online marketing and adhering to the rule that content is still king on the Internet. I’ve had several inquiries from clients, potential clients and even website visitors about my status as a real estate agent. I’m not an agent. Considered it seriously a few years back, but didn’t take that path. I like it, though, I like staying informed about real estate and using that thirst to help my real estate clients. I tell my clients to niche. I tell my peers to niche. And I still seem to keep my own fingers in too many pots.

Yeah, I’ve really niched down compared to four years ago. REALLY niched down… but there’s more focus in my near future. More that I need to do to narrow my field and to keep only the most necessary of tools. My business is built on my belief in the importance of communication — with the public, with my clients, with my clients’ target audience, though new high-tech venues, through marketing, advertising and public relations.

Communications is it. That part of my business — of ME — will never change. What path I take in the forest of communication continues to diverge from the general and become more defined. I believe that the Tablet PC is the tool that will best serve me as I get there.

I’ll still have to keep a desktop at the office for graphic-intensive work like publisher. I’ll still want to have a “hoss” machine at my disposal in the office, that will never change. I also want to be able to have a backup machine. Right now, with an all-in-one, I’m sacrificing weight and battery life for power. I think for about the same price as a desktop replacement notebook, I can have both a tablet PC for 80% of my work and for increased flexibility and still have the “jammer” on the desk in my office for serious CPU-taxing tasks. We shall see.

Right now, I’m still in the dreaming stage. Still doing research on what’s available, what battery life can be, what power is to be had in the under 4 pounds group, and what the things are costing right now.

I have the list of the requirements for my own needs… and I’ll find the perfect match, or the perfect minimal compromise device soon. But for now, I just hope that my laptop holds on a few more months. Maybe a desktop would last a little longer than my laptops do. I wear out a machine every year. Every year. They start with small problems, but after a couple of trips into the shop, it’s time to replace them.

It usually begins with an optical drive or a hard drive crash, sometimes it’s a CPU or a heat-sink, every time I retire a machine, it’s well-used and seldom has any letters left on the keys. I literally wear them off. At the office, I hook up an auxiliary keyboard, an “ergonomic” one – and even it has letters that are severely faded, slick and worn down.

I have to keep a machine up and going at all times. I can’t, in my business, do without my machine. When I don’t have it, I don’t work. It’s a simple fact.

I like the “all in one” idea. I like not “spreading things about” with multiple platforms. But… I’m seriously considering a main machine and then my “everything” tablet for writing wherever I am. I dunno. As the year nears the end, I’m scurrying about to put my tools in place, to make my decisions, to get my personal and professional “ducks” in a row before January 1st.

I’ll let you know how it goes.