I’m a big fan of the “I’m XX and this is how I work” series on lifehacker. It’s quite interesting to see how successful folks manage their time / work-spaces / etc. The contrasts are interesting, e.g., between Ira Glass (of this American Life) and Nathan Blecharczyk (of AirBnB).
In any case, I figured that since I’m not getting asked by Lifehacker anytime soon, I’d do one of my own with a bit of an academic slant…
What are some apps/software/tools you can’t live without?
Probably the biggest no-brainer is Dropbox, which I use for everything (both work and personal). It’s crucial for keeping projects synced with collaborators/students/TAs/etc. Sometimes we run a SVN inside or use github to get tighter management of code, but often dropbox is enough.
For teaching, I’m a big fan of Piazza. I really can’t imagine running a large class without it at this point. Typically questions posted by students get responses within 10 minutes (either from TAs or other students) and then I have an archive of these questions that I can use to improve the course in future years.
For travel, my assistant got me using TripIt, and I’m a big fan now. It keeps everything in one place and syncs it so I have all the details I need even when offline. Saves a lot of time on the road…
For presentations, most people complain about powerpoint, but I think it’s a great tool. Especially the newer versions are much improved. As an academic, once you create a keyboard shortcut to start a tex equation in a text box (Alt-1 for me) then it’s smooth sailing (at least on Windows).
Of course email is a large part of my job… I use gmail for everything and am a big believer in Inbox Zero. So, the only things I have in my inbox are the tasks I want to accomplish in a given day. The key things I use to manage that are filters in gmail (it’s amazing how freeing it is to set up an “AcademicSpam” filter, mine is a little more complicated than the one suggested by PhD comics) and the boomerang plugin. I just started using boomerang recently, but I already can’t imagine not being about to send messages at specific times and have them leave the inbox only to pop up new at a later, scheduled time, i.e., boomerang them.
Setting up meetings can be a pain, but is much easier with when2meet. I don’t know why anyone still uses doodle…
For writing, I use winedt with sumatrapdf (which integrates much more tightly than adobe, e.g., you can click on the pdf and winedt takes you to that part of your code). And, for blogging, I use latex2wp to convert tex to wordpress format.