Get Things Done with Windows 10 Timer

For years, I frowned at the idea of timing my work—“I write dude, I’m not getting paid by the hour!” I repeated myself. But I was wrong. Sure, I’m not paid by the hour, or it would be a misery if not less than that, but writing takes a lot of time and one’s time is limited. One’d better know how and where one spends it.

Timing my writing, in fact all of my work, was the best change I’ve ever made to my work routine. And it is still is, even if the way I do things, and the time I need to do them, constantly evolves.

It helps me to roughly know where I’ll be at the end of every day, no matter what. It’s also very useful to realize where I waste most of my time during any day, and to fight procrastination.

Every morning, accompanied by a big cup of coffee, I will start working around the same time (very early) for a 45’ or a 2h session, depending on what I want to do. I’ll take a short break after that first session, and have breakfast. Then I’ll start another session often, but not always, followed by another break. Rinse and repeat, until a day’s worth of work is done. After that, I’m free to do whatever I want.

During a session, I’m not allowed to go check my emails, Twitter, and so on. It’s just the work to be done, and me.

Here is another trick I use: to make sure I’m not tempted to waste my time online, I have a separated ‘work’ account on my computer, where I don’t have Twitter or email configured, no games either. Nothing but my word processor, a couple dictionaries and the notes I need in order to write (using OneDrive for storing my files, makes it really easy to share the one I need between my two accounts). During a session, I’m allowed to not write if I feel like it but the thing is that I quickly found out that looking at an empty screen, with nothing else to do but stare at it, is quite motivating to start working 😉

As you can see, beside the use of two separated accounts, there is nothing fancy in my ‘method’, that is merely a stripped-down version of the Pomodoro technique. And there is nothing complicated to it: it doesn’t require any sophisticated app, any timer should do.

To my surprise, I discovered that Windows 10 comes with its own timer. I wasn’t expecting much of it, but I thought I could give it a shot before spending money on yet another app.

You now what? It does the job.

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Quickly Create a Focused Workspace

My desk is a mess, so is my desktop.

A screenshot of my desktop filled with various windows, plus the ebook I'm reading opened on top of them all. A mess.And that is only one of my two screens. I fill the other one with Sticky Notes, OneNote, the spreadsheet where I outline my work, and a couple other stuff.

But even if I thrive in a such a mess, I often like to focus on a single task, be it reading, or writing, or whatever. At those times, I don’t like having any mess around me on my screen.

I could use virtual desktops, or I could Win+D to hide everything save the wallpaper, and then only show the app I’m working with. But there is a simpler, more focused, and much faster solution. Continue reading Quickly Create a Focused Workspace

Add a Period After Pressing the Spacebar Twice

Typing a period after each sentence is something the computer should do for me. It’s something a Mac will do: I press the spacebar twice and, bam, I get a period. No need to use the stupid “Shift+;” on my azerty keyboard.

Windows 10 can do it too, with a little help.

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Notepads, at last a modern Notepad alternative

Screenshot of my desktop with Notepads displaying the draft of this blog post. Using Dark Mode.

Notepads is not an alternative to Visual Studio Code, but it’s a great alternative to Notepad, Windows 10 default text editor. An alternative that Microsoft should have offered a long time ago, imo.

It’s open source, it’s fast and it sports a modern UI (aka a clean and simple interface, supporting Dark mode, with tabs). And Markdown support is planned too, btw.

It’s available as a beta on GitHub, but I have had no issue for the week or so I’ve been using it.

(Source)

Make the content of Markdown files searchable in Windows

If you use a custom file extension for your Markdown files—like .md, or .markdown, or whatever—instead of .txt, Windows will only index their filename, not their content even though they are still text files. So, any Windows search will completely ignore their content.

It’s silly, but the good news is that it’s easy to change this by telling Windows that your .md or .markdown files are to be treated like standard text files.

  1. Press the Windows key and start typing “Indexing” until it suggests “Indexing option”. Open it.
  2. A small old looking window appears. Click on Advanced, in the bottom:
  3. Another window opens, click its File Types tab to see the list of all the file extensions used on your PC. Scroll this long list until you find your own Markdown file extension (md, in my case):
  4. Click your extension once. Then look at the bottom of the window and check Index Properties and File Contents.
  5. Click OK.

Done. Windows will need a few moments to rebuild its index but now the content of your Markdown files will be searchable too. Yeah.

The Dictionary app on Windows?

Why the macOS Dictionary?

As a writer, Dictionary is one of my favorite apps under macOS. It’s also one of the most underestimated.

It includes English, French, German dictionaries, and a few others. It comes with an integrated French-English dictionary, and others I don’t use. You can use it as a front-end to search Wikipedia. Add to that a tight integration to macOS—you can invoke it from almost any app containing text, with a gesture or a right-click on a word—it’s hard not to love this app.

The Mac Dictionary, with a partial list of dictionaries.

Continue reading The Dictionary app on Windows?