Monday, January 14, 2013

Productivity Time - Getting work done no matter what PC you're on

Incase you didn't know, I'm a huge fan of SkyDrive, a Microsoft based product that let's you store and share document's in the cloud, giving you access to your files no matter where you are.  As such, I have been deemed a member of the SkyDrive Insider's program.  Should you be interested in becoming an insider, learn more about it here:

As mentioned previously in this blog, I had the opportunity to teach at a local college for the first time this past Fall.  The experience was as rewarding as I had anticipated it would be, but the impact to my personal time was, easily, triple of what I thought it would take to appropriately prepare for class.  My father's sage-like wisdom was "be careful how much homework you assign, you have to grade it".

Life was very difficult and hectic for a few months as I attempted to appropriately balance full-time work (and a job switch to boot!) along with some side-consultation, fatherhood, normal husbandly duties, and attempt to get some me-time in as well.  One such tool that helped me navigate these murky waters was SkyDrive.. let me explain:

The Situation

Every morning, my alarm sounded at 6:15 am.  A quick brush of the teeth and finding a pair of pants that aren't too wrinkled, I threw some gel into my hair and was downstairs by 6:35 (that's right ladies, ready for work in 20 minutes total).  I would waltz over to the Keurig coffee machine, make a quick cup of coffee, and turn on the laptop.  Enjoying the quiet of the morning before the 2 year old is running around the house doing what 2 year olds do, I would work on my classroom notes and presentations for the week's class, having until 7:55 am before I had to shut down and head to work. 

After arriving at work and tending to my normal duties, the day would eventually make it's way to a lunch break.  When afforded the opportunity to devote some time to my school work, I would crack open the necessary books, open the appropriate presentation files and continue to work and be productive.

The end of the work day would hit, I would pack up and go home, spend time with my daughter and wife, get my daughter in the tub and eventually into the crib, and use any extra energy I had towards finishing up my work.

What this has to do with SkyDrive

In the background of all of this was having SkyDrive - a cloud based storage service that let's you store files and folders on the Internet, giving you access to files anywhere you have Internet service.  With SkyDrive installed, I could open a PowerPoint and Word file (or even just a text file!), edit the file appropriately, and save the file.  While the file saves locally, a copy is also stored on the Internet, making it available to you away from your PC.  Therefore, I was able to work on a file at home, or at work, at my convenience, all without having to worry about thumb drives or any other media, or even emailing files back and forth from personal email accounts to work accounts and so on.

My favorite feature, however, was that I didn't have to worry about versions of Office either.  At home, I have Office 2007, while at work I have Office 2010.  With SkyDrive, you can edit files on the Web, meaning that you don't even have to use Office to edit a file, it's all done within a browser.

How does this magic occur?

There are plenty of resources on the Internet about using SkyDrive, and the setup itself is painless, but I'll give you a brief overview.
  1. Go to and login using a microsoft account - if you don't have one you can set one up for free.  Signing up for SkyDrive automatically gives you 5GB of free space
  2. Go to the app store to download the SkyDrive desktop application -
  3. Once installed, a folder on your local PC will be setup to sync files to SkyDrive, meaning that any file you edit in this folder is automatically available on your SkyDrive.  So you can edit a file, save it, and then go to and have access to that same file!
  4. Installing the SkyDrive desktop application on multiple PC's (say your work PC as well, if your system administrator allows you to do so) gives you access to your SkyDrive files.  Meaning you can edit your files on one PC, and have the file update automatically on the other PC
Look for future posts on using SkyDrive, editing files in the Cloud via your web browser, and even sharing files for other people (such as students or family members).

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