In this second post, I am going to talk about a method, rather than a tool (software). I call the method “mirroring”. The method is a complementary approach for syncing. I generally like syncing files across my macs and iOS devices. The problem is: syncing is possible only when the app developers offer it. For Sente, for example, you can sync your Sente library to your Sente in IOS. But, you can not do so to other applications such as Devonthink; or Scrivener. The tags in Sente are not visible in Finder; and the notes and annotations, all are specific to the application. It is a locked application in that sense. Most reference managers are lock-down applications, unfortunately. I would be wise to avoid them; but they facilitate workflow.
Therefore, since I am relying on Sente and other locked applications, for my work flow, mirroring is a way around the locking weakness. What do I mirror? I mirror my projects.
My works are project based. I move from one project to another; writing small articles and developing small pieces of works for my dissertation is what I am doing, and will be doing for the next two years. I already talked about how I organize my PDF files based on projects. How do I mirror it? I mirror my project inside Sente to Finder by creating a folder. For example: if I am working on a project called “Object Shift”; i will have a tag in sente with the same name. All the PDF files that I will need to read will be tagged “Object Shift”. Look at the following picture: When I double click the Tag, Sente hooks me to what I call the project mood. The project mood is my favorite mood for reading in Sente. It also helps me to see the relationships and differences between the papers.
Now, I have all the papers I believe are important for the project. I then read and annotate them as fast as I can; and export the annotations to a Folder in Finder. The folder I create inside Dropbox is a mirrored folder; with the same name. The folder itself is inside a big folder called “Projects” which itself is inside Dropbox. That mirrored folder (“Object Shift”) is where I keep all the notes I export from Sente as well as the Tex file I will finally compile it to a finished paper. The “Project” folder is indexed inside Devonthink. Therefore, anything I add inside “Object Shift” is automatically available inside DT. Now, you see I am in a good shape. My project files are in a separate folder inside Dropbox; but still in communication with the rest of my files inside Devonthink. The next step is to develop a dozen of search algorithms (smart groups) inside DT that will hunt down all the relevant files to my topic. File selection and grouping in Sente is manual. Grouping inside DT is automatic. There are both pros and cons for for manual and automatic approaches of grouping files for project. I combine the two to get the best results.
As I have mentioned, I have “Object Shift” inside Sente, Dropbox (a folder) and Devonthink (indexed). I also open a project under the same name inside Scrivener (I use it for some projects) and also a paper folder tagged with same name where I put all the papers relevant for the project. That is mirroring.
It is a way of organizing myself wherever syncing is not available globally.
I mirror not only the projects and folder; but also the Statuses. The Statuses that I assign in Sente, demonstrated in the first post, are used across the board: inside Devonthink, Finder (Path Finder), Scrivener and even printed papers and books. Their application in the printed materials is actually quite interesting. I was a reading a book titled “How to Read a Book”. In that book, the authors have a notion called x-raying the book. X-raying a book is going through the major sections of the book, and evaluating the organization of the topics to evaluate the topics for your purpose. It is very effective method. I have developed the habit of examine the Table of Contents, the Sections and Sub-sections of the books before I read them. As soon as I finished examining the book, which takes just 2 minutes, I assign my statuses to the sections; with small notes; by attaching small stickers on them. That way, I will make sure that I l read the “Must Read” sections; and skip the “Repelling” sections (too much details or digressions) etc. As one can see from its multiple applications (on folders, projects, books and articles), I can say that Mirroring is rather a habit; a useful habit to get things done.
You can make it your habit too.