Most likely you use more than one computer in the course of a day—a work computer and a home computer, maybe even a laptop and a desktop. That means you've got at least two workspaces that can get horrendously out of sync if you don't keep them in check. The key to staying productive at all your computers is building a consistent workspace—that is, a computing environment that is the same (where it counts) everywhere you use a computer. Today we'll highlight several methods for creating consistent workspaces so that whether you're at home or work, your bookmarks, essential files and folders, favorite applications, email, and calendars are all in perfect harmony.NOTE: This post was inspired by weblog Scholoastici.us' 5 Steps to Creating a Consistent Workspace. Several of the author's suggestions differ from my suggestions below, so I'd encourage you to check it out as well.
Sync your Bookmarks
For your most frequently accessed bookmarks, we recommend syncing across Firefox installations with Foxmarks. Alternatively, you can enhance your browser consistency with synced bookmarks and browsing sessions with Google Browser Sync. If you want to go really advanced, you can sync your Firefox extensions and profiles across computers.
When it comes to prolific bookmarking, social bookmarking apps like Del.icio.us provide a great way to keep your bookmarks organised and accessible wherever you are. There are a few desktop applications that make accessing your bookmarks quicker and easier, like Windows only Deliwin or LocalDeli and the Mac only Delibar. If you prefer doing it all from Firefox, there's Del.icio.us Complete or the official Del.icio.us Bookmarks.
Keep Your Calendars in Check
If you have the option, web-based calendaring doesn't get much better than Google Calendar, if for nothing else than it's simple and powerful web presence. If you prefer using a desktop application to access your calendars and schedule appointments but you still want access to your calendar from the browser, you can sync Google Calendar with your favorite desktop calendar application.
Consistency in Your Email
Web-based email has never been better than it is right now, so if you have a choice, apps like Gmail or Yahoo! Mail are great options for complete consistency. No matter where you are, as long as you've got a web browser you can access the same email interface and folder/label structure. If you're using Gmail, the Better Gmail extension can really help you supercharge Gmail with features that rival even your favorite desktop email application.
On the other hand, if you're set on working with desktop applications, using Portable Thunderbird means you get the same email no matter where you go and you don't need to worry about messing with IMAP or keeping email filing structures or organization methods consistent on different applications.
Sync or Consolidate Essential Files
Microsoft's cross platform application FolderShare syncs files and folders across both Windows and Mac computers. For those of you who've never used FolderShare, this step-by-step example should help you get started.
If you love the command line, you might prefer mirroring files across systems using rsync.
Lastly, if you don't want to deal with syncing files and folders across different computers, just carry around your important files on a thumb drive. For extra organizational punch, try out our guide to organising "My Documents".
Go Portable with Your Programs
If you really want to keep all of your application data consistent no matter where you go, you should go portable and carry your life on a thumb drive. There are currently a load of excellent resources for finding portable software that you can run from your thumb drive, like web site PortableApps. A few of my favorite portable applications are:
- Internet: Firefox Portable
- Email: Thunderbird Portable
- Text Editing: Notepad Portable
- FTP: FileZilla Portable
- Chat: Pidgin Portable
If you don't feel like picking and choosing portable apps and you've got at least 105MB free on your portable drive, you can just grab the entire PortableApps Suite.
Let us know how you keep your many workspaces consistent in the comments.