Today I am talking about virtual spaces rather than physical spaces.
Did you know that the Mac OS and Windows both have ‘virtual desktops’. These let you customize the desktop for different users on the computer (e.g. which folders are viewed, what the background image is etc.)
You can also create a new desktop to ‘store’ a special project. Say you are working on an article or a book. Remember way back to the days of index cards that you would take notes on and spread on the desk to organize and catalogue as you got your thoughts together? Use a virtual desktop to do the same thing. Did you know you can highlight text or images and drag them onto your desktop to make clippings. It works from browsers, text editors etc. As you are drafting, take the work from a session and make a clipping on your virtual desktop. As you are researching, drag facts, figures, details onto your workspace as clippings. Obviously if you are working on a piece of non fiction, make sure to note the source for later use in bibliographies.
Then when you get to the point where you’re ready to start writing, go ahead and organize your clippings into themes or chapters or an outline right on the virtual desktop and start writing. Most of us have 21 inch monitors or larger so it is no trouble to have our word processor or desktop publisher or blog editing website on half the screen and our clippings available to drag right into our final project for composing, cleaning up and polishing. (It works beautifully in Word but the drag and drop does not work pulling the clippings back into the native editor I am using right now on the WordPress site. Now that’s ironic.)
You can add short cuts to specific apps or tools that match the project, like your image editors or analytic tools, on the virtual desktop. You can have a different desktop for each project.
Using the virtual desktop is a way to open up the project when you are working on it, with focus and resources specific to the task, and slide it away when you are not by going back to your default (hopefully uncluttered) desktop.