Productivity tips for authors ‘on the go’

Q: As a “pro on the go” what do you do to ensure you can stay productiveEric Schmieder

A: Eric J. Schmieder, author, presenter, and computer technology instructor:

“As a corporate trainer and adjunct instructor, I am always on the road and find myself relying more on my mobile device to stay connected, stay productive, and better prepare me to get things done when I do find a place to land with my laptop. I find it important to arm myself with the best tools to keep moving on my long-term projects.”

1) What are some basic ways that you keep up with multiple responsibilities using your mobile device?

“It almost goes without saying that my calendar is what keeps me focused and my email is what keeps me communicating. I have my calendar synced with my wife’s phone as well and she can easily see when I am available and when I’m not so I can balance family appointments with the rest of my schedule. My email accounts from several schools push to my phone and I can handle student needs as they arise without having to plan hours every night to read and respond.”

2) What do you use to stay current with technology as a source of your writing and teaching?

“Believe it or not, LinkedIn and Facebook. I took the time to seek out groups that provide quality information in my field on both networks. Although it’s easy to get lost reading posts, I generally check each three times a day – in the morning, at lunch, and before bed. It’s just enough to keep me informed and connected.”

3) When inspiration strikes, do you have a tool for gathering your thoughts?

“Mind mapping is my ‘go to’. I use several apps for getting ideas out and organizing them into something useful. Right now, I am using MindNode and Trello to keep up with the ideas. They’re easy enough to get the ideas down, but not designed to make you think in complete sentences.”

4) How do you get your ideas organized to be ready to work when you do get to a computer?

I use OneNote religiously. I have notebooks for every area of my life and work. Each notebook is divided into sections and filled with pages of resources, links, and more. The biggest benefit of OneNote is that I can start on any device and pick up where I left off on any other device so there’s no need to recreate something when I get to my computer – I just open it in OneNote.”

5) Do you have any tips for optimizing time on the road or in between classes?

“Talk to your phone – not on it – to it. It started with my desire to not text and drive and became my way of taking notes, sending messages to myself, and more. The built-in microphone lets me dictate content into any app that I could use the on-screen keyboard with – and I talk faster than I type on the screen.”

6) What are the best built-in apps on your mobile phone for staying productive?

“Notes and Reminders. I’ve found myself keeping less formal ideas in the built-in notes app and when they flourish, copying them into my OneNote notebooks. The reminders work the same way for my “to do” list items. Between the two, I always have something to keep me busy.”

7) If you could suggest a productivity tip for using your mobile device that would surprise people, what would it be?

“Make time to waste time. Play games. Surf social media. Watch videos. Take a break at least a few times a day. Just because you’re always connected doesn’t mean you should always be working. I have three games that I play pretty much every day – SongPop 2, Fantastic Beasts: Cases from the Wizarding World, and Blackjack. You know what they say about all work and no play. These keep my brain active, but give me a chance to breathe and act thoughtless.”


For over 15 years through the North Carolina Community College System and North Carolina State University, Eric Schmieder has taught thousands of students to be more efficient using computer technologies. For more tech tips, be sure to join Eric during his session “Time-saving Tech Tips: Optimizing Your Production” at TAA’s 30th Annual Conference in Providence, June 9-10.