Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Sneaking Markdown Into The Office

I don’t have to tell you how much I enjoy using Markdown. I use it for the majority of my writing, and have even taught it to a few people. While they haven’t become hardcore Markdown users, they now understand my enthusiasm for it.

Having said that, I also understand that Markdown has its limitations. One limitation that people keep bringing up with me is that they can’t use Markdown in a corporate environment for general documents.

Or can they?

Over the last 20+ months, I’ve been sneaking Markdown into the office. It’s boosted my productivity and has made doing several routine tasks a lot easier.

Curious about how I do that? Then read on.

Why Markdown?

Instead of, say, a word processor? Word processors have their uses. But I find for many tasks they just get in the way. Using Markdown, I can focus on what I need to do and not worry about a bunch of features I won’t use getting in my way.

On top of that, for whatever reason I can get into a flow more easily working in plain text than I can with a word processor. It’s that flow that make me more productive in the office.

Picking Your Tools

Obviously, the first thing you need to do is grab a good Markdown editor. A regular text editor is OK, but I find that a dedicated editor makes working working with Markdown much easier.

What do I recommend? When I work in an environment that uses Windows, I turn to MarkdownPad Pro. Or, if I’m able to use a virtual machine on a Windows desktop, I’ll install a Linux distribution and use an editor called UberWriter.

At the moment, I’m working in a very mixed environment. As a result, I do my work on a MacBook Pro. I tried a few Markdown editors for MacOS and settled on Mou. I also write notes in nvALT, which supports Markdown.

Getting to Work

Well, that’s simple isn’t it? Fire up your editor and start writing. Once you’ve written whatever it is you need to write, that’s when you have to make a few choices.

If what you’re working on is for your own consumption, then keep it in Markdown. If you need to share your work, then you can convert it to HTML or PDF. Or, if your colleagues demand a Word file then install Pandoc on your desktop and convert your Markdown file to a Word document)http://scottnesbitt.info/2013/08/21/markdown_to_word_processor/).

Is It Really That Easy?

It can be. In some corporate environments, your workstation might be locked down. That means you won’t be able to install anything on your desktop that isn’t approved by the IT department. If that’s the case, you’re out of luck.

On the other hand, if you’re working for a small or medium-sized business chances are you have some choice about the software you can install. If that’s the case, then you’ll easily be able to incorporate Markdown into your work routine.

Do you use Markdown in the office? If so, why not share your experiences by leaving a comment?

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