Self-isolation status report: Finding a new pace

Photo by Mr.Autthaporn Pradidpong on Unsplash

As week 5 of self-isolation trudges on, I’m finding a new pace to get work done and to keep moving forward. Last night, I mustered up the motivation to work out with my new kettlebells and plan to up my exercise game yet again today.

Here’s what else I have going on:

  • I won the jackpot last night and was to get an Amazon Prime Fresh delivery through, which made me feel good.
  • I’m still washing my hands…a lot.
  • I’m trying to get better at eating again after the first few weeks of shutdown.
  • I did the author review on my latest article for which should be live soon. There should be another article following up right after that one.
  • My hope at the start of the current shutdown was to get some personal writing projects done and published and I’m moving forward on that plan. I’m still not happy with publishing articles on LinkedIn. In fact, so unhappy that I’m experimenting by publishing the same article to Medium (since it now supports canonical links).
  • I sent out some pitches to new markets and keeping my fingers crossed I can find some extra work.

Tonight, the plan includes getting back to writing for an upcoming TechTarget article and spending more time with my kettlebells.

How goes your self-isolation?

Week 2 ends with some lessons learned

Photo from Pexels by Pixabay

Friday normally represents a changing of gears for me. It’s the end of the workweek. It’s a day off from the gym so my evening is free to fun and other pursuits. I look forward to Saturday morning when I can go to the gym and then go work on personal projects. Well, my gym is still closed but I’ll be writing a new article for TechTarget tomorrow.

Lessons learned during the last two weeks:

  • Go to the grocery store first thing in the morning with a list of items. Be prepared that some of what I want won’t be in stock
  • Keep my airpods charged up at all times
  • Keep a to-do list, even if it’s overly ambitious, and prioritize personal projects
  • Keep to a schedule even for personal projects and tasks
  • Try to take some time for fun even if you have to put the time in your schedule

What are some things you’ve learned during the last two weeks?

Integrating Atlassian Confluence Cloud with Microsoft Teams

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I’ve been following the rise of Microsoft Teams for some time now as the collaboration tools geek that I can sometimes be. The third-party integrations coming available in Microsoft Teams continue to get interesting — throwing away the old Microsoft rule of a 100% Microsoft stack — by enabling integration with third-party SaaS and other applications. I’m especially happy to see the Teams integration with Atlassian Confluence Cloud.

Confluence Cloud and the Teams Store

Microsoft Teams uses an app model for easy integration with Atlassian Confluence Cloud. The app store model is well known so while Teams doesn’t break any new ground here, I did find the store to be responsive and easy to use.

Microsoft Teams Store Landing Page

Microsoft Teams integration made easy

I’ve long been on record that collaboration and group chat applications need to be open to the end users instead of being locked down with service desk tickets being the only key to unlocking them. When administrators give users the appropriate Teams and Confluence privileges, it’s a real easy install and integration.

Click on Store from the sidebar of the Teams application. The Store appears. Search for Confluence and Confluence Cloud selection appears on your screen.

Confluence Cloud in the Teams Store

Select a Team in which to add Confluence Cloud integration from the Add to a Team: drop-down list. Click Install.

Now select the channel where you want to use Confluence Cloud. Click Setup. You only have to do the setup once for Confluence Cloud to be available to authorized users across your other Teams and Channels.

Next, follow the prompts from the Confluence Cloud dialog box. You can now add a reference to a Confluence page residing on your Confluence Cloud. Here’s an example:

When you click on View in Confluence, you are taken directly into Confluence to the page or File list.

Teams + Confluence Cloud

The integration between Teams and Confluence is a smart move. It shows a Microsoft that looks beyond its own technology stack by offering their enterprise customers the tools they need to get the job done. Confluence Cloud is a favorite of DevOps teams because it offers authoring tools that SharePoint just can’t touch.

I’m also a proponent of project teams choosing and managing their own collaboration platforms. Using Microsoft Teams makes that easy because while the company itself may use SharePoint as their standard collaboration platform, their DevOps team can still link to Atlassian Confluence — their preferred collaboration platform — to get their work done.

Personally, I like the thought of using this app to send links to documents or pages to busy executives and others who might shy away from using Confluence.

Why will you be integrating Confluence Cloud with Microsoft Teams?

I’m a technical writer and content development manager living and working in Northern Virginia. Over my career, I’ve written bylined articles for ITSearchOperations, DevOps Agenda, Mobile Business Insights, CNET TechRepublic, and others. My areas of interest include cloud computing, DevOps, enterprise mobility, and collaboration tools. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly.

5 things about task lists

When I was freelancing full-time, I gave lots of thought to task lists (in particular my own) because I was managing lots of small projects like articles and blog posts. Task lists kept me on track to meet multiple deadlines every week. On top of that, I’ve written about productivity apps like task list apps for WebWorkerDaily and TechRepublic in the past.

Like many people out there, I try to refine my workflow and tools so I can be as productive as possible and create replicable processes that help mitigate errors and improve the quality of my work.

  1. The road to productivity is paved with discarded iOS task management apps.
  2. Simplicity is in the eye of the beholder.
  3. Productivity is in the eye of the beholder.
  4. Task lists once a traditionally personal affair are now meeting the cloud in tools like Asana where they can be extended to whole project teams.
  5. Some people are better organized electronically than in hard copy, the reverse is also true.

How do task lists impact your productivity?

The productivity apps I turned to in 2018

I had a short list of applications across my Macs, iPhone, and iPad that I use every day to keep my work and personal projects on schedule and organized Unlike past years, my list has shrunk in size to some trusted favorites:


Task lists run the professional and personal projects that sometimes dominate parts of my life. I’ve been through a lot of iOS and Mac to do lists in my time. Todoist checks all the boxes for me because I can sync tasks between my iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Over the years, I spent time using OmniFocus, Things, Outlook, and a few other apps.


There’ve been points in my career when I’ve been managing loads of smaller projects that stop and start — articles, blog posts, and smaller documents — so I came to Trello because it lets me create and manage workflow. I can also leave notes to myself as to why a project got blocked, or I had to stop working on it.

The other net benefit of Trello as a project management tool for technical writers is that programmers, engineers, and solution architects understand because it lets you manage a content project in much the same way they manage their software development projects.

DropBox Paper

After spending so much of my writing life with Microsoft Word, I came to DropBox Paper for personal writing projects (like this post) because a minimalist word processor gives me a blank canvas.


I’m a longtime Evernote user, but I found myself using OneNote more often this past year. Whether it was keeping notes for my day job or using it to keep track of some personal project planning it home, OneNote knocked Evernote back to being just an archive for articles interviews and the other random bits and bytes I accumulate while researching articles and blog posts.

Honorable mentions

I want to say I’ve found a calendar application that I swear by, but I can only say that I’m OK with Fantastical as my calendar application. It beats the Google Calendar interface, but some of my favorite calendar applications died through acquisition or loss of startup funding.

The Alexa app on my iPhone and iPads got some attention this year as I spent more time pursuing my smart home hobby. I have high hopes for this app to climb my list of go-to apps in 2019.

What are your go-to applications this year?

Header image by Daniel Cañibano on Unsplash

Originally published at on November 12, 2018.