Maybe with a little help

For this special post – Celebrating 300 Blog Posts – I envisioned a title like “Resuming the CogitActive Saga.” However, despite my relentless efforts, the ongoing 200-post hiatus that began in that fateful 2020 summer still persists. I’ve explored various strategies to optimize my use of time (see my thoughts on time management). By carefully carving out moments from my busy schedule, I’ve prioritized what matters most: my family. Re-establishing a healthy work-life balance has been a crucial step indeed; yet, achieving even greater time savings remains essential to getting CogitActive back on track. Not to mention the unexpected interruptions and challenges (see gandi.net – disappointing and untrustworthy!, for instance).

Nonetheless, in recent months, astute readers may have observed a shift in my content quality. Gone are the lackluster padding posts that once plagued my blog. Instead, I’ve focused on delivering more substantial articles, bypassing the need for deferment tactics like my Post Formats strategy. The secret behind this transformation lies in effective time management techniques. By meticulously allocating my precious hours, I’ve maintained a steady stream of decent articles. Yet, the challenge persists: adhering to a weekly publication schedule — every Thursday, without fail — remains an uphill battle. Honesty compels me to admit that I still grapple with timely submissions, and I am far from replenishing my coveted 4-post buffer.

Despite the setbacks caused by the aforementioned padding posts, it seems that my efforts are bearing fruit indeed. My blog, once plagued by a dramatic drop in visits (an unfortunate, but deserved outcome given the drop in quality), is now showing signs of recovery. While I’m not fully there yet, the upward trajectory is undeniable. Now, my older articles—predating the fateful summer of 2020—continue to attract the most visitors. However, I’ve also noticed a recent post gaining attention, hinting at brighter days ahead:

In an unexpected twist, subsequent posts — where I indeed provided answers to the question “How to set up OneNote for GTD?” — failed to attract as many visitors. My hypothesis? Readers arrive at the initial post with high hopes of finding a solution, only to leave disheartened. The culprit? The potentially misleading title of that article, which was, in fact, my own inquiry for GTD answers — not the sought-after solution, which came later. In keeping with my intent to aid others on this journey, I thought of appending an amendment (to the aforementioned post), redirecting visitors to the actual answer: GTD using OneNote my way.

One evening, despite my fatigue, I compelled myself to address this long-delayed task. While I’m no Shakespeare, as a non-native English speaker and inexperienced blogger, I still managed to create an initial draft:

After reading this post, you might be disappointed – as I was after searching in vain for an answer myself – as you may still not know “How to set up OneNote for GTD?”. It took me a while to figure this one out, but I ended up with a solution that works great. You can follow the path I took, starting with the next post on the series (i.e., Microsoft OneNote 2016 for Windows Setup Guide) and reading each next post afterward, or jump directly to GTD using OneNote my way. Spoiler: don’t stop there, though! There is a My OneNote GTD setup 2.0.

For a brief paragraph like this, I didn’t have to go through the time-consuming, extensive research phase 1 that is part of my typical process. However, transitioning from an initial draft to a polished article still involves challenging editing work. I generally revise the text multiple times, consulting my trusted companions—the Oxford Dictionary of English and the Oxford Thesaurus of English. Additionally, I rely on Harrap’s Unabridged for translation matters. In summary, writing a post demands countless hours of effort.

As I reviewed my upcoming schedule, I realized that I wouldn’t have any time to revise my draft. Not a single minute. Caught between the desire to avoid publishing something half-baked and the urgency of helping visitors seeking guidance on setting up OneNote for GTD, I faced a dilemma. Exhausted, I took an unconventional approach: I quickly checked for typos and published the emendation as is before heading to bed.

I found myself suspended in a tempest of guilt over my decision to cut corners.

Throughout those restless hours, the burden of unresolved thoughts weighed heavily, steadfastly refusing to loosen its grip. Sleep eluded me, all because the shortcut I had taken gnawed at my conscience. The collision of worries and hopes consumed me. On one hand, I grappled with mentally revising my draft, but to no avail. Simultaneously, I attempted to convince myself that my decision was sound. It was an internal tug-of-war. Yet, as I tossed and turned, I recognized the urgency of resting to face my impending busy schedule. And then, a thought dawned upon me…

“ChatGBT!? Could this AI help me with my editing process?”

ChatGBT

ChatGPT is a large language model chatbot developed by OpenAI and launched on November 30, 2022. It’s capable of communicating with users in a human-like way, answering questions, composing essays, offering advice, and even writing code – making it valuable for tasks like content creation.

Although a chatbot’s core function is to mimic a human conversationalist, ChatGPT is versatile. Wikipedia

There is even a Blog Post Generator to generate blog posts about topics in seconds. All you have to do is Ask to write a post about a topic and the GPT chooses the right template for your post. Ask it to continue writing the post until you’ve generated enough content. Finish off with an introduction and a blog post thumbnail.

It’s currently open to use by the public for free.

I’ve been hearing quite a bit about this AI tool lately and have considered delving into its capabilities. While I’d feel uneasy about outright asking an AI to write my posts, I’m open to receiving a little assistance. So, I got out of bed and set out to use ChatGPT to help me with my revisions. Initially, I struggled to find the correct page, hindered by my groggy state — half-asleep and wary of clicking on suspicious links. Eventually, I landed on the right page. Unfortunately, accessing its features required signing up or logging in, something I generally hesitate to do. Just as I was about to give up and return to bed, an idea struck me…

“What about COPILOT? Isn’t it the AI from Microsoft in Edge or Bing?”

I didn’t need to install anything; I already had Edge, and within seconds, I was chatting with COPILOT. To the question “Could you re-phrase the following text in a more elegant way?” (pasting my draft there), here is the revised text I received immediately:

Upon delving into this article, you may find yourself sharing in the initial sense of disillusionment that I experienced during my fruitless quest for clarity on setting up OneNote for GTD. However, perseverance led me to a method that has proven to be exceptionally effective. You are invited to embark on the journey I undertook, commencing with the subsequent installment in this series — specifically, the Microsoft OneNote 2016 for Windows Setup Guide — and progressing through each following article. Alternatively, you may opt to leap straight into my personalized approach to GTD with OneNote. Yet, I urge you not to halt your exploration there; the evolution of my system is unveiled in ‘My OneNote GTD Setup 2.0.’

After copying and pasting the text, I set an earlier alarm. The excitement drove me to avoid leaving this text unattended for another month, yet I remained cautious not to publish it without editing. The next morning, despite a short night’s rest, I revised the text, checked for spelling errors, and uploaded the revised version to replace the initial one:

Upon delving into this post, you may find yourself sharing the initial sense of disillusionment that I experienced during my fruitless quest for an answer. This post was indeed about this part of the journey – when I asked myself “How to set up OneNote for GTD?” – not about the solution.

Now, perseverance led me to a method that has proven to be exceptionally effective. You are invited to embark on the journey I undertook, commencing with the subsequent installment in this series — specifically, the Microsoft OneNote 2016 for Windows Setup Guide — and progressing through each following post. Alternatively, you may opt to leap straight into my personalized approach to GTD with OneNote. Yet, I urge you not to halt your exploration there; the evolution of my system is unveiled in My OneNote GTD Setup 2.0.

In summary, I believe that using Copilot can not only reduce the time I spend revising my posts but also enhance the quality of my writing (and consequently improve your reading experience). When you consider it, asking an AI to review your text isn’t much different from using the Spelling & Grammar check in Word. The question remains: how much transparency is necessary? Should I specify that a post was revised using Copilot every time I utilize this service? Personally, I’ve never felt the need to explicitly mention that “WordPress Gutenberg corrected a typo I (and Word) missed, but I’m grateful for the improvement!”

For revising and editing text, Microsoft Edge with Copilot would be the better choice. It provides a robust web browser experience along with Copilot’s AI capabilities. You can easily access relevant information, summarize content, and find inspiration while editing your text.Copilot (within Edge)

Again, I am not talking about asking an AI to write a post for me 2; that would be wrong! Actually, in keeping with this idea, here is a conversation I had with Copilot:

“Could you please write a paragraph on yourself (i.e., COPILOT)?”
“Certainly! I am Copilot, an AI designed to assist and engage with users across various topics and tasks. My capabilities include providing information, answering questions, and generating creative content such as stories, poems, and code. I strive to deliver responses that are helpful, informative, and entertaining, all while maintaining a positive and empathetic tone. With a knowledge base that’s current up to 2021 and access to real-time data through internal tools, I aim to be a reliable companion for users seeking assistance or an engaging conversation. However, I must clarify that I do not possess personal experiences or emotions, and my primary purpose is to assist users to the best of my abilities within the scope of my programming and guidelines.”

“About generating creative content, asking you to do so, is it correct? I mean to write an article for my blog, for instance.”
“Absolutely, asking me to generate creative content for your blog is a great use of my capabilities. Whether you need an article, a story, or any other written piece, I can help you craft original content that aligns with your blog’s theme and style. Just provide me with the topic, tone, and any specific details you want to include, and I’ll get to work on creating something unique and engaging for your readers. Remember, while I strive for accuracy and relevance, it’s always a good practice to review the content to ensure it meets your personal standards and expectations. Ready when you are!”

“But I feel that it is like cheating.”
“I understand your concern about the originality and authenticity of content, especially when it comes to creative work like writing for a blog. It’s important to consider that using an AI tool like me can be similar to using any other resource or tool that aids in content creation. Think of me as a digital assistant that helps brainstorm, draft, and refine ideas that you can then personalize and make your own. The key is in how you use the content generated. It’s not cheating if you use the generated material as a starting point or inspiration for your own work. Many writers use prompts, outlines, or drafts as a foundation to build upon and infuse with their unique perspective and voice. As long as you’re adding your personal touch and ensuring that the final piece reflects your individuality, it’s a legitimate and ethical use of AI-generated content. Remember, the goal is to enhance creativity, not replace it. If you have any specific requests or topics in mind, feel free to share them, and I’ll be happy to assist you in creating a draft for your blog.”

“Thank you for your answers. I will come back to you later. I think your help will be appreciated when it comes to editing my poor English.”
“You’re welcome! I’m here to help whenever you need assistance with your English or any other task. Feel free to reach out when you’re ready, and we can work together to ensure your blog content is polished and well-presented. Have a great day, and I look forward to assisting you later!”


1 My modus operandi is to study every aspect of a problem – gathering and reading all possible information on the subject matter – before making the most informed decision possible. ^
2 As alluded to earlier, in Edge you can choose the Compose tab. There, you can ask Copilot to write about anything you want by adding your less-than-2000-character prompt. Just choose a tone, a format, and a length before clicking on Generate draft. The AI generated content will appear almost instantly. ^

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