Organizing my digital life for 2010

My Desk

Perhaps I’ve got some OCD tendencies but I really like order and since a large part of my life is lived in the digital space I have to maintain a clean digital working environment. That digital environment takes time and tools. Here are a few of my systems and how I’m reworking them for 2010

Firefox Bookmarks

Bookmarks play a crucial role in maintaining my knowledge of the web. It’s a curated directory and an invaluable resource. My bookmark workflow looks like this

  1. Interesting Site – Worth Bookmarking? or Requires more reading?
    1. Bookmark –> Bookmark the site, immediately place it in the folder and add tags for the bookmark, add keyword shortcuts if you’ll be using it often.
    2. Read it Later – If I want to read this article more later but not clutter up my bookmarks then I use Instapaper with the “Read it Later” bookmarklet liberally.
    3. Social Bookmark – Certain tools or icons sets don’t necessarily need to be present in my local bookmark system so I employ a 3rd party social bookmarking service like Diigo or Delicious. With tagging and descriptions it’s easy for me to call these databases for info.

The trick here is to keep as few URLs floating inside your head as possible. Use the tech as a braindump. In short if I bookmark it, tag it, and sort it into an logical folder structure or choose to “Read it Later” then my processing on the information is done. The site has its place.

While this system works great it can become bloated, and requires pruning.

  • I manually inspect my bookmark folder structure looking for links that should be discarded or trees that should be combined or segmented.
  • I also use the Incredible Bookmarks Firefox plug-in to help identify broken links

Once my bookmark structure is satisfactory then I use the Xmarks Firefox plug-in to sync the pruned list to all my computers.

The additional challenge this year was splitting my wife’s bookmarks from mine. I needed segmentation and order. She now has her own profile and Xmarks acct so her system is now completely independent.

Passwords

Every year I spend sometime changing my passwords in my most secure or at risk accounts. I won’t disclose my methods but essentially a site is assigned a category based on risk or sensitivity. My password structure changes based on site categorization. This past year I’ve introduced Lastpass as my password manager and I’ve been really pleased with it. Great security, identities, site sorting, I use the web in a very complex way and it has fit my needs every time.

The challenge this year was to once again segment my wife’s passwords and mine. I needed to be able to change and manage sites and not affect her access. So she gained her own lastpass account as well.

I spent some time manually updating some sites and categorizing the sites and that has really helped.

To Do List

I had to put dedicate some time to building RememberTheMilk.com as a primary tool moving forward this year. I’ve used it sporadically but I wanted to dump everything that I’m looking to accomplish big and small into RTM and use it on a daily basis to track progress. All my info has been added with due dates and the RTM calendar is integrated into my Google Calendar as well. I can be very productive but I must see what is being done and what is sliding backwards. RTM will be a big help.

Email

I’m starting the year with a clean slate using my Managing Email with 3 folders method, I didn’t have a massive backlog because I’m usually pretty vigorous about my email processing. Never the less a few items needed to be followed up on, put on the to do list, placed on calendar of just plain deleted. I want to have no hangovers in 2010.

The Final Step

The last system I’ll be managing is my tackling is my content consumption. I’ll be looking at how I consume data from Reader, Reader Shared items, Friendfeed lists, and possibly alltop or netvibes pages. I need to cull some blogs and podcasts that I don’t use anymore and assign time values to the intakes that I choose to continue. Think of this as reading the morning paper but trying to design the input system to give you the best content the most efficient way. I don’t have this system quantified yet but I’ll share my findings as soon as I’ve made some decisions.

Let me hear from you. What changes are you making to be more efficient and productive this coming year. What technology do you rely on to keep you informed and on track. I welcome your suggestions.

11 responses to “Organizing my digital life for 2010”

  1. NEENZ says:

    I've use or used most all of the apps and services you mentioned. I need them too! If I may also recommend Fuser for email (email + social networking sites) and Evernote for organization!

    And, as the Chief Evangelist of Alltop it wouldn't be right for me to leave a comment without nudging you towards Alltop! BTW, if you do choose Netvibes, you can also set-up your own MyAlltop widget via RSS feed. 🙂

  2. Keith says:

    I'm a big evernote user. Couldn't live without it. I'll check Fuser. Thanks

  3. My resolution for 2010. I think I can, I think I can.

  4. I have tried a lot of the bookmark apps out there but I keep coming back to Delicious.

  5. Keith says:

    I think once you see the highlighting and annotation features you'll find
    Delicious is in the dark ages. Not to mention your bookmarks and tags will
    export to Delicious from Diigo.

  6. lelapin says:

    Regarding e-mails and how to manage them I decided to not use folders [or as little as possible] and since tagging is not possible (with Outlook that is), I edit titles and add some there, separated with hyphens.
    Searching titles is really fast (way more than searching in the body of each message) so I create 'searches' that work like filters do on Gmail which is the system I got the idea from.

  7. Installed it last night and imported everything. One of the biggest things I like about Delicious is the convenience of their toolbar in Firefox, I just tag something and move on. I installed the diigo toolbar last night too, I will give it a shot for a few days and see what i think about it. I know it sounds funny but the time it takes for me to tag something using the toolbar is a big deal for me.

  8. nick_nick says:

    Thank you for interesting article. I use password management software too so it there is no need to remember my passwords or look for paper note where I write them down, when I forget one of them =) However, I prefer password manager Handy Password
    http://www.handypassword.com/

  9. nick_nick says:

    Thank you for interesting article. I use password management software too so it there is no need to remember my passwords or look for paper note where I write them down, when I forget one of them =) However, I prefer password manager Handy Password
    http://www.handypassword.com/

  10. Shep Cannon says:

    i hate the way delicious uses tags instead of folders. But I do like its features in firefox. I left delicious and moved to googles toolbar. If I am in a hurry I can just click the little star icon and google bookmarks it and later I can organize it. Google also uses a combo of tags and folders. I can bookmark something and type in say three tags and that bookmark appears in googles bookmarks in each of three folders labeled as the three tags i entered.

    I had issues with delicious and I hate the other social bookmark sites!

    Shep Cannon

    • Keith says:

      I’ve never tried Google bookmarks but I imagine its a pretty good service.
      Once I moved my email to gmail a few years ago I really bought into the tag
      concept. My only concern would be the social integration of Google
      Bookmarks. Diigo allows me to annotate, share, and still participate in a
      social bookmark system.

      I appreciate the comment, I think any cloud bookmark is good move. Thanks
      Shelp

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