Managing Online Reading & Research More Efficiently
The Internet is a virtual reading room where I spend...probably...entirely too much time.
I'll get caught up in a blog or an infographic or a New York Times article or whatever. Sometimes my reading stems from casual interest in a topic, but at other times, I am wearing my Nancy Drew hat to investigate and research a subject.
Years ago when I had to start scrolling through my bookmarks...and I mean scrolling... I realized that I needed to implement a better system for managing my online reading and research.
First, I handled the unruly number of bookmarks.
Like many people, I use a system of folders that I keep in order of importance on my Bookmark Toolbar.
My rule with these folders is that only home pages or login pages are allowed to be bookmarked into a folder residing on my Bookmark Bar. My folders have general names like News, Books, Bills, Blog Resources, Blogs to Read, Shopping, and WoW (For the Horde!). The sites that I'm placing into these folders are sites that I access regularly.
I do have a few oddball bookmarks that I keep under my Bookmarks Menu, so they are not sitting on an easily accessible toolbar at the top of my Safari page. I do have to dig into the Menu to get to these bookmarks. These are specific sites like Ookla's Speed Test or the UPS Tracking Information page. These are specific resource pages, which are miscellaneous so I have just always kept them under the Menu option.
Next, I honed my use of Safari's Reading List feature.
My rule here is that this list is temporary. Nothing stays here as a home. I must find another place for this information to call home or my Reading List will grow into another scrolling nightmare. Not happening!
When I'm reading on the run, the Reading List is my go-to for making sure I can find my way back to that link without having to search around. I don't like floundering around on a home site trying to find that article that I was halfway through when I was interrupted. I go to the Reading List and it's waiting for me.
I organize all projects and themes through Pinterest.
Joining Pinterest was one of the best decisions I've ever made about how I want to use and be a presence on the Internet. I am not a huge fan of many social media sites, but Pinterest is actually useful to me.
My boards are organized around themes that I like to read about (books, libraries, travel, minimalism, technology, podcasts, and gift giving) and projects that I'm working on (cooking, blogging, writing, networking, and cleaning). My boards are a place for me to store visual bookmarks where I create the description of the bookmark. I write what's most useful to me.
I can pin anything. Deleting pins or whole boards is easy. But this system is much easier for me to search through than scrolling through the endless bookmark list. I will remember a pinned picture much more vividly than a site's favicon. And since I control the pin description, I know why I saved this link to a particular board.
Some information does get preserved into Evernote.
The presence of the little elephant icon representing the Evernote web clipper is quite reassuring to me.
If I've been accessing a certain pin on a regular basis, then the information there is valuable to me. What if that blogger decides to stop hosting his or her blog? What if a site is just down? Or my Internet is down? What do I do then?
I access that information offline in Evernote. I do pay for the Premium subscription to Evernote and I find the benefits there incredibly valuable.
I have clipped many recipes. I'm pretty good at remembering ingredients and how to prepare the dish, but I am terrible at remembering oven temperatures. Terrible. If I don't look up that information...every time...for every dish...who knows what kinds of disasters I might be creating!
I have clipped some writing resources too. Using Evernote for writing tips has helped me become a more focused writer. I'm not as prone to meandering through the Internet.
I have pinned a few different lists of word choices, which are like mini-thesauri, onto my NaNoWriMo board. In Evernote, I have a Writing notebook where each mini-thesauri list is its own note with its own title. If I'm in the midst of writing and I want to access one of those lists, but I don't want to be distracted by the Internet, I just click on the note. No Internet required!
With this four-step system, I have created a process where I can read online, even research, and store the truly useful information in a way that makes it easy for me to access later.