knowing (and finding) your stuff

Manchester Orchestra – I’ve Got Friends

It is no secret to those who know me that I’m organizationally challenged to say the very least.  I’ve long since accepted it as an unfortunate attribute and have decided to live with it.  And yet, like you, I process an avalanche of information on any given day.  So how can a person be expected to stay on top of the stuff he or she is expected to stay on top of?

I am a compulsive list maker, which might lead you to believe that I’m something approaching administrative.  You would be wrong.  No, my lists are born out of a nagging fear that I’m going to forget something that I’m suppose to get done.  Even with all my lists, I still manage to let a bunch of stuff slip.  Right this second, as I write this post, I’m letting slip the reason I started typing in the first place.  Which was to share a few valuable (at least, in my opinion) resources to manage information.

1) An RSS Aggregator – This goes by various names I think – RSS Reader, Feed Reader, Blog Reader, etc…  But the idea is simple.  If you keep up with several blogs (or anything that uses RSS feeds), this thing collects them all in one place.  So you don’t have to go visit the sites you like on a daily or weekly basis to see if new stuff is there.  It “checks” it for you.

I realize that since you are reading a blog right now that you probably already know about these.  But you may not, and if you follow more than two blogs, you should get going on this.  I use Google Reader.  It does what it is suppose to do and does it well.

2) Evernote – This is the ultimate electronic information keeper.  To do lists.  Projects.  Ideas.  Movies to see.  Books to read.  Articles or website you find online.  Anything that you might be tempted to scribble down on a piece of paper.

The real beauty of this is that you can access it a ton of different ways.  There is software that you can install on your computer.  There is a web-interface.  There is even an iPhone app.  And each device is constantly keeping in sync with all the others.  So…  my home computer, work computer, and phone all have the same info going.

Also, if you collaborate with people on projects, you can easily share information with other Evernote users.  But my favorite means to collaborate is Google DocsGoogle Wave promises to be even better, but I haven’t really looked that closely at it.

3) Zotero – This is primarily a research tool, but I think it is for anyone who reads lots and wants to keep notes, quotes, annotate the books they read.

It is a Firefox add-on, but it also syncs stuff to online servers so that if you have it installed on multiple computers…  well, I think you are starting to get the idea.

Ok, so there’s plenty of overlap with some of these tools, but hopefully it will help slow the continual leaking of things I used to know.