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Summary:

Those of us who use the web all day long, every day, probably have signed up for at least a couple dozen different information services, all with different login information, all storing different information for us. We might have a to-do manager, a contact manager, a […]

Those of us who use the web all day long, every day, probably have signed up for at least a couple dozen different information services, all with different login information, all storing different information for us.

We might have a to-do manager, a contact manager, a bookmarking service, a project management service, a wiki, multiple email accounts, lists, multiple online documents, or one of the many other services available for managing our information.

Trouble is, that can make things a bit disorganized. Our information is spread through various sites and services, some of which we use infrequently. We might not remember where everything is, and even if we do, it takes a minute or so to locate it, login, and access the information.

You can simplify this and keep yourself organized in one simple step: keep all your information in one place.


It doesn’t matter where that place is, as long as it works well for you and you use it regularly. But just this single act will keep all your information at your fingertips, and keep you organized in a way you may never have been before.

So how do you do it? Here are some suggestions:

1. Pick a location. There are many places you could use for your info. Google Docs, a wiki that you can keep on your own server or on a flash drive, Backpack, a plain old paper notebook, a binder, any list service, an email account, a secure web site, Evernote, Google Notebook, a text file. Actually, any place you can store info works … just choose one that works well for you. I recommend something searchable, and if you use multiple computers, something online.

2. Migrate your info. This is the hardest part, but you don’t have to do it all at once. Just find all your other info and start exporting and importing or copying and pasting. To-do lists, shopping lists, project management, notes, your wedding plans, travel info, contacts, checklists, goals, reference info, invoice tracking, logs, a journal, your budget, savings info, even web bookmarks. Having one place for all this info will make it so much easier to find and update. Note: if the service isn’t secure, you probably don’t want to keep financial or password info here. But many services are secure.

3. Keep it open all the time. If your info is digital, either on your computer or online, you can have it open in a window or tab all day long as you work. If it’s on paper, keep it open and by your side. You want it to be super accessible, so there are no barriers to using it, and you’ll use it often.

4. Create a shortcut to it. Notwithstanding the above advice, if for some reason the document or service is closed, you want to be able to open it and access it quickly. So set up a hotkey for it. AutoHotKeys works well for this, but there are other similar apps.

5. Make it a habit. You might forget to use your One Place For All Info in the beginning, but it’s important that you get into the habit of opening it, updating it, and using it to find the info you need. That means you need to focus on using it regularly for at least a week, but once you do that, and don’t let yourself slip up, it gets ingrained.

6. Update before you shut down. Related to the above item, before you quit for the day, make it a habit to review your One Place For All Info, updating as needed. This will ensure that you’re always up to date, and the system doesn’t start to fall apart.

7. Back up. If you keep all your info in one place, you would be crushed if you lost it. So it’s even more critical to back this info up often, to ensure that it’s safe. I recommend once a day (when you shut down for the day), but you might have a different preference.

  1. Good tips. One thing that’s important (and is somewhat covered by the “back it up” tip) is to choose a format that is durable… don’t lock your data into some proprietary system. If you keep it online, make sure it can be exported to text.

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  2. I use http://www.codeproject.com/tools/ToDoList2.asp as todolist and iMacros http://www.iopus.com/imacros/firefox/ as free Roboform replacement to keep my 100’s of logins in one (secure) place.

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  3. Great post. I find that picking the location is the hardest for me, as I have many. I use Google Docs for writing/drafting emails, Backpack for collecting information and Basecamp for managing projects (both personal and work related).

    I think the most useful point for me is the “update it before you shut down”. It seems like that will help me discipline myself and develop more of a routine. I can’t tell you how relevant this post is to my daily life.

    It would be interesting for WWD to do a series of interviews with web workers about their collection and processing systems – kind of like Focus Minded’s Freelancer Friday. Asking questions like – What’s your typical day like? When you find topic that is interesting how do you process it? How do you store your information? What one service do you use? Etc. Just a thought. Hope everyone has a great day! :)

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  4. [...] Get Organized: Keep All Your Information in One Place – Web Worker Daily [...]

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  5. I use GS Notes. I’ve tried Evernote, TexNotes and every other kind of program like this and I settled on the ever-present (for me) GS Notes:
    http://www.tgslabs.com/en/gsnotes/

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  6. [...] Get Organized: Keep All Your Info in One Place [...]

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  7. [...] Then I saw this: Get Organized: Keep All Your Information in One Place [...]

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  8. I agree with Frank; ToDoList rocks. It’s highly configurable with very fast search.

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  9. What a great article!
    It’s so true, the web activity can be a mess, especially the social activity.
    8hands is the best aggregator to organize the social networks.

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  10. [...] Keep your information in one place. This is related to #2 above, but if your information is in multiple places, you’ll waste time looking for it. Try to keep everything centralized, to save time and searching. [...]

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