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Summary:

Last week, we talked about ways of eliminating the file clutter in your life. Now let’s take care of the mess online: 1. Read It Later. A very cool Firefox extension from the Idea Shower, Read It Later sits in Firefox’s toolbar with two simple icons: […]

Last week, we talked about ways of eliminating the file clutter in your life. Now let’s take care of the mess online:

1. Read It Later. A very cool Firefox extension from the Idea Shower, Read It Later sits in Firefox’s toolbar with two simple icons: one to save your current page to a reading list, and another to serve you with a page from your reading list. You can also right-click on links that you want to read later, which is useful on social bookmarking sites such as delicious or Digg, or on your favorite blog (such as Web Worker Daily).

So how does this reduce clutter? Well, if you use a bookmarking service or just use your browser’s bookmarks, you probably have a large number of items that you’ve bookmarked that you want to read later. Read It Later simplifies all of this by keeping everything in one list, and serving things up as you want to read them. Check them off when you’re done reading, and they’re removed from the list. It’s hard to get any simpler than that.

2. Morning Coffee. We’ve mentioned this before, but the Morning Coffee extension for Firefox is a useful way to open all your daily sites in tabs with one click of the Morning Coffee icon. Sure, you could do the same thing by creating folders for your Firefox bookmarks and opening them all in tabs … but Morning Coffee puts it all in one click, and that one click can open different tabs for different days of the week or combination of days. It simplifies your bookmark folders in this way by putting everything in one button, one click.

3. Google Docs. For me, Google Docs has been a godsend when it comes to organizing my online files and keeping the clutter to a minimum. Why? Because now I do all my word processing and spreadsheet work online, all my documents are in one place, and I can access my documents from anywhere. Because now I don’t have to worry about filing documents … I just save them, and then do a quick search when I need them. Simple and easy.

4. RSS. Sure, you already use RSS to read your favorite blogs. But do you make the most of RSS’s power? If there are other sites you check regularly, using an RSS reader can greatly simplify your life … just subscribe to the RSS feed on a page, and you can get updates whenever you like.

What can you follow with RSS? You can see the latest posts on your favorite forums, keep up with sites like Digg and reddit and delicious, a Wikipedia page, your favorite magazines, a Technorati search, Amazon’s bestsellers, a shared Google Calendar, and much more.

I recommend using Google Reader, because it keeps things extremely simple, it’s fast, and easy to use. Within a few minutes, I can read all my feeds in Google Reader using super fast keyboard shortcuts.

5. Gmail. The best way to stop junk mail is at the source. Gmail has the best spam filter I’ve seen (the last time I got junk mail in my inbox was months ago), which is one reason I recommend it for getting rid of clutter. And if you set up Gmail filters to unclutter your inbox, and archive and search rather than file, email clutter is a thing of the past.

What are your favorite tools for reducing online clutter? Let us know in the comments. 

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  1. I use illumio to read RSS feeds. It automatically downloads all my feeds and prioritizes articles according to my interests. illumio processes about a thousand articles a day for me, but I only read the most interesting few dozen.

  2. I use del.icio.us to keep track of my reading list. If I see something I want to read, I tag it “@check” or “@read” and then come back to it later. (@check is for shorter articles, @read is for longer ones like online books). I also use “@do” for things I want to do sometime later and “@buy” for things I want to buy.

    I see right now I have a backlog of 333 “@check”, 45 “@read” and 69 “@do”. I think I am using RSS a bit too much.

  3. I have a Bookmarks Toolbar Folder called “Follow Up”. I drag any links I want to look at later into this folder and then clean it out on the weekends. This is where I keep interesting articles, stuff I see on Amazon.com, news features, UPS tracking pages, etc.

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