Organize bookmarks in folders by task

Make the most of bookmarks by sorting them by tasks.

That’s the lesson I learned after months of trudging along with a looong list of bookmarks. I would add links for later reading, then randomly pick pages to read or otherwise process, and it was not working.

Around New Year’s, I cleaned up the mess, threw out dead links and pages that seemed merely vaguely interesting. The remainder went into separate folders. This has been working really well for me so far: I remember and find bookmarks faster, and I process them faster (which means reading and filing or deleting).

Organize by task, not by content

The trick for me was to create bookmark folders by tasks, not by subject matter or contents! I now have the following bookmark folders:

  • Tech Writing with pages to read and archive useful ones.
  • Blog with pages to write about in this blog.
  • [Project] with pages to work on for articles or presentations, one per project.
  • Portable Freeware with pages of software to try out.
  • Travel with pages of hotels and restaurants to visit.
  • Inspire with pages to get me unstuck from writer’s block.
  • Lookup with pages to look up grammar rules, translations, prices, streets, etc.

Why does this work?

It works for two reasons:

  1. It’s basically following our own professional advice: Create documentation task-based, not based on the stuff you organize, whether it’s a user interface or random web pages.
  2. It’s inspired by GTD (Getting Things Done): Get productive by ensuring you can simply crank widgets as a tech writer.

Bonus tip

Sync your bookmarks across all your machines for even better order and productivity. I use xmarks for Firefox to ensure all my bookmarks are always up to date, regardless of which PC I use. When I’m on someone else’s machine, I can still look up my bookmarks online.

Your turn

How do you organize your tech comm bookmarks? Do folders work? Is there a better way? Please leave a comment.

4 Responses

  1. Nice solution Kai. I do something similar but using MS OneNote. I file away links, emails, etc. into a similar structure there.

    • Thanks, Colum. I had considered note-keeping software, but found it had too much app overhead and flexibility. So I keep a private online wiki for notes in addition to my online bookmarks. I don’t really mind the media break between preliminary bookmarks and other notes. Just my two cents… 🙂

  2. Yes, another Xmarks user here. I panicked when they looked like they were closing. I also have things on Delicious. I dumped all my Xmarks over there. Then there were “sunset” rumors about Delicious. Things are a mess. I now have a huge mess to sort out because I had meaningless folders like 21022011 – which meant the pages I had bookmarked that day!

    I should have been much more disciplined and sorted into folders like yours. I do have nice folders like your. The flood of info was too much and I fell off the folder wagon.

    The seconds it would have taken to sort correctly would have saved me hours now.

    I’ll admit I have a geeky, slight good memory about these things. I’ll remember that I bookmarked something on such-and-such and I can search for that keyword in the Xmarks library. It’s not good long term, and it’s not good when keywords are not in the URL!

    Your folder naming conventions are very good. I prefer “Lookup” to “Dictionaries & Other Resources”, for example. Don’t know why I never thought of that!

    • Thanks for your comment, Karen! Yup, sounds pretty much like my bookmarks last summer… 🙂

      But maybe it’s comforting that you can always be more geeky: You could name folders 110221, so they can be sorted alphabetically = chronologically… 🙂

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