Lifehacker is one of my favorite websites and I subscribe to their RSS feed using Feedly. They have a great series called “This Is How I Work” that interviews various professionals about their work space and process. I think it’s fascinating and can also be helpful in developing new habits for myself. I’ve been following the Personal Knowledge Management for Academia & Librarians “Year for Productivity” series through RSS and have found that useful as well.
I thought I’d take some time to share what my process is for staying organized and continuing my professional development throughout the year. As I mentioned above, I use Feedly for RSS feeds. I used to be one of those people who would visit my favorite websites and blogs daily to see if anything new popped up. When I was in library school one of my classmates posted about RSS feeds and readers and it changed my workflow completely. I started using Google Reader shortly thereafter and used it up until it went away this summer.
I currently subscribe to 205 feeds in various categories, the biggest being LIS Blogs and Food. I’ve written here before about my favorite LIS bloggers if you’re curious. While I was in school I often had the time to read through entries that I found intriguing. As I moved into my career I lost this precious time and had to develop a system for making use of this great content. In school I tried several bookmark aggregators but wasn’t happy with having to log into yet another site to get access to things. I’ve evolved my system over time and currently use the Chrome browser to keep track of my bookmarks.
I like Chrome because it syncs my bookmarks across devices. As long as I log into my Google account I can get access to my bookmarks anywhere. This has been essential for me, especially when traveling. In my day to day work I spend a few hours at the reference desk, and having access to my bookmarks there helps me to continue work I’m doing in my office. Admittedly, there are times when Chrome drives me insane. It doesn’t load some pages properly, and on some computers the process stays running in the background when it’s closed. I find that my use of bookmarking outweighs those issues. It’s easy to copy a URL and paste into Firefox or IE if it’s not loading in Chrome.
I think it’s obvious in this post that I’m a librarian, because I love organizing things into categories! I have a Work folder and Other folder for bookmarks. Here’s a screen grab of my Work folder:
I use the Articles to Read, Websites to Explore, and Webinars and Videos to Watch folders to keep track of links from RSS feeds, email, Twitter, colleagues, etc. that I don’t have time to process right away. During busy times these folders can get filled up quickly, and sometimes by the time I get to something it’s not relevant anymore. Once I read an article or take time to explore a website I either: save it for sharing on my blog, post it to social media, move it to one of the other folders, or delete the bookmark. This system seems to be working for me, and I often use the other folders to get access to useful things when I need them. I use a similar system for my personal bookmarks to keep track of recipes, music, restaurants, travel ideas, etc.
Three of my other essentials are Dropbox, WorkFlowy and Goodreads. I should have realized as a teenager that I’d be in some kind of organizational profession because I’ve always kept my computer files obsessively well-organized. I shudder in horror when I see people’s desktops covered in files or watch them spend 15 minutes searching for a file. I like Dropbox because I can coordinate across devices. I do back it up to my hard drive once a month to be safe.
I’ve mentioned WorkFlowy before, and it’s a recent addition to my process. Ever since library school I’ve kept paper lists of my tasks/due dates/priorities, and WorkFlowy helps me keep it dynamic and online. Also, my theme here, is that I can access it from anywhere. Finally, as a librarian and avid reader, Goodreads has been my go to site for keeping track of what I’ve read and what I want to read. My to read list is getting out of hand at around 500 books, but I keep them organized by fiction, non-fiction, memoirs/biographies, food books, and work related books. I am usually reading at least one fiction, one non-fiction/memoir, and one work related book at all times. I couldn’t keep track of it all without Goodreads, and I like challenging myself to read more each year. I read 75 books last year and would like to read more this year. I’m at 48 (and almost done with 2), so I think I can reach my goal but it will be tough. I’m interested to hear what other people are doing to stay organized and on top of the wave of information that rolls through each day!