In this article in our “Getting Digitally Organized” series we’re looking at how to organise your reference materials and notes.
When we’re browsing the web it’s quite common for us to come across an interesting website we want to look at in a bit more detail, a PDF we want to read later or some snippets of useful information we would like to store away.
Quite often it’s all too easy to bookmark the website for it to be forgotten, save a PDF and have no idea where it went or if you come across it what you saved it for, and notes are kept in word or text files to be lost or deleted accidentally later on.
Here are some ways you can organise your digital assets so that you can easily find your bookmarks and files later.
Onenote is a free service from Microsoft that allows you to digitally store notes and files across multiple devices.
Available as a standalone App for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android it’s flexible enough to be used by students organising essays or a blogger storing URLs to write about later.
If you’re looking for a free solution that covers most uses then Onenote is really worth looking at.
Once upon a time this post would have just been about how you can use Evernote to run your digital file system. The Evernote team have recently revised their pricing structure and the free basic version is missing a lot of the key features that used to make this app stand out from the rest.
If you want to be able to search in PDFs, sync more than 2 devices and access notebooks offline you’ll need to pay £44 a year for the premium version which doesn’t sound a lot, but with Onenote allowing you to access your files across all platforms for free and Evernote limiting you to 2 devices on the free plan it’s a bit of a deal-breaker for me. Still, Evernote is the Grand-daddy of notes organisation so if you have a lot of reference materials to organise you might want to go premium with this App.
This isn’t on the list for organising PDFs and other documents but for saving all of those interesting websites that you want to read later.
Pocket can be accessed via it’s website and also a dedicated app available on iOS and Android. The great thing about this app is that you can save full articles to read offline later – great for when you’re stuck waiting for an appointment or sitting on a bus.
Keep is another great resource for saving URLS and short notes to be viewed later. It doesn’t have the offline capabilities of Pocket or the File upload functionality of Onenote and Evernote (although you can upload a PDF or Word Doc to Google Drive and then share it to Keep) but it’s simple Kanban style layout may suit some.
I won’t cover these services individually as they all have very similar functionality (although if you’re looking at editing and writing documents then Onedrive and Google Drive have their own in-built tools).
These services allow you to save your files to a central location to be shared across multiple devices, with excellent search fucntionality you’ll be able to find your saved files quickly and simply.
A lot of us read articles through Facebook and they now have the in-built functionality to save posts to read later. This provides you with a link to the original article that you can read later.
It’s a pretty basic bookmarking service with limited filter/search functionality and, annoyingly, doesn’t show you that date that you saved an item but
I used to use Evernote as my go-to organisation system but once they limited syncroisation to just 2 devices it caused a bit of a road-block to my “acess data on everything” system.
I also used to use Pocket to manage all of my links and bookmarks but I found that I personally didn’t need the offline reading capability and had a few issues saving bookmarks from my mobile phone – I even went as far as setting up an IFTTT trigger from Facebook but it seemed that links were randomly saved with no rhyme or reason as to why they were or weren’t available. This was problematic when coming to write my Weekly Round-Up posts as links I had saved for inclusion were frequently missing.
I now save links in 2 places – which on the face of it may not seem ideal but bare with me! Any direct link I come across I open, quickly scan and then decided whether I need to save it or not. If I do then it gets bookmarked in Google Keep. If I come across an interesting sounding article on Facebook and I don’t have time to check it out or I’m worried it’ll disappear from my feed, I’ll save the link within Facebook itself to check out later and either read it or use the link straight away or save the URL to Google Keep for later use.
I now use Google Drive to store all of the documents I want to read or check out later – PDFs, Word Documents etc. And I use Google Keep to keep (!) track of the URLS I want to look at later. Keep allows me to add tags and categories to links so I am able to separate items for a round-up from those that I would like to implement on my blog at a later date.
This approach means that all of my items are accessible from all my devices – and others if needed – and it’s also free to use which is always a bonus!
The important thing to try to remember is to have as few collection pots for your information as possible – there more places you have information stored, the more possible points of failure you have.
How do you manage your digital files and bookmarks? Let us know your favourite service in the comments – I’m always looking at trying new things out!