Organize Login Information
Arguably one of the largest wasters of time in our tech heavy society is the time which is spent digging for, guessing at, and/or resetting login information at various websites. So often we go to a website and we’re required to create a new account. Take the time to track these credentials.
You can find many options when it comes to software for organizing your login information. This software is often referred to as a password keeper, and virtually all of them will encrypt your information. Find one you can use both on your computer and your phone. The time spent searching, and learning to use one of these applications is well worth it in the long run.
When making a new account, make the habit of adding the credentials to your password keeper immediately. Track all information you might need to access the account. Not only the Username and Password, but also things like the email address you used, the URI of the location you visit to access the site, and the security questions you chose as well as the answers to them.
Organize Your Bookmarks
The browser is where a great many of us spend most of our on-line time. I have found that I’m often looking up the same information repeatedly. Organizing your bookmarks can substantially lower the time it takes to find that website/article of interest again.
In my experience working on computers for general users I find that there is a bad habit that almost all of us have succumbed to. That habit would be the one of quickly dragging a new website to our bookmark bar, or simply clicking the option to add the site to our list of bookmarks. Every new bookmark that we want to be able to find later ends up dumped in the same place.
I have seen computers with over 200 bookmarks in the same folder. In these cases the user rarely takes the time to go back and organize them. When they need to find something again it’s Google they head to not their bookmarks. Time that could be spent other ways is lost filtering through Google’s massive search results for that one site. Rather than filtering through dozens of bookmarks the user opts to sift through thousands of results from a search engine. After all, the bookmark might not even exist in the users personal list.
Whatever browser you use, schedule a couple hours of time to get familiar with the bookmark feature. Bookmarks can be organized into folders and sub folders. As such you can categorize your bookmarks into what might be categories, and subcategories.
Do you like to gather recipes? Then perhaps you should have a recipe folder, and underneath that folder you could have other folders: Dinners, Slow Cooker, Deserts (my actual “favorite”), Drinks, etc.
Perhaps you’re a home-schooler. Then maybe a Homeschooling folder with sub-folders that might be: Curriculum, Services, Laws, Group, Freebies, etc.
Don’t forget to back your bookmarks up! There is no point in organizing your bookmarks for rapid access if you’re not going to ensure they are safe in a time of computer failure. The most common browsers have a service you can sign up for and log into which will sync your bookmarks to the Internet (Aka: The mystical cloud). An additional benefit to syncing your bookmarks in this manner is that they would then be available on any computer you use simply by logging into your account.
Organize Your Files
Just like bookmarks, organizing files is important. It has been common for me to get a computer to work on and when I boot it up the first thing I see is a desktop full of files. The reason desktops are full typically is not because the user wants quick access to a file, but rather they want to “remember where the file is.” So each time the user wants to remember where a file is they dump it in that same place, cluttering it, and making it time consuming to find anything if you don’t remember the exact filename.
Take some time to get comfortable with the file system you use. Typically operating systems today create some basic folders for you in order to help you better break down your files. Some examples include: Documents, Downloads, Pictures, and Videos. Each of these folders can then be further organized with sub-folders in the same way I explained above with bookmarks.
It’s fine to have a “Working Directory” on your desktop for a place to store things you’re actively working on. I often use a folder such as this for a place to store documents or pictures as I’m scanning them in, or cleaning off my camera. But once the work is completed, or I’m intending to not use the file(s) again for more than a day or two, I slide the file into a location for long term storage. Just as you wouldn’t dump all your paper work into a single folder in your filing cabinet, you shouldn’t do it on your computer.
Backup Your Files
This is one of the single most important things you can do. There is typically a large investment of time into your files, and when you don’t have them backed up you stand to lose them all. Telling people their files are not recoverable is probably one of the hardest parts of my business. Sending a bad hard drive off for recovery efforts is always an option but it can cost hundreds of dollars, and there still are no guarantees that you will recover any let alone all of them. The only way to protect your files is by backing them up.
Your documents may have a large portion of your life invested in them, but your pictures, and the cute little videos of your children or grandchildren are virtually priceless to you. The documents can be redone at a cost of time, but the images and videos can never be replaced. Keep in mind the time you spend redoing the documents is time you can’t spend with your family. It’s important to protect your investment. Solid backups help you avoid doing work twice.
By following the tips above with regards to organizing your bookmarks and files, you will be able to easily set up a backup service. At very minimum you should be backing all your files up to an external drive at least once per week. More often is better, but required frequency will depend on how often you change the data. I also recommend that you have your files in at least three locations. One being your computer where you use them, then two duplicate copies of them on/in separate devices/locations (external hard drive, and/or offsite).
The backup task really should be automated. Without automation you will forget to do it, or likely get “too busy” to run your backups. Schedule yourself time to learn about available backup solutions and how to use one. If you have multiple drives in your computer you can simply backup the files from one drive to another. I have recommended FBackup to Windows users for years and continue to do so.
Ideally your backups should be stored off-site to protect against major disaster. There are services like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Carbinite which may work fantastic for general users. Security is something each individual will have to assess for themselves.
I personally don’t like third party backup services for sensitive data, but if you’re comfortable using them, they are fantastic for keeping your data safe from disaster.
Don’t Rely on Pinterest
Something of a sacred cow now days, I think Pinterest results in a lot of lost time. My wife loves to scroll through the site and find ideas, pin them, categorize them, and go back and look through them. I hate it. The concept is fantastic, the implementation is horrible. But as a result of my wife’s time investment I end up eating many fantastic meals. Notice though the heading does not say Don’t Use Pinterest, rather don’t rely on Pinterest.
Pinterest is basically a place to network for bloggers and people who like to read blogs. You can use the service to find blogs by categories, pin them, share them and revisit them any time you want. One problem: Blogs come and go. One day a blogger is posting away, the next they are gone. As a result it’s not the least bit uncommon for me to find my wife sorting through her already pinned items deleting stuff that no longer has a valid link. It’s also happened that she has gone to access something that she wants to read again and it is now invalid.
Many people want to try their hand at blogging, but there is a cost associated with it, and when they are hoping to make an income but don’t, they give up and their content goes away. It’s also common for websites to get moved and the links change resulting in the pins no longer being any good.
The time sunk into maintaining Pinterest pins of any real quantity can add up a lot quicker, I think, than pinners realize. If you’re following the tips above you can save some time by simply not relying on Pinterest to store what you’re interested in.
There are two options. First you could save all those things you love right to your hard drive. Your computer can be setup to print to a PDF file. In Linux this is a feature by default, but in Windows (At least Windows 7 and previous) you would need to install an application to allow you to print to PDF rather than your printer. After that it’s as simple as visiting the pinned blog, printing to PDF, and saving the file in your beautifully categorized file system. No matter what happens to that blog post, you will always have your PDF copy.
The second option is to bookmark the blog post directly. You can categorize your bookmarks as suggested above. Your bookmarks become your pins. Browser bookmarks can be named anything you want to name them in addition to being stored into folders and sub folders the way you would like to organize them. In most browsers your bookmarks can also be searched. While bookmarking your pins does not guarantee that you won’t lose access to the information like saving PDFs would, You can install extensions in some browsers to help you hunt down and eliminate broken links. Bookmark Checker is an example of just such an extension for the Chrome browser. This plugin will scan for duplicate folders, empty folders, and report all broken links allowing you to quickly clean out items that are no longer valid.
NOTICE: Opinions are not facts to anyone other than the opinion holder. As a result opinions you find here are subject to the same winds of change as the evolution theory, age of the earth, and political promises.