Have you ever felt like your bookmarks are exploding out of control or that your favorite saved links service is not helping you organize your articles of interest in a convenient way? I know I have, and after thinking the problem through, I came up with a few requirements for a process that would help me get things in order.

The process

  1. First of all, I need to gather my “stuff” when it comes to news in some sort of in basket. This step cannot take much time, and I need to be able to do it when I have a few minutes to spare without feeling that I can’t leave half way through.
  2. Then I need to process my in basket, so that I can decide what’s worth keeping around, and what looked promising but really turned out to be less interesting than I thought.
  3. Then I need to organize the things worth keeping in such a way that I can easily reference it later

Finding the tools

After being a victim of hammering news sites for updates for way to long, I started using Google Reader a while ago, and when they closed up shop, I moved over to Feedly which I’m currently using. Feedly really satisfies the first step of my process and is great for skimming through all the new articles being posted on my favorite feeds without having to constantly monitor them. When I get o few minutes over, I just open up my Feedly app on my iPhone and skim through a couple of pages worth of  titles, marking off the ones I want to take a better look at later. I mark all the articles I want to have a better look at for reading later in the app and move along, confident that I will get back to it later and therefor not having to think more about it until then. If I ever get to far behind (like if I’ve been on vacation or just been working to hard to spare the time to even browse through the topics) I just mark everything as read and start over again. If it is important enough, I will probably see it again any way.

I also use Feedly to process the articles I found interesting enough to read later by looking at the in-app-“Saved for later” category and read the articles there. If the article has enough substance to keep for later (for example if it brings up a point about some issue that I’m thinking about addressing in a blog post or something I’m planning on doing at work) I sent it to my Pocket account by simply tapping the icon in the Feedly app.

Just as a tip for you if you want to use my system – when you connect Pocket to your Feedly app, it will be selected as your primary “save for later” application, thus making it harder to save articles to the Feedly saved-for-later category when browsing through the titles. This can be altered again in the preferences though, replacing Pocket with Feedly as your application of taste so that holding your finger on an article in the listing for a while sends it to the saved-for-later category in Feedly.

So, now I have all my interesting articles in Pocket, and this is where I’ll do my categorizing. By setting up tags in Pocket, I can sort all the articles according to main topic and subtopics that I might be interested in. For example, I have a “site of interest” tag for sites to keep an eye on and a “fun” tag for silly videos and the like. Pocket then lets me view all the articles from the same category, making it easy for me to skim through my library when looking for ideas for some topic.

And then what?

After having set up this system, I soon felt that I was lacking the ability to search through all my reference material in one go for a certain word or author or some other common denominator I wanted to cross reference. I also found that some of the topics just didn’t say enough for me to recall what the article was really about, and I also lacked the ability to cross reference my web articles with my e-books and text files saved on my computer. After searching for software that could do that for me (and which would rob me blind) I once again came to the conclusion that I might as well do it myself.

Hacking time

So, I decided to create a small windows service that would check my GetPocket account on a given interval and download the contents of any new  saved addresses to a pdf document on my local computer. The project is available at CodeProject for those who are interested or would like to expand on it.

Organizing my articles and e-books

Not being a mac-person and thus not having the ability to use DevonThink for organizing my documents, I’ve been looking at alternatives. At this point, I’m trying out Papers, and I kind of like it, even though I haven’t tested it out that much yet. With Papers, I can annotate my pdf:s, set up different collections with different types of content and do some other organizing stuff. Unfortunately, it lacks the feature of free-text search and also importing tags from the pdf (which I could set from my Pocket tags…) to Papers’ own tag system. It’s my best option yet, however, so I guess I’ll use it until something better shows up.