The Second Order Effect

Tag: organization

Designing a new workflow for reading/saving links.

by on May.09, 2010, under Being a better me

It’s been a crazy time in my head, reading tons of Merlin Mann, and thinking bit thoughts as to who I want to be, what kind of work I want to do, and how I want to do it over this next five years.

It’s still all a jumble, but I’m slowly getting it down, written, for examination.

One workflow that has to be managed somehow : My links.

Each browser on my Macbook Pro (yippie! New MBP!) has at least thirty links saved. Firefox, with it’s impressive profile support, has seven profiles, most of which have a flood of links of some sort. My increasing desperation at opening a browser group should explain the names of my later profiles, including “Lean & Mean”, “Don’t keep any tabs open” and my favorite “Jesus!”. (This last profile is my current one, and is numbering about 60 tabs in 7 windows.)

Tab explosions come from the following :

  • Visiting Daring Fireball, Hacker News, Slashdot, 43 Folders. Gizmodo and Lifehacker add to the linkspam as well, but I do a decent job of ignoring those sites, especially after reading Mann’s essay Better. [This essay, I think, was the final push to actually focus my thinking on the big change.]
  • Any Google attempt of a problem I’m trying to solve. (Since I switch tasks so often, when a task is *somewhat done,* I’ll often move to something else, and stale tabs are left over)
  • Email processing.
  • Any Google attempt on anything interesting to me at the time.

One of the effects of the ‘Next Step,’ as I’m calling whatever set of discrete changes I’m contemplating now, is that I’m going to try to be a lot more disciplined about my curiousity, and stopping the constant indulging of “Oh, that looks neat!” and “Ooh, I want to know that!” (There are reasons, and this isn’t as simple of an idea as it sounds, perhaps more on that later.)

My tab workflow is a symptom of my overall workflow problems, and investing a lot of time fixing this symptom rather than the major problem (now that I’m focusing on that problem) is a distraction, not an advantage. So I’m not going to. But I do need a few more endpoints for the tabs that *do* get opened. Below, a chart of the types of data in my tabs, and what I’ve decided to do with them. (EDIT : I resisted the temptation to make a flowchart here. It’d be nice and all, I could put it up on my wall, but it’d be next to my GTD Workflow map, which is the domintant flowchart in my office, and I want to keep it this way. This data is fine in a table.)

(Hmm. I left this draft at 3:56pm. I return to it at 6:20pm. I’ve sent ten emails, upgraded the backup system for a client, done network debugging, uninstalled a few plugins (and done browser restarts), added plugins to WordPress to allow table editing, called family and purchased Choosy and iStat Menus. *headdesk*)

Anyhow, a chart of links that I can’t act on immediately.

Longer items to read in the future Instapaper
Sites that I think I should watch in the future Google Reader/NetNewsWire
Research for a specific project Evernote file for that particular project
A specific thing I want to do in the short/medium term Omnifocus task
Something I want to hold onto longer – inspiring or important Evernote file
Software/Projects/Articles I’ll find useful for projects in the future (but that aren’t active projects) ?????

So, the big question – what’s the ?????.

I used to use delicious. It’s gone stale, and I fear the data that’s in there now, I kind of feel like starting for scratch. The social functions of it worry me however – it’s a great way of having me be exposed to *more* new links – and I really just don’t need that.

I used to use browser bookmarks all synced by XMarks, but when I dumped in my backlogs of links to sort, and tried to start sorting them, the taxonomy was … massively draining, as well as annoyed at the hybrid tree/tag structure of most browsers bookmarks.

I’m going to start throwing away more links. While I think it’s *awesome* that there’s an HTML5 VNC client, and while I’m never going to remember it’s name, Googling those two words got me there pretty quickly. (I fear that I’ll forget that there’s an HTML5 VNC client in the long term – but I can’t imagine any workflow that has me going to my bookmarks *before* Google … I may have to get used to “if I forget it, I forget it” – a throughly disturbing idea personally, but one that might just be necessary.

Anyhow – anyone love their method of bookmarking/storing links?

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