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Data Storage Education

How Do You Manage the Information In Your Life? 366

Posted by timothy
from the this-drawer-is-for-my-ocd-meds dept.
An anonymous reader writes "How do you manage the multitude of information sources in your lives? How do you keep track of the electronics or programming projects you're working on, or the collection of photos you took from your last holiday, or the notes and reading you're doing to learn a new language? Do you have a personal wiki, a blog, or maybe a series of tablet based notes, or voice recordings? Or is it pen and paper, and a blank book for each different hobby? I'm a student, and like most of you, have a few different interests to keep track of (as well as work). But I realise I also have a little OCD, and struggle a bit to keep on top of information (whether hobbies or personal life) in a way that I feel I have complete control over. So how do you all do it?"
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How Do You Manage the Information In Your Life?

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  • by iamapizza (1312801) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:12PM (#34005632)
    I have a brain.
  • easy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Goldsmith (561202) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:12PM (#34005638)

    I don't

    • Remember to forget (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spectrokid (660550) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:23PM (#34006170) Homepage
      You are young, and have not met the big disasters of life yet, like a divorce with children, the death of a loved one, the bad decisions with life-long consequences. At your age I liked keeping track and archives, even bank statements many years back. Not a good idea. Your past starts to grow on you, and can slow you down on your way to new pastures. So remember to build in mechanisms for forgetting all but the most essential stuff. Use Facebook and Linkedin to keep track of people, keep some nice pictures, but learn to delete and forget. You will thank me later.
      • by Normal Dan (1053064) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:45PM (#34006354)
        I so very much wish I had learned to do this. In general I try not to acquire things I want to keep, but even so, it's becoming a burden.
        • by mccrew (62494) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:36PM (#34007270)

          Sounds similar to one of my favorite sayings:

          "The more you own, the more you are owned."

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by rwa2 (4391) *

            Ha, reminds me of a corollary...

            "Borrow a million bucks, and the bank owns you; borrow a few billion bucks, and you own the bank."

            Used in reference to US foreign policy with China, for better for for worse :P

        • by waveclaw (43274) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @10:48PM (#34008374) Homepage Journal

          I so very much wish I had learned to do this. In general I try not to acquire things I want to keep, but even so, it's becoming a burden.

          Ian M. Banks in The Algebraist [wikipedia.org] describes a 'slow' species, the Dwellers, who live so long that their personal houses evolve into museums of antiquity. Some well kept sections housing historical records hard to find elsewhere. Other wings being decayed to the point of hazard, a serious problem when your house is floating in the air of a gas giant.

          Like all fictional species, they may be more a comment on humanity and an important insight into us. How different would be we after enough time, enough diaries started and abandoned, and enough partial collections left unfinished?

          Good thing we have trash cans. And archeologist's willing to dumpster dive those city dumps.

      • by clickclickdrone (964164) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @05:19PM (#34006546)
        Totally. This is so much my experience. When I was younger I used to diligently catalog my video tapes, LPs, books etc. I had all sorts of card file systems for recording all sorts of, well, crap but at the time it seemed vitally important. Then when I got into computers, I started to keep multiple backups of everything, later on CDRs got duplicated, emails got archived etc. etc. Then suddenly I found myself married, with family and suddenly found 99% of that stuff mattered not a jot.
        Best of all, apart from massively less stress and time spent keeping on top of it all, actually letting it go has been cathartic. Going through hundreds of VHS tapes I kept 'just in case this was the last copy anywhere' turned into 'can I be arsed to stick this on a DVDR? No'. All those HDs on the shelf and CD/DVD backups that I never look at from one year to the next have been heaved out.
        I remember reading once an interview with someone who'd lost everything in a fire. They said it was a disaster, they thought they'd never cope with the loss and then suddenly they felt the weight of years of worrying about losing all their crap, lifting off their shoulders. From then on they lived life lean and much happier.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cgenman (325138)

        This also applies to simple things. I used to keep everything in a massive, strung-out online todo list. Toodledoo [toodledoo.com] was the last one, if anyone cares. But it quickly blossomed out to hundreds of entries, none of which were going to get done.

        I do still keep a toodledo list for certain important things. But generally speaking, everything I intend to do in a day gets written down on a paper notebook in my pocket. One paper = one day. If something doesn't get done in a day, the following morning I'll sit d

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by datadefender (1205712)

        I am 55 - and have gone thru a divorce - yet I do not share your advice. Archives and things are only a burden if the later steal your time or are used against you.
        Since 1980 I have a digital diary (originally on a CP/M system) and since 1994 I have archived all my emails. In 1999 I switched to digital fotos and also took fotos of all my important documents. Every year has its own folder to organize my data. My entire digital archive is about 200GB and exists on 3 disks - one off-site. Storage cost is trivi

  • I keep all the info of my life in txt files.

    It helps that I can type really fast.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Same here. Organized text files. There is nothing more portable and easier to back up.

      For example, on my file server I have a folder called Projects. Within it is a text file with potential ideas, as well as folders for each project I'm working on or have worked on, each of those containing their own text file. I use a good tabbed editor (notepad++ or kate) so I don't have to constantly re-open all the active documents on each reboot.

      The only disadvantage I've found is that if you want a nice pretty interfa

      • Re:txt file (Score:5, Informative)

        by icebraining (1313345) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:34PM (#34006254) Homepage

        Org-Mode [orgmode.org] gives you pretty interface for plain text. All the features of your setup, with a good interface on top.

        • Yes, org-mode is definetly the best solution for organizing information that I have found. It's extremely simple and flexible. It makes it possible for me to do almost everything in Emacs. I use vm for email, ledger for accounting, I write most of my documents in org-mode and export to pdf through latex.

          Of course org-mode and the other text and emacs related solutions doesn't take care of all my information processing needs, but almost. For photos, videos and music I use the old fashioned descriptive file n

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Me too. Pictures were hard at first, but I got good at ASCII art.

    • by vlm (69642)

      Store it all in various git repos.

      Then make a project in git, which is a simple shell script that looks for your git repos, and if found, pulls from the "hub", and tests to see if there is new stuff that needs to be committed / pushed and if so alerts you. Of course, it updates itself each time it runs...

      Start session, run clustersync. Do your thing. Run clustersync before you stop working, to make sure you committed everything you planned to.

      Splitting git projects is a pain and making sense of gitweb co

  • Medium term memory (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ThreeGigs (239452) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:16PM (#34005656)

    Between long and short-term memory is intermediate-term memory. I let my brain manage it, unless it's something that I won't use frequently enough and might forget, in which case I toss it in a text file I call 'chaos' and surround it with keywords I can search for. I've been doing the 'chaos' thing for years now, kind of a catch-all database.

  • For me, it's PostIts. Different colors for different categories of things. I also have a composition notebook (from the back-to-school sale a few years back) in which I place PostIts with more durable information...and it's also where I keep all my various usernames and passwords. Change a password? Rip out the old PostIt, put in a new one.

    Some PostIts go on my monitor, thinks I need to remember RIGHT NOW. I'll also put up working note phrases for projects, like IP addresses, port numbers, APIs, and im

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by froggymana (1896008)

      For passwords I use a combination of Dropbox and Keepass. With that I can access my passwords from any computer that I have internet access to, and you could keep it on a flash drive as well, you would just need to update your password database file manually.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by icebraining (1313345)

        I use a single very large password, which gets concatenated to the site's domain and passed to a SHA-1 algorithm.
        This way, I never have to worry about syncing stuff, I can recreate all passwords from memory with a sha1 filter.

        I keep a few original passwords for some specific sites (eg. bank), which I can keep in memory, even though it's weak.

    • by LBt1st (709520)

      I do pretty much the exact same thing. Google/Android Calendar keeps my upcoming appointments/events in order.
      If I'm out and want to do something when I get home, I put a postit in my pocket. When I get home I remove and handle any notes in there.
      Sometimes I'll e-mail myself if it's something I don't need to do asap once I'm home.

      I'm also a fan of whiteboards. I have one at home and one at the office.

      As far as hard drives go. I'm oldschool and have categorized partitions/directories as I'm sure many of us h

      • by LBt1st (709520)

        Oh, there's also a wonderful Android app that lets you put postits on your home screens. They're great for todo/shopping lists and things of that sort.

  • With my Mac.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ctmurray (1475885)
      I too am a Mac user at home. I use Yojimbo as a catchall for important emails and web pages that I "print to Yojimbo). I also save many of these in my email program in appropriate folders (thus doubling my chances of finding something). With documents I am a good filer of information in fairly well organized folders and sub folders. At work on a PC I don't have an equivalent of Yojimbo (I wish I did and this thread reminds me to look into this further). The corporate email system (Notes) is really non-intu
  • Honestly? (Score:3, Informative)

    by DarkIye (875062) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:18PM (#34005674) Journal

    Virtual sticky notes on my desktop, and pinned tabs in my Chrome window.

    I'd basically forget my whole life if I lost these things.

  • E-mail myself (Score:4, Informative)

    by rueger (210566) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:20PM (#34005682) Homepage
    Notes, ideas, documents - anything that I might want to find later. G-mail is my filing cabinet these days.
    • I second this. You can say what you want about privacy (just dont store passwords there), but nothing beats having an online repository of all the important factoids in your life. Remember that Google has Calendar, Notebook and Docs too
  • A Couple of Things (Score:2, Informative)

    by blaster151 (874280)
    Look at the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology by David Allen. It's good at helping you keep track of all the stuff that's going on. Also, when I feel like my head is getting too cluttered, I do a brain dump into MindJet's MindManager software. It can help capture many disparate pieces of information visually and the process can yield some mental clarity . . .
  • Phone & Notes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rkohutek (122839) <randal@ w e b e r street.net> on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:28PM (#34005738) Homepage Journal

    Like most people on /. I carry a phone that has a handy-dandy built-in notes app and a calendar.

    I use those tools, and with the aid of categorizing things as (not)?urgent|important (thanks 7 habits!), I do a great job of staying on top of my life -- from learning to play the guitar to today's work deliverables.

    Things that are *important* get stuck into my Notes for the day, and added to my to-do-list when I get to a computer. Urgent or time-sensitive things get calendared for a specific time with notes attached immediately.

    Another huge thing I do is /routine/. If I water the lawn every morning at 7:00am, I don't ever wonder what I'm doing at that time of day: I'm watering the lawn. Same goes for checking my email -- I do that on a very set schedule so that I can focus on whatever else in the meantime.

    I think it was in Memento where it was said that Habits and routine make life livable. Throw in some discipline and you should never forget to buy your girl flowers ever again :D

  • Post-Its (Score:2, Interesting)

    by J.J. Dane (1562629) *

    On my monitor at work, or on the fridge at home.

    Other than that I figure, if I don't remember it it probably wasn't that important..

  • OrgMode (Score:4, Insightful)

    by patro (104336) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:32PM (#34005766) Journal

    http://orgmode.org/ [orgmode.org]

    It's very powerful once you get the concept.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by flynt (248848)

      Two org-mode posts at the exact same minute :). The uses of org-mode are too numerous to mention in one post, but just to give a little more context... Org is essentially an outliner, event planner, calendar, PDF and HTML authoring system, multi-language code-authoring environment (babel), time tracker, shopping list maintainer, contact database, ...

      All this and it's Free Software, too. The mailing list and community is one of the most responsive out there. I've heard many people say that learning emacs i

    • by dmomo (256005)

      And you can view these files on your purdy iP(hone|(ao)d)
      http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mobileorg/ [apple.com]

    • Re:OrgMode (Score:4, Funny)

      by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @07:02PM (#34007090) Journal
      Does it support vi? (Ducks and runs away)
  • Emacs org-mode (Score:4, Interesting)

    by flynt (248848) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:32PM (#34005768)

    Emacs org-mode (http://orgmode.org). Your life in plain text. Nothing else compares.

  • CVS or SVN for projects of one or a few persons.  Like:

    $ cvs co geo
    $ cvs co foo2zjs
    $ svn co gnome-manual-duplex

    etc.

    Photos:  organize by year
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by greg1104 (461138)

      Right basic idea, but not CVS or SVN. Use a distributed version control system like git. Create subdirectories for everything. Put every file that's important to you in there. Make the directory tree the organizational structure. Move stuff around as you see fit if the structure isn't working for you.

      That's how I've gotten every important bit of information I've ever collected in my life all in one place. And every copy I check out, on every computer I own, is yet another backup. I'd never trust a si

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:35PM (#34005798) Homepage Journal

    Obviously real men post all of their life information onto the web and let the others back it up and then use Google to look up what the heck happened to them in their lives.

    It's mostly a sad picture.

  • by failedlogic (627314) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:36PM (#34005802)

    I think you have to determine what is important to *you*. I've whittled down the books, photos and music, movies, notes, etc that are important to me first and foremost. It makes organizing, cataloging and backing up the information easier. I'm not suggesting if you have 2000 photos of your kid to get rid of them. But shurely, there's some information junk lying around that you don't need anymore. It might also mean reading books just lying around and deciding if they are keepers or just make some notes of what you read and then recycle (or better yet) donate the book to the library or a friend.

    The fact is, if you think you have a little OCD, chances are your life is disorganized. I'm there somewhat too. But, in the last few weeks, I've done a lot of the above. I have to say, its made my life easier, less weight on my shoulders and I've been able to accomplish more. I don't have OCD, but I can tell you that this is certainly rewarding to accomplish.

    I haven't found the best way to organize it yet. I'm struggling a bit with backups and debating wether keeping digital or "analog" (paper, print) copies of my information is the best.

    • At my work we have gone through a lot of stuff related to 5S for organizing and making workplaces efficient. A lot of that applies to being at home too. The biggest part is having the discipline to keep "everything in it's place", to leave your desk empty every single night before going home. It's harder to do at home with kids and such but it can be done (I saw it on the internet!)

  • I have an install of Redmine [redmine.org] that I use to keep track of all my personal projects and todo lists and such. It's great because it's a single place where I can put stuff I'm working on, future ideas, break larger projects into tasks etc. That's useful for putting down tasks that I'm not going to get to immediately, as well as future projects. I have a few ideas for Android apps that I won't have the time to work on anytime soon, but whenever I have an idea I can go mark it down so when I do decide to go wo

  • Pretty old-fashoned from pre-computer days. I pretty much can keep track of everything in my mental memory after a daily refresh.
  • Minimalist approach (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bender0x7D1 (536254) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:39PM (#34005820)

    My first line of defense is that I try to keep things to a minimum. If I have more than 3 things going on, I will delay most of them and do a mediocre job on the others because I'm not focused.

    However, to answer your question, the best strategy I've ever used was a single notebook to track everything. Every item gets a bullet and every day gets a new page. If something didn't get done, it gets rewritten on the page for the next day. That means everything is in one place and having to rewrite the items every day is annoying, so items I don't really care about will be dropped from the list. If necessary, the bullets can reference outside information like, "Implement request in John's email 'Need a favor' received on 10/24/2010."

    If you decide to resurrect an old project, you can flip through the notebook to find the bullet items regarding that project to help get yourself back up to speed.

  • by sznupi (719324) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:39PM (#34005822) Homepage

    Now, I'm sure this thread will get many suggestions how to improve your "information management", many might prove helpful in finding and refining you own ways - but ultimately, it all fails at some point; there's just too much of it all.

    Learning to let things go will be crucial. I can't know what might work for you - maybe always listening (to the point of a habit), without exceptions or excuses, to that nagging voice telling you something is a waste of time? (say goodbye to those many certainly interesting things you won't ever finish reading) Maybe regular breaks (force yourself to them, an alarm clock on the other side of an apartment for example), thinking idly about the singular tasks at hand? Maybe separating stuff to work PC/area and thrash PC/area? Or maybe something completely different.

    In the end, while technical solutions are helpful - your main effort will be at not circumventing them, not wasting any gains.

  • Basically using GTD.

    I carry a stack of index cards everywhere. Write down every single damn thing that I need to ever think about.

    I get home, throw them all in a pile.

    Either late that evening, or early in the morning, I go through and make a list on a fresh index card of the things I need to take care of that day. Things that relate to a certain topic, say, musical endeavors, get put into a stack of similar cards. When I can, I pin these to the wall in columns by topic. Things that would only re
  • by CrAlt (3208) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:45PM (#34005864) Homepage Journal

    Have you tried the "Not giving a fuck" method?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wS5xOZ7Rq8 [youtube.com]
    It makes life much simpler...

    Do you have a personal wiki, a blog, or maybe a series of tablet based notes, or voice recordings"

    What? Your a student. Not a CEO. If you have so much data and photo's that it requires a database and a wiki to keep track of then its probably not making your life any better.
    Try spending some time enjoying life rather then organizing and documenting it.

    • Have you tried the "Not giving a fuck" method?

      Fair, and we could probably all do with a little less stress on ourselves.

      Really the main thing I think for the OP is just to make sure you're not trying to juggle remembering all the things you need to do.

      For me, documenting what needed to be done freed my mind up from wondering frequently if I was remembering to do things. Saves you from that constant "Oh yeah, I was supposed to ______ today/tomorrow/yesterday" feeling.

      That's really the main takeaway for me from GTD, not all the methods and co

  • So how do I do it? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lbalbalba (526209) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:46PM (#34005872)
    Well, I don't, actually. I just drown in information overload, really. It's kinda sad when you think about it.
  • by pickens (49171) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:49PM (#34005898) Journal
    I have a lousy memory so over the past fiteen years, I have set up a series of about 20 Filemaker databases where I keep all the information that I don't want to lose. The strength of Filemaker for me is that it is easy to set up and that the database allows full text searches. Each database is set up using a template that automatically puts in the creation date and time and the modification date and time.

    For example, when I started surfing the net in 1996, I set up a Filemaker database for all the interesting web sites I might want to come back to that includes the URL and a text description of the database. Over the years I have about 7,000 entries in the database. What is interesting is to go back and see what sorts of sites I was visiting say in 1998.

    Whenever I see an interesting article with information that I may want to access again, I just copy all the text into another database along with the URL of the information. That database now has about 40,000 entries since I started keeping it in 1999.

    I have another database that I started keeping in 1992 with all the phone calls that I make and receive and another database. That was very useful to me when I was a project manager and had to keep track of about twenty subcontractors and my agreements with them on what deliverables I would get from them and when they were due.

    I have another database that I just call text where I edit text files for emails I send, or slashdot posts like this one before I post them. That one has about 30,000 entries so far.

    I even have a database that I keep of slashdot stories that I have submitted and which ones have been accepted. Periodically I do a dump of that database to my web site [hughpickens.com].

    I like to write non-fiction, and if I'm working on an article, then I have a web site set up where I can use a personal Wikipedia to keep track of references and footnotes like this one I have been working on for a while of Stanley Ann Dunham, the mother of President Obama, who grew up in my hometown of Ponca City [researchandideas.com] or this one on the Pioneer Woman Models [researchandideas.com] that I recently had accepted for publication in Oklahoma Magazine.

    I don't recommend this methodology for everyone, but it works for me.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:51PM (#34005912)

    Freemind for organising and planning things.

    tiddlywiki for random useful information I've come across.

    As to remembering. I don't, I have delegated that process to other people.

    • Write the things you need to do down on postits. Put into a "todo" area on a door or something. Then take two[1] out, stick them into in-progress and do them[2].
      Each one completed gets a sweetie.

      [1] Limit the number, and do the important ones first. The more you have going on, the longer it takes and the less you actually get done.

      [2] keep it real, and short. A week or two at most. Y'know, break things down into stuff that can actually be done.

  • I use the Evernote web site, Mac application and iPhone app to capture information from the web, from images, from PDFs and assorted notes. The apps sync to the Evernote site and any image or PDF is OCRed so I can search on any text in them. I use multiple tags on each record so, combined with the ability to search any text contained in the item, I can easily locate anything in my data store. A day-to-day example is, I take a picture of any prescription label I get with my phone and send it to Evernote. The

  • by stimpleton (732392) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:05PM (#34005994)
    There are various sayings: "A mechanics car", "a builders house" referring to the fact these items are often in states of disrepair.

    For my situation as an information technologist I:
    - am not OCD or driven in other "special" ways.
    - pour everything I can into my job
    - follow very formalized process at work. versioning, policies etc.

    At home, I am the opposite. My excuse is there is nothing left after work. My music is scattered far and wide, I own the same CD twice, I have downloaded albums more than once, my finances are in disarray - I do pay bills in good faith, but I loose them. I dont track services on my car and it is frequently very overdue in road tax, maintenance etc.

    I do use formalized process for coding at home (hobby stuff) but do so little these days. The one constant is insurance. I make sure that is up to par.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AltairDusk (1757788)
      I'm very similar, finances are the one area where I was forced to add some organizational help to preserve my credit score. By far the most helpful thing I've found in that area is Mint.com, I have it set up to start bugging me via email when the bills need to be paid soon.
  • by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:07PM (#34006014) Homepage

    Except for the stuff I forget, which must not have mattered anyway or I would have remembered it. And if I really should have remembered it my wife reminds me in such a way as to make certain that I never forget it again.

    Works for me.

  • Evernote (Score:5, Informative)

    by jrj102 (87650) * on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:08PM (#34006018) Homepage

    I use Evernote (http://www.evernote.com) for just about everything. It allows me to easily combine text (vast majority of my notes are plaintext, obviously) with images, files, voice notes, etc. It's a great tool that stores everything in the cloud and syncs to clients on Mac, PC, and most mobile platforms. I've been really happy with the solution.

    For task management, I bounced back and forth between OmniFocus on the Mac and Outlook on the PC... haven't really found a solution I'm happy with. As a result, I pretty much use an old-school paper to-do list that gets regenerated daily in a Moleskine-style notebook.

  • and I ignore most of the rest. I keep all my email in text files and generally just grep them when II need to call up a piece of information (such as an order date) that I have forgotten.
  • I use Microsoft OneNote. You can have notebooks for various projects, and each can have various tabs and groups of tabs. Each tab can have a number of pages (and groups of pages). Each page can be a mix of text, graphics, sound clips, etc. You can set it up so that PrintScreen captures to Onenote. Apparently, OneNote is also good with a tablet computer as it does handwriting recognition and drawing tools. It can sync with Outlook for task management.

    ... if only there were a good linux equivalent.
  • For programming projects, I store them in SVN, or if they are small, I stick them in my 'programming' folder. When I check out from SVN, they go in programming too.

    For photographs, I throw out all but the best, and store them in my pictures folder, with a date and descriptive name.

    For languages, I keep a small notebook that fits in my pocket and every time I hear a word that jumps out at me, I write it in the notebook. Eventually all of it has to go into the brain, so that is a temporary storage (for Ch
  • The number one solution is to have it all in one place, for me that's my laptop.

    The number two is to have a solid back-up system including off site.

    My photo's are so manifold that most are on a couple of TB drives, the most recent several 100GB also on the laptop.
    The trick is a logic nesting of the folders, in this case first the name of the camera, then the year, next the month and possibly a subject.
    When a specific subject is worth marking I append it to the number of the file, a quick CTRL+F in the f

    • by Teun (17872)
      Duh, then I forget an important tool, I number my jobs.
      These numbers are in a ledger (dead tree) with the client, date and subject, all mails and documents have the number in their title.
      The jobs are kept in a root folder with that same number.
  • Use the Cloud (Score:3, Informative)

    by Grym (725290) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:31PM (#34006230)

    I've found that I only use organization solutions which I can have access to at any time. For example, a todo list is of little use to me if it can only be found on a single desktop computer. Because of this, I've found that solutions which allow access via my smartphone work best for me. That being said, it sucks entering information in via a tiny touchscreen or keypad. The obvious compromise, it seems, is to use web-based services that can sync with smartphone apps; cloud computing in other words. There are a lot of services that offer this, but I've only found a few that fit my last criteria that the apps be functional during times with no or limited internet access. These are as follows:

    • For todo lists and reminders, I use Toodledo [toodledo.com], an online service which stores and syncs your lists across platforms/devices. To access this on my iPhone I use Appigo Todo [appigo.com] ($5.00).
    • For scheduling and e-mail, I use Google Calendar and Gmail.
    • For file storage and access, I use Syncplicity [syncplicity.com], Personal Edition, which is free. Although, I have considered changing to Dropbox lately.
    • For Notes and personal reference, I've found Notespark (free service; $5.00 app) to be more than enough.
    • Because this type of setup is very public, I put any potentially sensitive data in Truecrypt [truecrypt.org] archives on a USB stick attached to my carkeys.

    Total cost is $10.00, not including the USB stick. And it seems to cover all the various forms of personal data.

    -Grym

  • But I realise I also have a little OCD, and struggle a bit to keep on top of information (whether hobbies or personal life) in a way that I feel I have complete control over. So how do you all do it?

    I have a prescription. Works like a charm, aside from some tenseness in the jaw and occasional vertigo.

  • by Qbertino (265505) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:38PM (#34006304)

    You are on the highway headed strait to Nervous Breakdown City if you think that keeping track of all those devices and methods you've mentioned is going to be possible throughout your life. I recommend you take a timeout and get into Zen Buddism or Stoicism. A very good example of the basic principles of those applied to modern life you can find here [fourhourworkweek.com], an article on low information diet by author Tim Ferriss.

    I've been into computers and modern information technology since 24 years and have come back to reducing the material goods I own and the stuff I worry about to the amount that I had when I started studying. 99% of the people I meet in everyday life continously bite off more than they can chew, raking away upwards of 11 hours per day with studies, work, yoga, jogging, carousing with buddies every odd night, gym, mingling with dozens of art and media projects at a time, networking, family and tending to their S.O., etc. ... and you my friend sound a bit like one of the lot.

    Mind you, I do keep notes of everyday things - in one single book that I carry around with me. All goes in there, aside from some notes I take on my blackberry and less than a handfull of textfiles on Google Apps and my PC when I haven't got the book on me. I spread my to-do lists that way too, which keeps the items on them below 20 at all times - a strategy I highly recommend to *anyone*, as long 2-do lists don't get done. I've had that blank spiralbind artscetch notebook for 6 years now and I expect it to fill up within the next two years or so. Then all get a new one. Makes maybe a dozen notebooks for my entire life, which actually is a reasonable amount if you ask me. They also serve as a sort of diary, which I've come to like.

    Digital Life wise I use google apps for a few online notes and Git to version and sync my Workfiles, Music and Fotos across my MacMini and my Ubuntu Laptop. I do have a delicious account, but if I'm honest, I hardly revisit more than 5 Links of more than 200 any more than twice a year - and even then it's only out of curiosity about what was so important back then. I too have upwards of 60 software projekts that I started throughout the last decade and have never finished, most of which I archived away last year. I still have 10 or so lying around in my 'Work' folder and i've dragged around more webdomains than I will ever be able to handle ever since the first dot-com bubble. I expect to get two or three of my personal projects on the road within the next 2 years if I'm lucky, and by now I'm smart enough to know that they'll only gain critical mass if I stick with those from there on out. ... Or do you think the Kernel or the Blender 3D Toolkit would've come this far if Linus Torwalds or Ton Roosendahl would be switching projects every odd month and caring about every fart on their facebook network?

    No Sir. There is a lot of productivity advice out there and a bucket load of Lifehacks you can use to trick your life and yourself into getting things done, but the first move is to reduce the things you want to handle to that handfull that you really care about to see them through even if things get rough or you lose your job or switch careers. If you don't do that, no amount of tooling, portable computers and scheduling strategies will be able to get you on track because you yourself are the bottleneck.

    My 2 cents.

  • by careysb (566113) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:42PM (#34006344)
    I've had a file open in one window (text or Word doc, doesn't matter), and used MS search in another window to look for a unique word in the file. Search often won't find it even when I can see it plain as day.
  • I use the Mp3 player for voice recordings/notes when I am out and about. I use the calendar on the wall for appointments, grocery lists, rent amounts, and such. I use facebook notes for info that I don't care about with regards to privacy. I try to follow the engineering principle of KISS or keep it simple stupid when dealing with the volume of information.
  • by proxima (165692)

    A very simple, offline wiki is well-suited to recording all sorts of information.

    Since all I need is text with tags and the occasional equation in LaTeX, I found that Tiddlywiki [tiddlywiki.com] works great. It's an amazing self contained wiki using only HTML and Javascript. The main idea is to be able to very quickly develop lists, outlines, etc. in a browser I have open anyway.

  • I can find pretty much anything I want to on google. I still bookmark things and save links from time to time, but the fact is that search makes finding the right bit of information in an essentially unorganized morass doable, even easy. The same principle can be applied to your own information - worry less about organizing it, more about how to search it.

    I remember using google desktop search once. It was awesome. However, in order to work it had to phone home, which is a deal breaker. Something that wil

  • Q: How Do You Manage the Information In Your Life?

    A: I tell other people on basis of impulse. Garbage in, but seldom garbage out.

  • Don't remember stuff you don't need to. Most of my technical memory is in books and websites I have bookmarked. Can't remember some obscure API in the javax namespace? Who cares? I have a book for that. Can't remember that particular syntax in PHP? Who cares? Google it.

    But the stuff I can't look up online, like what's going on with my friends, who's dating who, etc. That info is the important info in my life, and it's the info I commit to wetware.

  • I try to keep stuff simple and make it a natural part of my routine (that way its gets done). Plus I try and have a backup system, just in case.

    - Gmail for notes to myself and digital emphemera
    - delicious for bookmarks, internet links, recipes, articles (the feed of my links is backed up via email to my gmail)
    - 2x hard drives for photos & music (don 't worry about movies, since I only watch them once). Flickr also for photos.
    - Dropbox for all recent documents (the type of stuff you would find in PC's "

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mr100percent (57156)

      If evernote goes down I'll just go open the app on my Mac and see everything stored there. It copies and syncs with the cloud, but all my data is stored locally too.

  • I tried PIMs, Outliners, Wikis, HTML servers, etc, etc, etc. Dozens of things. I finally wrote a Python script that does what I need pretty well. Has a list of tasks ordered by date. One click date updating, an associated text box that I can cut and paste into, and a launch pad for computer operations related to the task. Functionally much like the Windows 3.1 Cardfile program, but more capable and doesn't need 16 bit OLE that hasn't worked in any OS since Windows 98 in order to launch operations.

  • You may get a lot of advice on different tools to use, but ultimately there's no substitute for actually being organized. That really great note-taking application or task list manager or photo manager might help you simplify some part of your process, but if you're not organized, an organizational tool won't make you organized.

    But maybe your question is, how do I actually get organized? Well, there's no single way. It depends on what kind of information you're trying to keep track of and for what purpo

  • by spasm (79260) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @06:27PM (#34006910) Homepage

    I juggle multiple projects, grants, articles in progress, conference presentations, you name it. For the ones that have any kind of paper attached to them (receipts, notes, annotated printouts, whatever) I put all the paper in a single large ziploc bag. At the very front goes a single sheet with the name of the project and the last date I changed the contents.

    Throw all the ziplocs in a box. When you need to work on project x, rummage through the box and grab that ziploc & it's all there.. If the project generates too much paper for a single ziploc, then it's probably big and complicated enough to need a file drawer, and you're unlikely to forget that it's in progress..

    Once a month or so have a complete rummage through the box - stuff you've abandoned can be pulled out and tossed or archived in some way, and you'll be reminded about other things you have in progress that have been off your mind for a while..

  • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Monday October 25, 2010 @04:06AM (#34009610)

    Althought this won't sit well on Slashdot...

    1) Microsoft OneNote - best note gathering tool, also online coordination/sync if you want/trust. (Thus viewable on my phone as well)

    2) Smartphone - Android

    3) Windows7 and the built in Search indexing system, it keeps track of everything I have done for the past 20 years. With selective online Syncing of current documents and projects available to any PC I sign into with Live Essentials, or via a browser. (Millions and Millions of documents, notes, meeting recordings, ink drawings, development projects, etc. - all available instantly, something that made OS X choke when trying to index even a small portion of the TBs of data.) Add in 'previous versions' and the backup system and you have a very mature system of tracking the data of your life, and even seeing it at various time points.

    OneNote and Vista/Win7's Search features are something that has keep me off of Linux as a primary desktop for a few years now. Gone are the days of 'find' and cobbled indexing solutions.

    It is just too handy to type a partial line of code and get the project, or a few words from an email back in 1992 and have it at my finger tips.

  • Lifehacker (Score:3, Informative)

    by rwa2 (4391) * on Monday October 25, 2010 @09:22AM (#34011124) Homepage Journal

    OK, Gawker Media has a whole site dedicated to exactly this kind of thing, surprised no one mentioned it yet: http://lifehacker.com/ [lifehacker.com]
    Worth perusing to find interesting ways to simplify things.

    For myself, I've found:

    • short term (daily / weekly): With pen and notepad, write down checklists. If it's written down, it's not taking up space in your brain or causing stress. Cross things out when they're done. (though I don't like deleting them entirely, since it helps to see how much you've accomplished any given day)
    • long term: Any outlining tool (I really like Progect for PalmOS, haven't found anything comparable anywhere else yet)

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