Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Data Storage Education

How Do You Manage the Information In Your Life? 366

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?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How Do You Manage the Information In Your Life?

Comments Filter:
  • 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.
  • A Couple of Things (Score:2, Informative)

    by blaster151 ( 874280 ) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:20PM (#34005686)
    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 . . .
  • by froggymana ( 1896008 ) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:24PM (#34005706)

    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:OrgMode (Score:3, Informative)

    by flynt ( 248848 ) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @03:46PM (#34005870)

    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 is worth it just for org-mode alone.

    Check out [] for more use cases and tutorials/talks. Incredible piece of software, cannot recommend it enough.

  • 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.

  • by rmccoy ( 318169 ) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:03PM (#34005988)

    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. Then, I can easily find it wherever I am when I need a refill. I also scan in receipts and then destroy the originals to cut down on the pile of paper that used to obscure my desk.

    I keep track of to-do lists with Remember the Milk. I've never liked the name but it's the best task manager I've used. I can set up multiple folders for GTD-type use and it also has an iPhone app. I can create, maintain and complete apps on the phone and it pushes a notification each morning with the tasks that are due that day.

    Not affiliated with either company, just a satisfied user.

  • Re:CVS or SVN (Score:3, Informative)

    by greg1104 ( 461138 ) <> on Sunday October 24, 2010 @04:05PM (#34005998) Homepage

    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 single centralized repo for this job. Also, a distributed VCS means that you can work and commit changes on any system, with some hope of merging change conflicts. One system should be the nominal "master" you synchronize every other around, but if it's lost no big deal; just promote another copy to that role, and let switch other systems to checking out from it instead.

    The other trick I've adopted to is to write all text file notes in ReST markup. It makes for a structure that tends to be more readable anyway, and I need to turn one of them into something more formal, or print a nice looking copy, the work to do so is trivial.

  • Evernote (Score:5, Informative)

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

    I use Evernote ( 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.

  • 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 [], an online service which stores and syncs your lists across platforms/devices. To access this on my iPhone I use Appigo Todo [] ($5.00).
    • For scheduling and e-mail, I use Google Calendar and Gmail.
    • For file storage and access, I use Syncplicity [], 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 [] 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.


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

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

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

  • by mr100percent ( 57156 ) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @06:06PM (#34006778) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by TonySeb ( 1182071 ) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @06:52PM (#34007026)
    Imagine a bookcase, each shelf housing a row of 3-ring binders, the binders of varying width (1", 2", 3", etc.), each devoted to a different collection of related items, the spines labeled to indicate the subject of the collection (Notes on Books I've Read; Daily Diary/Journal; Favorite Recipes; Vitamin D; etc.). Call the binders 'Notebooks'. Divide each notebook into sections, with labeled tab separators, as many separators as you need to organize the collection logically and usefully. Each section contains contains pages, the pages each with a title to indicate its contents. Oversimplified, that physical organization, transmogrified into a computer program, gets you Microsoft OneNote. Many features to ease the process of building and adding material to the notebooks, and finding the information you've stored in them. When the program is closed, if a thought occurs or an item of information in any electronic form comes up, clicking an icon in the notification tray pops up a small blank note page for writing your thought or cut/pasting whatever information into the note page. It's automatically stored in an "Unfiled Notes" notebook for later transfer to or as a page in the appropriate section of the appropriate notebook. Simple to start getting organized, its depth of features you can pick up as you need more functionality. See []. (I'm not associated with Microsoft, just a professor who uses the program).
  • Blog + Zotero... (Score:2, Informative)

    by KazW ( 1136177 ) on Sunday October 24, 2010 @08:50PM (#34007794)
    I'm also a student, and Zotero is possibly the best tool you can have for writing papers, it makes citing sources a snap, it's also a half decent replacement for OneNote. Also, Zotero is only a Firefox plugin, so it's cross platform, and it integrates into Word or OpenOffice, which is great, because I'm a Linux user. Zotero also has some cloud syncing abilities, but I like my research to stay where it is, in my encrypted home directory. On a random side note, I don't use Ubuntu, I use Arch Linux, but my home directory is encrypted using the same ecryptfs system.

    For Personal stuff I use my WordPress blog, I have the "Press this" button in my favourites bar, I just save the links as drafts and revisit them later; I renamed the button to "Send to Blog". I use Blogilo (usually doesn't work right) and ScribeFire to post my entries, I like ScribeFire better because it's a Firefox plugin, so I don't even need to leave my browser.
  • by TonyToews ( 1221386 ) on Monday October 25, 2010 @03:08AM (#34009394)
    For the most part I use Microsoft OneNote. I have separate folders for personal life, hobbies, software I've written and clients. With lots of sections and tabs. Works very, very well for me.
  • 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: []
    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)

The opulence of the front office door varies inversely with the fundamental solvency of the firm.