5 Simple Ways to Organize Information

Does this sound familiar? You read an AWESOME article online and you promised you’d save it somewhere… but you didn’t. So you go to find it… but you can’t… and eventually you just forget about it altogether. You’re not alone. Regardless of where you are on your career path, true success requires a systematic way to capture the best of what you’re reading so, ideally, you can incorporate it into your daily life. Below are a few ways to get started.

1. Journals

Anyone who knows me knows I love to keep (and give) Moleskine journals. In fact, whenever I read a business book, I always make it a point to have my Moleskine with me to write down key thoughts and concepts. Part of my reason for doing this is convenience since I don’t always have my laptop handy. The other part is sentimental as I plan to give the journals to my sons when they enter the workforce. Either way, the benefit is I have the best career advice I’ve ever read in one place.

2. iPhone Notes/Apps

I also keep various notes on my iPhone. I know it probably sounds like a lot of extra work to keep notes in two places, but here’s the difference: If I’m working through an idea (next book, blog content, etc.), I keep it on my phone where I can access and update anytime. If it’s perennial info from a book or article, I write it in the journal.

3. Google Reader

Just when I assume the whole world is using Google Reader, I always meet some poor soul who has never heard of it. Long story short, this service allows you to aggregate and quickly sort through hundreds of blogs each day. Think of it as a mini-newspaper where you get to pick the articles. Enjoying this article? Here are 9 flawless reasons to subscribe to our blog.

4. Binders

Okay, I’m about to get old school on you now. I love three-ring binders. I have about five going at any given time where I keep printouts of articles, divided by subject, in plastic sheet protectors. Could I save some space by simply adding the content links to my Favorites toolbar? You bet. However, for me, the binders serve a dual purpose. Aside from once again collecting the best thinking on a topic in one place, they are a terrific conversation piece. Since I make sure the spine designs are eye-catching, usually people who visit my office will comment on them, opening the door for all sorts of yummy dialogue.

5. Twitter Lists/Favorites

Since we all probably waste more time than we care to admit sorting through the musings of everyone we follow, thank God for Twitter lists. With this feature, it’s easy to group people into buckets and pull tweets from only select users. You can also favorite great links on Twitter, just be sure to back them up using one of the methods above – lest they get buried and subsequently forgotten. A final bit of advice: Be sure to review your notes, binders, feeds, and favorites every six months or so and weed out what’s no longer applicable or relevant to your work. If all else fails and you still find yourself drowning in content overload, simply check out for a day or so until you have time to catch up. Trust me, the info stream will keep going… and it will welcome you back when you’re ready. Emily Bennington is the co-author of "Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job," a book written with her own post-college boss and mentor. Emily teaches a graduate-level course on professionalism and is passionate about helping career newbies become emerging leaders. The photo for this article is provided by Shutterstock.

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