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I hope this isn't too broad a question, but basically, I find myself constantly trying to keep track of many different things. I'm wondering how other people do this. For example, I have:

  • a list of movies I want to see
  • recipes (tagged with stuff like: type of food, side/main dish, how long it takes to make, etc.)
  • lists of bars & restaurants, tagged with neighborhood, price, type of food, and other misc. labels ("want to try", "good for groups", "my parents would like this", etc.)
  • links to online videos I want to watch when I have time
  • shopping lists
  • general todo lists
  • online articles to read (generally longer stories to print)

For the simple lists (e.g. movies) I have been using, which I like a lot for really simple things. But then it gets more complicated with stuff like the recipes and restaurants. I had been using general firefox bookmarks and xmarks to sync them, which are awesome (I can just type "recipe seafood" in the address bar, and everything I tagged with recipe and seafood pop up), but recently due to changes with the proxy server at work, xmarks no longer works there (so since I'd be bookmarking/tagging things both at work and at home, this is a deal-breaker). I haven't found any other non-clunky bookmarking/tagging system, but I am definitely open to options.

Then there are the articles to read - here I've been using instapaper and readitlater. However a lot of these come from RSS feeds so they just stay unread in Google Reader.

If there's a video I want to watch, I often email it to myself. I ignore 90% of the stuff in my inbox (partyly because it's cluttered with stuff like this) and 100% of the stuff that's not in my inbox, so this is useless.

So my general questions are: am I going about things the right way? Should I using all these different sites? Should I be using gmail in someway to store everything? And what can I do about those sites that need ~5-10 tags per bookmark and have to be easily searchable by those tags?

How do you manage stuff like this?

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Have you tried Evernote? It's awesome and it's free. Their website title says all: "remember everything". – lucasarruda Dec 7 '11 at 20:51
You can send articles from Google Reader to instapaper. With the item highlighted just click the send to instapaper bookmarklet--it even works in the mobile version of the site. – Adam Wuerl Dec 8 '11 at 5:23

I used Evernote for quite a while, and I have nothing but good things to say about it. It's perfect for a lot of use cases, and may well be for yours. However, I recently switched from using Evernote to using a Personal Wiki. I have an installation of PmWiki set up on my private hosting, accessible from anywhere with a URL but password protected so that no one but me can read or edit it.

The main reasons I chose a wiki over Evernote are:

  • I prefer the editing interface for the wiki, and it provides me with more formatting options and control over what I post
  • Wikis make it really easy to link content together, so that even if you have a mostly hierarchical info structure (your Movies section, your Food section, your to-do list, etc), you can find and take advantage of connections between pages).
  • Hosting it myself means I have a lot of control over the backend as well, so if there's a feature missing or something I don't like, I have a chance to change it.

This may not fit your needs if you want something that's much more multimedia driven. Most Wiki platforms support embedding images just fine, but usually only if you copy the URL of the image or upload it to the machine the wiki is on. You can also look into personal wiki software which may support more multimedia features but will probably come at the cost of being harder to sync or use remotely.

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I find that having lists where I will see them when I need them is helpful. So articles and video links should definitely be stored online. Shopping lists and recipe ideas should be near your kitchen, even if the actual recipe is online. Having a place for everything and having that place make sense is the first important detail to consider.

Another idea would be to always have a notepad (or a phone app notepad) with you. Whenever you want to add something to a list write it down there. Don't go hunting for the list it is supposed to go on. Only add these items to lists right before bed. Then you should be able to go to each list and add the items that belong there and your physical lists will be more efficiently constructed. I'm personally a fan of physical lists that are attached to the wall where I can see them.

The next important detail to consider is how much time you actually have. This is a hard one for me. I want to know everything and so I want to read all the articles and watch all the videos and that is just not possible because each of these things takes time. If you are ignoring your emails to yourself. If these emails have the potential to make you miss out on emails that are actually important, then you probably are sending too many things to yourself and you may want to consider what you can reasonably read and watch with the time that you have. Recipes also may fit into this category.

As for an online organizer I recommend a bookmark managing site like You can then bookmark all the things you come across online that you want to deal with later and you can tag it appropriately and change the tags later if they are no longer relevant. If you find an video on say the economy, you can tag it as "economics" and "towatch" Then every time you want to go through the stuff you should watch, you just go to and click on your "towatch" links. You can pick from there.

Use as few spaces as you can to keep track of things. Prioritize those things that are most important to track start by organizing those. Think about what lists you can let go and consider your time limitations.

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I use everything that is at hand to write it down. Sending me e-mails, take notes in my notebook etc. Bookmarks to read and different lists too. Use everything that is working for you.

But to write down to do one of the things is the most important thing. In GTD you should write down not only what to do, but what the next action would be to do it.

Doing everyday your "big rocks" and a weekly review is for me the best thing you can do.

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I second Evernote response. It's available through a browser and there are clients for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. I've been using it for years and it's great. If you pony up for the premium account it adds neat features like text recognition in photographs.

I couple this with Nozbe as a to do list. Nozbe is also available in the browser and has mobile and desktop clients as well. It closes the loop by linking with Evernote.

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I can recommend movielens for tracking your movie list. The more movies you will rate the more precise the predictions for you will be. I'm using it for about two years and it gives me good recommendations.

I have a feeling I have seen similar sites for other things too (like books, music etc.)

Recently, quite popular is a kind of social network named Pinterest. I heard its for tracking things the person likes (recipes) but that it's more liked by women. I haven't tried it yet.

Many people use Evernote. I used the online version myself for a while but wasn't satisfied with it. Be aware that when you want to export your stuff to your computer later, it's not possible. I have about 100 images there and can't export it to my computer. I have to do it by hand, one by one. This is not a good feature.

For tracking links, Diigo is worth trying too. You can make a "meta-note" in a particular place in the page you're reading and your note will be saved for you with the link and you can read public comments of others as well.

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So here's what I do. It might help.

I have two 'effective' inboxes. I have the inbox for my tasks (which is also my mail inbox - I send a lot of mail to myself with things to do or remember). Every active thing that can possibly be redirected there is (including SMSs and voicemails, they arrive as new emails there). If you set this up right you know that everything that you need to do actively is there in the same list.

The other inbox, and the one that's most relevent for you right now is my RSS reader. I use Google reader and it's my 'passive' inbox. The stuff I don't really have to worry about but it's nice to keep up with. This is where blogs I follow, twitter feeds I follow, wikipedia alerts, google change alters and so on go. It's also where I look at pictures of cute kittens with captions. The point is that if something on my reader looks interesting - like a movie, of a receipie, I tag it with 'watch this' or 'cook this', or 'weekend project' or 'funny link' and when I need to look something up I can go to the right tag in reader.

Now, the last piece of this is that I also use what used to be called 'readitlater' but is now called Pocket( which lets you send any movie, or receipie or anything else you find on the internet to your rss reader, that way you know it will end up filed in the right place shortly....

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I use WorthIt in my iPhone. It is fast to write down different things, from movie titles or cocktails to restaurant names. I like it because it automatically adds the location of the place, and it has a Map view.

I also like the way you can send or receive your notes by email to a friend. Before I used Evernote for iPhone, but I changed to this one. For the things I want to track I found it easier .

Hope it helps.

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