Chapter 2. Organize Your Data

Never before have human beings been subject to the daily onslaught of information as they are in the age of the Internet and email. Bits and pieces of data flow into your digital life nonstop. Every day, web site addresses, usernames and passwords, appointments, memos, songs, documents, digital images, and videos gather on your computer, vying for your attention and begging the question, "Where do I go?" Chapter 1 ("Control Your Email") covered the best strategies for parrying the daily influx of electronic messages. This chapter tackles the best way to organize the data those messages and other information channels contain.

As with email overload, the only way to overcome information overload is to put everything in its place on arrival. But you're not a librarian, and you don't want to spend time arranging information in folders all over your hard drive. Although there are infinite ways to organize data into complex, multitiered systems, you're going to take the smart and lazy approach to organization: you'll arrange stuff only as much as is needed to make that data useful to you.

The better organized your personal information library is, the faster you'll be able to draw from it and act on it in the future. But better organized does not equal more folders. In fact, the fewer buckets your system has, the better.

There are three key ways in which you're going to interact with your data:

  • Store it.

  • Retrieve it.

  • Do something wonderful with it.

When you design ...

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