How Do You Track It All?

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I got an interesting email from Kevin Behringer from the Fly-Over Marketing Blog:

"I was listening to SPOS 110 and your point about a system to manage content and ideas really tied into a question I had for Foreword Thinking.

How do you manage it all?!?

You read a lot of books, blogs, etc. How do you record it all or track it to actually use it? One of the things I’m struggling with right now."

The truth is, I think we’re all struggling with this. So, in the spirit of sharing and me wanting to learn more about how others track everything as well, I thought I would answer, but then also tag some people I know (and others who I have never met, but would be interested in learning how they handle, manage and track this vast land of information) and hope that they Blog about this topic on their own spaces and share it with their readers.

For Web-based content (like Blogs, newsfeeds, etc…) I swear by Google Reader. For tracking purposes, I’ll either use the "Add star" button for content that I need to spend more time focusing on, or if I see a post that I think might be Blog-worthy. If it’s something bigger, I will use the "Share" option, so not only have I saved it, but I’m also enabling others to take a look. You can view my shared items here: Google Reader – Shared Items – Mitch Joel.

I know many people use online social bookmarking tools like to do similar actions, but I tend to use my for content I feel like I might need further down the road.

I still subscribe to a lot of e-newsletters (believe it or not). I blast through my inbox fairly quickly, but if there’s something I think I need to track, I either drag it into a Microsoft Outlook folder called, "Blog" (for stuff I think I might Blog about) or "Print" (for longer articles that I want to print up and take on business trips).

If I am not plugged in with my laptop, I swear by my BlackBerry for all tracking. I simply use the "Notes" section for any (and every) idea. It could be a Blog posting, a URL to check out, or an idea for a slide that I would like to create.

I also use a regular notebook. I’ll take notes on everything from potential Blog posting ideas and stuff to talk about in the Six Pixels of Separation Podcast to ideas for the Six Pixels of Separation book and business ideas.

Overall, I don’t record or track anything with the intent of keeping it around forever. I think that specific philosophy makes it all easier. Odds are if I saved, tracked, tagged or recorded something for future use and I have not used it after a couple of weeks, I’m comfortable purging it entirely.

So, how do you track it all?

I’ll tag:

1. Chris Brogan.

2. Shel HoltzA Shel Of My Former SelfFor Immediate Release.

3. David WeinbergerJoho The BlogThe Cluetrain ManifestoEverything Is Miscellaneous.

4. Joseph JaffeJaffe JuiceLife After The 30-Second SpotJoin The Conversation.

5. Bryan EisenbergGrokDotComWaiting For Your Cat To Bark?Call To Action.

I’ll also tag five people I have never really connected with, but I am interested in hearing their thoughts on this:

1. Steve Rubel – Micro Persuasion.

2. Robert Scoble – ScobleizerFast Company TV
3. Brian Clark – Copyblogger.

4. Richard MacManus – ReadWriteWeb.

5. Jeremiah Owyang – Web Strategy.

Now, let’s see who plays and if they tag others.


  1. I use Google Reader to read anything with an RSS feed. If it’s something I want to blog about for the future, I transfer the URL to a file inside Evernote (which is a reasonably new service in open beta). I’ll jot a note or two to remind myself why I thought something was interesting.
    I do a lot of blogging in a text file, so that’s how I get lots of posts started to be written when I have a moment.
    I’m not managing my inbox well right now, so I’ll defer on that. Just too beaten down, and not enough interest in digging out right now.
    When I’m better at it, I transfer the actionable bits to a task list on my computer, because I’ve found that I’m good at ignoring web-based task software.
    I use Google Calendar religiously for my appointments, and usually manage them all well.
    Great questions, Mitch. Thanks for starting the conversation.

  2. I know I wasn’t tagged (I was always the last picked for kickball too), but thought I’d evangelize (out of pure geeklove) the site Evernote. Been using it for about two months and love how I can save only the pertinent text, images, etc., while also knowing the link is there if I need it. Tons of other great features too for keeping track.

  3. Mitch:
    Thanks for the post. I can’t wait what other people post as well. I put a big thank you and summary on my blog as well.
    Thanks again!

  4. Kirk – the whole point was for everybody to share here. I tagged people in hopes that the conversation would drip into other Blogs and conversations.
    So, your insights are welcome and I appreciated them.
    I keep hearing about Evernote and I’ve signed up, so I’m looking forward to seeing how this works for me ๐Ÿ™‚

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