Upgrade Your Life

The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better


Chapter 2

Organize Your Data

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.

Hack 11
Organize Your Documents Folder

Level: Easy
Platform: All

"If you've had a computer for any length of time you know that your documents folder gets disorganized really fast. If your current file organization system works for you, congratulations. But if you frequently find yourself letting files clutter your computer's desktop, or if you spend time arranging files in a deep, complicated hierarchy of folders, it's time for a revamp."

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Hack 12
Instantly Retrieve Files Stored on Your Hard Drive

Level: Medium
Platform: Windows XP and Vista, Mac OS X

"Every minute you spend on your computer, you're collecting more and more data, documents, and information to do your job and get on with your life. Instant retrieval of the bit or byte that you need right this very second is an essential requirement in the digital age."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 13
Overhaul Your Filing Cabinet

Level: Easy
Platform: All

"One of the main clutter culprits in most offices is the To File pile. Often this heap spontaneously appears right on top of or next to the filing cabinet, which is pretty silly. Instead of adding stuff to the pile, why wouldn't you just file it? The reason is generally an unworkable, messy, overflowing file cabinet."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 14
Instantly Recall Any Number of Different Passwords

Level: Easy
Platform: All

"Remembering a unique password for the dozens of logins you have may sound impossible, but it's not. You don't need to remember 100 passwords if you have one rule set for generating them."

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Hack 15
Securely Track Your Passwords

Level: Advanced
Platform: Windows XP and Vista, Mac OS X

"Sometimes you just have to write down a password to remember it. Don't do it where others can read it, like on a Post-It note or in an easy-to-read text file or Word document. You can keep a secure and searchable database of those hard-to-remember passwords using free, open source software."

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Hack 16
Tag Your Bookmarks

Level: Medium
Platform: Web

"The web gets bigger every day, and so does your bookmark list. Stores your bookmarks online and associate keywords (called tags) to each for easy retrieval."

Hack 17
Organize Your Digital Photos (New in 2nd Edition!)

Level: Easy
Platform: Windows XP and Vista

"After even just a few months of taking photos, it's easy to wind up with a hard drive cluttered with a bunch of folders filled with images named things like IMG_8394.jpg. Pictures don't mean anything unless someone sees them, and no one will see the photos buried on your computer if you can't find the best ones."

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Hack 18
Create Saved Search Folders (New in 2nd Edition!)

Level: Easy
Platform: Windows Vista, Mac OS X

"As you begin to file your documents less and depend on searches more, it only makes sense to combine the folder paradigm and search capabilities with saved search folders."

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Hack 19
Create a Password-Protected Disk on Your PC

Level: Advanced
Platform: Windows XP and Vista, Linux

"Everyone has some files the person would like to protect from intruders or others who have access to one's computer."

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Hack 20
Create a Password-Protected Disk on Your Mac (New in 2nd Edition!)

Level: Medium
Platform: Mac OS X

"If you have files and folders you'd like to keep private and secure on your Mac, you can use Mac OS X's built-in Disk Utility to encrypt a disk image."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 21
Design Your Own Planner

Level: Easy
Platform: All

"There are lots of good reasons to ditch your expensive, electronic PDA for a paper-based planner system: cost, portability, and maintenance, to name a few. Paper-based planners never run out of battery juice or memory; they never crash or refuse to work the way you expect."

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