5 steps to clean up your browsing experience

home page, bookmarks, go!

This is the second in a series on decluttering your digital life. The first was about a better way to use Facebook and you can find it here.

Does your computer look like your junk drawer? Some areas of mine definitely do. Cleaning up files, photos and your inbox are for another post because today I just want to talk about your Internet browsing experience. Not even the amount of time but just how you navigate, read and save websites and information from them.

  1. Delete unused bookmarks. The other week I deleted a bookmark for the employee login for the job I left two years ago. Cull, cull, cull those links. Today!
  2. Rename your bookmarks. I’m working on being more conscious of how I spend my time online. One thing that has helped is moving all my links into three bookmarks categories: Life, Work or Entertainment. There are sub-bookmarks off these ones containing things like banking links (Life-Financial) and my favourite recipe websites (Entertainment – Nutrition – Recipes). Is food not a part of Life? Yes, it is but I don’t kid myself that browsing recipes isn’t entertainment for me. The mere act of having to go through one of those three links to go to a website helps keep my browsing on the thoughtful, instead of zombie, side.
  3. Set your homepage to a task. I’m trying to get in the habit of reading the NYT 20-30 mins a day before doing anything else. It not only feeds my brain but I find that if I don’t do it first thing I get sidetracked by email, blogging and my entertainment choices. You might set your homepage to your email, a reader like Google reader, Facebook or something else (let me know in the comments).
  4. Start using a browsing aid like Evernote. I love keeping snippets of articles and links to blog posts that I want to reference or read again. In the past I would bookmark the link or, gasp, email myself the link or text. What a mess. My bookmarks were hard to navigate and I never ended up going back to the links because they got buried under everything else. So I stopped bookmarking and started using Evernote. I can clip text and ad URLs and easily keep things filed for reference and reading. The fabulous Pinterest is also a great way to save images, organize them and avoid bookmark clutter.
  5. Limit your browsing tabs and windows. As the mighty Bruce said, 57 channels and nothing on. When you have 12 tabs open to different websites, you’re essentially flicking through channels. Try and cut down to 3-6 tabs and eventually just one. I’m really working on this as I notice I am more focused on my task, writing an email, researching a magazine to pitch to, talking to family on Skype, when I only have that application/tab open. It’s also embarrassing to catch yourself multitasking on a video Skype chat. Hey, I know we are 8 hours and thousands of miles apart and I rarely get to see you but I just got an email I want to open. Modern manners are the pits.

I’ll have a whole other post on ways to actually limit your time in front of the screen but that’s for another day.

Please share any tips, tricks or apps you are using that help keep your browsing experience clutter free.


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  • As I comment, I have 10 windows open of articles and websites or blogs that I want to peruse or read thoughtfully. This post was very timely! It’s so easy to get sucked in, and we walk away from the computer having done nothing productive! Thanks! Going now to read your post on using facebook.

    • It is so easy to get sucked in. I’m trying to stick to one tab, one application open at a time. I know software and operating systems are designed for more, more, more but I find it harder to focus and finish a task with twelve things running.

  • I have really appreciated the more frequent posts and timely as always.

    I use Evernote but with all the Pinterest chatter I am constantly finding myself asserting to people that it’s just more clutter (for me). I have a system that works and it works well (for me). I have never been a bookmarker. I do subscribe with GReader and recently cleaned out my subscriptions and updated my blogroll. I am usually at three tabs (gmail, reader/calendar, fb), b/c I attempt to close them as soon as I am finished, but due to my irresponsible quantities of time in front of my computer…I am looking forward to your post on limiting screen time.

    • Thanks, Stacy. The muse is strong right now so I am rolling with it and posting as much as I like. Evernote is helping me keep track of all the bits and pieces – quite helpful. I have a Pinterest account but tend to use it in spurts, not regularly.

      Yes, more to come on limiting screen time. It’s a big challenge for me as a SAHM and WAHM.

  • Our timing must be synced, I deleted about 75% of the items in my downloads folder last night while I watched one of the only shows I like on TV. No cable, but living in a large city with a digital antenna we get 9 channels!!

  • Another tip– I installed Adblocker Plus on my computers at home and work, and it makes internet time so much better. I don’t feel like I have creepy advertisements (dancing ladies for mortgages, etc) shouting at me from all corners.

  • I have three bookmarks: Yahoo! Mail, Meebo (web-based instant messenger), and Google Reader.

    I have five Google Chrome extensions that help me online: Google Mail Checker (lets me know when I have mail and links to Gmail), Google Calendar Notifier (lets me know when my next appointment is and links to Calendar), Quick Login for Google Accounts (I have 5 Gmail addresses: Private, Personal Blog (for G+), Professional Site, Work-related account, and an email address for a group blog I edit), Pinboard (my link manager), and Screen Capture (takes screen shots of my browser).

    I keep any links that I want to save for future reference on Pinboard. I have a couple thousand links saved, all organised through the use of tags so I can find an article I need easily.

    I usually have anywhere between 5 – 10 tabs open on my browser, but I always try to close them when I’m done.

  • I’m Federico and a developer going minimalist. I created 3x3Links as a minimalist browser homepage to focus on the 5-15 websites/webapps I’m using daily. It’s fast, free, and without ads and my way to contribute. Hope you like it!

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