Blog Packrats Anonymous listen up!

January is a month that looks in both directions – in the manner of Janus the Roman god who gave it his name. For many in the southern hemisphere it’s still summer holiday time, whilst others have already had to kick off the beach wear and struggle back into work clothes. A good tidy up the desk, the drawers, kitchen cupboards and the dreaded spare room is the order of the month. Here’s an update of a post from 2 years ago.  Most of it holds true; I’m an inveterate packrat and still get a kick out of the mail inbox at zero with everything nice and tidy on the online desktop.

Whilst I’ve been on holiday I’ve had a chance to devote extra time to blogging. This has resulted in researching and testing more than my usual quota of applications and web tools. Some get dumped almost immediately, either because they don’t pass my design test for usability, or I’ve already got something that does the job better. However, it doesn’t stop me snooping around for tools that make my blogging more productive or the experience more fun.  I subscribe to the Macbreak Weekly podcast for an entertaining take on all the goss on Mac-related tools.  More importantly though, I get most of my information and tips on new services via my RSS feeds which I access using Feedly, a Firefox extension for Google Reader.  Feedly also pulls in Twitter – another place for hot tips on new apps and services which come recommended from fellow tweeters.

Some that make it to first base are impressive on the first couple of outings, but slip eventually into obscurity, and rust away unused in a folder or on the edge of a toolbar: out of sight, out of mind. That’s the problem, see – my inner packrat needs the antidote of some good housekeeping from time to time.

One of the hotspots that needs attention is the Firefox Bookmarks sidebar; this is where I access my bookmarked sites. One of the key folders in my sidebar is one called ‘Blog Support.’ As the name suggests, Blog Support contains links to the websites of my key tools as well as to all the new ones being roadtested. Whilst you could sub-divide the folder down (I’ve got all my Thesis theme sites, and all my image and photography sites in sub-folders for example) it’s not a bad idea to go easy on this; it looks neat on the surface, but can also mean you’re sweeping the stuff out of sight and out of mind.   The applications that relate to these websites are kept in the applications folder in the Finder.

When it comes time to review what applications I’m still using and what have to go, there are no quick fixes. It’s a bit like taking the large black garbage bag and tossing, and you need to be fairly brutal. I open the Blog Support folder and, using the Bookmarks Organiser, dump/delete what I don’t want any more. The rest stay.  I then go to the Applications folder and uninstall the app itself.  If you want to get rid of every skerrick of the app, including some of the more resistant files that can litter your disc, use an app like Omni Disk Sweeper or AppZapper.  Another great application that does a lot of the housekeeping for you is Hazel.  Among other wonderful background tasks, Hazel can also find related files to a dumped app and gently whisk those away too – after asking whether you’d like to get rid of them.  I wish I had a real Hazel in my life!

Do the declutter thing at a time that suits your work flow: weekly, after a big project, or monthly. You’re going to feel great afterwards. You may find some old tools that could do with a revival … like a favourite pair of gloves you haven’t worn for ages … but if you don’t or won’t use ’em, lose ’em.

By the way, if any tools have toolbar shortcuts or bookmartlets, I install them at the outset.  Firefox is great with a host of add-ons. I’m a sucker for the efficiency of staying in the current browser window and taking the one-click wonder approach to putting a tool to work … point and click.

My Updated Hall of Fame Tag and Bookmartlet Toolbar

  • Tag to my del.icio.us
  • Hootlet (Hootsuite to manage posts to multiple Twitter accounts)
  • Share on Tumblr (my ‘lite blog’ and stash of quotes and images)
  • Post with MarsEdit (an offline blog post composer)
  • 1Password (couldn’t be without this beauty – never forget another password)
  • Save to Vodpod
  • Share on FriendFeed
  • Share on Facebook

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Comments

One response to “Blog Packrats Anonymous listen up!”

  1. Kate Foy Avatar
    Kate Foy

    It really is silly season in the ‘Best of’ stakes, but I decided to do my own. Could be interesting to see which of these makes it over the line next year.

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