When you find a great blog post or article on a website, how do you typically keep it for future reference?
If you don’t read it right then and there . . . do you file an electronic copy or print a hard copy to review later?
If you’re like me, when I file an electronic copy it’s immediately out of sight and out of mind! I still like to hold a paper copy of something in my hand as I read and digest the content. If I don’t have time to read it right away, I like to set it aside in a special place on my office desk so I’ll see it as a reminder to read later.
Also, I like to use a fluorescent yellow highlighter while reading a printed article so I can easily reference key parts of the article in the future.
Warning: The Piles Will Pile Up
However, by constantly printing out all of those great blog posts and articles day after day has one big drawback. Over time, they tend to pile up. If they are worth keeping and will mean anything to you for future reference, you have to keep them well-organized.
Taking advice from organization expert David Allen in his book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, I first use Allen’s tips for creating an enjoyable, easy-to-use and effective filing system. By setting up individual file folders with printed labels for all the various business-related topics I read about on a regular basis, keeping the printed articles and blog posts organized is quite simple.
I just code each article in the upper right corner of the first page according to what file folder it will go in. For example, I code articles on blogging as “blogging” and they will go, you guessed it, in my “blogging” file. I code articles on “B2B content marketing” the same way and they go in the corresponding file. You get the idea.
The trick here is to code the articles by topic as soon as possible once you print them. Even if your articles begin to stack up (and they will), you can take an hour or so each week and organize all the articles by their code word and place them in separate topic piles. After that, you take each pile that has articles with the same code word and then file them in their right folder.
As a result, if I’m working on an eNewsletter project and recall something noteworthy I read recently about eNewsletters, I just go to the “E” section in my file cabinet and retrieve the “eNewsletter” file.
Once your topic files start to expand over time, it's always a good idea to periodically do some purging. Go through your files at least once a year and discard outdated or irrelevant articles that have become irrelevant to make room for more recent information.
At least that way, you won't become buried in paper as the weeks and months go by.