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Organize Your Digital Life 2 – Keep up with the sites you care about

This is the second in a series of posts in the Organize Your Digital Life series.

If you’re like most folks, you have a lot of websites to keep up with.  For example, here are some of the sites that I try to stay updated with:

  • My first grade daughter’s teacher’s blog
  • My wife’s blog
  • My favorite sports team news
  • Google Earth Blog
  • Local News
  • Humor (Dilbert, etc)
  • Blog from our church
  • Various tech blogs (TechCrunch, Lifehacker, etc)

There are probably a lot of sites that you regularly check right now, but you do it by visiting each one to see what’s new.  That leads to two problems:

  1. There’s nothing new and you wasted your time.
  2. They had something new last week, but you missed it.

The solution is to start using a feed reader, like Google Reader.  You can tell it which sites you want to “subscribe” to, and they all show up in Reader.  Because it’s web-based, you can check Reader from any web browser and from most mobile phones.  Here’s a quick look at how it works:

Reader is a wonderful solution to help you keep with up a lot of sites.  However, that only tackles half the problem.  You probably also have accounts on Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn and you try your best to keep up with them. Google Reader doesn’t handle those, but there are some great options.  A variety of companies have created software that allows you to easily keep up with your Twitter, Faceook and LinkedIn friends.

The options I’ll show below are all very similar.  They allow you to group your items into columns, and new updates appear automatically.  If you have an extra monitor (or an old laptop), it’s great to leave one of these running off to the side so you can see what’s new.

The columns can be almost anything you want.  You could have one to show Facebook updates, one to show Twitter updates, one to show Direct Messages on Twitter, one to show LinkedIn updates, etc.  Rather than visiting all of those sites, you can have the latest updates come to you.

Here’s some of the best programs for that right now:

  • TweetDeck is the most popular right now.  It runs on both Windows and Mac and is free of charge.
  • Seesmic has a variety of products and they’re innovating very quickly.  They have software for Windows and Mac, and they also have a web-based version you can use.
  • Sobees is similar, in that they have a Windows version and a web version.  No Mac client yet, though.  This is currently my favorite application, but the others are close behind and it’s got a few bugs.
  • Tweetie is a very popular client that is Mac-only.  It’s a simpler design (single column) and works very well.
  • HootSuite a powerful web-based client that is growing in popularity.

I know that might be a lot to digest.  If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, here’s the simple answer: Go download TweetDeck and start playing with it.  It has a great mix of features and you’ll be up and running quickly.

Here’s a quick look at how to get started:

If you have any questions about any of this stuff, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help you out.

This is the second in a series of posts in the Organize Your Digital Life series.

About the Author

Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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