Delicious Milk: How two tech tools routinely save my bacon, and my sanity

This is my quick contribution to this month’s Carnival of Journalism. The prompt for June is about lifehacks, websites, tools, etc., that allow us to work smarter.

I play with a lot of technology tools, but two — Remember The Milk and Delicious — are so central to my workflow that I truly have no idea where I would be without them.

Remember The Milk is a To Do list system (website and app) that has changed the way I stay organized. It lets me add tags, notes, urls, due dates and priorities to tasks. I can postpone tasks, set them to repeat and schedule them months or years in advance. I can tweet things to @rtm at a stoplight on my way home, or when I wake up in the middle of the night, and they’re added to my list. It’s free, though I pay $25 a year for a pro account, which gives me more mobile and syncing services.

A couple of quick examples of how I use it:

At the beginning of a semester, I’ll enter due dates for myself. For each assignment, I’ll give myself a date by which to have the assignment ready, a date it’s due to me and a date by which I want to have it graded.Those all get tagged with the name of that specific class, so I can manage them all at once. Or if I want to remember to read students’ blog posts every Thursday, I enter it once and set it to repeat weekly.

If someone tells me to check back with them in a few months. I enter “check back with Bozo, three months,” and RTM enters it for me three months from today.

I used to miss out on things like tickets to a big basketball game or time at our favorite dog kennel over the holidays. So as a new RTM user this year, I thought ahead. Last December, I made a note to check on basketball tickets in September and call the kennel in June. I set them to repeat annually so I would get left out again.

I just remembered something at work I want to do before the Summer 2012 session starts, so I set a reminder for April.

I always remember the proverbial milk.

Delicious. I’ll keep my love letter here as brief as possible, but my passion is so intense that I might get carried away. You’ve been warned.

This social bookmarking site has changed darn near everything about my online life. It’s given me a digital memory that doesn’t go away, and access to every interesting thing I’ve ever read, from anywhere I happen to be.

More importantly, though, it allows me to share what I find interesting. And in my line of work, that’s key. And it’s free.

One of the classes I teach is Multimedia Planning and Design. As you might expect, I show a lot of websites. In the old days, I would have put those sites into a powerpoint, or opened them all in a carefully organized browser window, for display to the class. Then I would have pasted the link into an email afterward to send around, for all the students who said, “what was that cool thing you showed us today?” And I would have saved them in a Word document so I could find them again the next semester.

When I last taught this class (a year ago now, since I was on a fellowship in 2010-2011), I made a Delicious tag for the class. The 260 tags for the class are also viewable by related tags (usability, storyboarding, typography, etc.), which is useful. I can always find examples when asked of something like motion design, portfolios, etc.

But for this class, I used Delicious to organize my entire semester, with a tag for almost every day of class. So the “w4d1” tag is applied to what I wanted to show in class on week four, day 1. It was an intro to CSS, which is why it includes this inspirational video from the movie “Hoosiers.”

This year, I started applying Delicious to almost every speaking engagement I had. I’d stick a slide into the end (or sometimes the beginning) of a presentation with a tag just for that event, so folks would walk away with resources for social media, or examples of collaboration with audience. Customized for that group.

I’m not alone in my all-consuming love of this service. Poynter had a nice piece this spring about how useful it is for educators. I owe a lot to the awesome Regina McCombs for introducing me to it. I love to see how useful it is for folks, and especially appreciated this piece from NPR’s Matt Thompson, about using it for efficiency in blogging. I don’t use the built-in social functions as much as I could (you can send links to others users’ inboxes), partly because there’s no good way to find out who you know who also uses Delicious. But that’s a small complaint.

I truly cannot imagine how I’d function without Delicious. I understand there are other services that claim to do the same thing. I read about them back during the Big Delicious Scare of 2010. But I’ll stick with Delicious as long as it’ll have me.


10 thoughts on “Delicious Milk: How two tech tools routinely save my bacon, and my sanity

  1. Wow, I’m a huge Delicious person, but I never even thought about creating tags like that for a specific event or day of class. Awesome, thanks!

  2. I should have included Tungle! It’s my new scheduling tool. I don’t use it to actually have folks schedule meetings with me, but it saves the millions of back-and-forth emails to allow for constantly changing schedules. I just send a link that shows my availability (automatically syncing and updating to reflect my iCal), and folks email me back with a time they’re also free. I still prefer Doodle for groups. But when I’m trying to coordinate with just one or two people, Tungle rocks.

  3. I was so frustrated when Twitterriffic got rid of its Delicious syncing — I used it so often. And then came (as you aptly titled it) the Big Delicious Scare of 2010.

    Since then, I’ve moved to Instapaper, which is connected to the iPhone Twitter app (and reformats Web pages for mobile!), and do some bookmarking in StumbleUpon, which I used in one of my classes last semester.

    Reading your tips here will get me back to Delicious, though. Great tips for connecting it to your classes! And I love the tip about using it with presentations.

    1. I’ve never used Twitterriffic. I do like Instapaper, but I haven’t used it for things I want to save forever. I just love that I can almost always put my hands on any cool thing I’ve seen in the past three years!

    1. Firefox has a beta plugin that’s buggy, but I’m using it anyway. The only problem I’ve had is that I have to log in each day. It’s annoying but workable.

      1. I’ve been using Rockmelt for a while even though I still dabble with Firefox. The plugin there has been pretty trustworthy so far. I’d also suggest Shareaholic if the Firefox plugin stays buggy Denise. It allows you to send items there and other sites (and it saves space in the browser taskbar).

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s