Many web features I download end up sitting somewhere in my browser, taking up space. Over time, however, del.icio.us has proven to be very, very useful!

If you haven’t used del.icio.us, it bills itself as a social bookmarking website that allows you to save favorites/bookmarks online. This way, you can access them from any computer, and you can share them with others. Because you use tags, rather than categories or folders

  • it’s much easier to bookmark
  • you can cross-reference to your heart’s content
  • you can change your mind!

Using del.icio.us as an online “notepad”, you can easily approach your system differently each time you set up a new project. Sometimes I begin tagging (a.k.a. bookmarking) sites as I first start researching ideas. Other times, I don’t touch del.icio.us until I am much further along, say at the first set of presentations. Then, I quickly go around and tag the online presentation, any references, and the del.icio.us project page itself.

Here’s an example project page I created for demonstration. Check “related tags” (at the top of the tags list, right side of the page) to see other uses, and to get a sense of how things can fit together and overlap, within and across projects. Jon Udell also has a nice “screencast” you can watch of del.icio.us features in use (he displays his tags as a list, rather than a cloud).

If you’re using Firefox, you can add Favorite Tags to your toolbar. Why is that nice? If you’re handling multiple projects, you can load the current project into your toolbar, then switch to the next project—with its most relevant links at your fingertips—as soon as you need it.

If you want to look in on a project from a different location, such as from a conference room laptop, just load up the toolbar (the del.icio.us plugin would need to be installed, so do that in advance). Any meeting participant can then click on a toolbar link to pop to the web page they want with zero poking around and minimal interruption.

You can also:

  • Create a shared project account to which team members can add research, resources and work in progress
  • Use it as a contact management system: Link to a contact’s site and add contact info in the description field. Click on “do not share” to keep your info private (thanks to digg user nthdegx)
  • Share links in a variety of other ways (including RSS)
  • Use “unofficial” third-party tools, and be sure to tell me how you improved your productivity…

I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. If this is a system that clicks for you, no doubt you’ll find more ways to bend del.icio.us to your will. Whether you’re balancing numerous projects or one unwieldy one, this is a remarkably flexible tool that easily adapts to unique work styles, and could truly lighten your load.

 

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