I want to share something with you that has been working very well for me for the last several weeks. I’m not suggesting it for all of you as it deals with both my needs and my failings.
Let me start out by saying that I am not one of those hyper-organized types that make for good legal secretaries and administrative assistants. I think that I’m pretty well organized, for a lawyer, but I have to watch myself to avoid lapsing back into the old habits of using piles of paper to organize.
When I was in private practice and used paper systems, I always thought that organizing brief banks or form banks was a challenge as it was always difficult to figure out the appropriate level of categorization and subfiles. I’ve created a folder on my computer called "My Library." I still use other folders for specific projects, but this folder is for things written by others that I decided to save for any reason. It is all articles and essays. Some are scanned, but most are printed from web pages with Adobe Acrobat. I can use desktop search to locate things in the folder and am building quite a collection which all can be full text searched. It also allows me to stay focused when working on an online project. If I stumble across something interesting, I do not stop to read it, but grab it for later use and return to the present matter.
Here’s my method. It is quite simple. When I find a great article online (or one I don’t have time to read now, but might want to later) I carefully look to see if there is a printer-friendly version. Often there is. Then I print it to PDF using Adobe Acrobat. I give it a name like "PowerPoint Woes by Bob Smith August 2006" which is often not the name of the article.
If I have a spare moment, I might check to see if there are any recently saved articles I haven’t read. But, even if I haven’t read them yet, I am building a collection and because it is a digital file, I may find something there months from now as a result of a desktop search.
Bottom line is that I now save articles to My Library every week. My rate of saving articles is more than it used to be when I tried to organize by topic. I may delete an article after reading it weeks later. Many lawyers may not have a need to read many online articles. But it works for me and might work for some of you. Save the digital info today and figure out the details later. Some of you might be able to use this to organize your online reading of recreational topics, too.