Do you ever have dreams in which you’re drowning? I do!
Only, it’s often not an ocean of water taking me down. It’s an ocean of links. And the dream is also my reality.
Because most of my work, like yours, takes place in URLs.
“SaaS has dramatically shifted our work from files in our devices to links in our browsers. Everywhere we work— Google Docs, Jira tickets, Miro Boards, Figma links, or even the daily standup call on Zoom—is a URL on the web. And scrambling for links has become ubiquitous to how we work today.”
- Ankit Pansari, CEO, OSlash
There are plenty of ways to find your links quickly, right from never clearing your browser history to investing in a link management tool.
Here’s how to manage your links effectively and minimize the time spent looking for important URLs:
- Don’t clear your browser history, cache, and cookies
Your browser history contains a record of all the links you access, ever. (Unless you go incognito, of course). This can be extremely helpful for resurfacing links you visit often.
All you need to do is type in a keyword in the URL or the document title or the app name, and a bunch of suggested links will appear from your history. If you don’t clear the cache and cookies, the frequently visited pages will load even faster!
The only (and big) downside is that this method is a little less foolproof and a little less adequate for the many, many resources we access everyday at work. It does not work if you are accessing a new link, for example. And you never know when you need to clear your cache and cookies to fix a slow browser or reboot your erring machine.
In that case, it may be more sensible to consciously save your links at one place for faster retrieval.
- Use Google Collections to save links, images & more from search results
You can save links, images, and places directly from Google search results to Collections to find them later.
To do so, head to the Google app on your phone or tablet, and www.google.com/collections on your computer.
You can create as many Collections as you want, drop them into categories, save items, find and remove items, and even share Collections with your team (with various access settings).
There are some caveats, though.
First, it isn’t accessible for users in all regions and languages. Next, you’ll always have to input a search query to be able to save a link. For this reason, it will not work with internal company resources and links, which can be quite a dealbreaker. And lastly, there isn’t much you can do to rename or better organize links for faster discovery within a Collection.
- Email links to yourself or create a Whatsapp group of one
One of the easiest steps next to not clearing your browser history is to email links you want to work with, to yourself. Or to create a Whatsapp group with yourself (yes, it is possible!) and text the links there. It’s private, it’s quick, it’s handy, and it’s free.
But, I am sure you see the perils of this ‘simple’ step, too. Heaps of emails containing one or two links each. Text after text piling up. With no simple way of figuring out which link points where.
My advice? Use it sparingly, and reserve it only for emergencies.
- Use note-taking applications
Note taking apps are a true blessing, especially for saving anything that catches our fancy on the go. Plus the internal search functionality of these apps enable you to locate the right links at the right time.
A few tools synonymous with notes are Evernote, Google Keep, Notion, and ColorNote, the last one having been my faithful aide for many years now. What I especially like about these apps is their personal touch, customization, and the option to retain context .
On ColorNote, for example, I can group links by assigning them specific colors and surface them quickly using keywords. I can even make check lists of a group of related links to find them later minus the hassle of scanning all my notes.
Likewise, Evernote’s Web Clipper tool allows you to select content from a webpage or just grab the entire link, and save it into the category you want. You can even add tags for structure and easy discoverability if you wish.
And on Notion, you can do one hundred thousand things — right from creating a simple database to save all your links to building a fully functional website!
- Try bookmark managers and ‘read later’ apps
With the creator economy booming and business knowledge being shared across social media and other content platforms widely, it’s quite common to chance upon a goldmine of an article, listicle, guide, video, or tutorial that relates to your work while you’re surfing casually. So you don’t always want to go through the contents there and then. Enter bookmarks!
Browsers and social media platforms come with bookmarks or a save for later feature to let you return to your saved links at a more cognitively convenient time. Use it to your advantage!
Honestly, though, how many of us have ever remembered to open our saved links when we need them? Who wants to browse through a hundred randomly saved links when you can get search results within a fraction of a second?
A better way to organize and sort your saved links might be to use a bookmarking app. Some of the most popular bookmark management tools of today include Instapaper, Pocket, Bookmark Ninja, Raindrop.io, Toby, and Diigo.
They let you sync your bookmarks between multiple devices; name, organize, and find them using tags, labels, categories and the like; conduct advanced internal searches; discover new content shared by other people; join communities and share links with each other…and so much more!
- Draw on tab management extensions
It’s common to keep multiple browser tabs open while we work, lest we should lose a link. No one wants to close a tab only to have to reopen it ten seconds later.
But multitasking is not as efficient as we’d like it to be. Keeping 500 tabs open drains your browser’s memory by consuming way too much power in background processes. It hampers your focus, as well.
You can use tab managers to group related tabs together, free up system memory, and navigate faster to links you want to open, without losing any open pages.
Extensions like OneTab, Tabli, The Suspender, Tabs Outliner etc. can come to your rescue here. They convert all the open tabs to a single, more manageable tab of bookmarks that can be restored as individual pages or collectively, upon reopening. Some apps also allow sharing and searching for specific tabs within the bookmarks.
- Make use of enterprise search
Imagine a search engine that could retrieve results from the whole of your company’s knowledge base - databases, media, email servers, document management systems, SaaS applications - from everywhere! That’s what enterprise (or universal) search does.
Most tech companies today either employ internal tools or purchase enterprise search software. And for good reason.
i. 80 percent of the respondents in SearchYourCloud’s survey agreed that it takes workers up to eight searches to find the right document and information.
ii. A study by McKinsey found that “The average interaction worker spends an estimated 28 percent of the workweek managing email and nearly 20 percent looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks.” That comes out to nearly 1.8 hours every day searching for information.
By performing instant searches within the enterprise resources, universal search saves employees hours of valuable productive time. And of course, eases work massively.
- Invest in link management tools
Remember the good old times when work used to take place in neatly organized stacks of files and folders? An easy to understand directory structure - files nested within sub-folders nested within parent folders and so on - helped you navigate to the exact document you wanted.
With the internet boom, though, the URL replaced the files as the atomic unit of work. And unlike files, it’s hard to find, structure, organize, or simply name URLs.
The scope of work you could find with the thousands of apps we work with is so vast, that even “universal” search is insufficient if you don’t know precisely what to search for.
This is where link management softwares step into the picture.
What is a link management software?
A link management tool allows you to name, organize, access, share, and analyze your links such as OSlash. It lets you create an easy-to-remember shortcuts to replace long links - for the entire workplace, your team, or only for yourself.
We hope you find some of these ways useful to find and access information at your workplace with greater ease and efficiency!