When you open the browser, what do you see? Is it a start page carefully chosen?

For many, it's whatever it was the day the computer came out of the box.

This article shows how to design a start page that's actually helpful. I use Netvibes, located at Netvibes.com. Imagine opening the browser and your calendar, emails, weather forecast, commonly-used bookmarks, news, a calculator, and a notepad are all there. Now, that would be a helpful start page! That's exactly what I have, and you can have it too.

Setting up Netvibes

1. Go to Netvibes.com and click the "Try now" button.

2. On the next page, you may choose some "interests." This step is optional and one I recommend skipping. The result is Netvibes will create a tab corresponding to each interest. Each tab will contain news stories aligned with the topic.

3. The next page asks more about your interest. It will add even more tabs to your Netvibes. This page is also optional and one I recommend skipping.

4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and select "Dashboard It."

5. Your dashboard will appear. Now the fun begins.

Adding essential apps

1. Be sure you are on the "Welcome" tab. Click on it just to be sure.

2. Click the green "Add" button in the upper-left of the screen.

3. Look for "Essential apps" in the left column. If it's not visible, expand the "Apps" menu.

4. Select the green "Add to your dashboard" button. Add the apps of your choice. You can always return and add more.

5. When finished, click the green "Add" button again.

6. Drag the apps around on the page as desired.

7. You have additional control over the look of the page. Click the drop-down arrow on the Welcome tab. In the "Tab layout" section, experiment with the choices. I chose "3 boxes" and all the apps appearing in one of three columns. When you're done, click the "x" in the upper-right corner of the dark box.

Bookmark app

"Bookmarks" is my favorite app. Yes, I use Google Bookmarks. It stores several hundred sites collected over the years and boasts a host of tags. The Bookmarks app on my Netvibes page contains "the few, the proud," each with the appropriate tag(s).

An expanded version of this article appears on my blog this week. It contains diagrams that will be helpful, especially when viewing 13 of the bookmarks I call my "Productivity Treasure Chest." You can view the post at bit.ly/frankbuck113.

The 13 bookmarks within that tab are tools I use on a daily basis. In next week's post, we'll talk about "5 Free Sites to Make PDFs Less Painful." You would see those (and others) if you clicked the "Converters" tag.

Make Netvibes your start page

The idea is when you open your browser, you want Netvibes to display. In other words, it's the "start page." I prefer to also make it my "home page," the page that loads after clicking the "house" icon to the left of the address bar. Here is how to adjust those settings: bit.ly/frankbuck114.

The pilot’s dashboard

The pilot in the cockpit sees a dashboard filled with helpful information. When you

open your browser, you’ll see the same thing. Finally, your browser opens to something that’s truly helpful. You can have it today.

Frank Buck is the author of Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders. "Global Gurus Top 30" named him #1 in the Time Management category for 2019. Dr. Buck speaks throughout the United States and internationally about organization and time management. You can reach him through his website: FrankBuck.org. Follow him on Twitter @DrFrankBuck.