This is the penultimate article on a series exploring note taking. This article is for the person who would like to organize with paper in a world that is overwhelmingly digital.

Those pesky URLs

The long URL is a headache for those who organize with paper. When you visit a website and want to revisit it later, how do you record that task?

With a digital system, you highlight and copy the URL, create a new task, paste the URL into the newly-created task, and assign a date. You’re done. On that date, click the link, and you’re looking at the website.

How does someone using a paper planner handle the same scenario? Are you going to flip in the book to the day you want to visit that site again and hand-copy the URL? If the URL is short, the job is not so bad. If the URL is long, hand-copying is not only time-consuming, but the opportunity for error is huge.

One spreadsheet solves it all

The following procedure allows you to record your URLs digitally and make reference to them in your paper planner:

1. Create a new spreadsheet. Creating a Google Sheet may be the best choice because it’s so easy to access from anywhere.

2. Notice that each row is numbered.

3. Copy and paste each URL into Column A of the spreadsheet. Each URL gets its own line.

4. Reference the URL in your planner. Instead of writing out the URL, you indicate the line number on the spreadsheet.

5. When the URL is no longer needed, delete it. Don’t delete the row. Leave it empty. Later, you can paste another URL into it.

Practical examples

The following examples illustrate how this concept works:

You receive an email containing information you want to reference during a discussion. In Gmail, every email has a unique URL. Copy and paste that URL in the spreadsheet on the next blank line.

In the paper planner, write the task. If it’s a phone call to Joe, Write “Call Joe” and the phone number. Put a “(1)” at the end of the line. Your task will read: Call Joe (601) 555-1234 (1)

When it’s time to make the call, the “(1)” indicates some additional information is found on Line 1 of your spreadsheet. Open the spreadsheet, click the link in Line 1, and the email opens.

As a second example, think about the times you need to capture URLs from internet sites. While researching a topic, you may have several URLs to which you want to return. Paste each one on the next blank line of the spreadsheet. In the planner, use a set of parentheses to reference all the links. Your planner entry may look like this: Read online reviews (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.) You go to the spreadsheet and on lines 2 through 7 are the URLs related to that project.

Replace links as needed

When a link is no longer of value, delete it. Leave the line blank. The next time you need to paste a link into your spreadsheet, you may reuse the blank line.

Have your cake and eat it too

Many people love the feel of paper. But, we live in a world where information comes digitally. A digital system makes the information easier to catalog and share. How can we combine the feel of paper and the ease of digital copy and paste? One spreadsheet just may be your answer.

Frank Buck is the author of Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders and was named to “Global Gurus Top 30” for 2017 and 2018 in the time management category. He speaks throughout the United States and internationally about organization and time management. You can reach Dr. Buck through his website: FrankBuck.org. Follow him on Twitter @DrFrankBuck.

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