6 Ways To Make Life Easier With Del.icio.us

Since I started using it regularly about six months ago, del.icio.us has rapidly become one of my most-used tools.

If you haven’t started using the service seriously, I suggest you do so. Here’s a quick primer (skip to below if you’re already a pro):

Obviously, if you like, you can just use del.icio.us to save articles and sites for future reference. You won’t be using even half of its potential though.

Here are six more ways you can use del.icio.us to make life easier for you and the people around you.

Let other people do your surfing for you

This is my favourite use for del.icio.us, and it’s based on the ‘social’ side of the tool.

Del.icio.us lets you add people to your del.icio.us ‘network.’ Find out the usernames of people you respect (look on their other sites, or just ask them) and add them to your network. Then, use your RSS reader to subscribe to the links from your network.

Why?

Because if you only add people you know and trust, you can use them to do your reading for you.

No more trawling through hundreds of useless posts in the hope of finding one or two nuggets. No more mind-numbing sessions hitting ‘next’ on your RSS reader for what feels like forever. You only see the posts that your contacts have deemed worthy of saving.

I keep my network to a small number (about 20), but those 20 people provide between a third and a half of the posts I read every day, and a much higher proportion of the articles I bookmark myself.

Queue up blog topics

Some people are blogging machines who manage to churn out posts in advance of when they need them so they always have a bunch lined up.

Me? Not so much, and as much as I think most people would love to be sitting on a store of posts, I’d be surprised if they are.

You can make your life easier by bookmarking things you might want to write about. Just tag it with “toBlog” or something similar, then when you’re stuck for something to write about, flip to your list of “toBlog” articles.

Search engine

Partial screenshot of del.icio.us homepageDel.icio.us can serve as an excellent backup if search engines fail you. Not only will a quick del.icio.us search throw up your own saves, it will show the top ones saved by other people too.

Power tip: You can search for tag combinations direct from your address bar – type http://del.icio.us/tag/[tag1]+[tag2] to pull up all the posts that are tagged with both.

Track coverage of you/your organization/your clients

This is fairly obvious for communications pros you can use del.icio.us to keep a record of media coverage related to your company or clients – bookmark articles with ‘coverage.’

Power tip: For bonus points, create a ‘coverage’ bundle, and group articles on different topics within it.

Non-communications folks can use this idea too. Want to keep track of articles where you’re mentioned? Want to remember who’s written about your site? Del.icio.us is a great way to keep it all organized in one place

Track topics

Del.icio.us lets you ‘subscribe’ to tags so you see everything that’s saved with that tag. Go to your del.icio.us settings and click ‘subscriptions,’ then enter the keywords you’re interested in.

Let’s say you’re interested in marathon running, and you want to keep up with the top posts on that subject. In this case, you might subscribe to ‘marathon’ or ‘running.’ You can view your subscriptions by clicking the ‘subscriptions’ link at the top of the page, or by going to http://del.icio.us/subscriptions/[username]

If you use an RSS reader, it’s even easier. Search for whatever you’re interested in, then scroll to the bottom of the page, click the ‘RSS’ button and let the subscriptions come to you.

Power tip: For slightly more advanced tracking features, try these:

  • Combined tags: http://del.icio.us/rss/tag/[tag1]+[tag2]
  • Popular tags: http://del.icio.us/rss/popular/[tag]
  • Users: http://del.icio.us/rss/[username]

Provide a resource for others

Del.icio.us is a powerful enough tool if you use it on your own, but it becomes even more useful when you remember that it is a social bookmarking tool and help others to benefit from your reading too.

Del.icio.us allows access to the articles you save using the address http://del.icio.us/[username]/[tag].

For example, I save useful case studies here: http://del.icio.us/davefleet/case_studies

If you read a lot on a work-related topic, why not provide a link to those articles to your co-workers?

Power Tip: Another powerful, although slightly more blunt, tool is the option to publish a daily blog post of articles you’ve bookmarked. Go to your del.icio.us settings, scroll to the bottom and select ‘daily blog posting’ for information on how to set this up.

If you decide to set up a daily blog post, be sure to enter a good description for every article you save from now on (you already did this though, right?). The description will be the only context readers are given about the links you save.

Conclusion

So there you have it – six more ways that del.icio.us can make life (both yours and others’) a little easier.

Do you use del.icio.us in a different way? How do you use it?