Organize Your Web Surfing

If you’re reading this, you use the internet. And if you use the internet, you are inundated daily with new web sites, new offers, and new ways to share your life with the world. The process can become overwhelming. You find yourself clicking link after link, finding great site after great site, then after three hours of sitting at your computer, you realize you can’t remember where you started, or what the URL of that fantastic travel site was.

Here are some tips that will help you while surfing the internet. Included are tips to help you manage your surfing, as well as your e-mail.


The Journey

  • Speed Is a Factor—If you’ve been using the internet since its inception, you may recall that crackling dial tone connection that emitted from your speakers, and the five-minute downloads for one small photo. Some people still use modems, although they are a bit faster now. But for someone who uses the internet on a regular basis, it is worth your while to use a high-speed DSL or cable connection. The cost of the service will pay itself back in time. Not only that, but several users can be on the internet at the same time from various locations throughout the house if you network your computers. You will be able to visit numerous more sites and download information and files much faster with a good connection.
  • Stay Focused—How often do you find yourself sitting down to look for information on a new medication your doctor prescribed, only to be sidetracked by an ad for scented body lotion, or by a pop-up screen offering you a vacation of a lifetime? Or you sit down to look for an oatmeal cookie recipe because your dog ate your only copy (true story!), only to find yourself reading about Oprah’s next choice for her book club. Then you look at the clock, realize 30 minutes have gone by, and you still haven’t found that recipe. Sound familiar? Your time is precious. So use it wisely. Stay focused until you find what you need. Then, if you wish, you may visit those other tempting sites.
  • Set Time Limits—This goes along with staying focused. If you sit down with a specific goal in mind—say to check your e-mail—give yourself a time limit. One e-mail journey can end up in visiting several web sites and before you know it, you’re rushing out the door as you trip over the dog because the carpool children are waiting for you at school. If you know you only have fifteen minutes, decide beforehand what you can get done in that time frame, then set an alarm if necessary. Another effective way to set time limits is to schedule online time into your day. Discipline yourself to use only that time for e-mail and surfing.
  • Monitor Updates—Rather than waste time by going back to a web site day after day, only to find nothing has changed, (but it may any day now,) use notification software to monitor your favorite web sites. This software can be downloaded for free, or purchased, depending on the package. EasyWatch-The Website Watcher is a free download software. Some you can purchase are URLy Warning and WebChecker. They all serve the same purpose—monitoring web pages for changes. You can decide which is best for you by comparing features. This software is not meant for high-profile sites like HGTV which change constantly. It is more for those sites that change content regularly, but not enough to visit daily. There are many products out there to choose from. Do a search for “Web Site Update Monitoring” or similar for results.
  • Use Search Engines—The search engine is your friend. By using key words and phrases, you can locate web sites specific to your needs. However, the drawback to search engines, is that you may get thousands of web sites only remotely relevant to your needs. Be as specific as possible when surfing the net. Use the Advanced search features on sites such as Google or Yahoo whenever possible. You can refine your words, thus narrowing your results.

The Memories

  • Storing Favorites Online—After years of surfing, you have come across some useful sites. Sites you wish to visit again and again. If you use an internet access service such as AOL or Internet Explorer, you can save your favorites to a special folder. Just click on “Add to Favorites” and the URL is saved. You’ll see only the title of the page, but clicking on the link will take you to the correct page. Create categories for your favorites so you can find them more easily. For example, create a “Recipes” folder, a “Travel” folder, a “Research” folder, etc. You can create subfolders within each folder to get even more specific. For example, in your “Travel” folder, you might have an airlines subfolder, a hotel subfolder, and a foreign subfolder. Use categories that you will remember easily and work for you.
  • Storing Favorites Offline—Of course, it’s convenient to have a Favorites file while working online. But what about accessing it while working on a project or paper offline? There is software which manages your URLs for you in a file on your computer. One such product is Advanced URL Catalog. You can keep track of all your favorites in a database, which can also be password protected for privacy. It’s a convenient way to refer to your favorite sites while writing a research paper or talking to a friend on the phone.
  • Sharing Favorites—So you ask what happens when your computer crashes, or when you’re traveling and don’t have access to all those wonderful web sites? Well there are web sites and software for that also. There are Social Bookmark sites like, and, which allow you to copy your favorites to a folder online. You create an account, which you can access anywhere from any computer. Some sites also offer the option to share your favorites with others, or keep them private. Those that are shared can be viewed by anyone using a keyword associated with the site. So not only can others view yours, you can view other people’s favorites to see if maybe it can become one of yours.


  • Basic E-mail Accounts—E-mail is a part of the internet. It is the way you communicate with others, whether it’s personal or business. So it is essential to have an account, despite the drawbacks of spam. Some people have e-mail accounts connected with their internet service provider, such as AOL or Comcast. Others have free e-mail accounts without a commercial provider. Sites such as Yahoo and Hotmail offer free accounts, but limit the space, and close down your account after a period of inactivity. (The time frame varies per provider.) Google now provides Gmail for free, with more storage space, and a search feature to locate old e-mails on a specific topic. You can literally have as many e-mail accounts as you want as long as you can monitor them. Keep your time factor in mind when setting up additional accounts.
  • Business vs. Personal—It is essential that you have at least two e-mail addresses-one for business and one for personal use. Many companies now offer an e-mail account for employees, which should be used only for business purposes. If you are self-employed, you should have a business e-mail address separate from your personal one. Not only is this professional, it eliminates the need to scan through hundreds of personal e-mails just to find that one new referral or lead buried amongst the rest. Thus, when you only have a few minutes to check e-mail, you can quickly scan your business messages without being bogged down by personal ones.
  • E-mail Forwarding—This service will save you time by having to check less e-mail accounts. You set up one main account, then have other e-mail addresses forwarded to that account. The sender would not know that it is being forwarded to a different address. This will save you time in that you will only have to check one e-mail address rather than 10 or more e-mail accounts every day.


  • Keep a Notebook—How many times have you seen a web site flashed across the TV screen, or recited on the radio, but when log on to your computer, you can’t remember it? Start a small notebook to record just such web sites. Make it a habit to write down the URL in the notebook, or on a piece of scrap paper, then transfer it to the notebook when you get home. Keep this notebook near your computer, then at your next scheduled surfing time, visit the site to see if it’s worthwhile. If it is, save it to your favorites folder.

 So next time you sit down at your computer, use your time wisely by following these tips.


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