Services like Evernote and Pocket make a compelling case in favor of the Everything Bucket: capturing information is easy (simply save information and don’t spend time filing it into a topic-related folder) and finding what you need when you need it is easy with a powerful search engine (search with keywords instead of drilling through folders).
Meanwhile, the idea of all your stuff in a pile, be it digital or physical, makes some people itch. Everything is together! In one place! There is no order!
The choice to use an Everything Bucket versus filing data into subfolders is a personal one and there are advantages and disadvantages to the Bucket system when considering it. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses can help you make a decision for what filing system is right for YOU.
As mentioned above, adding new items to an Everything Bucket is a breeze. Evernote’s web clipper, for example, lets you quickly stash any page you like. You can even grab a specific snippet from a website, if a paragraph is all you need. Meanwhile, desktop shortcuts make it just as easy to add items as you work.
Tagging helps you find items later. Simply attaching a tag like “recipe” or “receipts” to an item, you can make it easy to find information later when you do your search. Speaking of search, that really is the marquee feature of programs like Evernote and Pocket. Simply open the “bucket app” of your choice, enter a word or phrase into its search bar and up pops what you need.
You also can go paperless and have access to your stuff virtually wherever you are, even on a mobile device. It sounds like a good deal, right? But there are downsides.
First up in the strikes against the Everything Bucket: they discourage the use of a structured file system. In exchange for ease and speed, you let the computer make sense of your collection. It will do just that, as computers are more effective with organized data. The program will build an index to make sense of that pile, which takes time and effort. If you’re a Mac owner and you have a slow machine pretty much immediately after updating the operating system, it’s likely because Spotlight is making a new index of your disorganized data.
In the case of an Everything Bucket, you’re inviting an application into your daily workflow that could possibly go out of business in the next couple years. If it does, hopefully you’ll be given notice so you can export your data or, at the very least, operate the existing app but not be able to add more information to it.
There is a middle ground, should these Everything Bucket concepts only partially make your skin crawl.
One thing you can do is use what I think of as dedicated or specialty buckets:
- Evernote is for reference material I will one-day want but have no immediate need for. (I call this “cold storage.”)
- Recipes I want to try are handled by Paprika.
- Web links for things I want to go back and read are saved to Pocket.
Instead of filing into subfolders, it’s as if I’m filing into apps. Within those apps, however, there are no subfolders, only an Everything Bucket.