Throughout the day, many of us read a lot of articles (or at least would like to) while browsing the Web. This can result in dozens of open tabs, articles lost after closing the browser, and a lot of headaches when trying to find that one article you have open in that one tab somewhere. Thankfully, there's an easier way to handle this situation.
Pocket, formerly ReadItLater, was designed for the purpose of saving articles so they can be viewed at a later time. The main purpose was to allow people to save articles rather than keep them open, putting them all in one place. It's still great for that use, but Pocket can also be a great productivity tool when used appropriately.
One of Pocket's most useful features is its tagging ability. Sure, the service could be used to have one big pile of articles that you can search through if needed, but that doesn't have much utility. By using tags, you can organize articles in a way that makes sense to you, in ways that searching might not be able to help with.
Applying to schools? Save the webpages of each school and relevant pages like faculty bios, then tag them so they're grouped together. Find an article that makes you want to write a blog post on a similar topic? Tag it so you can find it later, without needing to remember the content and search for it. Found several useful tools on websites? Tag them and have a virtual toolbox!
When using Pocket, I frequently add things even after I've read them, simply so I can have them tagged and ready to find later. Thankfully, the Chrome extension and Android app even allow you to add tags instantly after saving an article, making the process easy.
Some of you may be thinking "but can't I use bookmarks the same way?" Well, you could, but there are additional benefits to using Pocket.
Along with saving your articles, Pocket makes them viewable within its interface. This helps to make the interaction smoother and more consistent, but it has an additional benefit. Pocket doesn't simply save the page itself, but, when possible, it saves the useful content of the page. By doing so, it is then able to show you the content that is most important, without the need to understand the website layout, deal with poor design of articles, or risk getting sucked into reading other articles. It also has different settings for how it displays articles, allowing you to tailor the experience.
Pocket allows you to focus. If you have a lot of articles you want to get through as part of researching something, you can easily jump between them and stay on task at all times. If you run into a page that Pocket isn't able to show correctly, then you're just a click away from loading the original.
So yes, pocket is like bookmarks, but so much more.
To increase its utility, pocket has also become integrated with services like IFTTT. Want to save an article, but need a reminder to go read it? You can integrate Pocket with something like Todoist, and it can automatically add a task for you. Want to have your to-views automatically in a single place? You can also integrate it with services like YouTube, so videos you want to view can automatically be added alongside the other media you have in Pocket. Overall, that means the service is flexible and can be incorporated into your work flow more easily than many other productivity tools.
As with anything, Pocket isn't perfect. It would be great to see a markup option to help make it a more robust research tool. Tags can also be hard to discover because saved items don't show which tags they have (in tile view, which I personally prefer), and that also makes it challenging to know what's already been tagged. Though, to be fair, Pocket does allow you to filter your saved items by those that are untagged, so the imperfection is very minor.
Despite these imperfections, Pocket is a wonderful tool that I highly recommend trying. There are other great benefits, like being able to save articles for offline viewing on your mobile device, but those are less related to productivity. If nothing else, it can serve its original function for you: a way to add articles to your collection of things to read later.
Do you use Pocket? Have you found other ways to be productive with it? Let me know in the comments!