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Officiency in the Media

Organize your passwords to keep information safe

by KJ McCorry


Typically I see them on the monitor first and then crumpled up in the back of the drawer. Sometimes they get scribbled on the side of a paper calendar. These are usually where individuals seem to put the Post-it notes with their coveted and secret username, passwords and access codes.

With so many sites requiring a login, we have to track multiple usernames, access codes and passwords.

Although you try to stick to one password, many times the system will force you to make up certain combinations of words and numbers. Then, you have those Web sites that want you to change your password every so often. Trying to remember all the usernames and passwords is virtually impossible in today's Internet world.

You'll save a great deal of time by tracking usernames and passwords in a consistent system. You won't have to search in the back of the drawer every time you need to access a site. If possible, it is ideal to keep your username and password information connected with the Web site address or name of the system it accesses.

Here are some options for tracking username and password information:

  • Electronic address book: Add Web site addresses associated with companies and organizations in the URL/Web site field in your address book or contact software, such as Outlook. Create a new contact with the site name listed in the "Company" field. Most of the URL/Web site fields are hyperlinked, so you can access that site just by clicking the URL.

Use the notes/comments field to track your username and password. You can also use the notes/comments field to record a short description of the site or key data you've found there. With some address/contact software, such as ACT!, you can customize fields and create separate designated fields for username and password data.

Storing information in your electronic address book enables you to access the site by name or category.

  • Special software: Splashdata (www.splashdata.com ) is the producer of a specific software for handhelds called Splash ID. This software will safely store personal identification information, such as user names, passwords, account numbers, PINs, etc., on your handheld and sync with your desktop computer. A free desktop software called Passport Agent from www.moonsoftware.com not only organizes and stores your passwords but also helps generate passwords. Password Manager (www.mypasswordmanager.com) another desktop software is similar for small one time fee of $25.

  • Separate file: If the Web site addresses you collect are referenced by a particular topic, create a separate database or spreadsheet to track them by category. Creating a separate document or database and storing them in a password-protected electronic system is a good way to keep usernames and login passwords private and secure from access by others. Create fields or columns for the Web site address, category, username, password and description. Depending on the program, you can quickly sort by any of those column names to access any information about the site.

  • Paper planner or Rolodex: Use a Rolodex or index card system to store Web site addresses, usernames and passwords by topic, site name or category. On each card list the Internet address, username, password and site description. You can also create a separate tab in your paper planner and keep a running list of all Internet information.

If you work in an office where others can have unrestricted access to your desk, paper-based planning tool, or desktop phone/address filing system, be aware that your online passwords and usernames could be in danger if stored in one of these paper-based areas. Further, if you keep usernames and passwords in a paper-based planner and the planner becomes lost or stolen, your passwords and usernames could fall into the hands of someone who would misuse them.

Whichever system you choose, it is important to be consistent with any system. This will save time in the future when you need to log on to Internet sites quickly.

K.J. McCorry is founder and president of Officiency Inc., a professional organizing company based in Boulder since 1996. She is a productivity and efficiency consultant that specializes in customizing systems for individuals and companies with office and computer organization. She is the author of, "Organize Your Work Day in No Time," released by Que Publishing in April 2005. She can be reached at www.officiency.com.