You probably think of Pinterest as one of the web’s most beautiful ways to waste time — one minute you’re finding a recipe, three hours later you still haven’t eaten. It’s definitely easy to scroll your way down a rabbit hole of pictures, quotes, and more. But the reason Pinterest is so easy to get sucked into — its easy-to-use, image-heavy, scroll-friendly interface — can also be used to make you more efficient.
How to get started: If you don’t already have it, add the “Pin It” button to your browser. It’s a free extension, and there are versions for Chrome, IE, Safari, and Firefox. One of the keys to putting Pinterest to work for you is pinning straight from the web, not just repinning what other users have pinned. For most of these tips to really work for you, you want to be sure that you’ve got correct links.
Here are five ways you can use Pinterest to actually be more productive.
1. Plan your next vacation.
Headed on a trip this summer? Planning to have your smartphone or tablet along for the ride? Create a board just for planning your vacation. Research places to go, the best local eats, and what you want to see. Each time you pin something, put in a description that will help you remember what you liked about it (e.g., “good non-beach day hike”) and any vital info like the address or phone number. Before you know it, you’ve got your own personal travel guide. The images make it easy to remember what the place was or what you liked about it, and all the key info’s right there. Want to make it an even stronger resource? Make it a private board, and add details like your flight, hotel, or rental car confirmation info — you’ll have all your vital vacay info right at your fingertips.
2. Be your own personal trainer.
Fitness boards are pretty common on Pinterest, but usually they’re mainly “fitspo” quotes and lists of activities. Motivating, maybe. Actually useful, not so much. Use Pinterest to get your body moving by creating a board (or boards) that’s an actual workout. Pin images or gifs that demonstrate specific exercises — the sites for magazines like Women’s Health and Men’s Health are great for these — and add how many reps or sets you want to do in the description. At home, your computer or tablet can be your visual workout guide, or tote your smartphone to the gym so you can see your moves.
3. Have backup for your insurance.
When calamity strikes — whether it’s a natural disaster or a break-in — people tend to tell you, “At least you have insurance.” And yes, having homeowner’s or renter’s insurance is vital. But actually getting the value of what you’ve lost isn’t easy, and companies often require you to show exactly what you had (even if you lost everything, you then have to spell out what “everything” is, down to the number of spoons and forks you owned). Create a private Pinterest board that itemizes your belongings — it’s sort of like shopping, but for stuff you already own. It’s also helpful because since your board will be on the web — not an Excel sheet in your computer, for example — no matter what happens to your home or your possessions, it will be accessible. For big-ticket items like electronics, it’s also worth putting the serial number in the description. Yes, this one will take a while, but in the event that you need it (and we hope you don’t!), you’ll be so glad you have it.
4. Be the best gift-giver ever.
Pretty much everyone on Pinterest has a board for stuff they want. Instead, create a board that’s all about giving. (This one’s definitely got to be a private board if you want your friends and family to be surprised!) Whenever someone you shop for mentions something that they like or have always wanted, look it up and pin it. When their birthday or a holiday rolls around, your shopping is a cinch — and everyone’s amazed at how thoughtful you are. Want to be even more of a pro? Set your preferences so that Pinterest automatically emails you when the price on one of your pins drops. You can be a super gifter and save some cash.
5. Make your own cookbook.
Pinterest can feel like a constant stream of food porn. Instead of just browsing (and drooling), hit up some recipe sites and get pinning. Pinning a recipe photo from a site that has enabled “rich pins” doesn’t just give you a delectable photo — when you click on your pin, it will actually give you the recipe right there. Not all sites have this enabled, so you’ll have to pin and then check on Pinterest; but when you’ve found a good site, go click-crazy! Not sure what you need from the store? Whip out your smartphone and tap a recipe on your cookbook board: You’ll see all the ingredients, broken out by category (meats, produce, dairy, and so on). At home, open up your laptop or prop up your tablet, and you’re cooking! With rich pins, you don’t even need to click through to the site — everything you need to make a delish meal is right there.