One of my favorite blogs is Lifehacker.com. Every day it offers an abundance of productivity tips. While some of the tips are aimed at the technically proficient, there are still plenty left over for rest of us. In fact, there are so many tips that sometimes I need to remind myself that I usually make up for the time I spend perusing the multiple posts by finding truly game-changing Web applications or productivity ideas.
So it was as a loyal fan that I purchased the second edition of the book authored by Lifehacker’s founder Gina Trapani. Upgrade Your Life: The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better contains many of the same tips that were included in the first edition of Trapani’s book, which was published in late 2006. The second edition’s cover claims to have “more than 50 new & revised tips!”
Here are a few of my favorite tips from Upgrade Your Life:
Set up a morning dash. Dedicate the first hours of your day to accomplishing an important task. The key is to do this before checking your e-mail or going to any meetings. I am not a morning person, so it was hard for me to implement this tip. But once I got into the habit, it has increased my work output.
Remember the Milk. This free Web site allows users to keep to-do lists for work, home, or any other activity they would like to track. Deadlines may be assigned to each task and notifications of each day’s agenda can be sent via text message or e-mail. This is a great service because it helps close the open loop of thinking about something that needs to be done and then forgetting about it. Whenever I think of something I need to do (for work or at home) I send an e-mail to RTM and it’s on my to-do list.
Automatically back up your hard drive. Like life itself, it’s not a matter of whether or not your computer hard drive will crash, but when. Mozy.com, an online backup service, will automatically backup your files for about $5 per month. More expensive plans are available to businesses.
Use multiple sites as your web browser’s home page. Both Internet Explorer and Firefox allow users to open multiple tabs. This trick allows you to save time by starting out with multiple tabs already opened as soon as you launch your browsers. To do this open the tabs with the pages you would like to save. Then, go to the homepage option, which is in “Tools” for both Explorer and Firefox, and click the “Use Current” button.
Google by Keyboard. Over time, even little things like using keyboard shortcuts can improve productivity. One of the main advantages that the Web browser Firefox offers are its open-sourced applications. One that I have been using is Google by Keyboard. After going to the search menu by pressing “control -K”, I can then scroll through the hits using my keyboard.
Although only about 20 percent of the market is using Firefox, I believe the abundance of open-source software applications available for it make it the best browser. (Almost 80 percent of the rest are using Explorer). I’ve noticed that Google’s Chrome is also supported by open-sourced applications. But it seems like it will probably take some time for them to catch up.