// Internet Duct Tape

14 Tips to Get More Done in Less Time

Posted in Increasing Productivity and Simplifying Your Life, Technology by engtech on April 26, 2007

Time Management

Productivity, efficiency and effectiveness are the buzzwords fueling the information age. Entire industries have been created around our obsession with efficiency and productiveness. We have more and more time for leisure activities but we use less and less of it for “leisure”; there are too many “work-like” things to do — maintaining social internet accounts, leveling up in online video games, sorting photos and mp3s…

We forget that time is the only true luxury in life. Being more productive doesn’t make you a better person, the essence of being productive is to put your attention where you get the biggest returns and get more done with less investment of your time. Use that extra time to get more enjoyment out of your life.

vote on reddit StumbleIt //engtech is sooo del.icio.usshare on facebook

achieve zen focus to increase productivity
(photo by the unique)

1. Find Your Focus with Less Distractions

Do one thing and get it finished. Putting up barriers between yourself and distractions is one of the simplest habits for getting more done. With multitasking we feel so busy that we fool ourselves into thinking we’re getting more done, but so much time is lost switching between activities.

Minimize interruptions as much as possible. Turn off all email notification (only check for email when you’re taking a break). Forward your phone to voice mail while working. Block your “time wasting” websites when you’re trying to get something done. Disable instant messaging applications.

Prioritize and remove sources of information with little value. Unsubscribe from RSS feeds and email newsletters that give no bang for their buck, and set up quick email filters to delete or de-prioritize the junk that isn’t easy to unsubscribe from. Avoid information overload.

Curb useless information addiction. Most news has no long term value. Mainstream media is bad for focusing on what’s popular versus what is useful, but niche media like blogs are just as bad for focusing on “what’s hot now” instead of “what’s useful tomorrow”.

Take breaks from being “always on”. No internet, no TV, no cellphone, no video games. It does wonders for helping you reconnect with your life.

effectiveness is really being lazy
(photo by fofurasfelinas)

2. Be More Effective By Doing Less

Don’t confuse being busy with being effective. Stop and ask yourself if what you are working on is worth the effort. Is it even bringing you in the same direction as your goals?

Write down ideas and get back to them later. Amazing ideas aren’t always so amazing after a night’s sleep. If you act on every new idea without finishing the one you’re working on then you’ll never complete anything. Same holds true for programming. Get it working, then refactor.

Know the opportunity cost of your actions and how long something will really take to do. All things being equal, the best solution is the one that takes the least amount of total time (including maintenance time for fixing and support). What might have been a great idea at two hours of work could be a horrible idea if it took two weeks.

Just say no and be willing to do the bare minimum. Accept imperfections with things that aren’t important — don’t ignore the forest for the sake of one tree. Focus on the important and not the urgent. Feed opportunities and starve problems.

cats and computer technology efficiently
(photo by sage)

3. Use Technology Efficiently

Learn how to search instead of spending time organizing. Gmail’s biggest advance was searching email instead of spending time organizing it into folders. Knowing the ins and outs of how to search for what you want can free up a time spent organizing and categorizing.

Write first and format later. Formatting is a very important component of presenting information, but it should be done after you have finished writing as part of the editing process. Getting the information out of your head and on to the page is the most important step.

Learn keyboard shortcuts. Your mouse is slowing you down. Learning one keyboard shortcut a week will let you do more and remove the lost time in moving your hand from the keyboard to your mouse.

Set up multiple Firefox profiles, one for work and one for fun. Your work profile will be barebones with Google Search and your Intranet / work bookmarks while your fun profile will have stuff like StumbleUpon, Gmail notifier, Google Reader, etc.

Technology is your enemy, not your friend. The biggest sink in productivity comes from the technological devices of the last century. Compare the effort between traveling with a book versus trying to travel and read online blogs with a laptop, or using an electronic PDA versus carrying a Hipster PDA. Technology often creates new problems while solving old. Sometimes the new problems are worse.

There is a big difference between walking the walk and talking the talk. It’s easy to read tips and tricks for being more productive in your life (lifehacks), but it is much harder to make them habits and part of who you are. But changing your habits so that you have more time to enjoy the other aspects of your life is well worth the effort.

vote on reddit StumbleIt //engtech is sooo del.icio.usshare on facebook

I’m writing this as part of Instigatorblog’s “The Ultimate Guide to Productivity” group writing project. This isn’t my first take on productivity tips, around a year ago I wrote a damned good list of tips for programmers and engineers. The tips I’m listing here are much more general and are useful to anyone who has a job with an Internet connection.

63 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Webomatica said, on April 26, 2007 at 4:24 am

    Hmmmm. I should try that Firefox profile tip.

    Cute cats…!

  2. engtech said, on April 26, 2007 at 4:47 am

    The profiles trick really works. Not having your cookies set is a huge incentive to avoiding Digg, etc.

    Multiple profiles are also good for working on a shared computer. Set up one profile per person and another one for “Guests”. I hate it when friends use my computer and then wipe the cookies.

    Mmm, cookies.

  3. Matt said, on April 26, 2007 at 4:47 am

    These tips are great. Lately, I’ve been taking so long to get through work that I know I could be done in no time. It’s usually because I can never focus on doing one thing at a time.

    Oh look, there goes 10 minutes of my homework time. D’oh.

  4. Ben Yoskovitz said, on April 26, 2007 at 6:12 am

    Thanks for participating in the group writing project with some interesting ideas. I always find the small, nitty gritty productivity ideas the most interesting, because they’re doable almost instantly and don’t require huge changes in lifestyle or work style.

  5. raincoaster said, on April 26, 2007 at 7:26 am

    These are great tips: I’m stealing them.

    But I’m leaving the kitty pix. *rolls eyes* Not into fur porn, myself.

  6. engtech said, on April 26, 2007 at 7:30 am

    how can you say no to the kitty porn?

  7. Michael's Thoughts said, on April 26, 2007 at 8:50 am

    Daily Report, Apr 26

    Team Collaboration Quest InTrust for Exchange … Quest Software released Version 1.0 of the Quest InTrust Plug-in for Exchange, which provides detailed real-time tracking of mailbox access and activity by owners and delegated users. ” … in many org…

  8. Pam said, on April 26, 2007 at 9:19 am

    “Technology as enemy”

    sorry but I am really ticked off at WP.com’s newest “improvement”, moving the post preview from the same tab as the writing to another window or tab, nowhere near the tab I’m working on nor the extra tabs I’m researching.

    This is evidently not an option but a requirement to disrupt thinking and writing.

    Bah!

    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=10372&page&replies=11#post-72700

  9. Links - 26/04/07 « Krugergold Finance said, on April 26, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    [...] 14 productivity tips(engtech) Productivity, efficiency and effectiveness are the buzzwords fueling the information age. Entire industries have been created around our obsession with efficiency and productiveness. We have more and more time for leisure activities but we use less and less of it for “leisure”; there are too many “work-like” things to do — maintaining social internet accounts, leveling up in online video games, sorting photos and mp3s… [...]

  10. Lola said, on April 26, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    Great tips, especially the firefox profile idea. My problem is Ultimately it comes down to discipline. As I read your blog and comment, I could be doing XYZ for work. I use the internet and especially blogs (my own and other peoples’) for needed distractions and steam venting during 9-5 hours. Sometimes I grapple with even having gotten accustomed to the idea that it’s “ok” to goof off on work time. I mean, when haven’t I goofed off on work time? I dig you on opportunity cost. Eventually, the goofing off exerts its toll in the form of stress for an approaching deadline (that could’ve been less stressful if I worked instead of read blogs…oh…)

  11. lightcontrast said, on April 27, 2007 at 12:43 am

    Thanks for the tips. I can get sidetracked easily. I will try it. :)

  12. [...] the challenge has been answered so far by the likes of Harrison Loke, Ploop, Kathie Thomas, Engtech, Lorraine Pirihi, Andrew Wee, Janet Barclay, and kindred spirit, Wendy [...]

  13. Top Posts « WordPress.com said, on April 27, 2007 at 3:58 am

    [...] 14 Tips to Get More Done in Less Time Productivity, efficiency and effectiveness are the buzzwords fueling the information age. Entire industries have been […] [...]

  14. xera said, on April 27, 2007 at 4:55 am

    Great tip!

    Completely agree, which is odd for me is that I just learned that now and I am 21! hehe. Just because of my beloved job. ^_^

    *you are bookmarked*

  15. krsnakhandelwal said, on April 27, 2007 at 6:56 am

    perfectly agree with what you have given and is practically adoptable.,
    Thanks

  16. [...] remember to visit Ben, Wendy Piersall, Kathie Thomas, Harrison Loke, Ploop, Engtech, Lorraine Pirihi, Janet Barclay – who have already shared their gems for [...]

  17. skoo402 said, on April 27, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    As far as minimizing interruptions go, when working on my computer at home, I often black everything out but what it is I’m working in. Two key programs I use on the Mac are Backdrop and MenuShade. MenuShade does what you would probably think; it hides the menubar, so that you only see it when you mouse over it. Backdrop, well, provides a backdrop (I use black) that you set in front of everything but your work. The result is that you’re able to focus in on nothing but the program you’re working in because there’s no outside distractions behind it.

    I’m sure there’s some very similar options for Windows users.

    Thanks for this post.

  18. [...] I’m just going to steal this from engtech, who won’t mind. Go directly to his post 14 tips to get more done in less time. Do not pass go. Do not collect [...]

  19. links for 2007-04-27 « Hip Hop News said, on April 27, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    [...] 14 Tips to Get More Done in Less Time « //engtech (tags: writethis) [...]

  20. Dawud Miracle said, on April 27, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    These are quite helpful. Using time well is a key to productivity. I can’t tell you how many times in the past I’ve gotten ‘lost’ playing with some piece of a program or website on my computer. Focus is vital. As is using technology to increase productivity – not just waste time.

  21. Stephen said, on April 27, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Save time by reading only the words in bold.

    Ultimately it comes down to discipline. It’s not just Lola.

    Don’t be — whooaa, cute kitty! distracted.

    There’s an eight hour audio series called “Getting Things Done Fast”. Who has eight hours to kill?

  22. [...] råd til travle mennesker i ITC-alderen: 14 tip til at få tingene gjort på mindre tid. Arkiveret under: Links, Arbejde, IT, Blogging You can follow any responses to this entry through [...]

  23. engtech said, on April 28, 2007 at 12:01 am

    @Stephen: I love that “Getting Things Done Fast” takes 8 hours to listen to. :)

  24. [...] 14 ways to get more done — Put the Hawthorne Effect to work by running your own efficiency experiments with these tips. My favorite: “write down ideas and get back to them later.” Preferably after a nap. I find that sleeping not only improves memory, but also often leads to new insights. 9 ways to get less done — Nine allegedly addictive online games. [...]

  25. [...] 14 Tips to Get More Done in Less Time « //engtech [...]

  26. [...] to add those who have favorited me to my favorites. This has been made so much simpler. Over at engtech blog is a program that you can put on your desktop. Run it whenever you want to, preferably a couple [...]

  27. Motherduce: The Blog said, on April 29, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    Get More Done.

  28. [...] have an excellent list of tips to help you get more done in less time. It’s all worth reading and valuable, but our [...]

  29. [...] 14 Tips to Get More Done in Less Time by engtech [...]

  30. [...] Engtech has a great post: 14 Tips to Get More Done in Less Time. [...]

  31. [...] 14 Tips to Get More Done in Less Time by engtech [...]

  32. [...] Blog Rumble – Maximizing Productivity Janet Barclay – Ultimate Guide to Productivity Engtech – 14 Tips to Get More Done in Less Time Tags:ADD ADDS ADHD Adult guide Inattentive Attention Deficit Disorder multi tasking productive [...]

  33. [...] more productive ideas: Kim talks about finding her inner “meanie” Eng gives us 14 ways to get more done in less time Lorraine shares her important tip  Janet tells how to handle the dailies  and Adam shows us how [...]

  34. [...] 14 Tips to Get More Done in Less Time bloggers blogging group writing project productivity ultimate guide to productivity writingPopularity: 1% [?] [...]

  35. [...] Be more effective by doing less convert this post to pdf. Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  36. Merrick said, on May 09, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    I totally agree with your thoughts. One suggestion to work faster on a PC:

    Try the Freeware PhraseExpress. It saves endless keytrokes and automate repetetive typing of common text snippets.

    http://www.phraseexpress.com

    The funniest thing is that it even tells you the time/money saved.

    Merrick

  37. [...] engtech: find focus with less distractions, be more effective by doing less, use technology efficiently. [...]

  38. [...] todo en 14 Tips to Get More Done in Less Time [...]

  39. Bill Pruett said, on June 13, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    I think I have ADD! I just can’t be on the computer and be focused at the same time. I will be trying your tips out, maybe they will help me.

  40. Get more done. Use less time. said, on July 17, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    [...] Via Internet Duct Tape, 14 Tips to Get More Done in Less Time [...]

  41. Elsanto said, on September 14, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    I recently wrote a program to track what I’m doing on my laptop, 80% on the internet…..
    I definitely need to block myself from some sites

  42. engtech said, on September 15, 2007 at 2:33 am

    @Elsanto:

    It’s pretty scary when you do that kind of minute monitoring of internet usage.

  43. [...] how a computer program will run faster if it’s the only program running, you’ll be able to complete tasks faster if you are focused on only one at a time. Maintaining a list of what you want to accomplish means that when you’re done one task [...]

  44. [...] how a computer program will run faster if it’s the only program running, you’ll be able to complete tasks faster if you are focused on only one at a time. Maintaining a list of what you want to accomplish means that when you’re done one task [...]

  45. [...] 14 Tips to Get More Done in Less Time « // Internet Duct TapeMultiple profiles are also good for working on a shared computer.…. By Get more done. Use less time. on 17Jul 2007 at 12:09 pm … [...]

  46. dan said, on December 07, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    i could probably easily write the follow-up: 14 tips to get less done in more time :)

  47. [...] said before that one of the best ways to gauge productivity is to know the net value of your [...]

  48. [...] 14 Tips to Get More Done in Less Time « // Internet Duct Tape [...]

  49. [...] 14 Tips to Get More Done in Less Time at internetducttape.com [...]

  50. [...] my full article here.  Another interesting source for time-saving internet tips can be found in this post on the blog Internet Duct Tape.  You’ll find some technical tips here, as well as time [...]

  51. venn99 said, on October 04, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    i hate working with distractions i get so disoriented

    internet tips

  52. james said, on January 08, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Great news. It is always get things done before you actually want it done by a deadline.
    <a rel="dofollow" href="http://www.lasvegasescort.com “>Las Vegas Escorts

  53. Escort said, on January 08, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Great news. It is always get things done before you actually want it done by a deadline

  54. [...] 14 Tips to Get More Done in Less Time by engtech [...]

  55. gab said, on March 11, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    time management is always difficult… so thanks for helping us with his

  56. Mike said, on March 18, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Managing our own time is one of the most difficult tasks in our lives. There are so many distractions that might waste your time. Then at the end of the day, you’ll end up not accomplishing anything.

  57. Martin said, on May 25, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    It reminds me a bit of the pomodoro system… work solid for 25 minutes and then move to the next project.

  58. Walter said, on June 06, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Using keyboard shortcuts help me maximize my time in finishing all my works. Maybe, I could work more efficiently if I can use a scheduler that can notify me what to do for the whole day.

  59. Kate said, on June 20, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    @ Walter

    I’m doing the same thing. I make use of these shortcuts to eliminate some tedious process for me to be able to work efficiently. Indeed, it really help me accomplishing everything.

  60. dreambox 500 said, on August 29, 2010 at 4:47 am

    “There is a big difference between walking the walk and talking the talk. It’s easy to read tips and tricks for being more productive in your life (lifehacks), but it is much harder to make them habits and part of who you are. But changing your habits so that you have more time to enjoy the other aspects of your life is well worth the effort.”
    Yes,agree!

  61. Ferres Art said, on October 13, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Have you got twitter account friend? In order to keep an eye on your blog

  62. Myron Hessian said, on October 21, 2010 at 12:21 am

    This is often a excellent weblog. I’ve been back a couple of times during the last 7-day period and wish to join your rss making use of Google but can’t find out the right way to do it exactly. Do you know of any sort of instructions?

  63. Lady Gaga Games said, on October 25, 2010 at 8:21 am

    This is a excellent blog. I have already been back more than once within the last week and want to subscribe to your feed utilizing Google but can’t work out the way to do it accurately. Would you know of any sort of instructions?


Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 286 other followers

%d bloggers like this: