3 Easy Workflow Hacks to Squeeze More Out of Your Day

Posted by | March 11, 2014 | business, startups | No Comments

Sometimes you just want a quick tune-up of your day, some little work-habit hacks, tips and tricks we all can benefit from as we go about our business.

3 of my favorites are focused on my laptop use — currently I’m using OSX, but these tips all apply to Windows or Linux as well.

So without further ado, here are 3 Quick Wins to Streamline Your Workflow:

1. Organize your browser favorites

Do you have 10 tabs open right now and spend a lot of time clicking between tabs that have been open for days looking for the one you need?

  1. Go through your currently open browser tabs
  2. Bookmark each tab you want to close because you have not looked at them in a while, but you know you want to revisit someday soon
  3. Close the tab
  4. After doing this for all open tabs you should now only have tabs open you’re using right now
  5. At some point take 5 minutes to organize your favorites into folders
  6. The naming and heirarchy of Bookmark folders is up to you but seriously make folders otherwise your Bookmark-keeping will be slower than your former tab wrangling
  7. Begin using bookmarks not tabs to keep track of recent browser sessions

2. Organize your desktop with a “Desktop Clutter” folder

There’s nothing like using another person’s computer for a while to see how a cluttered Desktop leads to inefficiency, and a loss of respect for that individual. (Kidding, sort of.)

I’m not sure who is responsible for the Desktop metaphor, but it is pretty bad for organization because it inevitably ends up being (much like the tabs in the above tip) a sort of “working mess” of currently important and recently important items mixed in with temporary and low-importance stuff like screen captures and quickly created files we intend to delete but then sort of never do.

So, my secret trick for clutter on my Laptop or Desktop computer’s “desktop” folders is a super quick win.

  1. Go to your desktop right now and create a folder “Desktop Clutter”.
  2. Move all of the files on your desktop except for system icons like the Recycle bin etc. into the Desktop Clutter folder
  3. Then over the rest of your lifetime use of computers: “Rinse and Repeat” this process — meaning that you just carry on as usual, filling up your Desktop over the next few weeks and months, then when you cannot stand it any more:
    1. Rename the “Desktop Clutter” folder to “DTC_2014_Q1” or some such.
    2. Create a new “Desktop Clutter” and move all the desktop files into it INCLUDING the “DTC_2014_Q1” folder containing your previous DTC

Viola! in about 2 minutes you have created a useful organizational folder structure for all that junk based upon Annual Quarters.

A variation of the tip is that you can either “Russian Doll” your DTC folders, or keep the historical ones always in the current DTC root.  Yay for self-determination.

A fun side effect of using DTC folders, is the “Time Warp” you can experience exploring old DTC folders. It’s like seeing where “things were at” at various points in your professional life by  checking out the files downloaded or that you were working on at the time.

Also they are easily backed up and moved between computers so that is a bonus normally you would likely not backup your desktop in a useful organized way so this is all good.

Another cool side effect: you will realize how rarely you actually need desktop files because frankly I doubt you will fetch anything out of the “Desktop Clutter” folders very often.

Finally, you can quickly reclaim disk space when needed by searching this folder for big downloads or other temporary files you end up not needing after all.

3. Sort your Inbox by “UNREAD” instead of by “DATE” once a day to avoid important messages “Dropping Through Cracks”

I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of email. Sometimes, when I’m in a rush, I intentionally leave stuff unread — especially if it’s important and I feel like I need to read it later.

Well this is a mistake because other messages I don’t read include piles of SPAM, newsletters I cannot figure out how to opt-out-of, and other Inbox cruft.

So ,occasionally, if I use the “Leave  it Unread” trick to read something important it will end up hastily skimmed over because it is embedded in a long list of unread, unwanted stuff.  Not Good!

I know, many of you will point out that rules can be setup, SPAM filters turned up, other automated solutions for email can help. I agree, there are a lot of other ways to deal with this issue, such as properly flagging and deleting email as it comes in.

But sometimes any action can be too time-consuming when you are on the run and “no action” is the fastest response of all.

So if you find yourself using the “Leave it Unread” anti-method of inbox skimming then, at least once a day, I encourage you to sort your email by “UNREAD” — on a laptop or desktop preferably for expedience — you can then really deal with unread items and delete all that SPAM and cruft intentionally, look out for and process the important stuff, and then move the item from there into a folder, mark it with a flag, reply and delete, or whatever you need to do.

Sorry, but there goes your excuse for not reading your email…!

About John McMahon

John is a serial entrepreneur and full-stack developer. John is currently CEO of Starter Inc. a mobile and web development company, and is the founder of Humor Me Inc. maker of the Chukles consumer mobile humor app. John also currently serves as the CTO for MatanzasGroup, a Global Pharma Consulting Firm. John founded Extentech in 1998, growing it into a leading Web 2.0 spreadsheet tools vendor. In 2012, John sold his 100% stake of Extentech to Infoteria Corporation -- a publicly listed Japanese company. John has recognized expertise in startups, mobile and web development, open source, and cloud computing. John has been a contributor to Accounting World and has been interviewed and featured in stories on PandoDaily and Forbes.com.

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