Self improvement

This is how I make my every second productive

Knowledge worker's tips for better productivity

Power methods for knowledge worker to get your productivity to the next level. The tips are grouped like this: technology, ergonomy, work habits and task automation. While reading the productivity tips I want to empasize that these three are above the others: physical excercise, rest and nutrition.

Technology

Audio books and podcasts

With audio books and podcasts you make the chores productive. You can listen them while jogging, drving a car and doing dishes. If you can’t find an audio book version for Amazon Audible app for example, it’s also possible to download an app that reads PDFs and ePubs aloud. Peronsally I have used UB Reader app for Android.

Faster play back

In many video tutorials and audio materials it’s possible to play 25% or 50% faster than normal speed. At this rate speech should still be understandable.

Voice commands in mobile devices

The voice commands are not suitable for every task but they make certain actions faster. In Android you find the voice command app by double clicking the menu button. My most often used command is “Set timer in ten minutes” – “Start” which would set an alarm after 10 minutes of countdown.

Wireless bluetooth earphones

Using a mobile device is much handier with wireless headset compared to traditional ear plugs. Also listening music or having a phone conversation is easier if you need to charge at the same time. Works in gym too! My wireless bluetooth ear plugs are from an international online store. With the price of 40€ I got satisfying audio quality with a battery life of one day.

Ergonomy

Better work ergonomy relieves static tension that causes shoulder pain and head ache. Even though they help a little, the only sure bet is to decrease the hours at the computer screen.

Arm rest for desktop

Arm rests relief pressure in neck and shoulder area. They are attached to the table by screw-squeezers. Moving arms from mouse to keyboard is surprisingly effortless, thanks to moving joints. My pair paid 35€ each from an international online store.

Table arm support
Arm support for desktop.

Vertical mouse

A vertical mouse had surprisingly significant impact to the arm and forearm setting. The elbow will become closer to the body and reduces the tension from shoulder muscles.

Adjustable desktop

An adjustable desktop itself is not guarantee for better ergonomy. The middle body has to be kept stiff  to maintain straight posture. At the beginning you might struggle to stand long periods of time but you will adapt quickly. The good thing is that you can adjust the height to the exact position you want. The cost is around 500€ in IKEA.

Work habits

Product check lists

How often you forget shoes from the training bag or leave your luch to fridge. I keep check lists in the wardrobe door to remeber what I should pack to each activity such as gym or business trip.

Task list

Everyone has individual habits for task lists but my approach is to dump everything from my brain to a master task list. Then I transfer the tasks daily to notes, calendar and so on. The method has been very successful.

Regular working hours

I admit that this is my weaknesses but regular work time is one of the most important factors for increased work productivity. Too many hours drive to burnout and too few are not enough. A good advice is to stop working when you still have energy left.

Task automation

It doesn’t take much coding skills to make some task automation for common problems. But if coding is not your thing, skip this section.

Regular expressions

Regular expressions extend basic find and replace features. Easiest way to harness regular expressions to your help is to use a text editor such as Notepad++. You could for example find all different spellings for champagne from a lonfer text with a single expression and maybe replace them all with the correct word.

Zapier

Zapier is an online tool for software integrations. It doesn’t require any technological skills. You define what happens in a system B after an action has first happened in a system A. You could do a configuration like this: When a new customer has been added to CRM software > Add the person also to email marketing software.

AutoHotKey

With AutoHotKey you can automate mouse and keyboard actions in Windows. In one case I copied data from a website with an AutoHotKey script. In practise the code clicked links in a list one at the time and copied the page content to a single file.

Excel VBA

Automate Excel routines. As a programming language Excel VBA is relatively easy to learn. I recommend to automate only your personal workbooks.

Javascript

Javascript can be used to automate bowser actions. In Chrome for example you can type Javascript to the console by right clicking anywhere and selecting “Inspect”.

For example in Facebook you only see the most recent posts and you have to scroll down to load more. Instead of consuming ten minutes for building up your finger muscles a few lines of javascript can do scrolling for you.

To take full advantage of Javascript you have to know some HTML markup as well.

Your experiences

Comment below. What kind of methods you have to make your time more productive?

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