Optimizing the time in the real world

Sometimes we're asked to optimize code routines. To make them faster, more compact, less memory consuming... But what about real world? Have you tried to optimize your time in mudane tasks, in common things you do everyday?

Here are some examples of small optimizations I've made in my common tasks:

  • Wardrobe: T-shirts in two groups: common and geek/funny ones. So If I'm going to have a meeting with a client, I don't go with a "SELECT * FROM girls WHERE freesex = TRUE" T-shirt ;)
  • Home network: One PC acting as a software repository. Programs, Games, Music... All go to one place. I've got shared folders so I can easily access them from any pc in my home. I make ISOs of my games (and download cracks for those games that require CD/DVD to play ¬¬), get rid of the covers and put them in CD-albums to have enough space in my bookcases.
    The repository PC, as it is commonly accessed, doesn't have keyboard, mouse nor monitor. I use VNC to access it from any pc in the local network, so I can use at the same time the real pc. 2x1 :D
  • Room placement: Do you use frecuently your PocketPC? Do you sync a lot your iPod with the pc or connect it to a sound-system? Then place it near them, so you only have to move your hand and not yourself to manipulate them.
  • Garbage bin: As I'm left-handed, I discovered that by putting it under my desk but in the left side I missed less when throwing papers at it without looking :) Seems stupid, but a correct placement is critical to avoid time catching loose garbage if you're busy with other things.
  • Ordering the books: I've got all my computer books in the same bookcases. Science fiction ones together, terror ones same... You spend less time searching for a given book or magazine.
  • Tools at hand: I always have in my desk some common tools: A screwdriver, scissors, a pen, clips...
  • Multitasking: When I wake up, I usually have to go to the bathroom. Why not first put the coffee into the microwave? That way you do "multitasking", and when you're finished, the coffee is hot and ready to drink.
    Another example: Do you have to do a long and tedious (but automated) backup of your laptop? Go watch a film meanwhile, or read your pending RSS, staring at a progress bar is not only boring but useless.
  • Correctly timing: I discovered that in the early morning, if I miss the bus I may have to wait up to 30 minutes for the next one. But arriving 10 minutes earlier guarantees me catching the bus, because it's the start of the line and they always stop for 10-15 minutes to have a break.
    Sometimes I get crazy because I try to do too many things in a day (30 minutes remaining until the supermarket closes? ok, I've got the date with my friends in 1 hour so give it a try!), but usually is more productive than "leaving it for tomorrow".
  • Training yourself to do things unconsciously: For example, I always put my showing towel at the left of the shower. I can take a shower almost asleep, but I can take the shower with my eyes closed because I know where it is. I leave my mobile phone at the right of the laptop, so if the phone rings I can take it without looking where it's placed. I do a quick check of all my pocket stuff at the elevator before leaving my building (wallet? phone? ipod? cigarettes?). If I'm missing something it's only wasting few seconds and not going back home later, and if something is missing an unconscious mental alarm tells me "hey, something's not right! check it out!".
  • Notes, notes and more notes: I'm a bit disaster remembering things, so I do a heavy use of Google Documents and Google Calendar reminders (now with SMS notifications is marvelous!). And for when I'm out, I've use a PocketPC (now I'm waiting for a new HTC Touch so I'll only carry a PDA-phone). post-it notes are useful at work, but everywhere else I don't recommend them (you can lose them very easily).

Next post will be "Optimizing the time using your computer" ;)

Posted by Kartones on 2007-08-19

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