Boosting Ubuntu's Productivity: 20 Tips: Page 2

Posted October 19, 2010

Matt Hartley

Matt Hartley

(Page 2 of 3)

8) Less music, more working – There are exceptions to this of course, but I have found that with the exception of classical music or the like, enjoying your tunes while working can become a very big distraction. If you are a developer and find that music helps the day pass along easier, then you would be best served by using Rhythmbox to play a preselected playlist.

This means you need to setup the playlist when you have some extra free time. Assuming you're able to leave the music alone and allow the playlist to provide you with the day's musical selection, then this could be an arrangement that works without too much distraction. Speaking exclusively for myself, it really depends on the task at hand whether I can handle music playing in the background.

9) USB Headset over speakers – Speakers attached to a PC can be great. Listening to the sound from a video tutorial, music, or whatever you happen to be working on at the time means that having sound is rather important on your system. But speakers can also be a distraction when you have incoming calls to your VoIP client or with various system sounds that might otherwise be a pain to have to disable.

This is why I prefer a decent set of USB headphones. Not only do they address the issues above, you also are able to tune out the world around you to focus on your work. It's a great productivity feature for telecommuters, students and even those of us who are self-employed at our home offices.

10) Use Parcellite clipboard manager – One of the things I love about the GNOME desktop environment with Ubuntu is using the clipboard manager called Parcellite. This little applet sits quietly next to my other applets in the top panel, saving what I copy and paste throughout my day. But unlike the standard copy and paste functionality, Parcellite can store many items at once. This allows you to recall them later if you should need them.

Using Parcellite in the real world makes a lot of sense for developers and coders. Instead of bouncing back and forth when pasting code, you can have a few different lines copied into Parcellite already. This would mean less time spent finding the previous line of code to paste and more time spent on your project of the day.

11) Lock your screen for lunch – Instead of going into sleep or standby mode, this allows you to get back to work faster. Now I realize that Ubuntu has been sped up to a point where coming out of sleep mode isn't that big of a deal to most. But have you ever compared this to how quickly you can get back to work from a simple screen lock? There is simply no contest.

On my own computers, I use a blank screen saver with a screen lock option. On my notebooks, I often use the same as I am usually connected to a power strip. Putting the laptop into sleep mode with power attached is kind of pointless if you are merely coming back to work in an hour.

12) Use GTK-RecordMyDesktop – Using GTK-RecordMyDesktop can save you from duplicating the same how-to assistance type tasks for co-workers over and over by doing it once and recording it. This tool is also invaluable when the help needed is off-site, where you cannot be in person.

I have found GTK-RecordMyDesktop to be an invaluable tool for showing people how to accomplish simple tasks with Ubuntu. As an added bonus the video then can be passed around to others, which frees you up for other activities. It also is fantastic for creating and sharing presentations where using Open Office Impress is simply not enough. The ease of use along with its ability to duplicate your efforts allows you to do more without stressing yourself out.

13) Communicate with Empathy – Communicating with your co-workers is a necessary evil throughout the day, but it doesn't need to turn into a lengthy trip to the water cooler. Using a messenger client like Empathy allows you to alert your co-workers should you need them for something, without the hassle of getting out of your work-space.

It’s perfect for creative types who might be working under a specific train of thought during a task who don't want to lose focus by leaving their work area. Using Empathy allows you to remain in contact with the rest of the office, without resorting to spending unneeded time outside of workspace.

14) Use Google Chrome (or Chromium) instead of Firefox – In my home office I have completely stopped using Firefox. In its place, Google Chrome has become my browser of choice. The reason is rather simple – Chrome doesn't run like maple syrup on a cold winter morning.

Firefox for Linux has become nearly unusable on all of my PCs, many of which are running with dual core CPUs, boasting at least 2 gigabytes of RAM. Yes, it will "run." Yet the stability and speed has completely gone right out the window in comparison to Chrome.

Chrome just works better for me. It has faster load times, less crashing with Flash media, and less bugs in general. Perhaps best of all, many of the same extensions I had used with Firefox are available for the Chrome browser. Using Chrome saves me time and frustration, while leaving me wondering why Firefox hasn't paid more attention to their Linux users.

15) Let the "Hamster" handle your time tracking – There are a lot of time tracking applications out there. But there aren't quite as many that "award you" for a job well done upon completion of a task. Project hamster is such an application. Project Hamster allows you to feel rewarded with about 67 different "trophies" in addition to helping you schedule your time more effectively.

Setup into workspaces, projects, categories, tags and tasks, the Hamster Project is actually a very powerful time tracking tool once you spend a little time exploring the help documentation included with the software. I found that the Hamster Project makes me more productive because I can set it and forget it. The app is designed so you’re spending your time working, not playing with the software designed for time management. Because it's a panel applet application, the software will run in the background until you need it.

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