Sunday, May 19, 2024

Save 5 Hours a Day, the Geek Way

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Are you too busy to spend more time with family, read books, cook, take classes, exercise, or do other things you’d really like to do?

I’m going to tell you how to think like a software developer or IT admin — to recode your habits and gain five hours of extra time, every day. That’s more than two extra months per year!

Interested? OK, let’s get started.

Hour one: Use the Web to Cut TV

Some people waste hours every day on inane reality shows, formulaic sitcoms or generic police dramas. If that’s how you want to spend your life — hey, it’s a free country. But TV time is easily converted into time spent on more meaningful activities.

Rather than “killing your TV,” you can optimize your viewing using technology that didn’t exist ten years ago.

First, cut down on time wasted channel surfing for shows. Find TV listings on Yahoo or on the TiVo web site, and make a note to yourself to check these listings every day. Note the programs you want to watch, then TiVo them. Later, when you want to watch TV, watch only the recorded shows, and fast-forward through the commercials. Finding shows to watch online in advance is much faster than channel surfing.

Many comedy and other shows (SNL, Mad TV, The Daily Show, etc.) involve “skits,” most of which aren’t very funny. But some are gems you don’t want to miss. By eliminating these shows from your daily viewing, then using Digg or other social networking sites to sort the good from the bad, you can watch the good segments online without wasting time on the bad.

Hour two: Packet-Filter Online Time

How many hours do you spend online every day, including Web surfing and e-mail? Six? Eight? Twelve? How much of that time is spent on garbage content, hunting for the right sites, spam and other useless activities?

Cut time wasted on spam by filtering it all through Gmail, or use a challenge-response system like SpamArrest.

Condense your blog-surfing time by converting your browser-based blogging into RSS-feed reading, which is much faster.

And promise yourself you’ll stop wasting time watching videos of horrible skateboard accidents, people singing in front of their Webcams, and frat-boy pranks. Though amusing, junk videos kill time.

Hour three: Create a Reading and Exercise Mashup

If you read news magazines and newspapers, and also exercise, you can combine them to gain at leastan hour in your day. The secret is to replace current-events reading with podcasts, and listen while you’re walking or jogging or lifting weights.

Chances are, the publications you read have podcast versions. Also, try BBC programs, major TV and radio news channels offerings, as well as Slate and other online zines.

By switching to podcasts, you’ll save money, help the environment, and cut time spent reading (because you can listen while you’re doing other things).

Hour four: Optimize your schedule for faster processing

Save an hour a day by both getting up and going to bed three hours earlier. If you currently get up at 7am and go to bed at midnight, develop the habit of getting up at 4am and going to bed at 9pm.

By spending three hours working when others are not, you’ll enjoy vastly superior productivity without interruptions from meetings, calls and e-mail.

Also, you can avoid rush hour by driving to and from work early.

Hour five: Debug your commute

Speaking of rush-hour, some people waste huge amounts of time every day commuting. The Mother of All commuting debugs is to work from home. You’ll simply kill your commute.

Most don’t have that luxury, so debug your commute in one of the following ways. Take public transportation or carpool so you can work or read during the commute. If you must drive, listen to podcasts instead of morning drive idiot-radio (you’ll save time on news reading). Get Sirius, and listen to quality programming like the BBC or TV news (as a replacement for current events reading). A related alternative: books on tape or downloadable e-books. Get up earlier (see the previous item) to get to work faster.

Of course, with all these tips, your mileage may vary. But, in general, you can gain hours of extra time every day by optimizing, debugging and re-coding your daily habits — the geek way!

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