Stop that!

Mark at Productivity501 has a helpful post on 17 Things you Should Stop Doing. The 17 items he suggests will save you time in your day and open the way for more productive behavior. A few of my favorites:

5. Unpacking your Laptop Power Adaptor — If you go from work to home with your laptop, get an extra adaptor for each work area so you don’t have to unpack and crawl under the desk each time.

11. Dialing into Voice Mail — Get your voicemail setup to send you messages as email attachments that way you only have to check one mailbox.

17. Clubbing Baby Seals — Just in case this applies to you, this would be a good thing to stop as well.

Check out his full list, and then head back here and share your time-saving tips in the comments.

29 Comments for “Stop that!”

  1. posted by Susan on

    Number one should have been STOP SMOKING !! It amazes me how many people still smoke. What a waste of time – and MONEY.

  2. posted by b kinch on

    Saving time is cool, but only if you’re doing something worthwhile with the time you saved. I’m in the process of organizing all of our camping gear into two big totes that can just be tossed in the back of the truck when we want to head out, because right now it takes hours to prep for camping. Some of the things I need are inside, some are in the garage, and each of us has our sleeping bag in the top of the closet. But no more! Less time packing and more time camping is a good trade.

  3. posted by Anita on

    Some of those are great. Mty favourites would have to be #1 (if you have that option), #4 and of course #17 :)

    Others can be double-edged swords — e.g listening to podcasts while driving to stop “wasting time” in the car. Driving gets you from point A to point B. How is it a waste of time, if you need to do it? Also: doesn’t this potentially cause distraction, which is the last thing you need while driving?

    Others still are counterproductive. Completely replacing in-class learning with online courses is the worst idea I’ve heard today. There are at least a dozen benefits of physically going to class that I could list here, not least of which is live interaction and debate, which is not always available for online courses, and which I believe to be vital to any learning environment.

    Also: I’m never a fan of being talked down to, and that article does exactly that; so in terms of writing style and tact they get a big thumbs down from me today.

  4. posted by Pamela Vincent on

    Even better than getting a duplicate power cord for the laptop is using a docking station. A docking station allows all the peripherals to stay plugged in- large monitor, printer, internet connection, etc. Just undock the laptop and go. The docking station has its own power cord.

  5. posted by Brett on

    Listening to podcasts while driving to work is great but can be counterproductive if you don’t finish listening to it and decide to stay in the car to hear those last 5 minutes!

  6. posted by Loren on

    12, and 2 are probably my favorites. I already do these things but if you don’t have an external hard drive GET ONE. I still have EXTRA back-ups of things on CD but being able to save large projects, music collections and photos has saved me so much time after switching to a new computer and a new job. It takes all of ten minutes to make sure EVERYTHING gets backed-up.
    And I used to fret about Bills, when they were due, when to mail to make sure they arrived on time, do I have any stamps. If you can change all of your billing dates to the same day of the month. I changed all of mine to the first of the month because my rent is due on the 15th. So I just set a little alarm on my phone calendar to tell me remind me it’s the first of the month is. I log in to a couple accounts online and hit the ‘pay’ button.

  7. posted by infmom on

    My husband totes around a backpack that feels like he packed an anvil in it. He takes everything he “might need” with him at all times. I have long since given up on suggesting he make copies of all the paperwork and just leave the duplicates at the various work sites, and get his boss to buy him a second phone and laptop charger. He did seem receptive to the notion of packing all the assorted cables into a separate bag and just leaving them in the company truck. One of these days his back is going to go out again and it’s going to be awfully hard not to remind him of what I’d suggested. :)

    I need to set up more online bill paying. A couple of times over the past few months, payments I mailed never reached their destination and the checks never got cleared. The bills that are the same every month (mortgage, college loan, long term care insurance, etc) are already paid electronically–I just need to look into how it’s done when the payments differ from month to month (utility bills and so forth).

  8. posted by Suzyn on

    I love this – this is along the same lines of when my cousin made a “special” (i.e., non-alcoholic) Christmas pudding and my 93-year old great aunt asked “What isn’t in it?” We spent the rest of Christmas giggling and whispering all the things that _weren’t_ in the pudding: grass clippings, cat toys, the kitchen sink…

    My house got a lot more uncluttered when I stopped shopping for entertainment. And my LIFE got a lot more uncluttered when I stopped stepping into other people’s dramas. So those are two good things to stop doing.

  9. posted by Kathy on

    I was surprised that “stop trying to impress others” or “don’t keep up with the Joneses” wasn’t on the list. That not only saves time, it saves your sanity, money, etc.

    Some of the ones I don’t agree with are #9 – not everyone gets an internet college degree, brick and mortor universities with professors are still very relevant; and #10 – commuting, not everyone has a schedule that can be shifted or can work from home.

  10. posted by timgray on

    As to the laptop adapter, many Bad laptops have very expensive power adapters. Be sure the next time you buy a laptop to get one that has sane priced parts.

    I stick with dell because a new power brick is $49.00 instead of the $329.00 my Sony was.

    as for number 11. Most people have really low end voicemail and cant stop using it, but they can use google Voice. I am amazed at how well Google voice makes my phone communications better and far more efficient.

  11. posted by Dawn on

    What about stop going to the post office to buy stamps – you can order them online and they are shipped to your home. YES, I know you can email and/or text people instead of mailing letters and cards, but I LOVE to send happy old-fashioned mail so I do need stamps and ordering a bunch of them online is one less trip to make.

  12. posted by SandyO on

    I have been buying from Alice.com which has saved both time going back and forth to stores and money because I plan what I need and only have to buy one of an item to get free shipping. Before Alice I would go to a store, past the toothpaste aisle, wonder if I needed toothpaste, buy toothpaste just in case and then find when I got home that I had a full tube.

  13. posted by Blair on

    Looks like the page is down. I was able to get work to spring for the extra adapter without an issue. So I now have 3, with one for the office, one for home, and the last stays in the bag in case I’m working somewhere else.

  14. posted by Annie on

    I’ve been using Google Reader for nearly a year and really like knowing that I’ll never miss a blog post once I’ve subscribed by RSS feed. It’s great.

  15. posted by Phil on

    The hard part about Google Reader is remembering to unsubscribe from feeds.

  16. posted by Mark - Productivity501 on

    @Erin – Thanks for the link!

    @Kathy – I agree that classroom time is still important. However at some point you just can’t afford to spend the commute time that is necessary to physically go to college–particularly if you are continuing your education while working full time.

  17. posted by Brandon on

    Got to disagree with 5–it’s a waste of money and leads to more trash.

  18. posted by WilliamB on

    Doesn’t #5 create more clutter?

    (g,d,r)

  19. posted by Jay on

    Excellent list. Thanks for posting.

    Paying bills electronically instead of by check has saved my wife and me lots of time.

    Also, we keep a spreadsheet with each bill in a column and the month in a row. When we have scheduled a bill to be paid, we put an “X” in the appropriate cell and hide the column. My wife and I no longer scramble around trying to figure out which bills have been paid and which bills still need to be paid.

  20. posted by Jon H on

    For the laptop power supply thing, here’s a tip for Mac laptop users.

    Apple provides two ways of plugging the adapter into the wall: A long thick cord, and a two-prong direct connector. Either one can be plugged into the brick.

    I keep the adapter brick on the desk, and run the long cord down to the power outlet. When I take the adapter home, I disconnect the long cord, and attach the 2-prong direct connector.

    When I return, I disconnect the 2-prong direct connector, and reconnect the long cord, the end of which is waiting for me on the desk. I never have to crawl under the desk.

  21. posted by alfora on

    Regarding #5: Ask yourself the question WHY your are taking your laptop to your workplace and back home all the time? If it is YOUR laptop then why are you bringing it to your workplace at all? If it is the laptop of your company then why bring it to your home? Not only is it a risk to lose the company laptop (and its data) on the road but you are also supposed to relax at home and not work. ;-)

    I am also missing a tip about power adapters for small devices like mobile phones, MP3 players, eBook readers, and the like. Try to buy only devices that can get their power from USB. Then you don’t have to think about a power adapter most of the time. If you go on holiday and “need” to take a bunch of devices with you then buy a power supply with a USB output, like the very small power adapters by Apple for their iPods and iPhones.

  22. posted by alfora on

    Oh, I forgot another tip:

    Just forget about copying things to CD-Rs or USB sticks in order to move data from one computer to the next. You will run into multiple versions of the same documents sooner or later.

    Use an online virtual disk like MobileMe. There are many other service providers that let you access a virtual disk space via WebDAV. Mac users with MobileMe have a small advantage because they can set up their Macs in such a way that the contents of their virtual disk is sync’d automatically to their local hard disks. That way you can also work offline with your data.

    Windows users might want to look into Microsoft Groove in order to sync data between computers.

  23. posted by Albert on

    Some of these make sense (multiple power cords). But what’s the point of all of these if you don’t ignore them occasionally. A GPS gets you there fast, but have we forgotten the fun of exploring places we’ve never been to? Seriously, get lost. It’s fun.

  24. posted by Anita on

    @Albert — completely agree. I think Unclutterer does try to get that point across by emphasizing that uncluttering isn’t done for the sake of uncluttering, but for the sake of making time for what matters most to you, and having fun and exploring places is definitely high on my list!

    Most “productivity” sites I’ve seen, however, have a way of sucking the life out of anything that’s fun, because fun is simply unproductive, now isn’t it? I’d hate for every moment of my day to be productive…

  25. posted by Simple Llama on

    I like the power adapter tip. Simple and not ground-breaking, but very few simplicity tips really are. More often they’re like “duh, why didn’t I think of that?” $40 bucks or so to keep from banging my head on the desk every morning? Yes please.

  26. posted by Basel on

    “Commuting to College — Take your classes online. Spend your commute time studying instead of driving.”
    WTF!

  27. posted by Aeon J. Skoble on

    Like Anita upthread, I found the tone off-putting, but many of these are great ideas, esp the “get a second power cord for your laptop.” #9 is foolishness, though: that’s not how education works. There are also things that seem to take time, but actually save time in the long run, like keeping your workspace uncluttered, getting the dishes cleared away promptly, keeping a calendar, etc.

  28. posted by Albert on

    @Basel, Aeon J. Skoble – I agree. Online classes save time, but taking classes is infinitely more effective in person. Nothing can replace interaction with a teacher. I just every teacher interacted with their students beyond assigning work. I’ve more than a few of those.

  29. posted by Snarky's Machine on

    These suggestions seem geared towards a particularly kind of person. Namely a nerdy tech type and have limited real world application for lots of folks.

    1. Many people don’t have access to bank accounts. I suppose they’ll be wasting 65 hours depositing checks in the bank. Or they work for very small employers who still hand out checks (yep, in many rural communities this still happens) every week.

    Online classes work for a specific kind of student doing a specific type of study and aren’t feasible for someone who is studying say, medicine, massage therapy or dance movement.

    Good luck getting many work places to see the benefits of commuting. Many people have jobs where there are minimal administrative duties and are required to be onsite. My dad’s a doctor, and that happens to be one of those jobs he can’t just telecommute. Since he needs to go where the patients go.

    With the exception of getting an external hard drive, most of these tips seem not especially useful.

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