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Work Smart – Think Lazy…

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Is probably the best advise I can give to anyone working on a PC all day in an office (Like I do). Do yourself a favour & think of the repetitive tasks you perform daily.

Presumably you use the same handful of Applications from when you login until you shutdown in the evening. Create or Copy & Paste shortcuts for those Applications inthe Startup folder on the Start Menu; let Windows do that work for you when you login.

Bookmark all commonly accessed folders so you have easy access to them in Windows/Internet Explorer (& Applications such as Microsoft Office).

Use Macros; Macros can be a real life saver & they can be used for just about anything – I’ve currently use them to; Automate sorting/filtering lists, enter standard sentences, load various templates, create new Stats worksheets, log into an Application & prompt for various information. You don’t have to be a genius either to work with Macros, simply use the Record function in any Office program & you can create a Macro. Need further help to refine them? Again, think lazy before you decide it can only be done manually, e.g. does a spreadsheet need to be filtered to remove rows if a certain value is present? Do an Internet search with your query, in this case you could try Excel macro delete row if cell is; result? Yes you can.

Paper? Just say No! I absolutely hate paper & so should most office workers, why? You can’t copy & paste info on paper, you can’t resort it, you can’t hide useless columns, you run the risk of mistyping something from a paper source, etc. Try convince those you receive your work from to email you the work instead, it should prove more efficient & manageable that way (For the reasons mentioned, e.g. you can copy/paste data from a spreadsheet).

With a little effort initially, thinking in terms of “What’s the laziest way I can do this” can help reduce the time it takes you to do repetitive tasks, remove from yourself from performing a task, or at least should help you speed up performing tasks. Who knows, maybe superiors will be tricked into believing you’re really productive when you’re actually just minimizing your own workload.

Update 6th July: Following on from my ramblings I offer the following example. A task at my job is loading data received on a daily spreadsheet (Varies in size, but say at least several dozen rows at a time) into a Terminal application – 3 screens worth of info needs to be keyed (2 dozen or so fields) & the address for the data matched. The current average is 60 an hour (I’m doing this as someone is off sick or something).

No way I’m typing all that crap I thought. So I set to work on some Macros. Now all I need to do is run 1 macro to reformat the spreadsheet. A second macro will now enter the data from the rows into the Terminal application & perform basic address matching. New hourly average? 160 without pushing yourself. Think about that a minute. An extremely repetitive data entry task reduced essentially to the click of 1 button & effectively trebles performance. My thanks to Google for providing me with the sites I needed to research some of the VBA code needed (Namely for extracting the first word in a cell & converting an all text column (Thanks to hidden apostrophes) into correct date formatting).

Written by Julio Franco

June 15th, 2006 at 3:08 pm

Posted in blog