Little Tips and Tricks that Improve My Work Day

I don’t know how long this will last, but I have found that whenever I navigate to a “locked” Wall Street Journal article (where only subscribers can see the full article), I simply copy the title of the article, press Ctrl+T and then Ctrl+V to paste into a new Google search in a new tab, and voila, the link on that results page shows the full article. You’re welcome.

Gmail Shortcuts

It’s a little hard to remember to use them at first, but once you use shortcuts, you’ll thank yourself for that marginal improvement in your life. Hit Shift+? in your Gmail window and start using some of the most common ones for every single email.


Coworkers are great, but I couldn’t care less about the first-thing-in-the-morning professional sports recap from the night before where everyone wants to provide their input, or other morning random discussion topic (totally unrelated to work). I know everyone needs those 10 minutes to unwind and settle into their work, but as a mild introvert, it throws me off to listen to mundane chitchat. So instead of pretending I care, I throw on some Zen meditation music and tune out the noise.

25 Minutes on, 5 Minutes Off

The Pomodoro technique will help you get on track when you feel like you’re slogging through days without getting much of anything done. My work has tons of deadlines, so while I am usually happily productive, I’ve noticed that whenever I have a few days with some “down time” (i.e., no fire drills), my brain wants to shut down and enjoy the feeling of no big deadlines, and this will quickly deteriorate into not getting those Quadrant 2 work items done. I use the Pomodoro technique to reward myself for being strictly focused on work for 25 minutes and then taking those 5 and 15 minute breaks for thinking about my own projects, not looking at emails, stepping outside or anything else that is a reward.

5 Minutes Tidying My Desk and Reviewing Tomorrow’s To Do List

This one is advice you’ve heard before, but if I don’t do this, I feel distracted and haphazard. I hate a messy desk and superfluous papers. You don’t need the hard copy of the expired contract that you have in electronic form. You don’t need that old conference badge. If I’ve eaten at my desk, I use wipes to get rid of the crumbs and evidence.A Personal Notepad

You know how you always want to write notes to yourself during the work day? Ideas, plans, or just the need to have something separate from your work is always a good idea. I keep a personal notepad and a calendar that lets me wander off without clouding up my work ideas with grocery lists. Sometimes, I just need to flip through it to remind myself of what I have going on.Looking Beyond the Day

It’s easy to get stuck in a good job, with good pay, etc, without thinking about where you want to go. I push myself to stay motivated by learning from people who have done so much already- I use Khan Academy, Harvard Business School talks, and working on my big goals with a mastermind group to keep me at 30,000 feet and viewing the landscape ahead. I liked Sarah at Unsettle’s recent post about spending an hour a day on those big goals: An hour a day keeps mediocrity away. Who wants mediocrity? You want to have it together. Find a way to work in that hour.

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