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Upgrade Your Life: The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better by Gina Trapani

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Chapter 6. Streamline Common Tasks

You can get your work done faster with the right shortcuts — for the price of learning those shortcuts, that is. Shortcuts get you where you want to go faster, but they're not obvious and it takes practice to incorporate them into your habits. The difference between taking main roads across town and taking the back roads is that the main roads are easier but take longer. If you drive across town every day, however, it's worth your time to learn the back-road shortcut.

The same principle applies to your work processes. No doubt you perform dozens of repetitive actions every day, such as typing www.google.com into your browser's address bar, or clicking the Start button and navigating to the Programs menu, or typing "Let me know if you have any questions" at the end of an email. These are opportunities for shortcuts that can add up to large savings over time. Every movement, every task, every action is a candidate for optimization and streamlining.

Imagine that working a few new shortcuts into your day saves two seconds on each of four tasks you perform 20 times a day. That amounts to about two and a half minutes of saved time a day, which adds up to 667 minutes or more than 11 hours a year (taking into account weekends and two weeks of vacation). All told, you can save more than an entire workday every year just by learning how to search Google or sign an email by taking the back roads.

The key is teaching yourself the shortcuts that will benefit you ...

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