When you work from home, it’s important to find ways to save time and stay organized, so that you can spend more time on your work and less time on outside distractions. In this blog post, I’ll discuss some ways to save time and stay organized while working from home. Some of these ideas are discussed in the book Bit Literacy, by Mark Hurst. Please note that while I’ll be referring to his book and some of the methods he discusses, I am not being paid by Mark Hurst or his company, Creative Good, for mentioning the book. I just think it’s an excellent book and wanted to share some of the things I learned from it, and how they can be applied to working from home.
Get your email inbox count to zero, every day.
This is something I constantly struggle with. I have several email accounts, but I only check two of them regularly, and I tend to leave messages in my email inbox because I don’ t know what to do with them. One thing I have started doing is forwarding emails that have information I might need later to Evernote. If I know a certain email can be added to one of my Evernote folders, I’ll be sure to add the name of the folder, as well as any appropriate tags. If not, it gets saved to my default folder, and I decide later what to do with it.
Set a specific time of day, or times of the day, for doing non-urgent tasks such as checking emails or returning non-urgent phone calls.
This is something else I struggle with. I usually check my Yahoo accounts twice a day – once in the morning before I start work, and once at night after I’ve finished work. I’ll check my Gmail account in the morning, but I also tend to check it throughout the day, because that’s the email account that I receive my emails for work at.
As far as returning non-urgent phone calls, I try to do that on my lunch break, or after work if I know the person will still be there. Sometimes though, if I get a break during my workday I’ll return a call then if I know the call is going to be relatively short, especially if I know I won’t be able to reach the person after business hours.
When you have several things you need to do during the day, make a to-do list and check them off as you complete them.
You can simply write down your list on a piece of paper, though Mark Hurst advises against doing that because it’s not the “bit literate” approach, or you can use a to-do list website, such as goodtodo.com. I used this website for a while, but now I’ve started keeping my daily to-do lists in Evernote.
Learn the Dvorak method of typing.
This method uses this Dvorak keyboard, which is a keyboard that places all vowels, as well as the most frequently used consonants, in the home row, and the other less-frequently used letters in the other rows. Once you learn it, the Dvorak method is supposed to reduce the risk of RSI (repetitive stress injury), because your fingers don’t leave the home row as much, and it’s supposed to make your typing speed faster. I tried learning this method, but it’s not easy, especially when you’ve been using a QWERTY keyboard for over 20 years. You can find printable Dvorak keyboards online, as well as instructions for how to add the Dvorak keyboard in Windows. There are also many excellent typing tutors that provide exercises for learning the Dvorak keyboard.
Use a bit lever.
In “Bit Literacy,” Mark Hurst defines a bit lever as a piece of software that can “take small inputs and generate huge outputs.” These outputs could include commonly used words or phrases. I used to use Phrase Express quite extensively, both for transcription and for other things, but recently I discovered another program called ActiveWords, which does the same thing. I’ve used it to create shortcuts for phrases I type often for my job at Apptical, and I also plan to use it for transcription and for other things I work on.
I hope this post has provided some ideas on ways to save time while working from home. If you’re interested in reading more of Mark Hurst’s book, you can check it out on Amazon. If you have other time-saving tips you’ve used, I would love to hear them!