[REQ]Upgrade Your Life The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster Better
Upgrade Your Life
The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster Better （2nd edition)
a book by Gina Trapani which compiles the best material from Lifehacker.com,
an award-winning daily weblog on software and personal productivity.
Released in March of 2008, Upgrade Your Life is 450 pages, published by Wiley,
and available at Amazon and booksellers everywhere.
"The highest-performing people I know are those who have installed the best tricks in their lives."
—David Allen, productivity expert
Every day you have dozens of opportunities to get work done faster, smarter and more efficiently—with the right shortcuts. Contrary to what some "gurus" will tell you, there's no single, life-changing secret to working less and living more. The reality is that small changes practiced over time yield big results.
There are hundreds of simple techniques and small adjustments you can make to the way you work that will help you get done and get out the door with a clear mind and a clean slate. Armed with the right know-how, you can put tech tools to work for you and be more effective, efficient and on top of your game than ever before.
Thousands of web sites, software apps and gadgets promise to make your life easier. I've spent the last three years hunting down, testing and writing up each and every one of them on Lifehacker.com, a weblog that my editorial team and I update almost twenty times a day with the latest and greatest in software and productivity technology. This book highlights the cream of that crop. These tricks will fast-track you through tedious work, solve common computer problems we all face, and give you access to information anywhere you need it. Whether you're a middle manager at a huge corporation or a freelancer who works at home, a PC or Mac user, just comfortable enough to get around or a power user, there's something here for you.
The most precious thing anyone has in this life is time. Spend more time doing things and less time fiddling with your computer. This book shows you how.
Computer Manual Meets Productivity Book
This book isn't a computer user manual, and it isn't a productivity system—it's a little bit of each. It isn't an exhaustive guide to all the features of a particular software application or gadget. You won't find seven habits or four steps to becoming a productivity powerhouse. Instead, this book takes established personal productivity principles and outlines over 100 concrete ways to apply those concepts in your everyday work. This is where the rubber hits the road, dear reader: where you learn how to practice big picture productivity methods on your very own computer desktop.
I don't work for a software or gadget company. As an independent software developer, I'm simply obsessed with the ways that computers can help humans get things done. In this book you'll find information you won't get in the user manual: practical applications of the features you should actually care about, and nothing else. Alpha geeks use the tools outlined in this book. Now it's time for you to get in on the good stuff as well.
Pick Your Tricks
Think of this book as a giant buffet of shortcuts. No one person will use all of them. You're going to browse its contents and add only the ones that can help you to your plate. Instead of reading this book cover to cover, read each chapter introduction, which describes a productivity challenge. The rest of the chapter is a collection of clever tricks—or "hacks"—that can tackle it. The best hacks for your work and life depend on your needs, your skill level, your situation, and your biggest pain points.
For example, do you get too much email, and struggle to keep on top of all your incoming messages? Go directly to Chapter 1, "Control Your Email." Have you been procrastinating on checking anything off an impossibly long to-do list? Proceed to Chapter 3, "Trick Yourself into Getting Done." Are constant interruptions and distractions keeping you from getting work done? See Chapter 5, "Firewall Your Attention." Want to shave seconds or minutes off of computer chores you do every day? You want Chapter 6, "Streamline Common Jobs." You sick of doing the same boring, tedious jobs every day? Have a helping of hacks from Chapter 7, "Automate Repetitive Tasks."
To help you choose your best tricks, each hack appears with the platform (or operating systems) and the skill level of the user it applies to.
Your Operating System (Matters Less, But Still Matters)
Some readers of the first edition told me they'd like to see a Mac-only or a Windows-only version of this book. However, as operating systems converge and the web matures, desktop operating systems matter less. As application software moves off our desktop and onto the web, it only takes an Internet-connected computer with a modern web browser from any OS to get things done (more on that in Hack 69). Today, file and network compatibility between Mac, Windows versions and even Linux is non-issue. You can run Windows on your Mac (see Hack 114) or boot Linux from a CD or thumb drive on your PC (see Hack 108). More open source software is cross-platform and free (like Mozilla Firefox, which appears throughout this volume.) Almost all other software has an equivalent on other operating systems. You'll use more computers with more operating systems than you ever did before in the coming years. (Weren't you just considering switching to a Mac? Or was it Linux?)
Therefore, this book is as operating system-inclusive as I could make it. Whenever possible, I recommended software that runs on Windows, Mac and Linux. Failing that, I included both Mac and Windows solutions. However, the platform listed on many of the hacks within is simply "Web," which applies to everyone.
Your Skill Level
Finally, if you're a power user worried this book will be too basic, or a beginner wondering if it's too technical, fear not. Each hack in this book has a user skill level rating: Easy Medium, or Advanced.
Easy: You are comfortable enough on your computer to get by, but that's it. You know how to browse the folders on your computer's hard drive to attach a document to an email message. You know there are lots of interesting tech tricks out there you wish you knew how to do, but you don't know where to start. You want the hacks labeled "Easy."
Medium: You've been using computers for some time now and you're comfortable putting together Excel formulas, downloading music, finding elusive information on Google, or helping your Grandpa get his email set up. Maybe you have your own blog, and you set up a wireless internet connection at home yourself. You should check out the hacks labeled "Medium" and "Easy."
Advanced: You're the family tech support geek, the one everyone calls when they're having a computer problem. You've survived a hard drive crash or two; maybe you administer a web site. You've delved into the deepest settings on your computer, like the Windows registry, or you've got experience at the command line—or at least feel confident you'd be able to teach yourself those things easily. Hacks marked "Easy" will be yawners to you; but the "Advanced" and "Medium" hacks will feed your head.
What the Heck is a "Lifehacker"?
Contrary to the popular misuse of the term to denote a computer criminal, a hacker is someone who solves a problem in a clever or non-obvious way. A life hack is a workaround or shortcut that overcomes the everyday difficulties of the modern worker. A lifehacker uses clever tech tricks to get her work done.
A Brief History of Life Hacks
In 2004, tech journalist Danny O'Brien interviewed several people he called "over-prolific alpha geeks"—skilled and highly productive technologists whose continuous output seemed unaffected by the constant disruptions of modern technology. O'Brien hoped to identify patterns in the way these productive techies managed their work processes. Commonalities did emerge, and the term life hacks was born.
The so-called alpha geeks had developed secret systems and tricks for getting through their daily drudgery. They used simple, flexible tools such as text files, email, and Unix command line scripts, and avoided bloated, complex software. They imposed their own structures on their information, and set up mechanisms that filtered and pushed the data they needed in front of their eyes at the right time automatically.
The life hacks concept resonated with geeks across the Internet, including the one typing these words. A movement was born. In January of 2005, I began writing Lifehacker.com, a daily weblog devoted to life hacks. Almost four years later, I have the privilege of sharing the best life hacks that came out of that work with you in these pages.
Bonus Material at LifehackerBook.com
Time flies, and technology moves fast. As I wrap up this manuscript in December of 2007, I fear that by the time it reaches you, tools I've described will have already morphed. Luckily, we have the internet.
At this book's companion web site, http://lifehackerbook.com, you'll find hack updates, additional information, and even tips and tricks that didn't make the final cut. Navigate directly to a single chapter's hack list by visiting http://lifehackerbook.com/ch1/. (Substitute the 1 for any chapter number you want.)
Just remember: on your deathbed, you'll never say, "I wish I'd checked my email more often!" With that in mind, go forth and start using tech to spend less time working and more time living.
Introduction to Upgrade Your Life
Chapter 1: Control Your Email
Chapter 2: Organize Your Data
Chapter 3: Trick Yourself into Getting Done
Chapter 4: Clear Your Mind
Chapter 5: Firewall Your Attention
Chapter 6: Streamline Common Jobs
Chapter 7: Automate Repetitive Tasks
Chapter 8: Get Your Data To Go
Chapter 9: Master the Web
Chapter 10: Hone Your Computer Survival Skills
Chapter 11: Manage Multiple Computers