Working Smarter: 5 Time-Saving Ideas

Tom Pearson, Product Marketing Manager

The old adage “work smarter, not harder” might be creeping closer and closer to cliché status, but when you need to get a lot of things done in a short amount of time, there are an amazing number of tips, tricks and techniques out there to beat those pesky deadlines. Here are five of my favorites:

Mise En Place

Mise en place, a French phrase for “putting in place,” is standard practice in most professional kitchens where ingredients are prepared and organized ahead of time (think of a cooking show with all of their items pre-peeled and chopped). However, this philosophy can also apply to your work life, not just in the kitchen. For example, if I know I want to knock out an editing job first thing in the morning, I’ll spend 15 minutes before I leave my office the previous day bookmarking the web pages I’ll need, printing out versions of the project and setting up a quick list of tasks. This little bit of mise en place the night before lets me hit the ground running in the morning.

Belvedere is always a great source for ways to work smarter. Belvedere is a great application built by Lifehacker Editor-in-Chief Adam Pash that will automatically move files on your computer. Using Belvedere, you can set a series of rules and keep your computer organized and in peak fighting condition. For example, you can set up a rule that says that if a file is older than two months it should be automatically be moved to an archive folder. Or a rule that says any Microsoft Word file stored on your desktop should be moved to a “Documents” folder.  If you have found that your desktop is getting a bit unruly and you can never seem to find a file when you need it most, Belvedere may be the perfect solution.

Pomodoro Method

Don’t worry—it’s not another cooking technique. The Pomodoro Method is a time management method developed by university student Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. Named after the tomato-shaped timer (pomodoro is Italian for tomato), the Pomodoro method calls for intensive, 25-minute work sessions followed by a five-minute break. Used consistently, the method fosters focus and can be helpful when you need to guard against distractions and procrastination.


Much to my colleagues’ chagrin, I tend to record a lot of meetings and conversations. If you’re like me and need your notes in audio form, DropVox is an application you should check out. What I love about this app is that it just does one thing: records audio right into your Dropbox folder. So when you need to capture important information during a meeting or conversation, just hit the DropVox icon on your phone, press record, and capture everything that’s said so you can sort through it back at your computer.


To-do lists are a staple of any sort of productivity improvement plan, and while many prefer the trusty pad-and-pen approach, there are tons of mobile apps that are worth investigating. So far, Clear for the iPhone is my favorite. The interface is simple and easy to read. Creating a list item is easy and you can quickly add, remove, sort or check off items, which are arranged in order of importance from top to bottom. Items are also color-coded—dark red for the top of your to-do list and fading to yellow toward the bottom.  Genius!


Video Conferencing – Simplified

At LifeSize, our passion for simplicity is unrivaled. For too long, video conferencing has been complex and headache-inducing for IT administrators and users alike. In the spirit of the tools and techniques in this post, we aimed to solve that problem with LifeSize Icon Series. Today, we are proud to announce that the Smart Video™ experience is now even more intuitive with updates to LifeSize Icon Series software. Check out LifeSize Icon Series for a truly frustration-free video experience that will help you work smarter.

Learn more about the Smart Video experience

Read an in-depth evaluation on LifeSize Icon Series by Frost and Sullivan analyst, Rob Arnold

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