I was asked by a co-worker the other day what I would recommend to improve productivity. I'm by no means an expert in this field, but here are a few things I recommend to everyone to increase their effectiveness.
The Mouse Is Evil
Using that little pointing device is the single biggest loss for productivity. Avoid using it at ALL costs. - Bye-bye start menu. Quick launch bars and application docks are a waste of time. Use one of the many application launching tools out there instead. No more searching for buttons or menus to launch the app you need.
Tools are your Friend
Choose your tools. Make a concious choice for what tools you're using and why. Don't just use notepad for coding because it's the default text editor on your PC. Acknowledge what features you NEED to be productive and either find, buy, or build the tool yourself. I'm still waiting for someone to convince me that a Mac will make me more productive so I can pick up a shiny new toy! =)
Know your tools inside and out. Just knowing a few keyboard shortcuts can give you huge lift in the productivity department. (Ctrl+S = Saves Time)
Distractions are the Devil
There are lots of articles that talk about how important it is to get into "the flow". Here are a few steps I've taken to help me focus more on the task at hand.
Turn off all MS Outlook notifications, beeps, and popups. Seriously, they're just as annoying as Clippy.
Launch gmail and google reader as a separate window. This has been absolutely HUGE for me lately. As much as I love firefox tabs, they are my number one source of distractions right now. Instead of focusing on the task/tab at hand, my eyes constantly wander to the other tabs and see "Oh, I have an unread message! I better check it RIGHT NOW!". Prism is a godsendthat allows me to 1) launch gmail in a lightweight process outside of my main firefox window 2) provide desktop shortcut that can be integrated with my application launcher (see above)
Make a CONCIOUS decision to check messages/rss/etc and do it as infrequently as possible. Don't just flip over to email every time a 10 second code compilation kicks in.
One of my new years resolutions was to increase my organization and productivity, so I'd love to hear tips from others on how they stay focused on "Kicking Ass" in their work.