Discover more from Understandably by Bill Murphy Jr.
I shave my head
10 simple crowd-sourced productivity ideas. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
I can draw a small circle much faster than a square.
I remember the day I realized this. Why? Because I switched from squares to circles on the 20 or 30 little check boxes I was drawing on my to-do lists. Replacing them saved about 1 second per circle.
So, figure 20 shapes a day, times 350 or so days: it works out to a couple of hours per year, at least in theory.
That realization got me thinking about other small frustrations I'd removed from my life. For example, I make my mornings marginally easier by wearing the same kinds of clothes almost every day.
(H/T to my dad, who advised me to do this long ago. Of course, I refused to follow this advice until I was nearly the same age he’d been when he first made the suggestion.)
Anyway, fewer frustrations lead to greater happiness (and productivity). So, I asked people to share the unusual things they do to make life a little less annoying, and to get more done. Here are some favorite replies.
(Got great ideas along a similar theme? Share them in the comments. Maybe we'll use them them in a future newsletter.)
1. I shave my head.
"I save about 46 hours per year by keeping my head shaved. I used to cut my hair twice a month. Factor in drive time to the barbershop, wait time, cut time, drive time back home, buying hair products, washing my hair, styling my hair and maintaining my hair throughout the day." (Meny Hoffman, Ptex Group)
2. I fixed my email in-box.
"Years of email overload, a clogged inbox, and a sense of inefficiency motivated me to get smarter ... What'd I do? Used Mailstrom to cut through 7.6k emails in my inbox and get me, no kidding, to empty." (James Gardner, Connective DX)
3. I cut the top off egg cartons.
"It used to be a mystery how many eggs were in my house. ... So I've started to rip the top half off before I store it in [the refrigerator]. I can see inside and always know ... if I need to buy more." (Sid Savara, technical product manager)
4. I spend more on postage.
"I was spending an inordinate amount of time at the post office, just so I could save $15 a month on a postage account. It has changed my day to be able to handle all my postage and shipping from my home office ... Completely worth the money!" (Elyse McNabb, NourishWithStyle)
5. I draft boilerplate emails.
"I provide my readers free email support … within 24 hours. Man, I had no clue how time-consuming this would become. [So], I created a Google Doc with 20 responses to common questions. I can copy/paste and then tailor the response. ... I'd say it probably cuts response time in half." (Chris, CutCableToday.com)
6. I got rid of light switches.
"I've replaced the light switches in my office with motion sensors. This way I don't have to think about which button I need to press for which set of lights. The lights just turn on when I enter the office, and I can get going with my day." (Adam Pedowitz, CCO, CHARFEN)
7. I carry a jump rope.
"I [used to] get upset because it seemed I did not have time to workout daily, until I started carrying my sneakers and jump rope (and even a Frisbee) with me to get fit on the go! It removes stress. It gets me moving. It helps me become one with nature and I don't have to stress over getting to the gym." (Vanessa Wade, Connect the Dots PR)
8. I eat the same breakfast every day.
"I drink a chocolate protein milkshake every single day for breakfast, and have been doing so for the last 5 years. … This ensures that I never miss breakfast." (Ashley Thompson, Dot & Bo)
9. I only meet at certain times.
"I schedule meetings first thing in the morning or straight after lunch to minimize time spent stopping and resuming a task. You'll be surprised how much frustration you avoid by saving yourself the hassle of finding the precise point you left off on a task and acquiring the same mindset as when you left the project." (Simon Slade, Doubledot Media)
10. I leave early.
"I used to be a harried, raving lunatic driving to appointments, screeching into the parking lot and running in the door at the last second. ... I now leave early. My life is so much better. I get to where I need to be in plenty of time, relaxed and ready to go." (Joanie Connell, Flexible Work Solutions)
I have a strong gut feeling today’s newsletter will prompt a lot of great comments. Give us your best simple, unsual, make-me-more-productive-and-happier hacks in the comments!
7 other things worth knowing today
The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward after four Americans who had just crossed the border into Mexico from Brownsville, Texas were kidnapped by armed gunmen. The Americans were apparently traveling in order to buy medicine, and authorities believe it was a case of mistaken identity. (CNN)
A Southwest Airlines flight from Havana to Florida was forced to make an emergency landing in Cuba after birds struck the plane's engine, and the cabin filled with smoke. Nobody was hurt, but it's fascinating to watch passengers snapping selfies and carrying their luggage down the emergency chutes. (BBC)
Emma Heming Willis made a plea Saturday to paparazzi who chase down her husband, Bruce Willis, who was recently diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia: I know this is your job, but ... please don't be yelling at my husband and asking him how he's doing or whatever ... just don't do it, OK? Give him his space, allow for our family—or whoever's with him that day—to be able to get him from point A to point B safely. That's my PSA." (LA Times)
Fighter pilots in an elite Israeli Air Force squadron have vowed not to attend training, in an unprecedented protest against the government. Nearly all of the 40 reservist pilots from 69th Squadron have refused to join a one-day training exercise this week, part of growing opposition to the ruling nationalist coalition's plans to overhaul the legal system. (BBC)
I quit my job as a math teacher to become a long-haul truck driver. The job is challenging and I miss my students, but I don't see myself going back anytime soon. (Business Insider)
Right out of World War II: A Czech company producing inflatable weapon decoys, including Himars rocket launchers and Abrams tanks, said Monday it had seen a spike in demand since the Russian invasion of Ukraine started last year. The synthetic silk decoys are used to fool the enemy in the battlefield, making them target the air-filled decoys instead of real weaponry. (AFP)
About $30 million dollars worth of Funko Pop! figures—those big-headed, vinyl pop-culture dolls—will soon make their way into the hands of a new collector: The garbage collector. Funko says that a combination of waning demand and a surplus of inventory is creating financial trouble for the company, and they no longer want to rent excess warehouse space just to hold it all. (CNN)