This article was published on April 16, 2012

13 Simple ways to stay efficient while you work

13 Simple ways to stay efficient while you work
Harrison Weber
Story by

Harrison Weber

Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email. Harrison Weber is TNW's Features Editor in NYC. Part writer, part designer. Stay in touch: Twitter @harrisonweber, Google+ and Email.

In a constantly digital life, optimizing your workflow is one of the easiest and most effective ways to bolster your productivity. Plus, finding new ways to complete old tasks can help you pull yourself out of a rut while saving tons of precious time.

Sometimes the littlest of changes can have a tremendous impact on how you do your job, so look below for 13 simple ways to stay efficient while you work:

Stay at inbox zero

As TNW’s managing editor Brad McCarty wrote, emails are the lifeblood of most businesses, but they’re also a nightmare to manage. Different management techniques work for everyone, but we found that these 7 steps towards inbox zero are exactly what many people need to take back control of their email.

➤ How to get to inbox zero every day


Share screenshots & files

CloudApp lets you instantly upload screenshots as you take them for easy sharing. It may not sound like much, but this app makes it so much easier to share images with team members. Plus, you can drag any image or file to the app’s icon and a sharable link will automatically be copied to your clipboard (aka: everything you never knew you always wanted).

➤ CloudApp


Manage social media

If staying social is an important part of your job, keeping track of every account can become an overwhelming hassle. This is especially true if you need to separate your work life from your personal, social life.

Managing all your social media accounts at once with the rather well-known Hootsuite is, from my experience, the best option around. But if you’re running a full-on social media campaign, you’ll want to take a look at these 50 free social media tools you can’t live without.

➤ Hootsuite & 50 free social media tools


Write, distraction-free

If you find yourself easily distracted while writing something out, there’s a special breed of app out there that can solve this very problem. WriteRoom and iA Writer are both excellent choices for isolating yourself with just words, but Ommwriter is my personal favorite due to its built-in audio options.

➤ WriteRoomOmmwriter & iA Writer


Put your music on autopilot

I’m a huge music lover, but over the past few months I’ve had less and less time to discover new music to listen to. This means I have, essentially, been listening to the same songs over and over again.

To solve this problem, I use Songza to get me going immediately with music tailored to the time of day and activities I’m doing. You can read more via our review of Songza here.

➤ Songza



Fantastical is a calendar app that lives right on your Mac’s menu bar. It integrates into iCal and Google Docs, making it one of the fastest ways to bring your schedule together in one place. Best of all, the app it takes up very little space, making it handy for smaller screens.

➤ Fantastical



There are hundreds of to-do apps out there, and many are worth a mention. My absolute favorites are Clear, which is available on the iPhone, Teux Deux, which is a web and iPhone app, and most importantly, any simple text editor which you’ll find on nearly every PC, tablet and smartphone you pick up.

➤ ClearTeux Deux



Described by some as a duct tape for the Internet, IFTTT allows you to program the Web to work for you by creating tasks. If, for instance, someone posts a photo of you to Flickr, you can have a text message sent to you.

If you have yet to try IFTTT, hop over to the site and see what recipes you can find. The possibilities are nearly endless, and it’s amazing to see what people have concocted so far.



Consider your workspace

No matter if you work from home or have an outside office, there’s nothing worse than a terrible work environment. Optimizing your workspace can make a world of difference in your life; helping you pull yourself out of a rut while saving tons of precious time.

➤ 9 Ways to create an efficient work environment


Find your sweet spot

Sometimes getting up early really is the secret to success. I’ve never been a morning person, but every time I wake up earlier than I have to, I get more work done ahead of time and am extra efficient throughout the day. I find this especially true since it often takes me half an hour or so to fully wake up.

For all you freelancing night owls out there, if working through the night works for you, then go for it. Sometimes people really like the silence and solitude of a late night work schedule (especially programmers, I’ve found). Not matter what, find your sweet spot and use that to your advantage.


Never get too comfortable

TNW co-founder Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten believes that it’s never wise to get too comfortable — this is especially true for entrepreneurs and really anyone working in the startup space. Because of this, he’s been taking cold showers every morning…Yes it sounds crazy, and no I don’t do it often, but it’s honestly quite energizing.

In his own words, here’s why he does it:

There are several reasons why taking a cold shower is good for you. Something about your blood circulation, skin health and even testosterone levels. And although those are nice side effects I do it for another reason.

The reason I take a cold shower is to remind myself that my goal in life as an entrepreneur is not to get comfortable. My goal is to succeed in whatever I want to succeed in. If that means getting uncomfortable so be it.


Take a break

Whether it’s for a quick lunch or a 2 minute stretch, sometimes stepping away from your desk is all you need to do to boost productivity. Little breaks can help you get back to work with more energy than you had before, making your brief pause truly worthwhile.


What do you do to stay efficient? Share your recommendations for what works and what doesn’t in the comments below!

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