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Archive for Productivity:

Faster Visual Studio Attach to Process Debugging

Visual Studio's Attach to process is an alternative to the good ol' F5 which builds your solution and lets you debug it. However Attach to process can be made a little bit easier using a few helpful tricks.

First of all, we need to add an external tool to Visual Studio:

  1. Go to Tools->External Tools and press Add to create a new tool.
  2. Fill in these values in the correct field:

    Title: list w3wp
    Command: %windir%\system32\inetsrv\appcmd.exe
    Arguments: list wp

    Make sure "Use Output window" is checked and remember what order your tool has in the list, for instance 4th. Press Ok.

Add external tool in Visual Studio

Remember that your w3wp processes will be in Visual Studio's output window when using this tool!

Now we want easy access to our tool. Let's give it a shortcut command:

  1. Go to Tools->Options->Environment->Keyboard.
  2. In the Show command containing box, search for tools.external
  3. Find the correct  Tools.ExternalCommandX where X matches the order of your tool in the external tools list, for instance 4.
    Assign shortcut keys to your command and press Ok. I use Alt+E.

Assign shortcuts in Visual Studio

Next up, we need to use the helpful Visual Studio extension ReAttach. Download and install it. It helps us reattach to the same w3wp process over and over again :-) I've written about ReAttach and debugging before.

Finally, let's assign some shortcut commands to Attach to process and reattach:

Using the same technique as last time:

  1. Search for Debug.AttachtoProcess and assign Alt+W
  2. Search for Debug.ReAttach and assign Alt+Q

Now you can first find your correct process under Alt+E, then attach to it using Alt+W and finally reattach using Alt+Q.

Maybe you want different shortcuts, feel free to do it your way.

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Commuting and Keep Productivity Level High

Commuting is often a nail in the coffin for a lot of people. It doesn't have to be. Here's a number of suggestions how you can make the most of your commuting and improve productivity.

Read books

Reading is good. If you read during commuting, you might find the commuting nicer. You will get more time to spend at other activities than reading, when you're not commuting.

If you don't want to read, maybe you can listen to an e-book using your mp3 player. 

Important: make sure your book is in pocket form. Also, if you're reading, it might be a good idea listening to music at the same time, to filter out a lot of the noise that comes from trains, buses, other passengers et al.

Listen to podcasts

The Internet is full of great podcasts on all kind of subjects. Why not spend some time listening to your favourite podcast (radio) show?

Here's a list of great podcasts for web developers: Top 15 Podcasts All Web Developers Should Follow

Get in touch

How often do you get in touch with friends and family? During commuting, particularly when going home, it's the perfect time to get in touch. Just make a phone call or send some texts, it's really easy and the person on the other side might enjoy it more than you think!

Also, there's the possibility to get up to speed on what's happening in your Facebook feed or Twitter feed. Just use you smart phone or browse to m.facebook.com / mobile.twitter.com.

Write!

Prepare a blog post or organize your photos. This, of course, requires a laptop. But then again, many people do have a laptop these days. A laptop can certainly be seen as an investment if you don't have one yet!

It's also a good idea to invest in a mobile Internet device.

Sleep

If it's possible without you missing to get off at your station, sleep. This way you'll probably have a higher level of energy during the day. If you're able to sleep during commuting and stay up later at night when at home, you can save some time here.

Don't forget the ear-plugs or the mp3 player though!

Quick tips on meetings policy to become more productive at work

There's always a load of things that need your attention at work. Meetings are one of the single largest time consumers. Here are some quick tips on how you can be more productive during a work day by adjusting your agenda for meetings.

Reduce the number of meetings

Ask yourself if every meeting you're going to is that important. If no - try to say no thanks in a polite way to the meeting invitations. You'll probably get a chance to catch up on the important stuff communicated at the meeting anyway.

Reduce meeting time

Many meetings go beyond the schedule. What people probably don't know is there are great ways to reduce meeting time. How? Here's a simple list on how:

  • Cut down on the social activities during the meeting
  • Get to the point faster
  • Be clear

I'm by no means a fan of withdrawing social activities at work, in fact I support social activities - but not during meetings - there are better forums than meetings for social activities.

Also, if you work agile using scrum, then you might know how a sprint meeting works. A sprint meeting is the scrum way of doing these so called status meetings. Here's how a scrum meeting might work:

  • Meeting starts on time
  • Meeting starts at the same place at the same time every day
  • Meeting is short (5-10 minutes depending on the number of participants)

Schedule meetings smart

You can save time if you schedule meetings smart. The best way is if the meetings are adjacent to other events in your calendar. I've found out you get the most out of your work day if you schedule meetings like this:

  • Early in the day
  • At the end of the day
  • Right before or after lunch

Why is this? It's because you free up your time during the rest of the day.

The single best productivity tips one can give you, is you should concentrate at one thing at a time, meaning you should do one task enough of the time it takes to get the task done.

If you do a task in between two meetings and there's not enough time for the task, then you wish you would've scheduled the meetings differently. Remember - schedule smart and save time.

Bonus tip - the Warren Buffet method

Warren Buffet, the world's richest man, has a method when it comes to scheduling meetings. He doesn't schedule meetings more than a day in advance. We don't really know if this is true, but if it is, then I think it's an interesting way to do it!

Your way?

I'm also interested in what you do to keep you more productive at work. Do you attend many meetings or do you try to avoid them? How do you avoid the meetings? Please share your thoughts!

Take control of your life by reducing cable tv

Are you one of those who let your private time be ruled by what’s on television? Are you one of those who just doesn't seem to have enough time? Then, this might be something for you.

Television, a huge time consumer

We’re constantly bombarded by media and other attention seeking channels in our life. Everyone wants a piece of you. And the thing is – these channels receive your attention. At the cost of your precious time.

Television is a perfect example of one of these channels.

You surely can choose what channels you want to watch on television, but you very rarely can choose what you want to watch on those channels. Fact: others choose what you should watch. And they choose whether you should watch the movie, the tv episode, or the commercials.

If you think at it, you spend countless of hours watching stuff you don’t really care about. It is time for you to make a change.

What you can do is choose when to watch and what to watch.

Here’s what you can do instead of just watching what’s on television:

  • Record what you think is most interesting and do something else meanwhile. Watch what you’ve recorded when you have time.
  • Download episode of your favourite show. There are perfectly legal ways to download movies and tv shows.
  • Hire movies at your local movie rental store. These stores are sometimes hard to find because of the Internet, but they still exist.

This way, you get to decide when to watch your favourite movie or your favourite tv show. Plus you’ll probably be free of commercials, which is worth more than you actually think.

Also, you'll have more time on your hands, meaning you'll have more time to do the things you think are important.

Save time through more productive e-mail management

E-mail has become a communication form we can't live without. But e-mail is a killer for productivity - few can argue against that. Here are a few tips that will save you valuable time when dealing with your e-mails.

Don't check your e-mail first in the morning

Whatever you do, don't let your e-mail inbox decide what you should do first in the morning. When you arrive at the office, do your more important tasks first, then check your e-mail.

This will help you to focus on what is really important at the start of the day.

Turn off e-mail notifications

Outlook desktop alertTurn off e-mail notifications if you're serious about productivity. Those notifications will steal the focus from whatever you're doing - and most of the time you don't want that.

This way, you decide when it's time to check your e-mail, and new e-mails wont disturb you while you work on important stuff.

How to turn off e-mail notifications in Outlook 2007

  1. Go to Tools -> Options.
  2. Click E-mail Options, choose Advanced E-mail Options.
  3. Below When new items arrive in my Inbox, untick Display a New Mail Desktop Alert.
    I've unticked all boxes here for maximum control:
    Outlook settings for new Inbox items
  4. Choose Ok for all opened Outlook windows and you'll be fine.

Use e-mail rules

In Outlook, there's a neat function that lets you create e-mail rules, helping you to organize your inbox. You can configure e-mails from a specific person to arrive directly in a folder of your choice, you can directly filter e-mails with attachments, and much more.

I've found e-mail rules particularly good when used to file e-mails. You setup a set of rules and then e-mails are filed under any given folder, so you don't have to do the archiving yourself. Definitely a time saver.

In Outlook 2007, you can configure your e-mail rules under Tools -> Rules and Alerts.

How to setup a simple e-mail filing rule in Outlook 2007

This is how you configure a rule to automatically file e-mails from a specific person, under a specific folder (Outlook 2007).

  1. Go to Tools -> Rules and Alerts.
  2. Choose New Rule. Below Stay Organized, choose Move message from someone to a folder. Click Next.
  3. In the second box, click people or distribution list and choose a contact of your choice. Also, click specified to specify a folder where an e-mail from this contact should be archived. Click next.
    Outlook, setup an e-mail rule
  4. In this step, you'll have a chance to review the rule and change it if you like. Just click Finish when your done!

You'll see all your e-mail rules under Rules and alerts, where you also can manage all rules.

Shut down your e-mail client for a while

In order to be able to focus on any important task, the best way to do this is to shut down your e-mail client. Period.

You'll get more done, I promise you. If you want to send an e-mail, just write this e-mail in Notepad and save it until later. Just keep your e-mail client shut down for a while.

You might also want to consider scheduling your e-mail time, maybe check the e-mail in the morning and in the afternoon. Then you can focus on work in between. And remember - don't check your e-mail the first thing you do in the morning!

Keep it simple

Remember, keep your e-mails simple and to the point. This will not only help you, but your contacts too.

Good e-mail management will help you save time. In the end, you'll get to focus on more important things than e-mail at work and in life.

5 simple steps to increase your productivity

To be able to focus on what matters the most to you, you can follow a couple of steps that will help you savw time you can spend on what you think is important. Here are five simple steps that will increase your overall productivity.

  1. Use a bike

    A bike will save you time. Cycling helps you stay fit and healthy. Plus it's environment friendly. A decent bike may not cost more than tickets worthy of 2-3 months of commuting. Saving 20 minutes a day by cycling instead of walking will mean you save 8 hours per month if you use your bike 6 days per week. Don't forget to wear a helmet!
  2. Always put your gear at the same place

    By always putting your gear at the same place, you won't spend time looking for the gear. You'll instantly know where your gear is and how to get it. Plan where you put accessories like cell phone and wallet. What pocket in your bag? A drawer at work? Know your gear and save time!
  3. Remove unnecessary stuff in your home

    The more stuff you have at home, the more time you'll have to spend on cleaning and managing all your stuff. This includes furniture, pillows, carpets and similar. By removing the stuff you actually don't need, you will lessen your burden. If you have too much stuff to handle, sell it or give it to charity.
  4. Buy quality over quantity

    Buying quality probably means more planning and saving money beforehand, but when you've decided for a particular thing to buy, you will certainly not be disappointed. A quality product does its job, works in a way you expect it to work and just fits in. If you buy quantity you'll have to buy more often and you'll have to take care of the stuff you buy. Where should you put all your stuff? What should you do with the old stuff?
    Quality products last longer, helping you to focus on what's more important for you.
  5. Hire professionals to do it for you

    Instead of doing it yourself, you should hire professionals to do craftsmen's work for you. Craftsmen's work might be painting your house, fix your bike, clean your windows and so on. They will do it better and faster than you.
    Hiring professionals requires money though. If you don't want to spend all your money on professionals, maybe you know a friend who's a professional and might be able to help you? Maybe you're good at something and can exchange services with your friend? This way, you can build a relationship that will have a positive impact on your productivity and life.
    Remember though, it might be better to invest in a professional who's not your friend, than loosing a friend over some lousy conflict.

By following these steps, I promise you'll have more time to do what you think is more important to you. You'll be able to focus on what really matters to you.

Maybe you also have a tip to share for increasing overall productivity?

Thanks to Productivity501 and Unclutterer for inspiring this blog post. You truly rock!

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