Win a 23" LG Monitor: What's Your Best Lifehack Tip?

It’s never been a secret that I’m a bit of a GTD nerd, and since working from home, have tried to tweak my home office to be as welcoming as possible.

lg_monitor

So recently, when LG offered to send me a 23″ W53 monitor to review AND one to give away to readers, I couldn’t resist saying yes. I’ll be reviewing it soon, but first impressions are excellent and it has taken prime spot on my desk (replacing a Samsung 24″ I’d only bought in January).

How to win the monitor

I’m keeping the competition nice and simple, so that it only takes you a minute to take part: Tell me about your best office or life hack. Whether at home or when sharing an office with others, we each have our own way of making our working life slightly more comfortable/enjoyable, so tell me what your tricks are. I’ve published a few tips of my own before, and would love to hear yours.

Leave a comment with your own tip by August 4th, and you’ll be in with a chance of getting a brand new LG W2353V monitor (retailing at about £149) delivered to your door in a few weeks. This competition is now closed, but feel free to leave more interesting tips and tricks. Maybe I’ll give you a cookie.

So go on, let’s hear it!

Terms of the competition

  1. The competition is open to anyone on the UK mainland. Sorry to my other readers, I promise the next competition will be open to everyone! I think as long as you don’t live in Alaska, we might be able to sway the PR agency to ship to you so give it a try 🙂
  2. You can take part as many times as you like, so three comments will mean three entries. However, I reserve the right to scrap your entry if you’re obviously just trying to make up numbers.
  3. The competition runs until August 4th at 11:59pm UK time, so as long as your comment is timestamped before then, your entry counts, even if it’s in the moderation queue until morning. I’ll announce the winner shortly thereafter.

41 responses to “Win a 23" LG Monitor: What's Your Best Lifehack Tip?

  1. Daniel Hunt

    Synergy – http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/
    If you have multiple machines, or even just multiple monitors on 1 machine this app is an absolute godsend. With multiple machines you can use 1 keyboard/mouse on a host machine to quickly and easily use or just maintain all of your boxes.

    If you have multiple monitors you can set it up so your mouse wraps around your screens. I ❤ it 😀

  2. I have my Rock Band drumkit set up in one corner, and a PS3 sitting on the filing cabinets. And while it sounds strange, a quick one-song blast does seem to clear out my thinking tubes.

    Obviously, this only works if you’re a home-worker (although I think Richard Desmond has a proper drumkit in his office at the Express…)

  3. I use Email Autoresponders to inform people of several things… Mostly that I will only read emails at certain times of day(830, 11, 2.30, 5)… and I also link to FAQ pages. It cuts down massively on traffic… and helps streamline processes.

  4. If you wanna defrost chicken [eg: for curry] really quickly stick it in a bowl of cold water and let the tap run in it.

  5. I use Elance to outsource all non essential repatative tasks which I could do, but where it would be more profitable for me to do other things..

    http://www.Elance.com (other VA sites are available).

  6. Alex

    On my Windows computers, I use Launchy (http://www.launchy.net/) to start all my apps & call up my frequently folders – I’ve rarely had to go through the Start Menu since I installed it. Google Desktop Search (http://desktop.google.com/) works equally well, and of course Macs have got the joy of Spotlight…

  7. Max

    Take photographs of everything you own and stick them on Flickr or similar – set them to only privately visible if that’s your preference. If you’re ever burgled you’ll greatly appreciate knowing exactly what DVDs you owned, and being in possession of proof of your particular models of TV, DVD recorder and so on for the insurance company. In years gone by the advice was to use up the end of holiday rolls of film by taking these pictures but in the digital age it’s cheaper and easier. Even if you’re not actually insured it can be useful to have a list for the police.

  8. On any job, write it down so that everyone is on the same page, make sure you get a downpayment, and make sure you pad your time estimates by 30%. Because you’re really not THAT fast.

  9. If you have made a mistake then try to find a way so that mistake will never happen again. Don’t let any problem that happened in the past disturb your present feelings.

  10. This hack is all about work life balance and taking breaks.

    Get a cat. It’s probably the best stress reliever in the world. Basically it is a catalyst for taking breaks.

    Everyone knows that taking frequent breaks is an important part of the routine. Taking a 5 minute break to stroke the cat is a great way of relaxing. If you’re lucky you’ll be rewarded with a purring response. You can also talk to the cat without getting sarcastic or catty comments thrown back at you.

    Note: some cats tend to wander off for much of the day. However a well trained cat knows when you need a break and will appear at the appropriate moment (or if you haven’t fed it for a while). Exceptionally well trained cats appear to have psychic abilities and know you need a break even before you do – this type of cat will come and sit on your mouse / keyboard / pile of important papers. If you ignore this behaviour the cat will start chewing on wires – that can be very catastrophic…

    If I’m having a bad day, nothing beats taking the cat for a walk.
    Note: not all cats like going for walkies, so your results may vary.

    The best thing is that a cat is that it is also good for the non-work side of your life (getting a cat is a bit like getting a ‘buy one, get one free’ deal at the super market in this respect).

    Over the years I’ve noticed there’s a strong correlation between cat owners and bloggers – co-incidence? I think not…

  11. Keep it up guys, these are brilliant 🙂

  12. I find it helps to be able to switch my computer between a “work mode” and a “tinkering around” mode. At home, this means I’ve got a laptop which, when unplugged, I can use in the sitting room as a news-reading, Twitter-checking, and otherwise around-messing machine; I can also pop it on a desk in the study, connect up an external keyboard and mouse, and use it for getting my head down on proper projects. When I actually do this, I find it helps shift my brain away from distractions and into getting things done.

    In a similar vein, I find having work-related activities (IDE, TextMate, testing browser windows) and distraction activities (Adium, NetNewsWire, Twitterific) on separate Spaces. There’s a few hitches in this when, for instance, Safari is used both for work and distraction, but in general it works for me.

    Of course, if you just spend all your work time mucking around on Twitter (*cough*socialmediaconsultant*cough*), then the latter strategy doesn’t work so well.

  13. Get a whiteboard and write out a calender with all the stuff you’re planning to do. When you’ve got deadlines, it helps to be able to cross things out with big gigantic X. Gives you much more incentive to finish stuff. Plus I love being able to just draw out and scribble within an overview of the next three weeks, which you just can’t achieve in digital version.

  14. With any piece of work think about what needs to be done before you start doing it. If you stop and think through how something should be done, then you’ll be motivated (since your brain will like the fact there’s a clear pathway) and execute it well, rather than fumbling through it.

    If I’m working from home the above usually involves laying on my sofa with eyes closed and stepping through the problem. Once the issue and solution is understood, implementing it is usually fast and enjoyable.

  15. Try to be as productive as possible during “working hours” so that your mind will allow you to switch off in down times. If you steam roll 100% of the time, you just feel burnt out which affects your overall productivity.

    Also, avoid buying a new HDTV and Sky+ HD with the movies subscription – Affects productivity terribly.

  16. I used to use a program that would only let me use on application at a time… the theory being a lot of creative and entrepreneur types have low attentiosn spans… and it has been proven flicking between applications (especially email) reduces efficiency massively…

    There are lots out there and its a really good way to train yourself up to be more efficient in time management and workflows.

  17. I still use an noline task manager… reorganising helps me me see a clear path occasionally… but when push comes to shove… I have THE LIST… IN MY POCKET

    I fold a piece of A4 into 1/4 of its size and write down the three major tasks I need to achieve for the day(and occasionally 2 minor)onto 1 quadrant.

    Anymore, and it becomes unmaanageble, and it doesnt fit on the paper.

    Its always with me, and has material value… and so subconciously holds more importance… And I make sure its reallt is with me all the time. Simple, quick, and a really good way to break down tasks into managemble chunks.

  18. Matt T

    As a programmer (developer, software engineer whatever you call it) I find the best way to get stuff done is to DISCONNECT FROM THE INTERNET for a while. Being online has lots of good points but often it can be a major distraction. I had a problem with my wireless card in my laptop once and I actually wrote some code at home! Of course once the problem was fixed it was back to surfing and good old flash games…

    Not sure how popular that suggestion will be with you Vero but it works for me!

  19. Zoe

    Someone always has to put up a dull one – and today, it’s going to be me.

    We all know it’s important to take breaks, but there multiple reasons why. Several of them are physiological. That’s right – body stuff, not about the brain at all.

    Take your hands. They’re not really designed for typing, or using a mouse. (What other activity can you even think of that involves sustained, co-ordinated poking at something with multiple fingers simultaneously? And stop giggling, it’s a serious question.) Using your hands to type uses muscles in a crazy way, but it doesn’t damage them. What WILL damage them, though, is doing it incessantly.

    Imagine your arm/hand muscles & tendons like a thick rubber band. For every minute you type, imagine that rubber band getting stretched a little bit more taught. The band is fine for the first little while, but at some point, the rubber is going to start to tear. The first tears are invisible, you don’t even notice them. The next few can just be seen. Then – SNAP!

    Your wrist is never going to snap off. BUT once you’ve banjaxed those muscles, that’s basically it – you’ve got yourself the Yuppie Hand Flu, aka RSI, and from here on, you’re Managing Your Condition. I should know – I’ve done it myself.

    So you don’t want to pull the rubber band too tight. You want it to relax back into it’s natural shape now and then, so you can start stretching it from fresh. This can be achieved by TAKING YOUR DAMN HANDS OFF THE KEYBOARD.

    And while you’re at it, move your eyes. Look at a window or something, reset your focal distance. Maybe fend of glasses for another couple of years.

    I use a free little program called work break timer to remind me when to rest my hands: http://bit.ly/elF4v. You can set the times to whatever you like, but I keep it set to the classic ratio: 10 mins work, 2 mins not-work, on a cycle of 5 (making up an hour) (http://bit.ly/2JJ5SK). You’d be amazed at how productive this work pattern is just by itself! But if you can stand NOT updating your facebook page in the not-work period, you’ll get the double-benefit of not destroying the part of your body that does the most productive work.

    Work break timer is great for day-to-day productivity, which I love, but resting your hands is about staying productive long-term. Your 60-year-old future self will thank you.

  20. I’m loving some of these comments… and Zoe has a good point… I’m trying to implement more of these into my daily life where i can!

    I have another.Most of mine make me look like I don’t want to do work!! In a way its true. I’d rather spend a short while setting something up that will run and run… and reduce workload long term. It gives me more time to do non-repetitive things, normally more important too.

    So. Along that vein. I’ve said about autoresponders.. and if you hadn’t guessed I use Google a lot (yahoo do similar)…but I also used their canned responses a lot. They can be quickly linked to autoresponders in Google, as well as used independently.

    They include standard emails I can send to narky clients, the girlfriend, nice people and all sorts of other people I regularly send similar emails too… In fact the one to My girlfriend rarely changes(it just shows, she doesn’t listen to, or read anything i say or write).

    If you spend half hour just working out your typical workflows and what is repetitive, you can work this into your workflow (even using outlook) and dramatically reduce workload. It saved me well over an hour a day.

    Give it a go!

  21. Ooh. And while I’m on a flow.(i’d been writing an article on this a while ago… (I’ll spare you the details and the blog link!)

    http://Su.Pr

    I use this to update twitter and facebook. It allows really good tracking of Stubmleupon, twitter and FB clicks, works out the best times of day for you to tweet and get the best response…it even tracks re-tweets and lets you schedule tweets for later in the day when they will be more effective!

  22. Max

    Post-it notes are a great resource for planning and keeping track of what’s what.

    Preserve your post-it note’s longevity by taking care when peeling them off the block. The natural instinctive way to peel is to grab the bottom and quickly tear off the top one. A better way is to slowly peel from the side rather than the bottom. This leaves the post-it note largely flat and it will adhere to surfaces better than one rapidly peel from the bottom. The latter type tend to curl at the point where the adhesive ends and they won’t stick to things flush with the surface. This means more chance of objects or breezes removing them, and is clearly sub-optimal. A second’s extra care will preserve your note in its position for much longer.

  23. Once upon a time when designing websites… I used to use postits too…

    If you are working with a client who is dead fussy about positioning, text, and images all working together and they keep changing thier mind, there a solution tohelp them make up their mind!

    I used to have an ‘outline’ of a webpage on a4 or a3 and sketch or print(like labels) out individual elements on white post-its. I’d put them where I though things should sit… and we would work though it over a cup of coffee…

    It’s ace. It gives the client the sense of involvement and ownership whilst allowing you explain why hings work best!

  24. Jo B

    Know its a simple one but the biggest tip i have found helpful is save your PC work often and I mean often.
    you use the computer at home or at work, and you’re typing or entering data, etc. be sure to keep saving your work at least every 10-15 minutes.
    If your computer freezes up, you will have kept most of your work, and you won’t waste time having to do everything all over again and you wont be screaming and bald!

  25. Jo B

    A clear desk, comfortable seating, good lighting and a place for everything is key to getting stuff done efficiently and more speedily.

  26. Jo B

    I learnt this yonks ago RAFT Manage your paperwork well. As soon as it touches your hands Read, Act, File or Toss it. Touch it once only.

  27. MrJaba

    1) Turn off email. Even if it’s only for half an hour. You can’t concentrate with the constant distractions of it. Especially if you have a notifier.

    2) Get out of the house, occasionally you just need to go for a walk to let your head clear and let the creative juices flow. This is especially important if you’re stuck on a problem. Don’t sit and bang your head against the wall, go for a walk and the answer will come.

    3) Have a defined work space so you can leave it at the end of the day, and don’t, I repeat *dont* go back in there until it’s work hours again.

    4) If you can’t concentrate because of distractions, client etc. Go to a local coffee shop and find somewhere quiet you can work. One without internet access is preferable.

    5) Check out http://www.mentallion.com/ they have some interesting sounds that help me concentrate and focus the mind on the task at hand.

    6) Remember, work is supposed to be fun, if it ain’t… find a new job!

  28. MrJaba

    Oh and one other I forgot:

    7) Create an exoself. Basically it’s a braindump of all the useful information that you might need on a day to day basis, but there is too much to keep stored in your brain all at once. Try something like evernote or yojimbo and keep it all in there where it’s indexed and searchable rather than taking up valuable brain space. Remember that your short term memory can only hold very few items, so committing it to paper is the best way of storing it; repeated access will commit it to long term memory.

  29. It’s a very simple, but often overlooked: drink a big glass of water first thing in the morning after getting up. Your body dehydrates significantly during the night and your brain especially so. The best way to prepare yourself for work or play is a clear head, and rehydrating your brain is key.

  30. I have to use Outlook at work. Xobni (http://www.xobni.com/) makes managing my email immeasurably easier.

    Launchy (http://www.launchy.net/) saves me seconds with every app launch whether at work or home, as I’m a keyboard freak.

    Bulk Rename Utility (http://www.bulkrenameutility.co.uk/) is invaluable for filename management of MP3s and holiday photos. Great renaming flexibility and preview.

  31. Coffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  32. This one’s really boring. Plus you’ve heard it all before. It’s about backups.

    No matter how much we read about the importance of backups, we never seem to do it. I have vast amounts of audio recordings on my main system and nearly losing it on one occasion taught me that it’s really worth keeping a backup of important data. Applications and the OS are less important – you can always reinstall them – but lost data is lost.

    Today, hard drives are cheaper than ever before. As a result I can do the following, and you might like to consider doing the same:

    1. Keep your important data on a separate, external storage system. This might be NAS or directly attached. In my case, it’s the latter (via FireWire 800; USB 2 would do fine too)

    2. Make that external storage a RAID 1 array. RAID 1 is where you have two drives and everything you write to one is written to the other. A good RAID 1 system will have two SATA drive bays allowing hot-swapping of drives, and will continually monitor drive health, telling you if there’s a problem. If a drive goes down, you can install another one. In my case, the RAID array and a pair of 1.5TB SATA drives came to around £400. Note that most RAID systems will also do RAID 0. This makes the two drives into a single virtual drive with twice the space. That is NOT a backup and there is no need to use RAID 0 these days, in my view.

    3. Back up the RAID system. I have a pair of 1TB external drives (also FireWire 800 in my case). Once a week, EMC Retrospect runs automatically and backs up the RAID array to one of the drives (it has compression so takes up less space than the source). When done, I take that drive off-site. The next week, Retrospect backs up to the second external drive. Then that gets swapped with the first. And so on. So one weekly backup is always off-site.

    Total cost of this solution was about £600. My data is worth a great deal than that, and I bet yours is too.

  33. Oh, and while we’re at it, get an electricity consumption monitor. I got one three months ago and it makes you incredibly conscious of how much electricity (ie money) you use. I use the Owl CM119, at under £35 – info here: http://www.electricity-monitor.com/wireless-energy-monitors-c-37.html

    In my case there is a little wireless box that clips on to the incoming power cable at the meter. That transmits data to a remote monitor that stays in the living room. It enables me to see how much electrical power the house is using, both minute by minute and cumulatively in kWh. It can also be configured to tell you how much you are spending minute by minute, which makes you even more conscious.

    It’s been running for a few months and now I have a pretty good idea of what the “background” in the house (fridge and freezer mainly) is, and am alert if it’s higher than that. I can see when a laptop power supply has been left on and is charging an already-full battery. I can also see if lights in the kitchen or bathroom have been left on (everywhere else has low-energy bulbs which are harder to notice on the meter as they take so little energy).

    If I’m downstairs and I’ve left one of the main computers on upstairs I can see that straight away and consider whether or not it really needs to be running.

    I recently received the electricity bill and my provider (Ecotricity, also recommended) kindly gives me comparisons with the previous period and the same period last year. My expenditure is down significantly and at least part of that is simply the result of becoming more aware of energy usage.

  34. Gavin

    I’m on a massive health kick… and i’m knakered! So when I inevitably sleep though my alarm i frequentl dont have time to make my porridge.

    The solution.

    Every 2 weeks I make the MOTHER of all batches and and freeze it in individual tuppaware boxes.

    Presto. A box to heat and eat on the run… drag with you to the office! Killer time and effort saver!

  35. Gavin

    Was just reading V’s post on home office productivity (http://www.thatcanadiangirl.co.uk/blog/2009/01/22/10-ways-to-improve-your-home-office-productivity/) which I thought was ace. It made me realise another hack I have taken to using recently.

    Graze.com Time is precious, and about the only thing i cant get back (other than my modesty after the last big night out in Bristol – Blush)… and eating, despite my love of it, sometimes gets in the way.

    I habitually pick up the post when it arrives to see if im pennies richer or poorer… and now I get a wholesome snack to sit close at hand.

    Laziness. Maybe. Time Saver. 5-10 mins a day Time saving + lack of flow interuption.

    Am sure other people other than graze do this kind of thing!

    g

  36. Gavin

    I read V’s post on Home Office tips earlier today. Really useful. and a bit different! (www.thatcanadiangirl.co.uk/blog/2009/01/22/10-ways-to-improve-your-home-office-productivity)

    It made me realise that I started doing somthing which saves me 10 mins a day, plus keeps me in ‘the flow’.

    Thats almost an hour a week + the ammount of time it takes me to get back into whatever i was doing!

    I have snacks delivered by Graze.com at the moment (my local deli do it too) which are cheap. They arrive with my post, every day. SO, its a healthy snack, at hand, and I dont have to get up and interrupt myself when i get a bit peckish(which I do a lot!).

  37. Long time reader, second time commenter (and the first time was on a competition too – it’s funny how competitions bring out the commenters, eh?).

    I’ve been working at home for the last month, so what I’m going to talk about are the things that have helped me focus and get down to work. Obviously these may not be of use to everyone, but hopefully they’ll be handy to someone.

    Since you’re going to be at your desk for a good portion of your day every day, it makes sense to buy something that’s going to be good for you and good for your back. The thing to look out for here (especially if you’re on the heavier side like me), is that the chair you buy conforms to BS 5459 Part 2 – basically what this means is that it’s been certified for 24 hour use for operators up to 150Kg in weight. Most chairs you’ll find on the consumer market only conform to BS EN 1335, which only covers 8 hours a day of use for operators up to 110Kg. Given the amount of time you’ll be using the chair, it’s best to go for the best you can find. Unfortunately, most online stores don’t specify which standards their chairs adhere to, leaving you needing to search for “24 hour chairs or similar”.

    I’ve also made sure I have secondary “comfortable” seating in the office for those times when I want to get out of the office chair and read or watch a TV show. For me, this is a Sumo Gamer “beanbag”. I tend to spend some time in this each day, and it helps to break the monotony of sitting staring at a screen every day.

    Speaking of the screen, since you’re going to be staring at this all day every day it makes sense to get the biggest and the best you can afford. I went for the Dell Ultrasharp 2408WFP 24″, which has more connectors on the back than I could throw a stick at, and looks gorgeous. If I had the money for a second monitor (or Vero’s magical hat chooses me to win the LG she’s giving away) then I’d buy myself a Matrox DualHead2Go to allow my MacBook Pro to power multiple screens. Basically, the more screen real estate the better in my book.

    On the computer itself, I love the idea of Virtual Desktops. On my Mac I have three set up – one for my browsers and virtual machines, one for writing code in, and one for communications. This helps me to stay focused on one task at a time, and not get distracted by people chatting on IRC or twitter, which is nice. I also have AntiRSI installed both as a way of making sure I don’t get RSI but also as a reward system to myself – if AntiRSI decides I’ve been typing enough that I deserve to take a break, then that’s great and makes me feel happy, and I take a break.

    The final thing I have to have in the office I work in is some sort of Whiteboard. Currently, I’m using Magic Whiteboard (I’ve been using them since before they were on Dragons’ Den), which is great because it comes on a roll and uses static to attach to the wall, so I can easily put it up and take it down. Obviously, I’d prefer a proper permanent whiteboard, but living in a rented house precludes that, so I have to make do with what I have. Being able to swivel on my chair and make quick and easy notes with a marker pen is vital for me though – I really don’t know how I got on without it.

    And that’s about all I have to say for now. If you’re really interested in my setup though you can view the video.

  38. Rob

    The most amazing way I’ve found recently is to use Pivotal Tracker (www.pivotaltracker.com) to organise my daily (and work) life. Chuck everything you want to do in the icebox and drag them over when you’re going to work on them.

    It works for chores, goals, work stuff…any stuff really. Super way of clearing your mind and organising your work.

  39. In the evening I always select and set out the clothes I’m going to wear the next day. If I know I’m going to be out, errr, socialising in the evening and not to be in state to do that later I do it as one of the steps of getting ready to go out.

    I find that I often have to get up early, or have other things to do (breakfast), or have “difficulties” due to the aforementioned previous-night’s socialising. Not having to think about finding socks or underwear or the right shirt in that morning fug makes my start much smoother.

  40. Gavin

    Genius. Of out in minute and am so laying my clothes out!

    My new flatmate is a creature of habbit. I’ve picked up one of his traits. Internet shopping every week. Same Shopping list. Same food. we make an additional list (pinned by the front door as we are normally running out somewhere) which we add each week. ONCE.

    I used to spend hours shopping every week! Have to credit Gareth with that.

    If you havent tried it, have a pop. Very useful!

  41. Pingback: that canadian girl » LG 23″ Monitor: Announcing the winner!

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I'm Véro - a crafty, knitty, spinny gal who enjoys making (and drinking) a cocktail or three. If you've stumbled here, you might enjoy browsing some of my older posts with the tags over to the right or finding out more about me.

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