Lifehacker author offers compiliation of her top tech tricks

The blog catalogues technology tricks to squeeze more productivity out of your day. A new book version collects 88 tech tricks to get more out of your day.Computing Canada spoke to Java programmer and Web designer Gina Trapani, the editor of the Lifehacker blog and author of Lifehacker: 88 Tech Tricks to Supercharge Your Day (Wiley Publishing Inc.) from her office in San Diego.

Computing Canada: What’s a lifehack?

Gina Trapani: A lifehack is a productivity trick, kind of an unexpected way to get something done faster, more efficiently.

CC: Can you give us a couple examples?

GT: Like backing up your files to your iPod. Most people use their iPod to listen to music, but you can store your documents there. Or, say, PayPalling your buddy the balance from your dinner bill with your cell phone. That sort of thing.

CC: You wrote that a lifehacker is someone who would rather spend two hours and 59 minutes automating a three hour task than do it manually. Is this for everyone?

GT: I think it’s very much a computer programmers’ mindset, but it’s a mindset that would benefit everyone. I don’t know that everyone has that mindset … if you save one minute the first time, especially for a task that you do more than once, you can save hours later on.

CC: In the book, you’ve organized the hacks into 10 categories, like freeing up mantal RAM and Firewalling Your Attention. Where do we have the most to gain in terms of productivity?

GT: It depends a lot on what your job is like. If you’re someone who gets interrupted a lot, who spends the whole day running around putting out fires, then firewalling your attention and getting some focus time would help the most. If you’re someone whose mind is always reeling about other things, freeing up mental RAM is probably for you.

CC: What is your favourite hack in the book?

GT: Being a blogger and someone who deals with dozens of e-mails every day which have the same kind of answers, the one where I get the most – well, one of the ones, I actually love all of them, like my children – is Hack 27, Saving Time With Text Substitution. I have a bunch of little macros that I’ve set up. I just type a keyword and it magically fills in the repetitive phrase that I was looking for automatically, and that’s one I don’t think I could possibly live without.

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