Book Review - Upgrade Your Life: The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better by Gina Trapani
I remember reading the first edition of Gina Trapani's Upgrade Your Life: The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better and thinking how wonderful it was. Of course, when the second edition came out, I had to get that one too. And as with the first one, I have all sorts of post-it notes scattered throughout the book for reference and "go back and try this" notes. Well worth the time and money you spend here.
Control Your Email; Organize Your Data; Trick Yourself into Getting Done; Clear Your Mind; Firewall Your Attention; Streamline Common Tasks; Automate Repetitive Tasks; Get Your Data To Go; Master The Web; Hone Your Computer Survival Skills; Manage Multiple Computers; Index
Over the span of the chapters above, Trapani presents 116 different "hacks" that you can incorporate into your daily computer life to, well... work smarter, faster, and better. As with most books that are a compilation of different tips, some will resonate strongly with your current needs, while others are skimming material that may not be relevant. For instance, the hacks in the first chapter, Organize Your Data, hit home. I'm working towards consolidating multiple email addresses with Gmail, and I'm cutting down the number of folders I have, relying on search to find what I need. Master The Web also had some cool tricks, like having multiple home pages in Firefox and using Google Notebook for web clippings. I wasn't quite into the Managing Multiple Computers as much, as my current setup doesn't call for that. Still, it's good information to have around should you need it at a later time.
I actually found a couple different things occurring as I read through the material. There were hacks where some software was presented that did a certain task, and I'd realize I've been looking for something just like that. Similar to scratching an itch that you couldn't quite reach. Then there were the hacks that opened your eyes to whole areas you didn't even know you needed. Let's call that finding AND scratching the itch you didn't know you had five minutes prior. After going through some of the Automate Repetitive Tasks hacks, I have started to look at a lot of things I do with a view towards eliminating the manual repetitive effort that I just accepted as necessary before.
I highly recommend this book to everyone who spends most of their waking hours in front of a computer, and/or earn their living in front of one. Taking away even a small handful of nuggets can radically change the way you do things.