Design & Dev Tools

Nine Simple Ways To Speed Up Tedious Tasks

Because I’m all about automation of the tedious of tasks, this month I’m offering up some key, yet very simple ways, to speed up tasks you’ve probably never given much thought to. While it may take me time to figure it out, I always try to tackle the pesky mundane tasks first.

Auto-loading Daily Sites In Browser Tabs

I have a minimum of three secure areas I must log into each morning. It’s such a hassle to have to go to File…New Tab every day. Here are two possible solutions:

  • In FireFox, go to Tools…Options. On the Main screen enter each URL to auto open, with each separated by the | character.
  • In IE 7, go to Tools…Options. On the General screen enter each URL on a separate line.

Email Aliases And Text Messaging

For urgent issues, there’s a special email address people can use (no, I won’t post it here). I set the alias to shoot copies of the message to the entire team, and as text messages on our phones. It’s actually quite handy as well for store owners who need to keep tabs on high-demand, quick-selling products. Using it for inventory notices can provide as additional reminders to reorder stock. And Google Maps For Order Checks

If you’re spending way too much time double-checking orders for fraud, sites like offer reverse phone directories so you can enter phone numbers on orders and see if those numbers match the addresses on file. Google Maps can further help you confirm addressing.

Dual Monitors

I finally jumped on the bandwagon and now use dual monitors. I could never go back. Multiple monitors sure saves time when running multiple programs, especially when you have to refer back and forth between two browsers or programs.

Custom Export Scripts

While it’s an investment, if your shopping cart software supports custom programming, having export scripts developed can save a great deal of time when you have to copy data from the cart into other programs.

Saving to PDF

I rarely print out online receipts or online articles. Using Acrobat, I now print most things to PDF files. This allows me to quickly search for specific info right on the computer, and I can always print a hard copy if need be.

Naming Images Logically

For products, consider naming image file names the same as the product code (use –th.jpg for thumbnail images). It serves many purposes — carts can be coded to just call in the image in relationship to the product code. It also makes life easier when needing to reference the images outside the scope of the store.

RSS Feeds

We all need to be caught up on news that affects our industries. I can easily get sucked into spending hours on news and informational sites, so rather than hitting various sites each day, I use RSS to get information fed to me, filtered, and I can review it at my leisure. Google Alerts also helps; you can enter keywords and receive email notifications of headlines only.

Two Email Programs Or Identities

I can’t afford regular interruptions of personal email, so I now use two email programs (hey, it works for me). Many programs also offer identities, making you manually switch from business to personal email accounts. Setting up rules to have specific emails, like alerts from the shopping cart, to go into separate folders also keeps key info from getting buried with the rest of incoming mail.

Pamela Hazelton
Pamela Hazelton
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