How can I work faster

How you can do as much in four hours of work a day as others do in 9 hours


by Udo Gollub

How you can do as much in four hours of work a day as others do in 9 hours

Here's how you can be tremendously productive.
Today we're going to show you how you can tick off so many tasks in just a few hours that would previously have taken you a day.
This will give you significantly more time to learn new languages, for example!

Your new task system

In order to increase your productivity, you first have to work out a new task system.
This can be, for example, a box with three compartments labeled “now”, “next week” and “next month”. You can also create this compartment system electronically, for example in a digital calendar or with the help of e-mail folders.
You should mark important appointments in a digital calendar.
Please make sure that you complete all tasks one placestore. This is the only way to maintain an overview.
Decide on all the tasks that you want to do and also on all tasks or e-mails that you find in your mailbox:
  1. do it immediately
  2. or
  3. put on the to-do list
  4. or
  5. delegate to others
  6. or
  7. Clear

The four categories of tasks

Here we explain how to deal with the sorted tasks:
1. Category: "Do it immediately"All tasks that take less than three minutes to complete should be completed immediately so that you can concentrate on what is important. If you write down a quickly manageable task and do it later, you may spend a minute writing it down, although the task itself would only take a minute!
2. Category: "To-do list for later"Enter tasks that you would like to complete later in a work list - in other words: your appointment calendar - or save a note in the task system described above.
3rd category: "Delegate"Delegate all of the work that someone else can do with half your hourly wage. For example, if you earn an average of 40 euros an hour, make a list of all the work that you would like to outsource and that someone else could do for a maximum of 20 euros an hour. For this you can either hire someone or contract out the work as a freelancer.
4. Category: "Delete"Every day every person is confronted with pointless tasks that it would be better not to do. These can be:
  • unnecessary discussions and meetings
  • pointless email inquiries
  • check your inbox every few minutes
  • Make long phone calls that could be done much faster via email
Read an interesting article about "the Pareto principle". This principle says that 80% of the time will only bring 20% ​​of the benefit. In other words, you would achieve 80% of your goals just 20% of the time!

Three tasks of the day

In the last ten minutes of a working day, take the time to schedule three tasks for the next day.
Start with a list like this every working day.
Do the most important thing on this list BEFORE doing anything else - including, for example, before reading your email.
For example, one of these tasks could be moving your shop forward or developing something new.

The right time to read email

Read your e-mails only two or three times a day and switch off the automatic notifications for new e-mails. If you keep checking your e-mail, you will be constantly distracted from your work.
Have you ever taken your laptop to the balcony and worked there (without an internet connection)? Try this out! You will be amazed how efficiently you can work if you are not distracted by new emails or pop-ups.
If you have to answer a lot of e-mails, check all the e-mails at once and then switch your e-mail program to offline mode.
If you now answer your e-mails, they will only be sent when you switch back to online mode. You will also not receive any further new emails. This also prevents you from receiving replies to the e-mails you have just sent while you are answering the e-mails.
Proceed with all e-mails containing orders to you as described above under "Task system".

The quick way to your perfect email account

For the sake of seriousness, I recommend that you set up your own domain. You can get this for less than one euro per month - just read the advertisement in any computer magazine, all major providers of this service (hosters) advertise there.
Then set up an e-mail address that you can access via IMAP. With IMAP, all e-mails always remain on the server. As with freemailers, you can create as many sub-folders as you want.
Large hosters like "1und1" or "Strato" offer mailboxes with over a gigabyte of data storage. After more than 10 years my personal mailbox is only 12% full; my IMAP account will therefore probably never be too small for my entire life - even though I keep all emails, even those with attachments.
Because all e-mails always stay on the server, you have access to them anytime and anywhere, from any Linux or Windows computer and even with a USB stick in an Internet café in Thailand.

This is how we work at Sprachlernen24:

The working rules mentioned above are applied by each of our employees. As a result, we have already achieved enormous efficiency. This is also the reason why we have already developed so many language courses and are able to offer them so cheaply despite the high quality.
In the following you will find out how our infrastructure is structured and how you can become just as efficient by working in a similar way.

The perfect operating system

We have been working exclusively with Ubuntu Linux for several years.
This operating system can also be installed in addition to Windows and is now mature enough that practically everyone can understand it. Our employees now find Ubuntu to be much easier to use than Windows. In addition, there are no viruses that could infect or damage the computer!
Since we've been using Ubuntu Linux, we don't need a system administrator either, as the operating system can be installed within half an hour (including all software!) - without any prior knowledge.

Our email program

We use Thunderbird as our email program.
This program works under Windows and Linux and can also be installed on a USB stick.
Each of us always has Thunderbird with us and can easily read our e-mails at any time, even on third-party computers.
Our employees take the USB stick with them on vacation and can receive their mails anywhere in the world without having to rely on programs (e.g. the browser) on other computers.

Further software recommendations

  • Firefox (Web browser):
    or for the USB stick:
  • OpenOffice: Free spreadsheet and text program: Saves you having to buy Word and Excel - without having to forego anything.
    or for the USB stick:
  • Skype:
    Free messenger. If you top up your Skype account with “Skype Credits” for a few euros, you can call real telephones from your laptop anywhere in the world, no matter where you are. Calls to Germany, for example, only cost around 0.02 euros / min.
    Ideal for vacation; W-Lan or another internet connection is required for this.
  • Dropbox:
    Dropbox is a program that synchronizes files between multiple computers. If you have installed it and saves files in the Dropbox folder, your data will be saved on Dropbox and syncronized on all computers you use.
    In addition, all changes made to files over the last 30 days can be called up.
    This makes Dropbox ideal for everyone who works partly at home and partly in the office - because now there is no longer any need to move data back and forth.
    Just click the Dropbox page and sign in.
    Then click on the download page and install the software.
    Dropbox is available for Android and iPhone.
  • Evernote:
    With Evernote you can take notes, take photos and make voice recordings with your mobile phone. These are then stored on the Evernote server forever and can be accessed at any time - also on the Evernote homepage from your PC.
    So you always have a perfect notepad with you.
    Text on photos (e.g. when photographing business cards or a crouched page) can be searched at any time.
    Evernote is available for Android and iPhone.

The ideal computer infrastructure

Our employees work with a fixed computer with a 22 or 24 inch screen. The larger the screen, the greater the productivity, because you can always have several programs open at the same time and you always have an overview.
For web design tasks, for example, you can keep an editor and the internet browser open at the same time and thus always see all changes directly.
Each employee also has a large laptop for at home as well as a netbook for on the go (with 10-inch display), because with a weight of only 1.3 kg you really always take such a computer with you.

No fixed working hours

Our employees have no fixed working hours. Those who are inspired sometimes work on Sundays or even on vacation. If you prefer to do something outside during the week when the weather is good, you may not work at all. This has increased our productivity enormously, as has our satisfaction. No employee has given notice in the past five years!
You could also say: work on a rainy Sunday, but go to the outdoor pool on a sunny Monday!

Further reading:

"The 4-Hour Week: More Time, More Money, More Life", Timothy Ferriss, ISBN 9783430200516
"How to get things done: Self-management for everyday life", David Allen, ISBN 978-3937051451