Upgrade Your Life

The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better


Chapter 7

Automate Repetitive Tasks

Thirty years ago, we thought that by 2008 we'd all have personal robots doing our laundry, cooking meals, and cleaning our houses Ń like the Jetsons' robot maid, Rosie. Although that scenario hasn't become reality yet, your personal computer can perform certain menial tasks, automatically and unsupervised, on a schedule you set. Your PC isn't as advanced or charming as Rosie, but it can clean up after itself and take the work out of repetitive computing jobs.

Hack 59
Automatically Back Up Your Files to an External Hard Drive (PC)

Level: Medium
Platform: Windows

"Backing up your data could possibly be the dullest — yet most indispensable — thing you do on your computer. But who remembers to do it? You don't have to."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 60
Automatically Back Up Your Files to an External Hard Drive (Mac) (New in 2nd Edition!)

Level: Easy
Platform: Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard

"Mac users who thumb through Hack 59, which details how to back up your PC's files on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, have a right to a smug laugh. The most recent version of Mac OS X 10.5, Leopard, ships with a comprehensive backup application called Time Machine that requires only two steps to set up."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 61
Automatically Back Up Your Files Online (New in 2nd Edition!)

Level: Easy
Platform: Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard

"Hurricane Katrina victims can tell you that no matter how diligently you back up your computer to a local hard drive—as detailed in Hacks 59 and 60—you will still lose your photos, documents, and other important files if you donŐt keep a copy off-site, preferably out of state. "

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 62
Automatically Empty Your Digital Junk Drawer (PC)

Level: Advanced
Platform: Windows

"During the course of a work day, you save all sorts of disposable files on your computer: video, images, and songs meant for a single viewing or listen, PDF files you have to print, software installers and zip files you extract and do whatever you need with the contents. The end result is a lot of digital detritus clogging your hard drive for no good reason. But you don't want to clean up after yourself every time you work with a set of files you don't need to keep."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 63
Automatically Clean Up Your Mac (New in 2nd Edition!)

Level: Medium
Platform: Mac OS X

"Just as in the physical world, it's easy to let digital clutter accumulate on your Mac. Chances are, your Downloads folder contains no-longer relevant files, or your Desktop is covered in documents, images, and songs you finished with last week."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 64
Automatically Reboot and Launch Applications

Level: Easy
Platform: Windows

"A PC that's on continuously 24 hours a day—especially when it's hard at work at night, running automated tasks outlined in this chapter—can benefit from a regular reboot to clear out memory and end any hanging software processes."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 65
Make Google Search Results Automatically Come to You (New in 2nd Edition!)

Level: Easy
Platform: Web

"Keeping up with any news published online about a certain topic used to mean searching the web for it every so often, or checking various online news sites. But not any more. Google now offers free email alerts when certain search terms appear on web pages, as they are published."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 66
Automatically Download Music, Movies, and More

Level: Advanced
Platform: All

"Your web browser does a good job of fetching web documents and displaying them, but there are times when you need an extra-strength program to get those tougher download jobs done."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 67
Automatically Email Yourself File Backups

Level: Advanced
Platform: Windows

"When my sister-in-law asked me how she could back up her master's thesis without any special equipment or software, I had to think for a minute. 'Email it to yourself,' I finally told her."

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:

Hack 68
Automatically Update a Spreadsheet

Level: Medium
Platform: Windows with Excel

"A spreadsheet is a great way to track progress on any type of undertaking that involves numbers—like how much weight you've lost, how many widgets you made, how many miles you ran, or how many cigarettes you smoked. But who remembers to update his spreadsheet by hand?"

Related posts at Lifehacker.com:




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