People also tend to overuse email when other tools are more appropriate. Need to share large files with coworkers? Use a cloud storage service like Box.net or OfficeDrop, or a utility that syncs online storage across various devices such as Dropbox or SugarSync. They'll send you an alert when files are added or updated. Need to collaborate on a document or a presentation? Google Docs or SharePoint are far preferable to shuttling new versions back and forth via SMTP.
And when you finally check messages, actually deal with them, adds Alexander Pasik, CIO of the IEEE. He suggests having no more than 30 messages in your inbox at any time, and keeping only those requiring action items. Instead of laboriously filing each message in the proper folder, keep them in one place and use search tools to find messages as you need them.
"Many professionals have adopted bad habits such as allowing their inboxes to contain hundreds if not thousands of emails, many of which are unread," he says. "Simple email management can greatly increase productivity."
IT productivity win No. 3: View more, print lessIt's no secret that the less time you spend switching between email, browser, spreadsheets, and your line-of-business software, the more you can get done. The productivity gain from being able to see all of them at once more than offsets the costs of a larger or a second monitor, says Pasik.
"The weakest link that diminishes productivity in the flow of information is the 'last two feet' -- that is, the distance between the monitor and the user," he says. "Humans can process far more information that can be effectively displayed on small screens. If users are given large monitors, they can see their emails, calendars, Web browsers, and other productivity tools simultaneously."
Instead of one huge display, Michael Bogobowicz, a consultant with Citrix Systems, uses two -- one stacked on top of the other.
"Having multiple monitors can greatly improve the amount of work done when in the office because more info is visible, and less time needs to be spent searching around windows," he says. "My preferred setup is actually two vertically stacked monitors as there's less visual distance between information than in a horizontal setup."
Another benefit: Being able to display, say, your entire calendar or every column in a large spreadsheet means you're less likely to print it out, says Pasik.