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7 Ways to Be Greener and More Productive with Your Printer

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7 Ways to Be Greener and More Productive with Your Printer

Your printer is probably a utilitarian workhorse that you don’t think about until it’s broken. Why not spend a moment to consider the use of your printer so you can save some time and some paper too? Here are seven practical, easy-to-implement tips:

1. Keep supplies at the point of use. You can use Velcro (I like Industrial Strength) to stick frequently used supplies directly onto the side of your printer or the printer cart. This photo shows a rubber stamp that says “FAXED” that is attached with Velcro to the side of this printer/fax machine, for example.

fax stamp

    2. Print in “draft” mode to save ink. Using the draft printing mode of your printer’s settings can save you ink (and therefore money). When you need to print something formally, you can change the settings to normal.

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    scratch paper tray

      3. Keep a scratch paper tray. This photo at left shows paper trays located in the printer cart just beneath the printer, which have new, pristine paper in one tray and scratch paper in the other. When you print something that has only a few lines on it or otherwise can be used again, you can easily throw it in this tray.

      4. Make your printed documents come out in proper order. You can usually change your printer’s settings to print document pages in reverse order by default. The result? Papers come out already stacked in the right order, ready to staple. No more shuffling 36 pages of a document to reorder them! [EDITOR’S NOTE: Not all printers print backwards by default; test yours with a short document first.]

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      5. Use scratch paper by default, and print on new paper only when necessary. Before inserting a stack of scratch paper into your printer for use, put a sticky note on the back of the last page of the stack.

      scratch paper

        Then put that stack on top of some new paper. (See photo at right for illustration) When you’re ready to print on new paper, you can see the sticky note indicating the bottom of the scratch paper stack and pull it out quickly.

        6. Label your printer’s particularities. Are you (or your coworkers) forever asking, “Now which way does the paper go in? Face up or down?” Manufacturers often indicate this on the printer itself in some kind of international symbol language nobody seems to notice, but you can make it simple by just printing a label that says “FACE UP.” Here are a couple of examples.

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        face up label

           

          paper feed label

            7. Just don’t print. Of course, it’s better to not print at all if you can possibly do that. If you don’t already have software to make PDF documents, by all means, get that capability so you can print to PDF instead.  Try Adobe Acrobat or Cute PDF. Also try SnagIt (one of my personal favorites- see my previous article “A Professional Organizer’s Favorite Software” for more). SnagIt takes screenshots of regions of your screen or even scrolling web pages (saving the links!).

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            Appreciate your workhorse printer today! And if your printer is cranky, maybe implementing these tips will make it be nicer to you.

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            Last Updated on October 21, 2021

            How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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            How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

            Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

            Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

            The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

            Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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            Program Your Own Algorithms

            Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

            Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

            By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

            How to Form a Ritual

            I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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            Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

            1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
            2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
            3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
            4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

            Ways to Use a Ritual

            Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

            1. Waking Up

            Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

            2. Web Usage

            How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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            3. Reading

            How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

            4. Friendliness

            Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

            5. Working

            One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

            6. Going to the gym

            If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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            7. Exercise

            Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

            8. Sleeping

            Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

            8. Weekly Reviews

            The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

            Final Thoughts

            We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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            More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

             

            Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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