Being More Frugal, Efficient & Productive at the Office


PACK A LUNCH…Bring your lunch to work — this could be leftovers or something you made the night before. You control what you eat and save $4 to 5 each day (if not more).


BRING YOUR BREAKFAST as I’m out the door at 6 am (to avoid traffic) so I don’t eat breakfast at home to improve my morning efficiency. Having breakfast is important so I rely on my “anti-oxidant smoothie” to typically deal with the first piece in the morning. It’s primarily strawberries and blueberries with soymilk and protein to help rev up my metabolism. It avoids that $2 to $3 charge ordering breakfast in the cafeteria.  I reuse the container so it’s eco-friendly.


THE FREE OR INEXPENSIVE COFFEE OPTION is something to consider. Our office has free coffee, which is a nice benefit. You can save you between $1 and $4 per day. Another option for offices without free coffee is to find hot water and bring in instant coffee, which may cost about 15 cents per day. Nestlé’s Classico instant coffee is among the best tasting. One other point on this matter, if you love coffee, bringing a thermos of coffee to work is another option. It’s old school but can certainly cut down on the cost and is reusable.


EXTENDED DESKTOP FEATURE…If there’s an existing monitor at your desk and you’re given a laptop, leverage that equipment by using the extended laptop feature in Windows. This really helps when working with spreadsheets or comparing separate documents. If you’ve never tried this, try this and gauge whether you’ve become more productive.


GET A HANDLE ON YOUR INBOX… Many of us struggle with keeping our work inboxes clean. It’s recommended to schedule a few times each day reviewing all emails in Inbox. Only in urgent or critical times should you regularly check your Inbox which can significantly hamper productivity. Do not turn on email alerts which will reduce your effectiveness.

I’ve read to receive less you need to send less. Keep your e-mails short, and write fewer of them.


DRIVING THE MORE EFFICIENT AUTO helps to save money. I can choose between a mini-van or a 14-year-old Camry as my mode of transportation. The Camry’s gas mileage is 50% better. Unfortunately, my commute is 50 miles each day (250 miles per week). If I use the Camry, I can save around $15 per week if gas is $3 per gallon. If gas is $4 per gallon, the savings is $20 per week if I just drive the Camry to work.


SNACK FOOD ALERT is another way to be organized at work to help save money and eat well. I will bring in a box of my Kashi granola bars, raw almonds or some fruit and keep at my desk. When I’m hungry, I grab for those instead of brought it bagels or a cake displayed for someone’s birthday. I avoid the vending machine too. It saves money in the end and is healthier too.


ORGANIZED IRONING is something I can do over the weekend if I want to stay organized. I may iron 5 or 6 shirts every few weeks – reducing my dry cleaning costs by at least 50-60%.


EARLY BIRD GETS THE WORM when you leave early for work. Sometimes, you can’t control how late in the day you’re going to work but you can control when you begin work. To save time, especially in the Chicago traffic, leave early for work will save you time in the morning. If you save 20 minutes each day, by leaving early, that time can be tripled in inclement weather – especially snow! Having that alone time in the morning will help with planning and any intellectual heavy lifting that may be needed.


ORGANIZE EARLY IN THE MORNING so once at work, I’ll get my coffee in my mug. I’ll also refill my refillable one-liter water bottle. In addition, I have my anti-oxidant smoothie nearby too, which is consumed around 8 or so. I’m properly hydrated and fed to begin my day.


KEEP LISTS so you need to document your goals and tasks on a regular basis to avoid worrying in bed about crucial details you may have forgotten that day. Create multiple lists: short terms tasks and long-terms items. Short-terms items may include things you need to accomplish during the week or the next few days. Long-term lists could be a week or longer. Things may sometimes jump from short-term to long-term or vice versa but you need to track what things to work on. Keep the short-term lists manageable in size to prevent you from feeling overwhelmed about accomplishing goals.


MOVE YOUR BODY SOMEHOW OR SOMEWAY throughout the day. There’s a health club on site, which I have not joined. I’d rather walk around the building and parking lots. Often, I’ll climb stairs once a day to get away from my desk and get moving. I’m thankful the building is 6 stories so climbing all stairs a number of times is a refreshing change from being confined to my desk and gets the blood moving again. Keeping a pair of tennis shoes in your desk often works out well. Sometimes, I’ll do some stretching at my desk to stay active and loose.


THOROUGH DOCUMENTATION throughout the day as I do a lot of writing and understanding different products and procedures — taking notes as I’m talking with people. All of these notes are dated and are stacked in chronological order.


NOTES CAN ACT AS A REFRESHER to all meeting participants so I will add my notes/agenda to the meeting notice in Outlook 2007. If the meeting is scheduled for a week or two, I can review the meeting notice to help me prepare for what’s to be covered in the meeting.


KEEP DESK CLEAN is recommended to help productivity. Spend the last 10 minutes of each workday cleaning off your desk. At the end of the day, you’re most familiar with those desk items so take action then. And handle each item on your desk only once – thinking about what you need to do with it before you do clean-up.


OFFICE NOISE POLLUTION is more common today even though more people work from home. To mitigate, earplugs are a necessary aid in some offices. Another option to combat some of the noise in the office is to reserve a training or conference room for a few hours. Most employees reserve rooms for meetings but if there are rooms available on a given day that will not be used for meetings, use any available ones to get some heavy lifting done.


MIRRORS DON’T LIE so have a small mirror by your phone is invaluable. Throughout the day, you can look at the mirror which could “serve as a gut check” in terms of your mood and how you’re dealing with stress.


PLAN FOR TOMORROW TODAY by listing your objectives for tomorrow at the end of your workday. While your work is fresh in your mind, list some of the objectives you want to accomplish during the next few days makes you more productive. This principle applies to work weeks too – listing what you want to accomplish next week on Friday of the previous week.


SHARING SCREENS IS COLLABORATIVE Sharing screens might be useful. When we review a document, screen sharing might be useful — especially if there are changes and edits that are needed. Having everyone see the changes made and collaborate at the same time can be useful during document development.


SWEAR OFF SOCIAL MEDIAL AND PERSONAL EMAILS…If it doesn’t make you more productive at work, save the Twitter and Facebook for home. Personal emails should fit into this category too.

Some companies do employees a service that limits employees (proxy limitations) access to social networks – those who bring their smart phones to work in this scenario need to be disciplined and avoid all Internet at work on their smart phones.