Build. Hack. Play. It's just what we do.
Build. Hack. Play. It's just what we do.

The value of 300 seconds a day

As an accountant I like to put things in terms of dollars and cents. I'm also the sort of person that sees the upside on small improvements done multiple times. When the two intersect I get excited (well work excited at least).

If you can save 5 minutes a day - 5 days a week and 50 weeks a year you'll earn back 21 hours (5*5*50/60 = 20.8333). That's about $1200 dollars or more per person for most teams of professionals. If someone were handing out cheques for that amount we'd signup in a minute. So why don't we do this at work if the benefit is time?


Five minutes a day isn't hard to achieve - if you do something 100 times a day (looking at you email) you only need to do something 3 seconds faster each time.

The following Quick Step is for Outlook and takes under 5 minutes to create and if you use it you'll easily make that time up in the first day of use. I'm likely low balling as most people can't drag an item from the inbox to the appropriate folder in under 10 seconds but you can go up and click a quick step in under 5. The difference is 40% or one full day more a year.

saving 3 seconds on each email is the same as getting 3 days of free time a year

Go to Quick Steps and start a new one (for a detailed view of doing this including screen shots look at this post). Select the move to folder option, then select a default folder. Name the quick step something like "current month". As I wrote before I put all my inbox into one folder 0-current month, then move each month's email into a separate folder.


I've ordered my quick steps so that this one is in the top left corner (1st in the list). This way its always in the same place and muscle memory means I don't need to think hard to use it. The alternative is to drag and drop and that option is fraught with the potential to drop the email into the wrong folder -you need to pay attention. This way is simple and so fast that you really don't have an excuse not to use it.

Between this, my delegation/follow up steps and keeping my junk mail purged I'm routinely at zero items in my inbox.


I'm a professional accountant that works in a large corporate environment. My blog is all about getting a GTD process and flow within the constraints of a big company

Share This Story

Get our newsletter