When people hear the word “hacking,” they usually think of overgrown teenagers in their PJs on their parent’s basement computer breaking into other computers — like at the Pentagon or a bank or a certain private email server. When I talk hacking, it’s the build-a-better-mousetrap approach to working and being productive and doing everything you do.

This kind of hacking is often prefixed by the word “life”: “life hacking.” It really means different things to different people in different professions. Let me talk about what it means to me, as a magazine editor, then throw out a few ideas for what it might mean to drilling contractors.

Editors and writers make their living putting words on a digital page. Any kind of tip, trick or technology that helps me do that faster or smarter is a “life hack.” Being a bit fastidious and a bit of a tinkerer means I’m always looking for those tips, tricks and technologies.

My iPhone often sits at the center of these work-related life hacks. For example, I dictate a lot of editor columns like these. I open a new document, press the little mic button and just go. That works best for columns where I’ve thought about an idea for a week or two, and have a lot to say about it.

For another example, I regularly get emailed invoices for my own business. These are things I like to keep on file. Through a Web service, I route anything coming into my inbox with the subject “invoice from abc company” automatically to a cloud service (in this case, Google Drive) where I store business documents. I do this with all expense-related documents that come by email. These life hacks, for me, fall into a couple of categories, which I’ll go into next.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Dictating my columns saves me a little time on the writing end. Even with speaking the punctuation like Siri requires, I still speak faster than I type.

For drillers and folks running drilling businesses, this could include:

  • Using apps for tough calculations. Most drilling fluid companies have apps for both Android and iPhone.
  • Using messaging services. Connect crews on the same project, but at different locations. For example, some messaging apps allow you to group people into conversations. All the crews running five rigs on the same project could be grouped into one conversation, helping them better work toward the same goals.

Those are just two of many examples. Next, develop your systems.

Systematize Your Work

If you find yourself doing anything more than twice, develop a system so it can be monitored but no longer requires much direct action. For example:

  • Put together an FAQ. Do you answer the same questions over and over from customers? Write out the questions and answers and make that sheet part of your work quote.
  • Put record keeping on autopilot. Use a Web service like www.ifttt.com to handle your business email. For instance, you can have it scan your inbox for attachments that have “invoice” in the name and save what it finds to a specific Dropbox folder. It’s easy to set up and takes some busy work out of your day.

You get the idea. Spend more time getting important things done, and less time on the trivial stuff.

What do you think? Tells us how you work smart or what systems you use to be better at what you do. Send an email to verduscoj@bnpmedia.com.

Stay safe out there, drillers.