20 People Share Shortcuts That Helped Them With Menial Work Tasks

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If you’ve ever had any type of job, you know there may be processes that take too long for no reason. As a new employee, sometimes you quickly think of a way to simplify these menial tasks—much to the chagrin of managers or people who’ve been there longer.

One Reddit thread asked people to share small ways they improved work processes or random boring tasks.

Turns out you can save a lot of time if you know how to use Excel!

20. Using Basic Knowledge of Excel

“I once was a temp at a tiny office on a construction site in around 2003. I was only there for one day while the regular person was on some training.

They sat me down and told me that I just needed to copy all these numbers from one program to another. So I selected them, hit ctrl c and ctrl v. They stared at me.

Turns out about 60% of this woman’s time had been spent manually typing numbers from one place to another.”


19. Use The Hole-Punch Setting on the Copy Machine

“I worked a summer at a mortgage company as an assistant to the underwriters. My only job was printing documents and then hole-punching them to put in folders.

They had a super fancy xerox printer that basically did my entire job for me, but the underwriters at this company didn’t know how to click through printer settings to make the machine hole-punch as it was being printed. I showed them how to do it, and they resisted it suuuuper hard (like they didn’t trust it? Idk). So I got to keep my job, but what was supposed to take me all day literally took me about 20-30 minutes first thing in the morning. So they started assigning me real tasks, and even offered to keep me on to eventually become an underwriter, too. Because I was “so sharp” (i.e. I knew how to use the very expensive printer they already had). I was just about to start grad school, so I had to politely decline… but I’m pretty sure they didn’t hire someone to replace me when I left.

Tl;dr: they had a printer that already did my job for me but didn’t know how to use it. I showed them.”


18. Getting Help in Exchange For Beer

“Maybe not the most impressive story here, but I thought it was a great side-step of effort nonetheless:

Co-worker of mine had to get rid of a smaller junk fiberglass boat with no trailer. Our other co-workers are all telling him how much time and money he’s going to need to spend to get rid of it, and he’s just saying “Oh, is that so?”

He took off one day, and sat down on his lawn with a cooler of beer. That day was garbage day. Inevitably, the trash guys roll up. He hands each of them a cold beer, and says “Hey boys, got $50 for each of you if you help me out real quick.”

They fed the entire 12ft boat into the packer, crushing two feet at a time.”


17. Use a Genius Bar Code Hack

“Worked as a cashier during the holiday season back when i was 16. The supermarket was selling drinks by the boxes and at that time, we only had barcode scanners that was at the front of the computer. No gun type scanners existed.

I was lazy and didn’t want to carry boxes up to the scanner. So i politely asked my customers if i could carve out the barcode from their box to scan and keep. Some agreed some didn’t want to but eventually i managed to amass all the barcodes needed. Labelled them and kept them in a file for easy reference.

Apparently some other cashier got green eyed at my “smart” move and complained to the chief cashier who promptly lectured me on (bullshit alert) how its dangerous for me to scan such barcodes as i might scan the wrong things. She told me to throw it all away and carry the boxes like i was meant to. I mean, i was young so i could but the other cashiers were older and some were elderly and needed the customers themselves to help carry the boxes to the scanner. But whatever i guess jealousy trumps common sense.”


16. Carry Extra Beer!

“I used to deliver beer. I did not like delivering beer.

I may have ended up with 30 stops in a day, including deliveries that the customer would call in to our office for. I used to bring extra beer and blank invoices with me on the truck, to prevent having to drive back to my warehouse to deliver one keg to a place that I was currently across the street from.

7 years later, the driver of that route is still doing that.”


15. Using a Drone to Herd Yak!

“Herding yak with a drone takes the cake for me.

They run from it, and oddly fear it. Which is surprising considering they have literally zero aerial predators. We only did it a few times because it really makes them uneasy, and doesn’t treat them well. But it is very effective and easy, and you can herd them from over 1/2 a mile a way from inside the house. edit: Im really surprised how much this blew up. I’ve never had some many post replies, but I’ll try to get around to answering as many questions as possible.

My post history is predominantly yakking off and tower climbing stuff, so I’d suggest going there if you’re curious.”


14. Use Division At Work!

“At my last job, a truck suspension shop, we did inventory every December and it was someone’s job to count all the washers and screws of every size.

It was my first inventory and I casually mentioned that they should just weigh one screw or washer, then weigh them all and divide the weight to get the count. Everyone looked at me like I had given them the key to the universe.

Counting washers and screws went from a day or two, to just a few hours.”


13. Put Two Things in The Same Place

“A long time ago I was sent to help a team that was designing some analog test equipment.

Big problem was when two of the parts were at different temperatures the calibration would go off. They wanted me to design a circuit to measure the temperatures of the two parts and apply a correction. I solved the problem by putting both parts on the same heat sink so they would be at the same temperature.

It worked.”


12. Just Some Toilet Engineering

“A few years ago my mom was tasked with fixing my grandparent’s toilet while we were visiting for the holidays. The toilet reservoir was constantly filling and running, and thus flooding the bathroom, because the buoy arm wasn’t lifting high enough from the water in the reservoir to switch off the water flow.

My mom (who is normally a very practical person) had been tackling the issue for hours. She was pretty distraught, thinking we would have to order a new buoy arm, maybe even a new sensor, or switch and pull the whole assembly apart to replace everything. She was planning out a trip to Lowes’ and pricing things out when I walked in.

I took one look at it and bent the metal arm the buoy was attached to, down, so the arm had a slight upwards curve. The buoy still reached the same level in the reservoir, but registered on the sensor as ‘higher’ because of the curve in the arm.

Problem solved, Rangers lead the way.

I watched it dawn on her what I had done, and she just looked at me like I had a third eye and said “You little fucking shit! I’ve been getting my ass kicked by this thing for 4 hours and you fix in in 4 fucking seconds?!”

She was very happy I saved her from more work and spending more money. She calls me “her little toilet engineer” from time to time. I work on Aircraft. It’s mildly demeaning.”


11. Learn Python and Excel

“Automated 70% of my job in a large finance firm as an intern. Never disclosed it and got paid easy money for 6 months.

I spent the time doing courses and applying for my grad school. Got my admission letter during the final 2 weeks of my internship and never looked back.

Pro Tip: Python and Excel can be your best friend.

Obligatory edit: I went to sleep and this thread blew up. Thank you for your stories, questions and comments. I’m trying to get to as many as possible!”—clickerroy

10. This Camp Counselor Hack

“I was working a kids’ chess summer camp with this guy who just smoked pot like you wouldn’t believe (still a far, far better chess player than me).

One day, the kids were being particularly rambunctious and I told him he had to take them outside to get their energy out.

He had them spend the next hour doing “American Ninja Warrior” on the jungle gym/playground. I hadn’t even heard of the show, but it was a group of young boys like 6-12, so they all adored it.

This coworker loved to get super stoned and watch it. Don’t know if he was high at the camp, but he just got to sit on a bench and tell kids their time was getting slower when they did “stunts” and they just scurried and jumped around faster.”—BreatheMyStink

9. Pro-Type: Dynamic Named Ranges

“I had an excel order form in my last job that required us to enter all hardware items from all suppliers in by hand

I had to completely rewrite the existing script that pulled the hardware for the one supplier that it worked on but it went from being a time consuming, mistake prone job to clicking a button on the order form and it doing everything and taking maybe 2 seconds for a huge job.

Figuring out dynamic named ranges and getting them to work with drop down boxes was also great. No more manually updating named ranges and drop down boxes when new items were added.

I also added in conditional formatting everywhere to let the user know if there was an incomplete section on the form. No more rework when the next person down the line sent the form back to us incomplete.

The thing I was really happy with was being able to cut the length of that script down by about 65% from what it originally was.”


8. Better Yet: Make Customers Do It!

“Worked in a huge hotel by the airport*. We had layover with over 400 people, I think we were 3 employees. They had buffet for dinner and then left to go to bed since it was 1 or 2 am. Rule was, we should always go to the room and pick up as many plates as we could and then bring them to the cleaner. Took for ages and I wanted to go home.

I decided to roll out the cart and collect the plates and put them on the cart. Guest were seeing it and started putting their plates on the cart when they left. All of a sudden hundreds of people cleaned up their own stuff.

Duty manager saw it and I thought he would blast me, since the hotel was a 5 star place.

He just looked at me, smiled and said ‘that’s why I like to hire lazy people, they think of ways to finish work faster.'”


7. Use The Collate Button

“Was a temp.

Got hired for the day to print 30 packets with 100 pages each.

Why would it take a day? I asked

‘Our printer doesn’t collate the pages so it will take you the day to sort the pages into the 30 packets” they said.


It was a standard office Xerox printer. It took me all of 30 seconds to find and click the ‘collate’ button. Clicked the ‘staple’ button while at it.

All got printed by itself into nice stapled packets and I got paid to browse internet for the day. They thought I was a genius for ‘fixing’ their printer and gave me glowing recommendations to the temp agency that led to more jobs.”


6. Find Software That Can Help

“During my intern, my professor gave me line graphs made on paper and asked me to find the coordinates by drawing horizontal and vertical lines. It would have taken hours if not days.

I thought to myself – “I couldn’t be the first one who is lazy af”. So I googled it, found this cool free to use software “Web Digitizer”.

Step 1 – Scan the graph. Step 2 – Mark the X and Y axes in the picture. Step 3 – Grab a beer cause you got the the nicest mf graph that you couldn’t have drawn by yourself in a million years.

My professor was so happy she asked me to document the method and mail it across the entire department.

Edit : I am so sorry people for not replying earlier. I had no idea this would blow up, so I didn’t bother to check Reddit at work.

To answer your question, yes, I did share my original method with my professor and the entire department. One, she was a really supportive professor and I wanted to return her favors (even if this software might have been the tiniest help to her work). Two, the original developer of this software made it available online for FREE. He could have made it a paid service, and believe me, researchers would have paid because it is that good. But he kept it free for all of us to use, and it was my responsibility to share his work as much as I could.

Link for those interested to try this software. Cheers to the developer – Ankit Rohatgi.”


5. Make An App

“Worked construction right out of high school to save money for school.

Once every other week, we’d get a shipment of 100’s of door parts, and they made me match serial numbers to parts and orders and confirm we got everything, then organize it all. It literally took 16 hours AT LEAST. And time moved so slowly. So I got fed up with it and made a python app that would take a list of pictures, extract text from the pictures, compare it to a order receipt, then spit out a list of all missing parts and extra parts. So it knocked it down to an hour process of just throwing the door parts in the correct pile while waiting for the script to run.

The worst part is that I didn’t even get a raise for doing it.”


4. Outsource The Work

“A programmer outsourced his own job overseas, paying Chinese programmers one fifth of his salary to write code for him, while he spent his days surfing Reddit and watching cat videos.

His performance reviews praised him for clean, well-written code and called him “the best developer in the building.”



3. Ask Your Significant Other

“My girlfriend is lawyer and I’m developer.

At her place they manually compare documents they received after the other party signed them. It is not uncommon the other party to add something or remove something from contract without track changes etc. So I taught her how to use diff/compare program that works not only with code, but all kind of docs. She already caught some attempts for the other side to modify long contracts without consent.

So comparing docs went from hour long to minute long task.”


2. Take The Easy Way Out

“I did this.

A few years back, I was roommates with a super mechanically inclined dude.

Our top-loading clothes washer stopped working well because the lid got a little warped and didn’t trip the safe switch for the spin cycle to run anymore.

He was all geared up to pull the washer out, take it apart, bend the lid back into proper shape, and reseat the sensor so it would run properly.

I told him to hold off; I put a load of laundry in, and popped a quarter inch shim under the lid.

It ran perfectly.”


1. Okay… Don’t Do This

“I have an example of how the truly lazy will sabotage tracking so no one knows shit is broken.

There was this guy at a software company that does integrated software systems. He hated his boss and his job and apparently most of his team. Every time he was assigned a bug to fix, he would mark it resolved and assign it to a no-reply email address associated with the team. The odd thing that I don’t understand is how he managed to keep issues from getting escalated to other real people.

At any rate, no one caught on. When he found a new job and a couple people on his team took him out for drinks he said, ‘You should look into all the bugs I fixed. I never did any of that.’ So the guys who took him out for drinks went back and audited his work and were like ‘Holy Fuck!

He not only did nothing, he hid identified issues for like…a year.'”


Fixing small bugs at work, learning how to use certain software, and even using a little math can help anyone get work done just a tad faster.

Do you have any stories about how you made your job a bit more effective with just a few small tricks?

Please! Share with us. We’re sure others would love to figure stuff out faster too.