Moms love bragging about their garage sale finds. It’s better even than showing off the stuff you got on the Target clearance rack. The only thing that trumps it is snagging that must-have Old Navy top for $1.97 from the back of the sale heap.

It only took one neighborhood to hit the garage sale jackpot.

Baby Gap sweater ($29.50 price tag still attached): 75 cents.

10 Carter’s onesies: $1.

Five pairs of Trumpette baby socks: 10 cents each.

Obligatory Elmo toy: 50 cents.

Moms love bragging about their garage sale finds. It’s better even than showing off the stuff you got on the Target clearance rack. The only thing that trumps it is snagging that must-have Old Navy top for $1.97 from the back of the sale heap.

Particularly with the economy in the gutter, garage sales are the smart shopping option for plenty of families. That’s why it astounds me to see the price tags on some garage sale items. Two dollars for a pair of kids shorts? Fifteen dollars for a toy? Rather than pricing their wares as if they were thankful people were taking these things off their hands, sellers these days seem to be trying to make money off their old junk.

I’m fairly certain the Fed considers that a sure sign we’re in a recession.

Another sign is that more and more desks around your office are empty. Co-workers are leaving, but new ones aren’t coming in. Aside from work becoming an increasingly lonely place, the boss wants more work than ever from you. Seeing that there’s no longer a line at the office Xerox machine, you consider that perhaps staying on his good side is in your favor.

You’re not alone: Most workplaces have had to pare down their staff, either through attrition or outright layoffs. But the fact is, most of us probably could get more work done if we put our minds to it.

When my husband, a production manager, first learned about my line of work, he could hardly believe that reporters weren’t writing three or four stories each day.

“I could get it done with a third of the staff,” he bragged.

Perhaps there’s some truth to that: Journalists are innately gabby. We’re social, creative types who work best when we’re being social and creative with other people. Thankfully, we’re managed by editors — also social, creative types — and not by production managers.

However, even your average pokey, gabby journalist could probably pick up the pace a bit — and so can you. Consider these extremely practical tips for increasing work production:

When you go to the doughnut box, grab two. It will save you the inevitable trip back there 10 minutes later.

Rather than getting a head start on the day, make sure you are the second person to arrive each morning. That way, the first guy wastes 30 seconds of his day making coffee, and you just get to enjoy the fruit of his labor.

Answer your e-mails while on conference calls. No one will be the wiser, as long as you type very, very quietly.

Commit to only checking Facebook, MySpace and YouTube on your lunch hour. There’s no way around it: You will be in withdrawal for a few days. It will be painful. You might worry that you will be “unfriended” in the three hours before you return. You might even feel as though your quality of life is suffering.

But don’t worry, it will get easier. You’d be surprised how well a third doughnut can ease the pain.

Rockford Register Star