What do you think can make a difference to your day? Catching all the green lights on the way to work? Watching TV without commercials (well, you can actually do this, bad example)? Never having to wait in lines at the store? Being able to go 90 mph instead of 70 mph (legally) on trips? Sure, these could all help you gain more time in a fantasy world, but what practical, time-saving steps can you take to create a more realistic fix?
Considering most of us spend more and more time on a computer each year, devising ways to save time on them is a goal that is easy to accomplish. Realistically you can improve your day by simplifying repetitive tasks and taking a little time to organize yourself digitally. At the end of the day, it will help you to achieve the things you want to do instead of the things you have to. In reading this post, keep in mind the differences between Mac and PC. Some suggestions will be platform specific, but if it can be done on one, you can usually find a way to do it on the other.
1. Get There Faster
Think of that most frequently accessed folder on your computer — the one that takes three or four navigational steps to reach. You can make shortcuts to all of your often-visited folders. This may not sound like a huge time-saver, but over the course of the day you will be amazed at how much you will come to rely on one-click access. It is the same idea as a bookmark in your web browser except it works everywhere on your computer.
2. Learn About Where You Already Are
Learn the capabilities of your mouse’s right click. In every software program, the right click will contain shortcuts to things that are done most often in any given application. It may take a while to get used to what each program’s right click menu holds, but it will save you time. Some even allow you to customize the menu for tasks specific to you.
3. Make a List and Check it Twice
Find a way to keep a to-do list. It doesn’t have to be digital, but it helps. Being able to easily edit, e-mail, save and backup are some reasons to keep a list on your computer or smart phone. Some mail programs such as Entourage even have task lists integrated into their calendar functions. The important thing to remember about lists is to do the most difficult thing first. The difficult item is often the longest and if you push it to the end, which would seem the most intuitive, you will be rushing at the end of your day to finish the hardest part. It makes sense to end your day with things that are causing less stress and headache.
This is something of a sub-category of the above suggestion but here it goes: Set end dates for tasks. This will help you finish open-ended projects. Even if you move the due date, it will keep you on target to finish.
4. Protect What You Have
My final suggestion is to have a backup scenario. This should really be a post all to itself, but I will highlight a few points. It is not a question of if your computer will fail but when. Statistically, the longer something goes without breaking, the more likely it is to happen. If you have a backup, it could save you weeks of work. If you have any kind of backup scenario in place, even if it’s just burning a copy of your files on CD periodically, it is better than nothing.
These techniques will not apply to everyone, but hopefully you will be able to find a new tidbit to help you with your day. Remember, get what you have to do out of the way to arrive at what you want to do — even if it is jumping right back on the computer.