|Written on 10/13/2008 by Abhijeet Mukherjee. You can catch him at Jeet Blog where he blogs about different Web 2.0 apps a nd online tools and how they can help you become more productive.||Photo Credit:
For an average computer user working on a Windows PC (which is currently the majority of the PC users), there is a fair chance that most tasks take a little longer than needed.
There are 2 primary reasons for this: the computer isn’t optimized well enough to make it faster and better, and second, the person isn’t aware of the tricks and tools that can be employed to easily skyrocket productivity. This article points out 7 such tips.
Although there are many more advanced methods, I have tried to isolate the simplest and the most essential tricks. The goal here is to help everyone from basic user to geek to advanced geek.
Speed Up Your Computer
Speeding up your computer would refer to reducing the time it takes to start up and reduce its usage time (the time it takes to open programs and carry out tasks). One of the best ways to reduce the startup time is to remove unnecessary programs and services from starting up automatically using msconfig. You uncheck the programs that you want to prevent from starting up automatically thereby reducing the computer startup time considerably.
To speed up the normal functioning of the computer, there are several options. Some which are discussed in Top 12 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer. If you aren’t a big fan of the colors and graphics in Windows, you could even optimize your computer for better performance by turning them off. Here’s a microsoft article which shows how to do it. The steps given are for XP and are almost the same for Vista.
Learn Keyboard Shortcuts
Switching between mouse and keyboard frequently is certainly more time consuming than using just the keyboard or mouse. You may not be able to do everything using the mouse but if you get acquainted with the keyboard shortcuts you could definitely do almost everything on the PC using keyboard. Here’s a big list of Windows keyboard shortcuts for you, which is easy to learn once you start using them everyday.
Use Application Launchers
Application launchers help you open applications and programs using your keyboard and hence save you time by preventing you from mousing every time you need to open an application. Check out this list of best application launchers.
In case you usually toggle between only one or two important apps and you think you don’t need an application launcher for that purpose, you could still save time by creating keyboard shortcuts for important folders. Although, the article talks about folders only, you could apply the exact same steps for creating a keyboard shortcut to open an application like Firefox or Outlook.
Declutter and Organize Desktop
A clean and organized desktop would definitely make you more productive. Clearly, not having so sift through 80 desktop icons will lead to you locating it faster. As I mentioned above, you could use application launchers to open applications, files or folders so you really don’t need to clutter your desktop with a lot of icons.
You could also use a tool like Google Desktop which lets you access important things like calendar, feeds and a to-do list neatly placed in a sidebar on the desktop.
Access Important Folders In The Taskbar
This is a tip that has helped me a lot and I am sure it would help all of those who are in the process of gathering data and resources from the web and saving it offline. You could create a new toolbar to include those folders in your Windows taskbar and access it immediately when required. This method only works with some folders because you really wouldn’t want to clutter your taskbar with a lot of them. I’ve explained in this article how you can achieve this.
I didn’t mention AutoHotKey earlier because it may not be one of the simplest tips and is probably aimed at advanced users. Anyway, it’s a great tool to avoid repetitive tasks like typing the same sentence again and again. AutoHotKey is a free tool and here’s a quick start guide to it.
Use Automation and Timing Tools
Using automation tools like AutoHotKey certainly do a great deal in making you more productive by helping ensure you only spend time on the important tasks. For example, LifeHacker recently talked about WakeupOnStandBy, a free automation and timing tool for Windows, which can automate the tasks of putting the computer to sleep mode, hibernate mode or shutting it down. There are many more such tools available. You just need to decide which task you would like to automate and then search Google for such app. I’m sure you will find it and I am sure you will backup your system before simply installing random apps.
Hope you liked the tips. As I mentioned initially, there are many more tips and hence I’ll be closely watching the comments section to learn how you manage your PC and your time.