Time: Ten Ways To Be More Efficient with Technology
If there's one thing we could all use more of, it's time! To put it in perspective: just 10 minutes per day equals over 40 hours per year. Using technology more effectively is a great way to get back that time. As a famous IT manager once told his boss, "If you say 'no' to this new spam filter, you might as well give everyone in the company an extra week's vacation, since it takes staff 10 minutes per day to filter spam!"
Use these tips to help increase your efficiency and get back those extra weeks each year.
- Get a new computer. If your PC is five years old or more, it's time to just get a new one. It will more than pay for itself in a very short period of time through greater efficiency. If you do very intense processes all day on the computer, replace your computer about every three years.
- Use keyboard shortcuts. Everything you do on a computer can be done sans mouse. We are all familiar with CTRL+S (save), but did you know CTRL+Z will "undo" in just about every Windows program? Or, try ALT+TAB (hold down ALT with your thumb of your left hand and hit TAB with your index finger): it switches between active programs; keep hitting TAB to cycle between programs. For a more complete list.
- Upgrade your monitor(s). If you have a small monitor, invest in a bigger one. A 22-inch LCD is only about $200 these days, and it allows you to see more on the screen at one time— big efficiency boost. To take it to the next level, set up dual (or triple) monitors. With multiple monitors on your desk, you can have full screen documents side-by-side and spread out your work.
- Speed up the system. Don't worry about cleaning out your files (items stored in "My Documents," for instance, do not typically slow down your system) but, rather, focus on programs that are running in the background. If you are willing to tinker, use MSCONFIG to decrease the load. Learn how.
- Hibernate. No, "hibernate" doesn't mean you get to sleep all winter. Instead of shutting off your PC, use the Hibernate feature (you may need to enable it under Control Panel > Power Options). This saves your system state to memory and still fully shuts off the PC. It's very "green" yet shortens the computer startup time considerably (most computers turn fully on from hibernate in 15 to 20 seconds).
- Browse wisely. How many times have you checked Facebook today? Or, how about the latest headlines at a news site? Those five-minute "breaks" can really add up. If you are concerned about your staff wasting time with personal browsing, get a handle on it with a web filtering/monitoring system. Learn Learn more about free service.
- Type properly (and quickly). If you are a "hunter and pecker," it is time for some official training! And, if you can type 60 words per minute, why not go for 100? Good technique allows you to type with speed and makes the best use of time. Test your speed, then get free tutorials. Take a break from work while improving your typing at the same time with this game.
- Become a Google pro. We all Google. But did you know you can search within a specific site with the site: command? Or have Google fill in the blanks with the * command? See more at Google's basic and advanced tutorials.
- Get training. Never be content with your computer skills— when it comes to the applications you use every day. Most application vendors provide training online or in person. Take advantage of it. If you are a manager, institute consistent IT training and watch the productivity soar. There are many great resources online (use your Google skills!) as well companies that will provide custom training.
- Focus on efficiencies. Above all, keep the focus on more efficient processes and practices. Whether it is through an IT committee, an IT department, a department head's approach to workflows, or your own usage of technology— technology creatively and take back your time.
Ryan Barton is President of Mainstay Technologies, an IT firm that specializes in providing technology support and implementation services for municipalities and other organizations throughout New Hampshire.