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Leave early on Friday: time-saving PC tips and tricks

Alex Castle | May 3, 2013
What's the best way to tell an expert PC user apart from a bumbling amateur? The expert doesn't waste time. Time is money, after all, and there are tons of ways to speed up even the most basic computing tasks.

What's the best way to tell an expert PC user apart from a bumbling amateur? The expert doesn't waste time. Time is money, after all, and there are tons of ways to speed up even the most basic computing tasks.

We're going to contribute to your expert education with 21 simple things you can do to waste less time while you're using a PC. Even if one of these tips saves you just five minutes each week, it'll save you hours over the next year.

1. Tame your email with Inbox Zero Inbox Zero helps you organize your email.

Email is a core tool, but also a huge time waster. For every second you spend messaging productively, you probably lose five more seconds searching for old emails or fretting over the mass in your inbox. Organize your inbox today, and you'll save minutes every time you log in.

First, do whatever it takes to empty your inbox, and then try to keep it that way. Among the popular systems for organizing your email, Inbox Zero is straightforward, easy to understand, and a snap to start using.

2. Cut meetings down to size

Meetings are a necessary inconvenience, but they don't have to kill productivity if you make them as zippy as possible. The meeting-minutes service with the strongest emphasis on speed is Less Meeting. It features the standard note-and-minute-keeping features along with a set of timers, helping you cut your meeting off before people start snoozing.

3. Learn Microsoft Office keyboard shortcuts

To master any application, your fingers must memorize its hot keys--the keystroke combinations to navigate without the mouse. You probably know most of the basic ones, such as Ctrl-C for copy, but there are tons more in Windows as well as in every desktop app.

Don't sit down and study a hot-key cheat sheet. Instead, try KeyRocket. It runs in the background while you use Word, PowerPoint, or Excel, suggesting shortcuts as you need them. Simple analytics also show how much time you're saving. The full version costs $30.

4. Add a second monitor

If you regularly work in multiple programs at the same time, minimizing and maximizing software windows eats into your workday more than you realize. Minimizing Outlook, checking an entry in Excel, then switching back to Outlook also breaks your attention and makes it hard to get back on track.

What are you waiting for? Get a second monitor. If you need maximum screen space to edit videos or do serious stock-market trading, maybe even consider more than two monitors. Nothing makes it easier to whip through tasks and applications.

5. Use a disk visualizer to speed up your PC

 

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