New applications or enhancements to existing ones can provide big efficiency benefits, but there are also many simple tweaks, unsung tips, and new ways to think about the tools that you already use that can help you work better. In this post, I’ll share five ways that can help you accomplish more and experience less hassle. You can take advantage of many of these tips in minutes.
Double Up On Monitors. We’ve covered the efficiency benefits of using dual monitors before. While some users like sitting in front of one giant monitor these days, for the same cost you can buy two (or more) reasonably priced monitors, put them side-by-side on your desktop, and use the displays as one fluid desktop. I recently switched to this kind of setup, and I’ll never go back. The time I save simply loading web pages and applications is substantial, and it’s also just easier to work this way. Windows XP and Vista both offer dual-monitor support out of the box, as does Mac OS X. Give it a go if you haven’t tried it.
Flex Your Mouse Muscle. Some of the most surprised comments I’ve ever gotten for any post on this blog came in response to a post called, “Nine Ways to Make Your Mouse Roar.” I made the point there that you may well spend more time with your mouse each day than you do with any person, and yet, a lot of people install a mouse without ever consulting the documentation and finding out what it’s capable of. Do you have a mouse with a scroll wheel? If so, in any tabbed browser, just click your scroll wheel while hovering over a link on the web to open it in a new tab. Or try this: In the middle of a web page you’re looking at, click once on your scroll wheel. Your cursor should change shape. Moving up and down with the mouse will let you scroll the page, and do speed scrolling. If your eyes are tired, hold your Ctrl key down and lightly push your scroll wheel up a few notches. The size of the text on the page you’re looking at will increase, and you can hold Ctrl and scroll back down to return it to normal size. There are many more of these tips in the original post.
Become a Word Power User. There are plenty of nifty ways to squeeze more productivity from Microsoft Word and make it easier to use. For example, if you need to leave a document but want to have your cursor sitting right where you left it in the middle of an editing session when you return, you don’t have to leave your document open. Go ahead and close it. When you reopen it to resume editing, hit Shift+F5 to take your cursor back to precisely where you left it. Do you have multiple Word documents open and need to take a break? To rapidly save all open documents, hold down the Shift key and go to Word’s “File” menu. The usual “Save” menu choice will show up as “Save All.” There are many more of these tips in the posts above. Check out this post and this one for more essential efficiency tips.
Get More Out of Outlook. While it’s almost nobody’s favorite email application, many of us must use Microsoft Outlook for work. If you do, you’ll find eight good efficiency tips for it in this post. For example: Do you often forget to respond to important Outlook messages? To set a reminder — visible in your Inbox — to act on or reply to any message, right-click on the message you want to set the reminder for, select Follow Up, and choose your Due By time and date. When you click OK, the message will be flagged for you to remember to respond to it.
Reboot Your Wi-Fi. In this recent post, I described how important it is to do a regular, cycled reboot on your home Wi-Fi setup. I also described how the combination of the cycled reboot and changing Wi-Fi channels can eliminate dropped signals and other common problems. Several readers provided comments with Wi-Fi efficiency tips of their own, including free, open-source firmware applications that can give you much more control over your Wi-Fi router, and better performance through boosted signals. Many of us are very dependent on Wi-Fi all day, so look into how a few simple tips can help you be more wirelessly efficient.
Share your tips for boosting efficiency in the comments.