Computer Shortcuts: Save Yourself 19 Hours Per Month

One great irony of our times is that the very machines that once seduced us into believing they’d have us all sitting on a Mexican beach by now instead of muttering through rush hour traffic have turned out to be daily time sucks themselves, further robbing us of that bright SPF-50 future.

Silicon Valley isn’t entirely to blame; we busy professionals also play a role by suffering through constantly-changing operating systems without taking the time to update ourselves on the shortcuts that might reclaim some of our lost beach time.

Café Quill blogger Ian Lurie recently took a closer look at the various shortcuts he was avoiding that, collectively over time, had slowed his computer work to a child’s crawl. To his surprise, he found that by updating his habits, he could reclaim 19 hours of his life per month from the jaws of his laptop.

By investing just a few minutes to update his keystrokes, minimize his mouse use and incorporate online efficiency tools, Lurie estimates he shaved:

  • 5 hours per month in typing;
  • 6 hours in editing;
  • 3 hours in cutting, pasting and switching apps and tabs;
  • 2 hours in opening folders and starting programs; and
  • 5 hours in navigation.

“I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘I don’t have time to learn that stuff!’” Lurie writes. “That’s ironic but untrue. Yes, it takes a little time to learn these techniques; maybe a few minutes. But it pays off forever. Nineteen hours per month is two and a half additional workdays. Or five solid naps. You choose. Either way, it’s worth it.”

Here are four ways to reclaim some beach time from your computer

Type in shorthand: If your daily grind involves emailing lengthy and repetitive information, you may welcome the TextExpander tool. This program enables you to insert frequently-used text and pictures, including email signatures, into outbound email with the stroke of a simple keyboard shortcut, saving you hours of key-pounding.

Download an editor: Let’s face it, proofreading is time-consuming and inconvenient in the course of a meeting planner’s hectic workday. Editing programs like Grammarly and Hemingway not only catch misspellings and sundry keystroke flubs; they can also improve your business writing by flagging unnecessary adverbs, passive voice and overly-complex sentences. Who doesn’t want to save time and sound smarter, right?

Unhand that mouse: To truly embrace productivity, use your keyboard shortcuts rather than your mouse to cut-and-paste and switch windows/tabs. Here are a few shortcuts to get you started:

 Action    Mac   Windows
 Switch applications command – tab alt – tab
 Switch browser tabs option – command – arrow key ctrl – tab
 Select word shift – option – arrow key ctrl – shift – arrow key
 Select character shift – arrow key shift – arrow key

Launch folders and apps faster: If your computer routine regularly has you jumping between programs, online tools such as Alfred (for Macs) and Launchy (for Windows) can save you time by enabling you to open folders and apps with simple key combinations you chose.

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Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald is an award-winning journalist, author and blogger who incorporates humor and human interest into a broad range of topics. Follow him on Twitter @omnisaurus

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