How to improve productivity if you are not a geek

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Lots of productivity advise is geared toward geeks and people willing to play with software. You can hear about using macros, scripts, auto text solutions which automate a lot of your work. But those solutions require at least some computer knowledge and willingness to explore.

At the same time if you work for a big corporation, use of non-approved software is not permitted. It’s more than likely that use of applications like textExpander or PhraseExpress will not be allowed for security reasons or simply because it’s easier for local IT team. You could push the limit and try to install something on your own but it’s risky and there may be consequences.

So how to improve your productivity where you can’t use latest software, your are not a geek and can’t create macros? Start with exploring three options: keyboard shortcuts, templates, checklists.

Use keyboard

Easiest way to increase speed on your computer is to learn keyboard shortcuts. Rather than patiently navigate through different menus and options use key combinations to get your stuff done.
Most certainly you’ve heard about ctrl+C, ctrl+B combinations. There are hundreds more,  almost every application has them. You don’t need to learn all of them at once start small and build up as you go. Here is how to do  it:

  • Define your key applications. Figure out which programs you use the most, there is no point in spending time on learning a tool you use once in a while.
  • Check the list of shortcuts and print those you think will be most useful. Any time you do something check if there is a keyboard shortcut for it.
  • Keep the list in front. Pin in on the wall or tape to your monitor.
  • Refer to it as much as possible and try to memorise them.

Once you’ve learned the shortcuts and used them for couple weeks observe how smoother and faster your are at computer.

Use templates

Do you write standard letters or email communication? Do you have to print the same form everyday?
If you find yourself creating the same type of documents time and time again. Rather than re-type the same content each time and think what to put in it try creating a template for each type.
Create a folder with all your templates and put a link on your desktop for quick access. Then each time you need to send an email or some other document refer to that folder and use the template. Fill the blank with client specific information and your done.

Use checklists

Another way to deal with standardised and repeating tasks is to create a checklist to describe the stages of the process. They can save you a lot of time and reduce chances for mistakes. Couple ways in which checklists can help you increase productivity:

  • Don’t have to re-write sub tasks every time.  Being able to see all the sub-tasks makes it easy to complete the work 
  • Don’t have to think what needs to be done. Some tasks are complex and lengthy with lots of moving parts. Having to re-think every step of the process would be time consuming and very risky.  Think of plane mechanics, there are thousands of parts in engine so if each mechanic would have to remember what to do when servicing it would make it easier to forget about this or that element.
  • Easily deal with distractions. It’s not uncommon that someone interrupts our work. Having a checklist at hand makes it easy to know where you were and what to do next to complete the process.

Are you a non-geek? How do you improve your productivity?

Hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful. I would appreciate your comments and opinions.

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