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2 Very Simple Ways to Significantly Increase Your Productivity


There are many thing you can do to improve your productivity and today we’ll cover two of the easiest possible productivity tips that will give you biggest bang for the buck!

1. Check your email at most 3 times a day.

Very simple. Don’t check your email throughout the day. Don’t automatically check your email every 5-15 minutes. Not even once an hour. No more than a total of 3 times in any single day. If it’s very important, then the person will find another means of contacting you directly (maybe through messenger, that old thing we call a phone, or even coming to see you in person).

The 3 times I personally check my emails are:

  1. First thing in the morning for obvious reasons.
  2. After I come back from lunch. It’s nice because it’s a lighter transition to get back in the groove of things.
  3. Near the end of the day. When you’re getting tired and your productivity is already low. It’s a nice change of pace. As well it’s a good way to prepare for tomorrow.

Anything else is simply too much. I can’t tell you how many people I see reading and writing emails all day. It’s too much. It’s overload. And as I’ve mentioned before, if it’s really that important they’ll contact you by another means. It’s as simple as that.

2. Learn the hotkeys of your most common tasks for your software applications.

For those of you who aren’t computer literate, this means learning the keyboard shortcuts to the most common commands of the software applications you use on your computer.

For example, if you’re in Microsoft Word and you want to save your document what do most people do? They move the mouse over the File menu, then to the Save item in the menu, and so on. This can easily take as much as 2-5 seconds for a simple save that’s done many many times a day. As an alternative you can just type in alt-f-s. That’s less than 1 second! You’ve easily increased your productivity by 5 times!

Other common hotkeys for computer newbies is the copy/paste commands. Rather than use your mouse to highlight the text, click on copy, paste, etc. you can just learn how to highlight text with the keyboard (there are some simple shortcuts here). Then use ctl-c to copy and clt-v to paste. Less than a second! Another very significant increase in productivity.

How about switching applications? Do you navigate your taskbar on the bottom of the screen until you find the right application? Try alt-tab instead. It’s much quicker.

The list goes on. And as you get better and better and learn more and more hotkeys, you get to do more advanced tasks with increasing efficiency. Instead of 5-10 second gains you start getting 15-30 second gains. These few seconds may not seem like much, but the more you use them the more they save you. Over a day it can add up to hours. I can honestly say I sometimes shock people by how fast I can manipulate my computer while they stare at my screen. It’s not that I’m an amazing computer whiz (that’s another debate), it’s just that I’ve just slowly built up my library of hotkeys.

Quick Tip: You’ll also find that most software applications standardize on the same common hotkeys. Copy/Paste is always the same. Same with File Save. Suddenly you’re no longer more efficient in just your key programs, but in all programs on all computers!

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  •     Justin
    · December 16th, 2007  · 6:46 pm  · Permalink

    Great tips! I’ve pretty much got most hotkeys down, but I could DEFINITELY benefit from your first tip. I’ll put it into effect starting tomorrow.

    Personally, I have a problem of not only checking my email constantly throughout the day, but also:
    – RSS Feeds
    – Adsense Revenue
    – Parked Domain Revenue
    – Facebook updates
    – Online Forums

    I’m thinking I’ll limit the above list to once (maybe twice) a day, and my email to thrice a day… thanks for the idea.

  •     Steve
    · December 16th, 2007  · 8:43 pm  · Permalink

    If you do Ctrl-S instead of Alt-F-S you’ll save even more time.

  •     Steph
    · December 16th, 2007  · 9:12 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Steve,

    Unfortunately on many apps ctrl-s doesn’t work, which is why I now just default to alt-f-s. I only have one thing to remember 🙂

  •     Steph
    · December 16th, 2007  · 9:17 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Justin,

    Thanks! It’s great to hear someone is benefiting from the tips.

    And I agree, it’s not just email. RSS Feeds are another one for me that I’ve been getting better at limiting. As well as looking at the LandlordMax sales revenues for the day (I do that no more than once to twice a day now).

    Another one is reading the comments on this blog. I try to keep it to no more than a few times a day. That’s also why you’ll notice that most of my responses are generally within a day or more…

  •     Steve
    · December 17th, 2007  · 1:48 am  · Permalink

    I guess all the software I use has Ctrl-S as a hotkey, I don’t remember the last app I used that doesn’t.

  •     Steph
    · December 19th, 2007  · 10:44 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Steve,

    I think you may be right. I learned alt-f-s a long time ago, back in the Win98/95 days. I do remember ctrl-s wasn’t always available in a lot of software applications, but this seems to have changed. That’s a good thing!

    Thanks for the tip!

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