8 tricks to speed up your workflow

Who doesn’t wish for more time to tackle the myriad tasks vying for our attention? You don’t need more hours in the day, though, only minutes. Tuneup your workflow with these time-saving tricks and you’ll find yourself getting more done in less time.

Use voice recognition

If you input a lot of data and you’re not a particularly fast typist, use voice recognition. A fairly mature technology, voice recognition has been built into the Windows operating system since Windows Vista and can be enabled from the Ease of Access applet found in the Control Panel.

Dragon Naturally Speaking
Use Dragon NaturallySpeaking to create documents and control common PC programs.

You can also use a third-party app like Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which packs additional algorithms to leverage the context of the entire sentence for greater accuracy. Advanced features like the ability to launch applications, switch between them, or even initiate an Internet search allows you to navigate the desktop without having to lift a finger.

Synchronize your life

Be sure to configure your PC and devices to sync with each other so you can switch between them without missing a beat. Cloud storage services such as Dropbox, SugarSync, and SkyDrive make files accessible from any device with an Internet connection, while Web browsers such as Chrome and Firefox can keep your bookmarks and browser settings synchronized between laptops, desktops, and mobile devices.

Use a business card app

Those business cards you amassed at your last conference aren’t going to enter themselves into your address book. Fortunately, you don’t have to manually type each one in. Instead, you can use a business card scanner to capture the data in your contact list. If you don’t network enough to justify splurging on a dedicated card scanner, check out the many smartphone and tablet apps—such as CamCard and WorldCard HD—do the same with the built-in cameras found on mobile devices.

Upgrade to a solid state drive

If you’re still using a PC powered by a traditional hard disk drive (HDD), do yourself a favor and upgrade to the speedier solid-state drive (SSD). Your productivity—and blood pressure—will thank you for that, as you launch apps and move files around without a lag. As a bonus, physical bumps and jolts that would normally damage the spinning platter in a HDD are unlikely to have an affect an SSD. Of course, the flash memory chips inside an SSD works differently than a HDD though, so be sure to take proper care of it.

Put your laptop to sleep

Rather than manually powering your laptop off and on between appointments, set it to go into “Sleep” mode instead. This keeps power flowing to the system RAM to maintain the state of the PC, allowing it to power up fully in seconds. In general, the power drain on a modern laptop in sleep mode is sufficiently low that it isn’t a consideration for regular commutes.

To set this, go to Control Panel and click on Power Options. From there, select “Change advanced power settings” to bring up the “Power Options” dialog shown below.

Windows sleep
Put your laptop in sleep mode when you’re in transit.

 

Don’t ignore the fingerprint scanner

Many business-class laptops come with an integrated fingerprint reader, which unfortunately sits unused most of the time. If your laptop has one, it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to configure it to recognize your digits using its preinstalled fingerprint management software. Being able to authenticate yourself using your fingerprint saves you precious seconds from not having to type your password every time you log into your laptop.

Get a second monitor

If you’ve never used a dual-monitor rig, you don’t know what you’re missing. Having additional desktop real estate allows you to position windows so that they are readily accessible without having to hunt through your taskbar for the app that you need. An alternative would be to go for a single-display setup with an ultra large screen measuring at least 27-inches. The additional space will allow you to line up more windows without too much overlapping.

Master your shortcut keys

Getting the hang of some common shortcut keys can help you get things done much faster. The most basic shortcuts would be CTRL+C, CTRL+V and CTRL+X, which are used for copy, paste, and cut, respectively. CTRL+Z and CTRL+Y allow you to undo and redo your last action, which is particularly useful in productivity apps such as a word processor.

For window management, the Windows Key+E combo brings up the Windows File Explorer, while ALT-F4 closes the current window. Finally, if you’re using your Web browser, holding on to the CTRL key while scrolling your wheel mouse zooms in and out of your document or browser window.

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