Time-Saving Computer Tips

We’re at our keyboards way too much, and, let’s face it, the lure of the Internet is irresistible. How do you minimize your computer time and stay focused on tasks? Leo Babauta, creator of zenhabits.net offers these suggestions:

1. Disconnect. When you want to focus on a task, disconnect from the Internet. This means closing your browser, or disconnecting from your wireless network, or even unplugging the cord.

2. Keystroke it. For those documents, programs, folders, and websites you go to frequently, use Quicksilver for Macs and Autohotkey for PCs to open them with a keystroke. This saves hours over the course of a month.

3. Use e-mail shortcuts. Your e-mail program has keyboard shortcuts for opening, sending, filing, searching, and navigating e-mails. These shortcuts let you work through a batch of e-mails quickly. Add shortcuts, via Quicksilver or Autohotkey, for commonly used text or signatures to zip through replies.

4. Set up filters. Gmail, Outlook, and other programs have filtering features. Set them up for certain types of e-mails, like stats and financial reports relating to your work, so these e-mails never see the light of your in-box. Later, you can go to specific labels or folders. Filters can automatically delete e-mails from people who send chain and joke e-mails, and file notifications from services like Facebook, Twitter, and Paypal.

5. Limit social media. You can spend much of the day chatting, tweeting, or browsing forums. Set limits for yourself—say, one hour a day for these activities and dedicate a certain block in your schedule. You’ll have more time for the important tasks (no, we don’t mean shopping on eBay).

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