Can Computer Shortcuts Help You Get More Done?

Can Computer Shortcuts Help You Get More Done?

keyboard shortcuts, brainscape, productivityThis is Week 37 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether using computer shortcuts could help me get more done. I used the keyboard shortcuts app, added a browser extension, and started using a WordPress plugin to save time. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for details.

How Computer Shortcuts Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Saved me from stupid time wasters. The Chrome extension to email webpages saved me lots of time. I do this on Chrome all the time on my phone, yet was copying and pasting URLs I wanted to email on my desktop. Dumb. I’ve used the email extension many times since adding it. The other dumb waste of time I was saved from was approving pings back to my own blog. I knew I was being ridiculous to put up with that, but had never taken the time to get a plugin that stopped self-pinging.
  • Serious fun. I recognized quite a while ago that productivity is a hobby for me. Learning new ways to save time on the computer is not only fun, but addicting! I really love the Brainscape app and am looking forward to mastering all the shortcuts.

How Computer Shortcuts Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Hard to break old habits. It’s been a challenge not to reach for the mouse as much. It’s kind of like changing to a car with a new location for shifting with lots of wasted movements.
  • Not all time savers yet. Because I keep reaching for the mouse, some time savers really aren’t. Opening a new tab with Control/Command T for example, takes more time for me than clicking the new tab button on Chrome because I have to stop and think. My hand automatically goes to the mouse.
  • Take time to find. The shortcuts that will save me the most time take time to research. For example, I had to find a new plugin to turn off self-pings because the old one hadn’t been updated. As with most hacks, you have to take time to save it.

Did Computer Shortcuts Help Me Get More Done?

Yes! The real benefits will take time to be realized, however. I need more time to change my mouse-loving ways and to find the right time savers for the way I work.

**UPDATE**

While I use the browser tab closing and a few other common keystrokes, I have to admit I haven’t continued to add keystroke habits to save time. That is probably because it takes time to create the habits.

 

productivity, download, interruptions, form, printable

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 38

This week I’ll be testing an interruptions log. By recording the when, who, and what of the interruptions to my work, I can prevent unnecessary interruptions. Okay, I can hear you laughing. I might be able to prevent some interruptions. Maybe.

The concept. Many interruptions we have to our work flow are internal and can be prevented by eliminating distractions like the phone, alerts, and websites. Internal interruptions can also be prevented by having systems in place for coping with them — a list of things to check out later, a Pomodoro timer, using Do it Tomorrow, etc.

Other interruptions occur because we haven’t scheduled focus work at the right times, haven’t discussed them with family or co-workers, or haven’t established boundaries (like phone being on Do Not Disturb or closing the office door).

Recovering from interruptions wastes valuable time.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read this Mind Tools article and download the free form for tracking your interruptions. Then implement the ways to handle interruptions based on what you learn.

To see if the Interrupters Log worked for me, click here.

Photo Credit

Are you on Google+? Follow me here.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

Week 32: The 12 Week Year

Week 33: David Seah’s Ten for Ten

Week 34: David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner

Week 35: Steve Kamb’s Do It Now

Week 36: Rising Early

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Can Rising Early Help You Get More Done?

Can Rising Early Help You Get More Done?

Steven Aitchison, productivity hacks, morning personThis is Week 36 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether getting up at 5:00 a.m. could help me get more done. I went to bed at 10:00 p.m., hoping to enjoy these 5 benefits to rising early. For details, scroll to the bottom of last week’s post.

How Rising Early Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Helped me make progress on an important project. I was able to get a lot done on the homeschool curriculum I am writing. I felt great about making this a priority.
  • Made me feel virtuous. By the time I started school, I felt I had already accomplished so much.
  • Wasn’t hard to get up. By day two, I was waking up at 5 on my own. I wasn’t crazy tired at 5 and the extra hour flew by.

How Rising Early Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Not in sync with my family. I was not a nice person when the first day, my husband got up too and said, “Hi.” Let’s just say he really thought I was a crab until I explained that I was getting up to have work time alone. He made the adjustment, but nights were tough. On one particular night, our ball team was playing late, and everyone stayed up to watch. I could not get to sleep.
  • Mid-morning crashes. I felt great until a few hours after 5. Then I couldn’t think about anything but going to bed. I took naps to compensate, but the morning after my trouble sleeping was a fiasco. I didn’t seem to be able to recover. Caffeine doesn’t agree with me (I love that expression, don’t you?), but I’m sure I couldn’t have drunk enough coffee to feel better after my sleepless night. The extra productivity I gained was lost to fatigue and naps. Would it get better the longer I got up at 5? I didn’t care.

Did Rising Early Help Me Get More Done?

Yes and no. I realized that in general, I am already an early riser, getting up at 6. I have time to exercise on planned days, spend time with my husband and oldest son, and have personal devotions before starting the school day. Getting up at 5 was great for having project time, but the negatives outweighed the positives. The compromise I have made is to get up at 6 and to spend half an hour working before my family members are really in a chatty mood. (In fact, I’m writing first thing in the morning now).

**UPDATE**

I continue to get up at 6 a.m. I do think I could adjust to getting up earlier, but there is no way in this household that I could get to bed before 10 a.m. I have learned that I need 8 hours of sleep to be at my best. I love getting up at 6. I get my most important activities done and feel like even if the rest of the day is a waste, I’ve had a great day.

keyboard shortcuts, brainscape, productivityThe Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 37

This week I’ll be testing computer shortcuts. I am going to adopt several keyboard shortcuts apt to save me the most time.

The concept. I’m pretty computer savvy. And I’m also pretty geeky about productivity. But when it comes to saving time on the computer–where I spend a good portion of my time–I’m pretty dumb. Example. I have a reputation at home for being the Open Tab Queen. If I’ve been sitting at a computer using Chrome, you can bet that (especially prior to Do It Now), I have left a good 25 tabs open. Leaving that many tabs open slows performance down such that closing them all takes forever. At least it does if you’re computer shortcut ignorant like me.

So one day when I faced my 25+ open tabs, I happened to right-click on a tab and discovered that I could close them all at once. Furthermore, I saw that I could close all tabs to the right. Then I got really crazy and figured out that I could move the tabs I was actually using to the same place, making it even easier to use “close tabs to the right.” The amount of time this has saved me is significant. Brainscape wouldn’t be surprised. They assert that simple keyboard shortcuts can save us eight days a year!

That got me thinking. How many other shortcuts are there that would save me time? Turns out, a LOT. Some of them are easy to implement, like the tab closing trick. Others are habits I would need to develop. I’m excited that there’s an app to help you learn the keyboard shortcut habit!

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Decide on which computer shortcuts you’d like to adopt this week. Choose a few easy, automatic ones and some that may require habit formation. Make sure that what you choose will be a major time saver based on how you use the computer. Consider trying the free app if you’re an Apple user. Here are some lists of shortcuts and time savers to get you started.

6 Google Chrome Extensions to Help You Get Things Done, 20 Essential Time Saving Chrome Extensions6 Computer Shortcuts Every Computer User Should Know, PC & Mac Shortcuts, GMail ShortcutsWord Time Savers (also Excel at this site), 10 WordPress Plugins That Save Bloggers Time, How to Create Your Own WinKey Shortcuts

To see if computer shortcuts boosted my productivity, click here.

Photo Credit

Are you on Google+? Follow me here.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

Week 32: The 12 Week Year

Week 33: David Seah’s Ten for Ten

Week 34: David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner

Week 35: Steve Kamb’s Do It Now

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Can Steve Kamb’s Do it Now Help You Get More Done?

Can Steve Kamb’s Do it Now Help You Get More Done?

GTD, productivity, Do it Now, Nerd Fitness, Steve Kamb

This is Week 35 of a Year of Living Productively

I tested whether Steve Kamb’s Do it Now approach could help me get more done. As you might surmise, any routine task that occurred to me to do, I did immediately, as much as I was able. I did not do tasks outside of their assigned time. Scroll down to last week’s post for details.

How Do it Now Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Made me realize I’m a procrastinator. I really didn’t think I was. After all, I quit doing those stay-up-all-night-to-meet-a-deadline jags years ago. But what I still do is put off one task in favor of a more pleasant one. For example, rather than clean up (with the kids’ help) right after lunch or dinner, I do social media stuff. I tell myself I’ll get to it as soon as I’m done. I don’t think I have to tell you how that usually works out. Acknowledging that I’m a procrastinator helped me think of appropriate interventions.
  • Helped me recognize the source of most of my productivity problems. I would have admitted that I put some tasks off until later before this week. But I would have denied that the areas where I still struggle were related. They are. It really doesn’t matter what systems or hacks I put into place if I’m not willing to do what needs to be done (or what I said I’d do) now.
  • Saved me time and my self-esteem. There is no doubt in my mind that doing things when you think of them takes less time than doing them later. I demonstrated that to myself this week. As I saved more time, I even felt better about myself. Deep down I know it’s a stupid thing to do to put off the inevitable.

How Do it Now Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Hated admitting the truth. Hearing the Narrator’s voice say “Do it now” didn’t bother me at all. What bothered me was hearing my own voice saying, “See what you have to deal with because you didn’t do it now?”
  • Wasn’t able to resolve the problem in a week. My tendency of putting things off (even for a few hours) impacts every area of my life. It’s been a little discouraging to realize that it’s going to take a while to change this pervasive habit.
  • Sometimes difficult to decide on using it. Most of the time I knew which things should be done “now” and which should be saved for later. But sometimes I wondered if I should take a little extra time to put things away as I went to start a scheduled task or not. It probably wasn’t as big as a concern as I would have thought, however.

Did Do it Now Help Me Get Things Done?

Yes, but I have work to do. If I change this very bad habit of mine, I think the potential for increased productivity is greater than with any other hack I’ve tested. The question is, can I change it?

**UPDATE**

I think I’ve gotten better with this, but I could benefit from watching the Do It Now video regularly. It’s definitely a very effective approach for many regular tasks.

Steven Aitchison, productivity hacks, morning person

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 36

This week I’ll be testing Steven Aitchison’s Early Riser Approach. Rather than rising at my typical 6 a.m. or later (my schedule hasn’t been as routine lately), I will wake up at 5 a.m. so I can add an hour’s work in the morning. I will attempt to get the same 7 hours’ worth of sleep by going to bed an hour earlier.

The concept. Steven claims 5 benefits of rising early which include productivity and time to work on life goals. I am wanting to complete a first volume in a new curriculum I’m writing and rising earlier is one approach I’ve considered toward achieving this challenging goal. The advantages of working at this time are no distractions. No one else will be up! The potential disadvantage is that I will not be on the same schedule as my husband. He has said he is game for me to give it a week’s test. We’ll see if he helps or hinders me. 😉

Steven gets just five hours of sleep a night and argues that we can train our bodies to require less sleep. I agree to some extent. I used to require 8 hours nightly and have trained myself to do well on 7. Maybe it’s what Steven would call “lack of training” that contributes to my belief that I need all 7 of those hours, but regardless, I plan to keep them.

Steven emphasizes the importance of gradually making the change to rising earlier (and/or requiring less sleep) and I agree. I get up at 5:45 fairly often, so I don’t think it will be a huge shock to get up at 5, but time will tell.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read the 5 benefits of rising early, decide on what time you’d like to get up (and how to stay up!), and whether you’ll break it in slowly or not. Make sure you’re motivated by knowing exactly how you’ll use the extra time.

To see if rising early helped me get more done, click here.

Are you on Google+? Follow me here.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

Week 32: The 12 Week Year

Week 33: David Seah’s Ten for Ten

Week 34: David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner

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Can David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner Help You Get More Done?

Can David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner Help You Get More Done?

David Seah, productivity, time management

This is Week 34 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner could help me get more done. I pre-planned 3 tasks and added more as they “emerged.” I also estimated how much time the tasks would take and scheduled some of the pre-planned tasks. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post for details.

How The Emergent Task Planner Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Got me thinking about my MITs again. I’ve gotten away from thinking about the most important tasks to accomplish each day. The Emergent Task Planner (ETP) definitely helped me narrow down my list of want to and must do’s.
  • Reminded me to be realistic. I really wasn’t far off in terms of estimating how much time my tasks would take, but that was AFTER I’d written them down. My usual approach is to live in lala land, imagining I can “get caught up” in one day. hahaha
  • Gave me a place to write. I didn’t do this until later in the week, but I really enjoyed brainstorming on the extra lines provided. I drafted a terrific blog post idea. No, I don’t think that’s the point of the extra space, but I was shying away from the form because of perfectionism. Feeling free to take notes on it made it much more appealing.

How The Emergent Task Planner Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Couldn’t keep track of the paper. It got better toward the end of the week, but at first, it was really annoying to realize that I’d left the form on a different floor of the house. I didn’t feel free to just work without it as I have with other paper approaches because of the time tracking issue. I knew I would have no idea how much time I actually spent without referring to the form before starting a task.
  • Cramped by the task ordering. I don’t think I did the tasks in order any day this week. I didn’t feel it mattered so much within the first three tasks, but I was doing tasks that emerged first and didn’t feel this was in the spirit of the form. Maybe I’m wrong, but in any case, it made the form less appealing for me.
  • My inner rebel. It seemed that as soon as I committed to doing a task this week, that was it: I wouldn’t do it. It seemed to be my inner rebel rearing her ugly head. She may have had enough of all this productivity hacking! Either that, or I was just really tired. I gave myself permission to let things go. I’m OK with that, except in some situations (not this week), that attitude has meant I’ve forgotten some critical things. I tend to be an all-or-none lady. I don’t think this has anything to do with the ETP, however.

Did The Emergent Task Planner Help Me Get Things Done?

Given my attitude, yes. I was tempted to say no, but the truth is I think I would have done even less without the process of writing out my plan each day on the ETP. That being said, I’m not that excited about continuing to use it. Maybe I’ll change my mind when my rebel has been placated.

**UPDATE**

I don’t need a paper planner like this now that I’m using Skedpal. However, I think this may be a good analog tool for people who aren’t as rebellious as I am.

GTD, productivity, Do it Now, Nerd Fitness, Steve Kamb

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 35

This week I’ll be testing Steve Kamb’s Do it Now approach. Just as Steve Kamb, the blogger behind Nerd Fitness, suggests, I am going to stop putting off daily living tasks until later. Instead, I will do them “now.”

The concept. Steve argues that we make work for ourselves by putting off things like dishes, laundry, and clean up. Doing it later means doing it longer. The principle of Do it Now does not mean that you interrupt your work for every person, demand, or idea that presents itself.

This is not a new concept to me at all. In fact, it’s a problem I thought I’d mastered. But slowly, I’ve noticed that I am not immediately hanging up my clothes, putting my dishes in the dishwasher, or putting school books away “now.” I am waiting for that magical time period when everything is quick and fun to do known as “later.” Of course, later usually makes tasks more onerous.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read Steve’s post and watch the funny (and strangely motivating) video he includes. Purpose to handle all those little tasks that should be done as you think of them “now.” If you’d like to comment or share this post, you’d better do it now. You know you won’t have time later. 😉

To see if Do It Now helped me, click here.

Are you on Google+? Follow me here.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

Week 32: The 12 Week Year

Week 33: David Seah’s Ten for Ten

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