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Improve efficiency with your keyboard, first time decisions and shutting it all off!

October 1, 2015

By Kathie M. Rotz, CPTM, Director of Corporate Learning

More things to do in life but you still only have 24 hours in a day.  We all know how this goes.  We feel it at work and at home.  So, the trick in life is to do the necessary tasks quicker.  Here are three ideas that may turn your days around.

1. Keyboard Shortcuts

Do you know that you can run your entire computer with your keyboard?  Avoid the mouse trap! Disconnect it, force yourself to learn the keyboard and you will add minutes to your day.

Think about working in any Microsoft program.  Frequently you need to save your work.  You can:
a. Select the Save icon in the button bar OR
b. Select File > Save OR
c. Select Ctrl > S on your keyboard

If your hands never leave the keyboard you will save time.  I save 1.8 seconds every time I save a document by selecting Ctrl > S instead of using my mouse to find a save option.   If I save every ten minutes throughout the day that is a savings of 86.4 seconds.  Sure, it is only a minute and half, however, the little seconds and minutes add up:

  • Scroll to the bottom of a list of rows in a spreadsheet by selecting End > down arrow.
  • Move to the top of a document by selecting Ctrl > Home.
  • Copy data from a row above by selecting Ctrl > D.
  • Undo by selecting Ctrl > Z.

Very quickly you have saved yourself 5-10 minutes in your day.  You now have a little extra time to file that stack of papers on the edge of your desk!

2. Make a decision the first time

How many emails do you have in your inbox?  How many times have you opened each email without completing the request?

If I read an email and realize that I am unable to complete the request then I close the email, right click on it and Mark as Unread.  This flags the email for me to review later.

The challenge is to not repeat the opening and closing process often.  This is wasting time.  Make a decision the first time you open your mail.  F.A.T. all of your mail.   Either file it, act on it or trash it.  Acting on it may be delegating, asking for more information or adding the task to your daily task list to complete.  Keep your Inbox to 35 or less emails so that you don’t lose track of projects and so you don’t waste time reanalyzing.

3. Shut it all off

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to turn off your email, send your phone calls to voice mail and close your office door for a day to be able to complete your long list of projects?  Wonderful?  Yes.  Feasible and responsible?  No.

However, it may be a time savings to shut it all off for a time period to complete an assignment.

A few weeks ago I had a critical project to complete within 24 hours.  My email was overflowing and stressful to look at.  Other important calls were keeping me from my project.  So, I took measures into my own hands and decided to shut down communication for 1-2 hours.  I found three places to turn off Outlook email alerts.  I sent all calls to voice mail and I closed my door.  In 80 minutes I completed my project and forgot that I turned off my email alerts.  When I opened Outlook I had 15 new emails.  Ugh!  In 7 minutes I was able to review each email.  I was amazed!  If my email alerts were turned on it would have taken me at least one minute per email as they interrupted my project work.  I saved at least 8 minutes by turning off the interruptions.

It is those little seconds and minutes that will suck your day away.  Discipline yourself to master these three tips and easily you will add 18+ minutes to your day.

This article was previously published in the August 2012 Tri-State Business Times.

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