How to increase efficiency on your laptop/phone

What do we mean when we say something is efficient?

In the English language, it simply means to do the most work with the least effort. In the terms of using your machine, be it your laptop, phone or even your iPad, it means the time difference between thinking what you want to do, and making it happen. Hence it only makes sense that to increase efficiency, we have to reduce the time difference between thought and action, and there are a number of ways how -

1. Typing fast

I like to boast that I can type fast, not blinding fast, but I can reach a maximum of 112 words per minute (on a physical keyboard, that is). On average, I type at a speed of 85–95 wpm. I seldom look at the keyboard, and so should you, and everybody. That means we spend less time searching for individual keys and since our fingers perform less movement fiddling everywhere and whatever sentence is in the mind, is output on the screen. This is called touch-typing.

Some great ways to practice touch typing is by spending 15 minutes everyday on websites like Monkeytype, 10fastfingers, or Typeracer. The key is to rest the left index finger on the “F” key and the right thumb on the “J” key. And also, not looking at the keyboard while typing.

2. Using the keyboard shortcuts more

This may seem the same as the above point, and that’s because it partially is. But in addition to typing fast, you should also learn to use the mouse/trackpad less often and relying more on keyboard shortcuts. From easy ones like Ctrl-Z Ctrl-Y Ctrl-C Ctrl-V etc to tougher ones like Ctrl-Shift-N for a new folder in File Explorer and Alt-Space-X to maximize a window, and pressing the arrow keys to navigate etc. You should learn to use them more often.

3. Use gestures on the trackpad

While I did mention that a keyboard is vastly faster than using the mouse, sometimes, it is just impossible to do so, for example, while using photoshop, video editing, or perhaps you’re even too bored to use the keyboard. In these use cases, another way to become more efficient is to use gestures on the trackpad. Both Windows 10 and MacOS come equipped with gestures which can make your life much better and help get things done much faster. From quickly changing desktops, getting a birds-eye of every app open to snapping windows to the sides lightning fast and even changing the volume, all of this can be done very easily and to be frank, in a very human manner. And also, Windows lets you really customize the gestures to even certain keyboard shortcuts which opens up hundreds of shortcuts you can do with the trackpad.

4. Use voice commands

I used to be one who played with Google Assistant, Siri, or Cortana for several minutes at a time, but then never use them again. But that soon changed. Voice assistants have become miles better and fast enough to be actually practical. I, for one, use the Google Assistant almost every time I have to call my parents and start up navigation. It is much faster than typing out, that is, on mobile. This might be subjective but I actually hate typing on software keyboards, I constantly make errors and even glide seems a bit, off, sometimes. Even while on desktop, if you feel tired while typing essays, you can press Windows+H, or double tap the Fn key on Mac to turn on dictation, its pretty handy sometimes.

5. Take breaks

This might seem odd but research has proven that it takes around 25 minutes after which you start losing concentration on whatever you’re working on. I recommend taking a break after every 30 minutes, and then taking a 5–10 minute break, similar to the Pomodoro Technique. And also, it is significantly better for your health as well, since your eyes get some rest. This will make sure that while you are working, you are giving as much concentration as you can, and over the course of, say 6 hours, you will have done a lot more work than if you hadn’t taken breaks

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A student, Tech Enthusiast, Graphic Designer, Marvel Fanatic