How To Be More Productive At Work

Whether you are trying to save your energy for what matters most or save time at work, it’s important to be as productive as you can be while working. These are the tech shortcuts I’ve learned for how to be more efficient while working.

Because I’ve lived with chronic pain for over a decade and limited energy in recent years, I’ve found ways to maximize my efficiency and boost my productivity.

Here’s what has been the most helpful.

How To Be More Efficient At Work

I think one of the best ways to be more productive is to find ways to be efficient. We all know the importance of taking regular breaks to get out of your chair and stand, and stay hydrated, but here’s how to work smarter, not harder.

Text Expanders 

A text expander allows you to type in a short code and insert anything from one word to paragraphs.

If you have an apple device, text expanders can work on your entire device or you can download one onto your browser. Just search for “text expander” and click on the one that fits your browser or device.

Start text expanders with an easy symbol you don’t use. I begin all of my text expanders with a semicolon because

  • I don’t have to hit shift to type it
  • I never use a semicolon without a space immediately after

Use text expanders for blocks of text you type repeatedly. For example, when I helped moderate a business’s private Facebook group, people not on the membership list requested access, mistaking it for the public Facebook page. At least once a week I was replying to them suggesting the public Facebook group. It takes 10 seconds to type ;wronggroup instead of 2-5 minutes typing it out. 

Use text expanders for websites you type repeatedly, including your own. ;p expands to www.pastorsj.com/ (I have the slash because I am likely typing something afterwards more than not.) Other common ones to use no matter your industry are:

  • ;tel for your phone number
  • ;e for your email
  • ;w for your website
  • ;s for your signature for the end of messages

Use text expanders for items you have trouble memorizing. There’s some html code I can never remember like the one for footnotes. I made text expanders as just ;1 for 1-9 so they’re easy to add in. Likewise, when specifying colors from our logo, I’ve used ;green and ;white because I can never recall the exact combo of numbers and letters.

Use text expanders for your common phrases. Create expanders for sentences you say frequently. For example, ;have expands to Have a good weekend!

Set your text expander in your browser’s bookmark bar so it’s easy to access. When I realize I’m typing something repeatedly, I’ll copy and paste it and then click my bookmark shortcut to add it.

More on bookmark bars below.

You can even find text expanders that teams can share and use. The options are limitless! I’ve seen people use them for affiliate links or anything that has long text you need to otherwise look up.

Take a moment to skim your text expanders when you add one to see if you’ve forgotten any. I’ve mistyped my text expander shortcuts and had to click my expander to troubleshoot and usually see I was off a letter or did a different abbreviation. I usually see an abbreviation that I forgot about and put it into practice again.

Learn And Use Your Keyboard Shortcuts 

Find a list of shortcuts and see what can save you time. I’ve seen administrative assistants print charts and highlight new ones with different colors.

 The keyboard shortcuts I use the most are:

  • Alt+tab swaps windows (and you can use your arrows to toggle over multiples)
  • Ctrl+tab to move tabs 
  • Ctrl+c is copy when you highlight text 
  • Ctrl+x cuts text so you don’t have to hit backspace after copying if you need it removed 
  • Ctrl+v is paste 
  • Ctrl+s saves your work
  • Ctrl+a selects all
  • Ctrl+shift+5 is strikethrough 
  • Ctrl+shift+t opens a recently closed tab
  • Ctrl+n opens a new window in most programs
  • Ctrl+e center aligns text while ctrl+l left justifies the text
  • Ctrl+b bolds text and then hit it again to stop bolding and continue typing
  • Ctrl+i italicizes
  • Ctrl+u underlines
  • Ctrl+click opens the link
  • And my favorite short is ctrl+z for undo

Search for “keyboard shortcuts for Dell” or whatever your device name is, “keyboard shortcuts for Mac” or “keyboard shortcuts for Acer.” You should also search for keyboard shortcuts for programs you use regularly like Outlook or your browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.)

You will save yourself so much time with keyboard shortcuts instead of clicking through the commands.

Make The Most Of Your Email’s Tools

Get the most out of your email by using its tools. It’s as easy as opening the settings and taking a moment to scroll through them. These work for Gmail and Outlook.

Set a signature on your email. It will show up automatically at the bottom of your emails. You can even set different ones for people within and outside of your organization.

I have:

Thanks,

SJ 
Pastor SJ | Name of Organization | Logo 

For my freelance work, I’ve been efficient by using a similar signature when writing on behalf of someone as a text expander. Here’s the template:  

Hi 

Name here on behalf of boss. 

Thanks,

Name | Title


Use Templates For Common Emails

Create and use templates for common replies. Gmail and Outlook allow you to create email templates.

The reason I use templates instead of text expanders for emails is because it inserts the email subject and email I’m sending from.

Be sure to not include your email signature when you save the email template or you’ll end up with a duplicate at the bottom.

Create Your Own Templates For Other Regular Communications

Website hosts and databases allow you to create templates. If your organization has some type of regular communications like a newsletter, save a template to open and make a copy.

However, be sure to vary regular communications because people will stop reading items if they seem too familiar. They’ll go from skimming to glazing over. 

Make Buffer Space To Proof At A Later Time

Meet your deadlines a day early so you can get a fresh set of eyes a day or two later. I’m way better at proofreading my own work at a later time, rather than right after I’ve created it. I tend to spend more time proofing it right after and catch less. 

Use Scheduling Tools For Social Media

Use a scheduling tool for social media or similar tasks that can be clumped together. Instead of randomly coming up with ideas, I log into my graphic design tool once a week and make all the graphics. Then, the next day I proof them and schedule them. It saves me time to login only once. 

Create Standards & Systems For Decision Making

Create standards for decision making to save time. For instance, set standards for what can go into a bulletin or newsletter so you aren’t deciding case by case. A standard rule is: Does it apply to at least 51% of the audience? If not, send to a smaller list. 

What other standards can you set to save yourself time and mental energy?

Video Tutorials

When learning how to do something new or unfamiliar, I have found it more efficient to watch someone else do it on YouTube rather than reading through instructions.

Set Faster Speeds

Then, while I’m watching these videos, I’ve made it a habit to set my watch speed to 2.0 by clicking on the gears icon. YouTube remembers your preferred speed for certain channels.

Likewise, set any audio books or podcasts you listen to at a higher speed.

If you have never experimented with listening at a faster speed, start with 1.25 or 1.5 and see how much you can increase. You’ll be able to go faster as your brain learns and depending on what you’re doing. I can listen at 2.0 while driving in my car but while cooking I have to slow it down to 1.5 due to background noise and family interruptions.

Set An Automatic Homepage With Multiple Tabs

If there are tabs you almost always use on a regular basis, set your internet browser to open them automatically for you as tabs.

You can find this in your settings. In Chrome, it’s under “on startup” and then click “open a specific set of pages.”

The ones I have set for my website browser are:

  • Email
  • Calendar
  • My website editor
  • Social media accounts (only do this if it’s for your job or else it will be a distraction!)

For my job at the church I have:

  • Email
  • Calendar
  • Website editor
  • Shared documents

This can look different depending on the season you are in. When I was in my last year of grad school, I had my homepage set up for startup to be my email, calendar, and then all the job boards I was following with local ones where I wanted to find jobs, the job boards for the denominations I wanted to get hired into as a pastor, and other seminary’s job boards.

Set A Bookmarks Bar With Tabs

Use a bookmarks bar for websites you use weekly and monthly. Sometimes the logo is enough for me to recognize it and for others, I’ll abbreviate the name.

Here’s my list:

  • Emoji database to copy and paste from (using my shortcuts of course!)
  • Text expander
  • Databases
  • Directories
  • Zoom links for regular team meetings
  • Regular resources I check out that I’m not subscribed to via email

Set Timers

I set timers for various reasons to help me be the most efficient and productive worker I can be.

Set timers on tasks and determine your rate of return. Sometimes a task is good enough and I won’t improve it more by mulling over it today.

Set timers and turn off your distractions for 60 or 90 minutes. When I really need to focus on something, I will set a timer and turn my phone on silent and flip it over. I will mute sounds so I don’t hear my email and let myself work without interruptions.

Set timers for clients and other meetings. When I am meeting with a person, I want to give them my full attention. I don’t want to keep checking the clock. Especially when I’m meeting with someone in a public space like a coffee shop or a park, I have begun setting a timer with a 5 minute warning before I need to leave. It also provides an easy segue to make sure I’ve hit everything I’ve needed to discuss and I ask the other person as well before wrapping up.

Use Abbreviations

Find abbreviations and use them regularly.

I tend to shorten words regularly for my own notes and thoughts.

You can even search for abbreviations to use specific to your industry.

Remove the Unnecessary

Ruthlessly examine your own habits and see what you can cut. What actions are you doing just because you have to?

One freelance gig I worked was obsessed with checklists on a task management tool. When I completed a project, I would take the time to click every checkbox. Six months in, it occurred to me that I didn’t need to spend the time checking them off because I did it in order and no one was checking it.

I stopped putting periods after my abbreviations because most people can still figure out what I’m saying.

What little actions are you doing that you can just stop and it wouldn’t have much, if any, of an impact?

How To Be Productive Now

Pick 2-3 places to start if you are unfamiliar with a lot of these and maybe set this article on your bookmarks bar so you can revisit it every so often and implement more.

If you found this helpful, please share with your coworkers or a friend.

What did I miss? What do you use to be more efficient at work?

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