3 simple tech tips that bring joy by saving you time
Updated: Sep 19, 2020
It is near the end of a virtual, online Chinese lesson and one of my students is no longer curious about Chinese... but more about my computer settings.
“Laoshi, laoshi (teacher, teacher), can you share your screen again, what’s that icon in the top right?”
We end up applying similar settings to their computer too. I joke that he is getting a multi-lesson: languages AND productivity. It's a good deal. ;)
Since everything became so heavily virtual in the last few months, the tools and settings on my computer became even more important to me.
I think one great barrier to achieving goals, and just getting things done, is efficiency.
Your tools, work flow and environment affects how much we make progress on what we want to do.
If it takes too long to get an action done, or if there are too many steps, you probably aren’t going to do it.
I can't give my students 100 characters to learn right away. We start with 5. And those five are chosen because they are exceptionally simple in comparison to other characters. There is a flow, a logic to the process.
Similarly, I have tools that greatly reduce the time it takes me to switch from task to task and get things done.
Here are 3 of my favourites. They help make my work flow well:
1. Itsycal - a tiny calendar that sits in your menu bar
This one is a tiny calendar that sits on the menu bar in my Mac.
I like it because it shows you the whole month in one neat view.
I like it even more because it connects to my iCloud and corporate calendars and shows events coming up along with the Zoom links (etc.), clickable inside the little calendar.
This means I don’t have to open the main calendar or go to my emails to get event information.
A nice bonus? It’s free, and you can download it here.
2. Speed up your mouse/track pad
Don’t ask why, but I tried out speeding up my mouse to the top speed a while ago.
At first it seemed crazy to have it too fast, it felt jumpy.
But then when I used an old laptop that was on regular speed, I got so frustrated that the mouse was moving so slowly on the screen!
I cannot tell the time saving effects of such a micro change, but it definitely makes a difference to my workflow.
You can learn how to change your mouse/tracker settings in System Preferences > Trackpad (OR Mouse) > Point & Click > Then just toggle the speed up to the highest.
3. Make use of built-in text expanders/shortcuts
The best way to explain this tip is to give an example.
Note that this shortcut tip I use even more on my phones than on my computer! You'll see why:
When I type the letters 'sm' now, they magically expand to become 'Sumbella'.
When I type 'bw', they immediately expand to become 'Best wishes, Sumbella'.
And I have a little shortcut of three letters - smb - that magically expand to become my full email address.
No more typing it out for the inevitable forms or login details you need to provide so often online.
This is why it's so helpful on the phone, because it's so time consuming to type a full email out in the forms if you're doing things on your phone.
On a Mac, you can set this up by clicking System Preferences > Keyboard > Text. Then just add your shortcuts.
On my iPhones, which is where this tip works amazingly, if your computer is connected to the same iCloud account, the shortcuts will carry over and work there too. Or you can go to Settings > General > Keyboard, and add shortcuts on your phone too.
These three tech tools save me so many micro amounts of time. I am sure that these add up to a lot over the long run. They also make things run quickly in the day to day.
That’s it for this post: three important, tiny tools/tips that make a big difference in workflow.
Have fun trying any of them out and testing what works for you. Especially the speedy mouse one. ;)