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3 Simple Tricks to Improve Efficiency at Work

At first, I did them at home. And then, I did the below 3 things in almost every company I was with. They turn out to be very useful tricks and I really want to share with you.

1. A big computer monitor definitely helps

Ever since the emergence of LCD monitor, a lot of desk space has been saved. Unfortunately the space saved can do little help nowadays, as more is shown on the screen instead of on the desk.

I was sort of obsessed with a big screen back years ago, partly because I played computer games. But the screen also helped when I needed to work at home, and when I was preparing teaching materials. And as with most technology products, the price of the monitor dropped quickly enough for me to afford a bigger screen in a reasonable period of time. The jump of 4:3 to 16:9 was also exciting as a wider screen has a unique advantage, which is explained below.

And I liked big so much, I used 22” when the majority size is 17”. By the time 22” became common, I already switched to 27”. Now I am using 29” 21:9, and it is so wide that I needed a little time to get used to its width, after which the advantage shines.

To say more accurately, high resolution is another contributing factor. For example, my 29” 21:9 monitor at home is actually a little bit (2%) smaller than my former 27” 16:9, but the 27” has a resolution of 1920×1080, while the 29” is 2560×1080. I can browsing a Word file 3 pages at a time comfortably. Probably no one in the world can read all words in 3 pages at the same instant, but it is very convenient and time-saving when you are doing formatting. It is even better when Excel is on. I can see column AI. This is very important: the keyboard has page up and page down, but no “page left” and “page right” keys! So wide is better than tall.

A bigger screen can also let you see more with web browsers, or the same amount of content clearer because everything is larger.

I read an article saying that work will be 20% faster if a bigger monitor is used. So if you work 8 hours a day, 1.5 hours are saved! One of the reasons it is probably not that fantastic is that you are not working with Excel all day. Yet, saving 15 minutes each day is enough to make a huge difference.

2. Keyboard gives you speed

With the change from text-based operation to graphical user interface (GUI), the invention of a new input device made a huge difference in using the computer: the mouse. It is a very convenient tool because you are no longer just typing commands at the prompt. But does moving the cursor through the mouse to everywhere on the screen you want mean you should stick to the mouse? My experience is no. For example, browsing the web, you can move the pointer to the scroll bar and slide it, or click on the hollow part to move down approximately one page at a time. The most annoying way is to point the pointer at the inverted triangle button, and press on it to move the page line by line. Just by looking at that is very dizzy. The fast way? Hit the page down key!

I encouraged my colleagues everywhere to use short-cut keys. Many useful short-cuts are the same in Microsoft Word, Excel, & PowerPoint (because they are all produced by Microsoft, right?). I even held a workshop last year to raise the awareness. While I may write another post especially on short-cuts, the one you must remember is “Ctrl-S”, which is saving what you are working now! I just pressed it! (I write this draft on Word.) Ever since I accidentally kicked the socket and lost an hour’s work on what I actually can’t remember now, I can still recall the frustration, and that was more than 20 years ago, when I first started using/playing with the computer. I invented a slogan to remind myself and others: Save to save yourself.

3. Type fast

This should probably not counted as a trick nowadays, since now is not only the computer age, but the internet age. Many of us type more than write everyday. So, if you type on a keyboard with, say, only the 2 index fingers (the “Mantis fist” in Cantonese), typing does not help at work. Typing fast is a very simple way to save your time. Back in the days I played typing games (English & Chinese) in order to practice typing. Surely typing is not your work, no one is a typist. It is just a skill worth training, because a few hours’ enhancement save time for the rest of your life. Voice recognition is an alternative, but is not practical if you are sitting near your colleagues.

(post from my earlier blog in 2017)

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