I am in a constant pursuit of improving efficiency. It began after my boss (he hates it when we call him that) Curtis told me a story when, as an engineering student, he was instructed to determine the fewest number of steps required to make a pot of coffee. I was intrigued by the concept and began looking for ways to increase my own efficiency in my daily life and work routine.

If you’re subscribed to the deTECH newsletter then you probably spend a lot of your time on your computer. Learning to use your computer quickly and efficiently could save you more time than you realize. Here are some suggestions.

Keyboard Shortcuts-We’ve featured a few of our favorite keyboard shortcuts in previous installments of deTECH. Some folks may gloss over them but if you invest some time to learn a few of the basics, I guarantee you will begin shaving seconds off of daily tasks. Muscle memory kicks in and opening files, copying and pasting text, or zipping around Excel cells becomes second nature. Lifehacker has a great article on becoming a keyboard shortcut ninja.

Context Menu

How often do you use the right mouse button? When a keyboard shortcut just won’t do, try the “context menu”, accessible with a right mouse-button click. From here you can create new files and folders; cut/copy/paste text, and perform a myriad of other tasks depending on the application. This is especially useful in Microsoft Office documents for spell checking one word or changing the format of text or data.

Navigating Microsoft Windows and Applications-When there were multiple ways to arrive at an answer, my accounting professor used to say, no disrespect to cat lovers, “There’s more than one way to skin this cat”. Well, Windows gives you many ways to skin the cat. For example, in the “File Open” dialog window, files can be deleted, copied, cut or moved. Are you trying to save a file and receive an error message that the filename already exists? You can rename the file right there in the dialog box.

The more you familiarize yourself with the different paths to accomplish your daily tasks, the quicker you can check off your to-do list.

Windows Search Feature-All supported versions of Windows have a comprehensive search feature. Try this on your Windows computer. See that Windows key on your keyboard to the left of the ALT key? Click it once and type “notepad” and click enter. Notepad opens up. You can do that with any application or control panel option.

Dual Computer Monitors-This suggestion is particularly succulent for those who use several different files or programs at once. Using two monitors is an effective way to visualize a broader range of data, or compare two files at once. When you begin using dual monitors, it will be hard to go back to just one.

So as you focus on the year ahead, take some time to learn new ways to accomplish old things. You may see a minor dip in productivity as you explore new menus, options, button clicks, and keyboard shortcuts. But consider it an investment in the accumulation of future minutes and hours, and a way to help accomplish your New Year’s resolution.