Tips For Boosting Productivity On Windows | LC Computers

Introduction:

We use our PCs for many things, whether it’s booking a holiday, writing up reports, last minute homework, or binging on YouTube content. Some tasks that we rely on our computers for do not require speed. Some do.

Sometimes we have deadlines, high workloads, or even a dinner reservation to get to that you can’t make it to unless you finish your project. So how can you boost your productivity and become a faster computer user? Our time is valuable, so let’s look at what we can learn to gain more.

  1. Hardware:

If your desktop or laptop is running slow, then it doesn’t matter how productive you are. You can only work as fast as your computer. This doesn’t mean that you need a brand-new machine or something that is less than 3 years old. A computer that’s 7 years old will run fast enough for most tasks with the right hardware.

Starting with the processor, you may see a sticker on your laptop with what your machine has installed. This could say: Intel Pentium, Intel Core i5, AMD Ryzen 3 and so on. Intel Pentium, Intel Celeron, AMD Athlon are all entry level processors/CPU’s (Central Processing Unit) which means it will work well for simple tasks like browsing the internet and sending some emails. For productivity they aren’t going to work well at getting the job done. Ideally, we would like at least an Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3 for a productive machine. Tasks like video editing and gaming will work best on higher level processors. (Intel i5/i7/i9, AMD Ryzen 5/7)

Now you may have one of these or higher, but notice your computer is still sluggish. You have time to make a tea or coffee before its ready to use. This is because other hardware can be slowing it down. Mainly the hard drive. Even some newer machines today come prebuilt with an old style hard disk drive (HDD). What we want is a solid state drive (SSD). HDD’s use magnetic disks to store your data. The disks spin at around 5,400rpm, although there are faster drives up to 15,000rpm, while an arm moves to try and find the data on the disks. As time goes on the disks slow down and the time it takes to read the data becomes slower. An SSD uses flash memory much like a USB memory stick. There are no moving parts therefore they are faster, quieter, and produce less heat. Standard SSD’s can increase speed performance up to 10x more than an HDD. Some systems can support a newer type of SSD and increase the performance even more!

If you are not sure which your computer is running, then you can check on Windows by:

Typing ‘task manager’ into the bottom left search bar>click on task manager>click show more details>click on the performance tab>in the left pane under ‘Disk 0 (C:)’ it may say HDD or SSD.

If you would like to switch to an SSD for a faster machine, we can perform the upgrade for you.

And lastly RAM (Random Access Memory). This is known as working memory. When you switch on your machine, Windows loads into the RAM. Once you get into Windows, anything that you open gets loaded into RAM. Think of RAM like a water bottle, and your files and programs as water. As you open up programs the water bottle fills up and eventually becomes full. To be productive we may want several windows and files open at the same time, but if we don’t have enough RAM then once it has filled up, the computer must get to work to swap files and programs in and out of RAM. This causes the computer to slow down. We would ideally want at least 8GB of RAM to work smoothly. We can check our current amount in the same way we checked what type of storage drive we were running in the Task Manager.

Still on the subject of hardware, except not within the machine it itself, let’s talk about adding a second monitor. Having an extra display is one of the best ways to increase productivity. Once you work with two displays you will never want to work with just one screen again.

  1. Updates:

Keeping your system up to date will make sure your machine is running at optimum performance. Hardware needs specific software called drivers installed. These drivers make the hardware able to communicate with your system. Making sure you are up to date keeps these drivers updated and mitigates any bugs found within the software. Updates are also important from a security point of view. Security updates patch any bugs and vulnerabilities found in the Windows operating system. You can check for updates by using the search bar to type ‘Windows update’ and clicking check for updates. Updates may require you to restart your PC once installed.

  1. Clean up your system:

If you have unwanted files and apps on your machine, delete/uninstall them. If your storage is almost full it will again slow down the machine. You can check what is taking up your storage by searching ‘storage’ in the ‘Type here to search’ bar.

  1. Paid software:

Of course, we like things that are free. However, I’m sure most of us would spare a little change to be rid of in-your-face advertisements. An example would be security software like Bullguard, McAfee, Avast etc. Being on a free version means you are going to receive ad after ad persuading you to upgrade to a premium subscription. Paying for the software does two things:

-Limits the ads that are disrupting our workflow

-Shows appreciation for the developers who created and keep the software up to date for us to use

  1. Shortcuts:

Shortcuts can come in different forms. Let’s start with icon shortcuts. Searching around for a file or folder we’re working with can take up time especially if we forget where we’ve saved it to in the first place. We can right click on regularly used apps, files and folders to ‘create shortcut’ or ‘pin to taskbar.’ Having items that you use regular either on your desktop or the taskbar allows for quick access.

Web browsers i.e., Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox etc. can use shortcuts that will also save you some time. Favouriting frequently visited websites so that they appear in the toolbar along the top of your browser means you can visit a website with just a click. If you need to favourite a lot of different websites, you can also group them in folders and name the folder as you wish. An example of this could be a folder named Streaming movies. And in it we could have shortcuts to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or any other streaming service.

Keyboard shortcuts. Your keyboard is your best friend. You don’t always need to leave it to use the mouse. In fact, there are keys and key combinations to do just about anything without the need for a mouse. Some keyboard shortcuts are specific to Windows, and some are specific to the app that you are running. Here are some helpful keyboard shortcuts and combinations:

-Copy and paste, Ctrl+C = copy. Ctrl+V = paste

-View the desktop, Windows key+D = shows the desktop, great if you have a lot of windows open, so that you don’t need to minimize all of them

-Save your work = Ctrl+S

-Snap windows = Windows key+arrow keys. This is great when we want to view more than one window at a time and do not have dual displays. For example, you may be writing out some details into another document. You can press the windows key+left arrow to snap your document to the left side of the screen, and select the window with the details to show on the right.

-The Windows key. A single tap of the Windows key on its own will open up your start menu. From there you can use the arrow keys and enter key to navigate and select what you need. (Or the mouse of course.)

-F5 = refreshes your internet page

This is not a lesson on how to use every key combination, but you should know that there are 100’s that could help you speed up your work once you get comfortable using them. You can view Windows’ key shortcuts here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/keyboard-shortcuts-in-windows-dcc61a57-8ff0-cffe-9796-cb9706c75eec#WindowsVersion=Windows_10

If you work with a particular piece of software, try to do some research on the keyboard shortcuts for that program that could help you be more productive. If you’re using a laptop, don’t forget about the function (Fn) keys at the top of the keyboard.

These were just a few tips on speeding up your computer productivity. There are endless ways to get things done faster and be more productive, try to find what works for you.

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