5 things to completely change your productivity — Learn once, benefit forever
Condensed, to the point guide on some great skills and tools to pick up right now.
To type without looking at your keyboard. If you can already do this, improving your typing speed is a major productivity booster. We write every day, as someone who’s reading this, I assume you write more than average, and being able to write that google search 2 seconds faster, or an essay 20 minutes faster just saves tremendous amounts of time. The normal person writes at 40 words per minute, but a couple weeks of training can get you to over 100.
Learning touch typing
Place your thumbs on the space bar, and your right hand and left hand on the ASDF and JKL; keys, respectively. This is how your hands should always be resting on the keyboard, you then move your fingers out and back again when writing other letters. The model above shows what fingers should be used for what keys.
This is the optimal way of writing, but it’s challenging to do consistently, especially for people that are not used to it. You can practice only using the optimal fingers on one of the sites listed below. The most important part when practicing is keeping your eyes away from the keyboard. If you can’t find a key, DO NOT LOOK, just try as many keys as it takes to get the right one.
Increasing your typing speed
First step will always be to master touch typing, and proper technique. From there on, all you can do is practice. My favorite communities and websites to practice with:
Great for practicing touch typing and getting down the basics
For getting your high scores, or just trying to get faster
Gamified typing duels
Extremely gamified typing duels
1 minute tests to see your speed
Make it a daily habit to practice 15 minutes, and I can guarantee you’ll see results within days.
The fastest way to do something, is to not do it. There are a lot of repetitive tasks we do every working day that can be automated. Developers are often all about this, but there are also intuitive tools that allow everyone else to automate tasks.
Zapier is a tool that is used to connect different apps together, and automate things based on events. For example “When there is a new response to my google form, insert that data into a new row in google sheets”, or “When I add a star to an email, create a Trello/Todoist task”. The free plan lets you do almost everything, and setting up automations like this could save you days in the long run. There are other tools than Zapier, but none are as good and intuitive.
Learning how to do code is a longer process, and it may not save you time in the long run, however, it’s an incredible skill to have on top of the automation benefits it offers. Python is the go-to programming language for beginners & automation, and you can learn it in a month with about 30 minutes of practice a day. This is a good resource. After learning the basics you can start automating your whole computer with for example pyautogui and selenium.
Speed reading is reading fast while keeping comprehension. An experiment called the “PX Project” showed that readers, over 3 hours, can improve their reading speed by an average of 386% by simply following a couple of steps. Definitely a valuable skill to learn. I’ll outline some techniques and practices for it.
Everyone hears a voice inside their head when reading. It’s called subvocalization, and you can’t completely remove it. It reduces our average reading speed to the average speaking speed, but to lower the amount of it, you can be aware of not reading out certain words. “At”, “the”, “a”, “and”, etc. Everything but the important or longer words of a sentence, can be not subvocalized, it just takes practice.
Using a pacer
A pacer is something you physically track along with where you are reading. It can be a finger or a pen, and it works by pretending like you’re underlining every single word as you read it. Doing this eliminates re-reading text, and also focuses you on keeping a speed.
Focusing on the middle
Your eyes can see pretty widely, so going through every single word, centering it in your sight is slow to say the least. Eyes don’t move in a straight line, they fixate at points for small periods at a time. By not looking at words most towards the right and left outer sides of a page, you can get rid of wasted fixations.
Setting the standard highly
A good way of practicing is reading at a superspeed with all the above techniques. You don’t have to comprehend much, but it trains your eyes and reflexes to get used to reading that fast. Soon you will be able to slow down, still above your normal reading speed without a problem.
If you’ve never used chrome extensions before, they are basically just add-ons to chrome. There are a whole lot of useful ones, so I will list some below that have been the most beneficial to me.
Removes ads from all websites.
Removes recommended videos on youtube.
Stores & creates passwords
Name says it all, allows you to control the speed of videos
Power user shortcuts
Tracks and visualizes your browsing habits
Have your mail inbox one click away
Replaces your new tab with a dashboard full of features
Some smaller things which are not as demanding to learn or understand, but still useful.
Max out your cursor’s sensitivity
You’ll get used to it in minutes and it will save you a little bit of time every single time you use your mouse. If the very max is overwhelming, go down a little bit, but try to stay up there, and you’ll get used to it eventually.
Using your keyboard is significantly faster than your mouse. Look into the shortcuts for your system, browser, and favorite apps. Look into other types of shortcuts, for example you can make a new Google Document by going to the domain doc.new.
Learn to Google like a pro
Google has made operators to help make your search more narrow. You can add “site:reddit.com” to the end of your search in order to filter for only reddit, or add “-something” to remove any result that includes “something”. Here’s a guide on all the operators.
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