De-clutter your computer world

Cluttered computer station
Organized chaos

I am not asking you to throw away all your computers and other electronic devices, but isn’t it time to start syncing things into time-saving steps? Below are a few tips, tricks and shortcuts to help bring most of your digital devices to a more productive level.

Re-assign some of those unused function keys.

You see them every time you sit down to work with your computer, but how often do you actually use them. In a recent article, we discussed what they did and let’s face it, how many of those functions do you remember? It’s time to start using them for things you actually do. Here’s how;

  • Go to Netflix, Facebook, Twitter or wherever you frequently go then highlight and copy the address in the address bar of your browser.
  • Close or minimize your browser then ‘right click’ on the desktop and choose New à shortcut and paste the link in the box provided – then click Next.
  • Now, right-click on the newly created icon and choose ‘properties’ from the drop down menu.
  • On the dialog box that appears, select the “Web Document” tab and click in the “Shortcut Key” box then press the function key you would like to use for this application, such as the F7 key.
  • Now, to go to Twitter, simply press the F7 key on your keyboard.

Continue assigning various shortcuts to function keys. Remember to avoid using the F1 and F5 keys if possible. F1 is reserved for ‘help’ while F5 is reserved for refreshing your screen.

If you want to get rid of or hide all these newly created icons, simply create a folder on your desktop or somewhere else and move them to that folder.

Cross-posting on social media

Gone is the time when you had to post your comments, threads, resumes, blogs and everything else on social media sites one at a time. We are in an ever-growing social media world creating and maintaining our digital profiles whether it be for personal or business reasons.

Through a collection of different  apps to choose from, you can cross-post on multiple sites at the same time. TweetDeck, Buffer, HootSuite and IFTTT are some of the more popular examples of social media management applications that can do this for you. A simple Google search will list a larger selection of these apps and instructions on how to use them effectively.

Managing email, spam and newsletters

Even I have to admit to sometimes being overwhelmed with unwanted clutter in my email. Of all my accounts, only one has no clutter save for the daily email newsletters from http://www.codeacademy.com, which I want.

As I mentioned in a previous article, the best way to avoid all these spam emails and newsletters is to set up a ‘dummy’ email account. When you are visiting a site that asks for your email address, simply type in the dummy account, not your primary.

However, if it’s too late for that step, then try some online tools to help eliminate some of the daily clutter. Unroll.me is a great tool to help you unsubscribe from multiple newsletters with a single click . It also offers an option to combine your subscription into a daily digest email so you just receive one email per day instead of dozens. Currently, Unroll.me works with Outlook, Hotmail, MSN, Windows Live, Gmail, Google Apps, Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail and iCloud.

Managing time for emails is an issue within itself. Reading and replying to each one can be a daunting task if you simply go down the list in chronological order.  Start by spending some time to see the time of day your email is busiest. Do you get more emails between 2-3 p.m. as opposed to 4-5 p.m.?  Try to schedule just two times a day on email rather than every 10 minutes. Pick the two times per day your email is most active and set aside 30 minutes or so at those two times.

Read through all your new emails and respond to the simple ones first, then tackle the ones that may require more research or a lengthy response. You can also create a folder in your email program and call it ‘pending’, to address the more difficult emails. This will unclutter your inbox while giving these emails a priority so they can be addressed later, in the meantime, your email is more organized and your work day will be more effective.

Summary

There are as many solutions as there are problems when it comes to our digital life, making use of ‘free’ or ‘pay-for’ tools is a great way to start.

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