Computer skills are important in all areas of life these days, but they’re especially important when it comes to the workplace. Even if you’re not that tech-savvy, applying some of the important computer skills that you already have to key areas can make a big difference. Take a look at some of these interesting ways you can make the workplace more efficient.
How Efficiency Benefits the Workplace
You’re more than just a nameless cog in the machine, even if it may feel that way sometimes. Your work affects everyone around you and has even larger ripple effects across your organization—and across the world—that you may not realize. Being just a bit more efficient can benefit your life and the lives of others in a few ways:
- Less stress: Being able to get work done faster means less stress over deadlines
- Less busywork: Being more efficient means that you reduce a lot of boring busywork
- Transparency: Efficient organization (such as keeping a calender or journal) can make
- your work more transparent to others
- Less labor costs: Knowing when to automate tasks can reduce costs by reducing labor
There are a lot of reasons why efficiency benefits everyone in the workplace, and one of the easiest ways to make things more efficient is to apply your tech skills.
Why Are Tech Skills Important?
Just as learning to read and write is one important form of literacy, being familiar with how to use technology is yet another. Computer skills are an extremely important asset in today’s working world because you need them to:
- Automate your work when necessary
- Organize data in a way that is easily readable by others
- Keep records of what you’ve done
- Use tools—such as multimedia software—to enhance your communication with other workers and with customers
- Make you less reliant on tech support for small problems
It really comes down to communication. The most important technology that we use helps us more easily relay information to others and even to our future selves. Luckily, you probably already have basic computer skills, so it’s simply a matter of leveraging them in creative ways that you may not have considered.
9 Computer Skills That Can Make Your Day More Efficient
What are some interesting things that you can do with your computer skills to make your life easier? There could be hundreds of little tweaks that you may not have thought of making, but here are 9 basic tips that you can use the next time you step into the office:
1. Program Some Keyboard Shortcuts
Most major operating systems have keyboard shortcuts. If you find yourself performing the same actions again and again, reduce the amount of clicks and taps that it takes to get there by harnessing the power of keyboard shortcuts. You can go into accessibility options on Windows or edit your system preferences on a Mac to make keyboard shortcuts. On Linux, it depends on your distribution, but most versions of Ubuntu allow you to alter your key bindings easily.
2. Know How to Focus
Are you a chronic procrastinator? You may not see this as a computer skill, but knowing how to focus is just as valid a skill as any fancy hacking. Websites and applications are built to distract us more than ever, so you may need a little bit of help when focusing, especially when you use the Internet. Try installing a browser extension that will discourage you from visiting distracting websites.
For instance, StayFocusd is a free Chrome extension and Google app that will block websites during certain specific times. There’s also the milder Mindful Browsing extension, also for Chrome, which will simply interrupt you and remind you that you should be doing something else!
3. Keeping the Juice Running
Do you run out of battery power quickly? If so, this can be an annoying interruption that requires you to start hunting for an outlet. To save battery life and keep your laptop running for longer on a single charge, you might consider upgrading your battery. If that’s not on the table, then you can also use battery-saving software that helps keep background processes from using up all the juice. Both Windows and Mac have energy-saving options that you can use to keep things as efficient as possible.
4. Use a Security App to Protect Your Accounts
Some of the most important kinds of computer skills are those that help us stay safe while using technology. Passwords may not always be enough when there are people phishing for your data all of the time. If you have the habit of letting your browser remember your passwords, you may want to give that a rest. Use different passwords for different sites, and always make them hard to crack by using a combination of numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters and special characters.
You can also use an app like Authy, which implements two-factor authentication on major sites. This means that you will need more than just a password to get into your account. Searches may take a little longer, but it can be worth the added peace of mind.
5. Make Your Presentations Pop
Visuals are really important when trying to convey a message, so next time you have a presentation to do, consider making some infographics. You don’t have to have advanced computer skills to do a little bit of graphics work. These days, it’s really easy with online software like Canva, which offers lots of templates. Part of having computer skills is letting the technology do the work for you, and software like this certainly makes things faster and more efficient than starting from scratch in Photoshop.
6. Automate Repetitive Tasks
Do you find yourself plugging in the same figures into an app all of the time or performing the same actions every day? Try to find a way to automate it if you can. There are several ways to do this. If you’re hardcore about it, you can learn how to code for the command line of your particular operating system and make batch files. Some kinds of software come with command line options. For instance, if you’re editing a long text file and you want to delete every instance of a certain phrase, you can automate this using command line options in most operating systems. This is especially true in Mac OSX (which is built on Unix) and in Linux.
It doesn’t have to be this complicated, though. Even something as simple as learning how to implement Excel formulas can save you time. Just ask yourself, “How can I use the computer skills I already have to automate this more?”
7. Keep Track of What You Do Every Day
Consider keeping a journal that notes what you do every day. You can choose to share this or not. Either way, it can be valuable. Have you ever put a project aside for a while and then come back to it, only to start wondering what on earth you were thinking the last day you worked on it? Having journal software on your computer can solve this problem. It’s also useful for jotting down quick notes. RedNotebook is a great free open source, cross-platform option.
8. Collaborate in a Central Location
If you don’t already, make sure that you’re sharing documents with your coworkers over the cloud, rather than sending endless emails. This allows you to edit and see each other’s work in one central location. It’s also more secure. Google Docs is a good, cross-platform web app that works well for this, but there are many others.
9. Use Your Computer Skills for Good
If you want to consider the holistic, worldwide effects of being efficient, then you might find that there are actually ways to use your computer skills for the benefit of mankind. For instance, there’s an extension called Tab for a Cause that helps you raise money for charity just by opening tabs on your browser. Do what you usually do, and contribute to a cause while you’re doing it.
Another easy way that you can contribute to the world with your basic computer skills is to send data and bug reports whenever you encounter a problem with open source software. This helps the people who volunteer on these projects build a more efficient product. Better yet, you can even donate your time and help debug the software yourself if you have advanced computer skills like programming.
Giving back to the world is the most efficient skill of all in a lot of ways.
Becoming more efficient with the way you use technology affects more than just yourself. Automation can help an entire organization save time and money. It’s really what computers were meant to do in the first place. Even on an individual level, making small changes to your work process and leveraging technology can keep stress at bay. Humans get bored with repetitive tasks, and keeping things efficient will also help keep you focused. Try to make small improvements every day to make your life easier. One of the best uses of your computer skills is to teach your computer how to serve you better!