Are you a tools, settings, shortcuts freak?

It always amazes me looking over somebody’s shoulders and seeing how the person uses his or her computer. What strikes me the most is that a lot of people install Windows, Office, and whatever other core application they need to do their work, but then they just use everything with the default settings. To me that’s like buying a new car and go out driving, without even adjusting the mirrors, the seat, putting on the favorite kind of music, etc.

I get to do a lot of mentoring and training, and it always mesmerizes me how painfully some people work at the computer. The pain they go through trying to find the right application, the right file, the right sequence to accomplish something, it’s too much for me to bear. I end up suggesting some shortcuts or habits that they can use to be more productive, and more often then not, they’re like "oh, I didn’t know you could do that…" (and that usually is weird to me because those are normally things that I’ve always taken for granted that everybody would know).

I try as much as I can to use tools (both free tools as well as commercial ones) that can make me more productive. I also try to set up my computer in a way that I can get to the things I’m always using as quick as possible; that involves both learning shortcuts, setting up my work area, etc. Once you get into the habit of doing so, it becomes so natural that watching other people work may seem like torture.

But, there are also situations when I’m seeing somebody else work and I end up seeing the person using a little tool or shortcut that I’ve never seen before; sometimes it’s a tool or setting that has been in Windows forever, and I feel guilty for not knowing it already (but hey, there’s just so much out there to learn…).

One presentation I’ll be delivering this year is about this very same topic. Since I always get people asking me about "those cool tools and shortcuts" I use, I figured it’d be interesting to put everything together and show it to people.

As I put this material together, I’ll be blogging about it. If you know about something that’s even better (or cooler) then what I’ve blogged about, please email me. I’d love to hear about it.

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