shortcuts to efficiency

Like a lot of folks out there, I feel like there is not enough time to get everything done. Whether you are a Super Mom, Super Administrative Assistant or Super CEO you've probably searched out better ways of doing things. I certainly have. I read Lifehacker, I've tried David Allen's "Getting Things Done" principles and I've perused numerous blogs like 43 Folders and the Four Hour Work Week. I hope I'm not the only one that feels this way, but learning and repeating a new process until it is a habit feels more overwhelming than reverting back to my pile of "To Do" lists. My supergirl solution is shortcuts.

Tiny, bite-sized time-savers = shortcuts. What am I talking about? Using the Ctrl and Alt keys to rock your world. You may be familiar with some of these shortcuts. i.e., Ctrl + X, C and V to cut, copy and paste. You might know Ctrl + P will print. There are so many of these efficient little shortcuts I'm not sure anyone could remember them all. A few stand out amongst the rest though. How often do you switch between email and calendars in Outlook? What if I told you could could pop over from one to the other by using shortcuts? Ctrl + 1 gets you to your in-box, Ctrl + 2 to your calendar and, bonus, Ctrl + 3 to your contacts. Go ahead, try it. Ctrl + 1, 2, 3. You can make yourself dizzy moving between them this quickly.

Similarly, you can switch the program you are looking at on your monitor. Press Alt + Tab and hold. A little window appears that has an icon for each of the programs you have open. Press Tab (without letting go of Alt) until you reach the program you want. When you let go of the Alt key your screen will switch to the program.

While every program has its own shortcuts there are a number that are common to all software. Microsoft products in particular share a lot of commands. Whether you are typing in Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook you can format your text with shortcuts. Ctrl + B will make the text you have selected bold and Ctrl + I makes the selected text italic.

If you want to learn more shortcuts you can usually get a list of keyboard shortcuts from a program's help file. Or Google the name of your software with the words "keyboard shortcuts". Just like learning a new way to control your task list can be overwhelming learning 20 different shortcuts is a bit crazy. Pick one or two and try them out. Put a sticky on your monitor so the shortcut is front and center. Try using it for a week. If it works for you, great. If it doesn't try a different one. Every little step counts.

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