The holidays are here! The leaves are changing colors, the scent of autumn is on the wind with Christmas pine not too far behind it, and we are all looking forward to spending time with loved ones and family. The last thing on anyone’s wish list is to be at work longer than they must! Get more done efficiently at home this holiday season with these often-overlooked computer tips and tricks.
Let’s start with a few ways to make your day-to-day computer use go a little faster. First, organize what you’re working on. If you have multiple screens, it can be efficient to have multiple windows front and center. However, if you only have one screen, you can still organize your windows to have multiple open at once without clicking between items in the taskbar. With Windows version 10 and higher, it is easy to move your open windows across your screen for organization. On your keyboard, usually in the bottom left-hand corner, is a key with the Windows logo on it. This is your “Windows button.” To split your screen, hold down the Windows button, and select the corresponding left or right arrow key for the direction you want. Once you press the arrow key, your window will instantly move in that direction, freeing up half your screen for other program use. If you press the up or down keys, you will alternate between maximizing the screen for full display or minimizing to the taskbar. It’s a way to conveniently organize your windows quickly across screens.
The next useful tip is called the night light and it’s proven very useful to both people with a dedicated home office and those who like to burn the midnight oil and work late into the evening. The night light feature is used to reduce strain on the eyes. If you click the Windows button or click the “start menu” you can type in “night light” and press the enter key. The night light setting will pop up and give you options to use warmer colors after sundown, or you can set specific timers on when to turn on the night light feature, which reduces the blue light coming from your PC screen. You can’t see it, but your parents warned you about it as a child. Too much screen time can ruin your eyes. If you’ve ever logged off for the end of a long workday and found your eyes to be sore and tired, this is why. Using the night light feature makes the colors softer at night, making it easier on your vision. The contrast of bright white and blue lights in a dark setting (like the evening) can add additional strain to your eyes, causing more damage. If you must work late, try to use features that are good for your health. This way, you can spend time with your loved ones during the festivities without feeling uncomfortable and rubbing your eyes.
Learn how to easily connect to a screen. Imagine this scenario: it’s holiday morning, you’ve spent months creating a tear-jerking family celebration video and everyone is gathered waiting in anticipation to see what you’ve created. Later, when everyone goes home, all they talk about is how you spent 2 hours trying to connect your laptop to the tv to show the video. A technical error that ruins everyone’s enthusiasm is when nobody knows how to connect the computer to the TV. But with this trick, you won’t have to bother the teenagers for help! Windows should detect any new monitors plugged in, but in case it doesn’t, there is a nifty trick called the project menu. Just press CTRL + P on your keyboard to bring up this window. This pop up offers different options to choose from:
- Duplicate: It creates a mirror image on your target screen that shows exactly what is on your computer.
- Extend: It creates an extension of your screen.
- Second screen: This option is preferable if you only want to use the external monitor and not the laptop screen.
Save yourself some hassle by setting automatic updates. Press the start button, type “update” into the search bar, and press enter. Windows will bring you to the update center for the PC. Here you can check for updates and set a schedule for them. The "change active hours" option is a useful tool. It allows your PC to run updates outside of your work hours, preventing interruptions. You can also disable those annoying notification messages that constantly interrupt and cover the screen during the workday. If you press the Windows button or the start menu on your computer, you can click or type “settings”. From here you’ll go to system-notifications and actions. Here there will be some different options for you to choose from. If you'd like to disable only certain notifications, use the "focus assist" settings under the first option. This will allow you to set rules for when and how you'll receive computer notifications. You can even fine-tune this to include specific mail and Teams notifications. Turn off anything that isn't relevant to your work.
There are a plethora of tips and tricks that can help you speed up your day-to-day workload and far too many to be covered in one article. Keep in mind that the goal of these automated processes and tips isn’t to make you do more work during the day. The goal is to give you more time for your life outside of work, and currently it is all too easy to get caught up in the job. So, take advantage of these time saving tips and take advantage of the down time you get as well. As much as we talk about optimizing our computers, you can’t forget to remember to take time to recharge ourselves.