Even in our ultra-connected workplaces, boosting productivity can sometimes feel like a battle of user versus technology. If it seems like you're spending more time fighting against machines than making them work for you, it's time to take control.
Taking a moment to learn some key technology skills will pay off in the future, making you more productive as a result. Here are some top-level tips.
Operating System Know-How
For some, a computer's operating system (OS) is a mysterious, dangerous place where things can go very wrong. But getting to know the system through some strategic installations and upgrades can help you gain confidence and increase your tech knowledge.
Download and Install a Windows OS
Reinstalling? your existing OS can be a way to "freshen up" your computer and increase speed. Here are some tips:
- Determine which kind of installation you need. There are different types, depending on your situation. For example, you might opt for a new install to wipe the system clear and start new, or instead choose a parallel install that creates a new OS that can run alongside your current system. Many people who have numerous software problems choose a "clean install," which wipes the computer clean and then installs the system as if the computer were new.
- Back up your data first. Before touching the OS or downloading anything, make sure your data is safe, preferably in more than one location. Although your information should be fine after an install, it's better to be prepared for disaster than to lose any data.
- Have your software installation discs ready. If you opt for a clean install, it will wipe your applications as well as your OS, so you'll have to reinstall the software. Make sure you locate all the relevant discs and info beforehand.
- Read through tutorials before starting the install. There are plenty of step-by-step resources available that will guide you through the installation process. For example, Microsoft offers a guide that will take you through a clean install, new install or startup repair for Windows 7, as well as other Windows versions.
Upgrade an Operating System
Before making the jump to the next level of Windows OS, consider these factors:
- Compatibility with older software. If there are programs that truly run your enterprise, make sure they'll work with a new OS.
- Effectiveness with older hardware. Although an OS upgrade generally makes computers run faster, which boosts productivity, the opposite can be true if the machine is too old to support the upgrade. To minimize problems, look at the minimum system requirements required to run the OS and make sure your computer makes the grade.
- Compatibility with devices. An OS upgrade can affect all kinds of hardware components and peripherals, including storage devices, graphics cards, printers, cameras and even keyboards. For software, hardware and peripherals, look at the Windows 7 Compatibility Center for a quick double-check.
Sometimes, effectiveness and better time management can be found through new software options.
Top Productivity Software Choices
- WinCalendar. Geared toward Microsoft Word and Excel, this calendar program is popular and highly rated for a reason. The software offers plenty of choices when it comes to creating a new calendar, including adding notes to specific dates, accessing calendar info and navigating between the calendar and open software applications. Also, it's affordable and easy to use. With all those advantages, it may be time to upgrade your calendar software and increase productivity as a result.
- Simple Sticky Notes. Full-featured applications can be very useful, but sometimes all you need is a streamlined, easy way to keep track of details, to-do items and quick reminders. This free program emulates traditional sticky notes, and you can even choose yellow if you like that classic look. Unlike the paper sticky notes that might adorn your workspace, though, these notes can be quickly organized and categorized.
- Time & Chaos. Part of productivity is managing client information easily, and this well-rated CRM contact manager software makes that task a breeze. The program lets you create appointment calendars and to-do lists that link to your contact data. Best of all, you can share your data with everyone on the company network without additional licensing fees. You'll have better use of your time, without the chaos of disorganization.
Installation Tips: Download only vs. Physical Installation
With the introduction of so many mobile apps, users have grown accustomed to downloading software instead of using installation discs. However, both approaches have certain benefits.
- Often less expensive than packaged software because there are no distribution or manufacturing costs
- Quicker to obtain, since you don't have to wait for delivery or buy it from a store
- Better availability and selection, because many programs are only available as downloads
Physical installation advantages:
- No need to be connected to the Internet to install a program
- Computer download times not an issue
- Fewer issues with firewalls and antivirus programs
- Easier reinstallation if necessary
- Sometimes accompanied by printed materials that help explain the program
With a strong knowledge of an OS and some well-chosen software applications, you should be on your way to a more productive workday.
For an additional turbo boost, make sure your computer is running at top speed, clean out all data that doesn't need to be stored and improve your security so that it makes operations more streamlined.