The simple truth is that more of us find ourselves stuck behind a computer (usually a PC but increasingly Macs too) to do our work. Great strides in technology have been made that allow us to achieve more and more but most people are still far from achieving their potential.
Think about it: the faster and easier your job becomes, the more free time you leave for yourself and the less stressed you become! And if you want, you can also use this to regularly exceed your targets and maybe even earn bonus money from your company due to your increased performance.
Tip 1 - Learn Shortcuts
Maybe you've seen the "IT Guy" work really fast, almost as fast as lightning, at getting things done. Even if you're a "two-fingered typist", there's no reason why you can't learn shortcuts.
Shortcuts are key combinations that save you having to grab the mouse, click a menu and then find a sub-menu buried somewhere.
For example, did you know that you can lock your PC by holding down the "Window" key and pressing "L"?
Did you know that you can normally close a window by pressing Ctrl-F4 or Alt-F4?
Did you know that you can get the menu of a window by holding pressing Alt+Space (instead of clicking the top-left corner).
There are tons and tons of shortcuts available. Some of them are for your operating system and others are for individual applications. They will save you a ton of time. How do you find them? Simple: just Google it! Don't be lazy!
Tip 2 - Create Icons and Bookmarks
Computers are getting better at predicting what you use most and often but they are not perfect.
I strongly advise creating shortcuts to your favorite programs, folders and web sites. In most cases, it is a simple task of just dragging and dropping. That's right, just try what comes intuitively and you will find that it often works!
Tip 3 - Think Before Calling IT
I have worked on both sides of the fence. In the business and in IT. While working in IT, I have seen so many people reach for the phone for help when all it would take was a little thought and self-education and not only would they not need to reach for help but they would also be better off in the long term.
Alternatively, if you do ask for help then when your problem has been fixed, make sure to ask the IT Support guy if there is any way that you can avoid having to call him again in future. In 99% of cases you need only take a minute to learn something that will save you tens of hours of your lifetime in future.
Tip 4 - IT Is A Tool Like Any Other - Learn How To Use It
Too many people like to think that IT is something abstract, a cause of problems, an obstacle and something that can never be mastered. This could not be further from the truth!
IT is just a tool like any other. If you started doing carpentry and needed to learn how to use a machine such as a bandsaw or lathe, you would not ask for help every time you used it. You would also learn more as you went along and eventually master it. You would not be resistant to learning how to use a machine because you know that would only hinder you in the long term.
Likewise, computers are nothing special. Nobody is asking you to become a computer programmer. There is simply no excuse for not learning a few more tricks every year and becoming better and better at using them.
In fact, the kids these days are growing up with smartphones and Blackberries. When they enter the workforce, they are going to laugh at anyone resistant to IT and rightly so!
Tip 5 - Don't Get Stressed
I see a lot of people get stressed by their computers. They will scream that their computer is "slow". When I watch closely, I see that they double clicked an icon to open a program.
They are so impatient that within a second they double click again, and again, and again.
Their computer slows right down because they ended up launching the program three times due to their impatience!
Computers have never claimed to perform miracles. They are just a tool. Chances are, your office won't have the fastest computers in the world because ultimately the budget is a restriction.
Work with what you have, not against it. Don't blame your computer for anything. The old adage still applies: "a poor workman blames his tools". This is as apt a phrase today as it has ever been.