There’s a big difference between busy work and meaningful work. While it feels good to complete tasks and conquer the day, just checking off busy-work items has a way of lulling us into a false security.
Are you making the most of your time? Or, are you wasting time on low-value work?
As a business owner, I think about how to use my time more efficiently every day. Being more efficient often comes down to the simple tasks. The innocent-looking tasks are the ones that create the real time sucks.
In this post, I’d like to share how I by-pass three common productivity killers: organizing your trading computer before the open, answering emails, and keeping track of deadlines.
TIP #1: Use Keyboard Shortcuts to Launch Applications
At the start of your trading day, you spend time setting up your trading environment. This is a repetitive task that can be more automated.
SOLUTION: Create a keyboard shortcut for your trading apps to save time.
You can set up an app-specific keyboard shortcut in Windows 10 with the following steps:
- On your desktop, find the icon of the app you want to launch (ex: Firefox).
- Right click and select Properties.
- Next, enter a key combination under Shortcut key (ex: Ctrl+Shift+F).
- Save this change by clicking Apply.
From now on, you can use the Ctrl+Shift+F key combo to launch Firefox on your trading computer, rather than hunting for the icon on your desktop or going through the Start menu.
Apply these same steps to other frequently used software. Now you can launch your trading environment in two to three keystrokes.
TIP #2: Set Up Filters for Your Email Inbox
Email is an efficient way to communicate, but it can also be a productivity killer. According to researchers, the average persona spends 13 hours a week reading and writing emails.
Another research group showed that, on average, only 38% of emails are relevant and important. I’ve experienced this myself, and I’m guessing you have as well.
SOLUTION: Create a filter for the most important emails you expect.
Here’s how to create a filter in the Outlook Web App. These steps are very similar for most email providers.
- Go to your Outlook web mail.
- Click Settings (the gear icon), then Options.
- From the left sidebar menu, choose Inbox and sweep rules.
- Define your rule.
I have a “VIP” rule defined for my business team and partners. The rule recognizes email from this list of people and marks it as important. That way, I’m sure I won’t miss these messages and will be able to respond immediately. The less-important messages can wait until I’m done with my priority tasks.
TIP 3: Create Alerts for Your Calendar
Your brain can lose focus when it’s juggling too much information. Get your focus back by off-loading responsibility for remembering due dates – like when self-employment taxes are due, when earnings reports are issued, and even when you need to visit the doctor – to an online calendar.
Google Calendar is great option because you can share it with anyone, and it’s free.
SOLUTION: Use Google Calendar to manage your tasks and appointments.
Here’s how to set a reminder alert:
- Open the Google Calendar App: http://google.com/calendar
- Click on any time slot on your calendar to create a new event.
- Create a Description for your event.
- Click Edit event.
- Set up the Notifications you want.
You can set up your notification as either an Email to yourself or as a pop-up on your computer. Also, you can set up multiple reminder notifications for the same event (e.g., 1 day before, 15 minutes before, and at the time of the event).
Think beyond just setting up alerts for meetings and doctor’s visits. You can also create an event and alerts for when your taxes are due, or as a reminder to make quarterly payments, or as a reminder to run profit-loss reports for your trading.
One final tip… I learned years ago to create calendar events for appointments with myself. For example, I’ll set up events for short walking breaks during the day, or to block out time before the market opens for focus work. This way, I don’t give away my focus time to anyone else.
Try It Yourself
I have become far more productive by applying these three simple techniques. You can, too. Just give it a try.
We hope today’s Quick Tip helped you. If you found this helpful, you’ll want to check out the other computer How-To’s I’ve created on this page. You can always call us if you have questions: 800-387-5250