Some of us traders spend 8 to 10 hours a day at our computer. Believe me when I say I want to decrease time at my computer, not increase it. Consequently, when I’m at my computer, I’m always looking for ways to be more productive and efficient.
Over the years, as I’ve discovered new ways to increase my computer productivity, I’ve written blog posts to share what I’ve found. I thought it might be useful to do a quick round-up of the key tips to provide a checklist so you can be sure you’ve covered all the productivity bases.
Now is a good time to take an audit of your practices, and then take action. You may be familiar with some of these points. Where you aren’t familiar, or if you haven’t taken action in a while, go back to the original posts and make sure you’re getting the full benefit of my recommendations.
1. Periodically Clear Your Browser’s Cookies and Cache
You need to take out your cyber-garbage once in a while. Otherwise, it piles up.
What do I mean? Dump your web browser’s cookies and cache.
Cookies are the little packets of info websites use to remember you. Cache is the data your browser stores in memory after you visit a web page at least once.
In general, cookies and cache help improve your web browser experience. At least until you get so many they start clogging things up. So you need to clear them out once in a while. I explain how to do this here.
2. Spring Clean Your Trading Computer
You should clean out more than just your web browser. Your whole computer (hard drive) needs a “spring cleaning” once in a while, too!
To be honest, cleaning out old computer files and checking for software updates is not likely to be on your list of favorite jobs. But there’s software available to make the job less painful.
I recommend setting a recurring calendar reminder to clean up the junk on your computer. This post will tell you exactly what and how to clean up.
3. Maintain Consistent File Names
I find searching for files on my computer’s hard drive to be one of the biggest time wasters of all.
In the past, I wasn’t following a standard for naming my files. I do now. I’ve had to go back and rename files to stay more organized, but it was time well spent.
Don’t get stuck combing through folders searching for a file because you can’t remember the name. Follow the tips in this post about how to rename your trading computer files and how to create a naming system.
4. Create Stronger Passwords
Having easy-to-guess passwords is your number one vulnerability when it comes to computer security.
I understand why this happens. It makes life easier to have a memorable password (like a birthday or the dog’s name). But, the days of being able to get away with that are long gone.
Strong passwords are your first line of defense against hackers. Check out this post to learn both why and how to make your passwords more secure.
5. Keep Your Email Inbox Clean
The productivity geeks out there will tell you to have an empty inbox at the end of every week. (This concept is called ‘Inbox Zero’.)
I don’t know if I’ll ever get there, or if it’s even worth it. However, I do believe email wastes tons of time.
The solution is to rule your email instead of letting your email rule you. Start by taking a few minutes to leverage the rules and filters included in most email software. I outline this tactic, along with more ways to rule your email, here.
6. Learn to Safely Eject USB Drives
It’s so easy these days to plug in a thumb drive, transfer some data, and unplug. No problems, right?
Wrong. If you just yank out any USB storage device (i.e., hard drive, thumb/jump/flash drive) without warning your computer, you could lose data.
Take the time to do it properly. You’ll be saving yourself future headaches from accidental data loss.
If you don’t know the proper way to do it, or just want to understand what’s going on when you unplug without warning, learn all about it here.
7. Back Up Your Computer Files
You should have a clear plan to back up your trading computer’s data on a regular basis.
This is probably not news to you, but chances are good you still aren’t doing it. Just like spring cleaning your files, if you have to do it manually, it can be a royal pain.
Fortunately, there are many services now that automatically back up your computer daily. They are easy to use and fairly inexpensive. Read about the best options here.
8. Use File Explorer Favorites
One overlooked productivity tip is to create favorites on your computer. You’re probably already using the concept of favorites to create shortcuts to applications on your desktop. But there are other ways to use favorites you may not know about.
For example, if you use specific files and folders on a regular basis, you can add favorites to Windows File Explorer. I use these shortcuts every single day. They probably shave 5 to 10 minutes off my day.
Read more about using favorites on your trading computer here.
9. Capture Ideas on the Go
Why is it my best ideas come to me when I’m either riding my bike at 6am in the morning or when I’m driving to the bank?
I’ve learned (through the great pain of forgetfulness) I need to record my ideas when they come to me or I’ll forget them forever.
If you share my frustration, you’ll enjoy my post on popular apps for recording ideas when you’re away from your office.
Quality Management gurus will tell you one of the keys to success is to Manage by Prevention. Plan to take action on this list of best practices and enjoy the peace of mind and improved efficiency that comes from preventing everything from unexpected time drains to major data losses.
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