Use Netflix’s “My List” feature
All work and no play might get the job done... until you burn out. So, if you like to unwind with a little Netflix from time to time, then I recommend using its “My List” feature. Adding awesome movies and TV shows to your personal list cuts down on the time you have to wade through the thousands of movies and TV shows to figure out what to watch. Generally, what you’re trying to do here is to trim down the fat that encroaches on your relaxation time, so that you have more time throughout the day to focus on the more important things. Like going on a healthy diet, it’s about having a cheat day every now and then, but you still have to learn how to cheat the right way.
Save money on travel
Speaking of having cheat days, there have been numerous studies that indicate that having vacations are good for productivity. But you don’t have to spend a fortune for a nice getaway to reset your mind. And as the saying goes, a penny saved is a penny earned. Luckily, there are tools like Airfarewatchdog that will notify you of crazy flight deals. There are also apps like Hopper, which allow you to type in a location and date, and it will notify you when there’s a particularly cheap day to buy a specific airfare ticket you’ve been eyeing. Then, of course, there’s Airbnb, which lets you lounge around people’s summer homes on the cheap.
Take advantage of navigation tricks
If the saying “time is money” is true, then you're paying dearly if you spend a lot of time stuck in traffic. Luckily, there are mobile apps like Waze, which will not only help you find out how to get to your destination, but will show you the quickest way to get there (with real-time traffic updates). Google Maps also has a bunch of tricks. For instance, using your desktop browser, you can type a destination into maps.google.com and then use the “send to your phone” button so that when you pick up your phone, the navigation is up and ready to go. You can also save or “star” addresses on the map so you know where they are when you’ve parked the car and need to walk to the address. Google Maps also allows you to save regions/locations for offline use, which is great in case you lose your signal or are traveling to a foreign country where your signal might not work. There are a bunch of other helpful Google Maps tips and tricks here.
Batch images with Irfanview
If you’re like me, you’ve come across several occasions where you’ve needed to either compress or convert a bunch of images, maybe to help get file sizes down when sending email attachments, for instance. While you can shrink and/or convert images one by one through various imaging programs, the program Irfanview allows you to batch convert multiple images at once within seconds. Best of all, it’s completely free. If you’re a photographer (whether amateur or professional), a tool like this can be a great time saver.
Use health/fitness programs
Research from the CDC indicates that a healthy person amounts to a productive person, but it can be hard to live a healthy life style if you’re constantly slaving away at your desk. Luckily, there are health tools that will help get you in shape. Since we know that sitting for prolonged periods of time isn't healthy, you can use the Stand Up browser extension to periodically remind you to stand up and walk around. If you’re trying to keep track of your calories and/or nutritional intake, you can download the MyFitnessPal app, which helps you log all your daily meals. In case you didn’t want to buckle down and purchase a fitness tracker, there are free apps such as RunKeeper that can help you track your exercise.
Keep track of your finances
It can be hard to be productive if you’re always worried about your personal finances, but Mint.com (and its app), can track all of your spending for you. It can also provide you with weekly updates indicating how much you’ve spent throughout the week and how under/over budget you are in relation to your normal spending habits. There are tons of detailed reports here, and it can notify you when you have upcoming bills due and more.
Short for “If This Then That,” IFTTT is a powerful tool that allows you to set up “recipes” to get your favorite programs and tools working together. For instance, if you have a bad habit of not returning phone calls, you can set up IFTTT to send you reminder emails to respond to those missed calls. You can also set up recipes that remind you to respond to any emails that you mark as important. If you have smart home devices like the Philips Hue Lights, you can set them to dim or change colors as it gets darker outside. There are thousands of combinations of recipes here and it can pretty much get as intricate as you want.
Learn keyboard shortcuts
Whether you’re using Windows, Word, Chrome, or some other piece of software, it’s always a good idea to learn keyboard shortcuts, as using them can save you precious minutes every day (and those minutes add up, folks!). You probably know that CTRL + C equals copy and that CTRL + V equals paste, but did you know that the Windows button + print screen button automatically screenshots your desktop and saves it as a PNG image file in your Pictures folder? Or how about Using the Windows button + M to minimize all your desktop folders and windows, so that you don’t have to manually minimize each one? It’s not all about just shaving a few seconds, however.
What happens if your computer crashes and all your important tabs go away in Chrome? Well, you can press CTRL + Shift + T to restore them and pick up where you left off. You can find more helpful Windows shortcuts here, and some useful Chrome shortcuts here.
And that rounds up our tips. Do you have any tools and recommendations of your own? Let us know in the comments below!