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20 top tips to improve your tech life

Tricks and downloads to prevent a tech nightmare

We've rounded up 20 of the best tips and downloads that will stop a tech meltdown or at least ensure that if a tech nightmare happens, it is salvageable.

3. Work faster and more efficiently without a mouse

Streamline your computer work by teaching yourself keyboard shortcuts for your common actions, such as Ctrl-S to save, Ctrl-T to open a new tab in Firefox, and Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V to copy and paste. Then, become a keyboard master with the help of a keyboard launcher such as the free Launchy. You can start programs, open documents, and even do advanced actions such as resizing images and moving files without moving your hands from the keyboard.

You can also assign key combinations that automatically type out common phrases - such as user names, passwords, addresses, and email signatures - with utilities like TypeItIn. Please go ahead and let it do half your typing!.

4. Lose weight, get fit, save money and increase your mileage online

A new crop of social self-improvement sites help you monitor how much you've eaten, exercised, and spent, to motivate you and keep you on track. Web services such as Weight Watchers log and guide your diet and fitness regime.

If Quicken or Microsoft Money has become too complicated to update, you can track your spending, balance your chequebook, and run charts on expenditures versus income at personal-finance sites Mint.com and Wesabe, although currently these only work for those based in the US.

Squeeze he last bit of mileage out of every expensive tank of petrol with a miles-per-litre tracker like Fuelly or MyMileMarker. Entering your information into such sites gets you personalised suggestions, comparisons, and a community of like-minded people who can offer support and suggestions.

5. Clear out your inbox every day

Beat email overload once and for all by emptying your inbox completely - and keeping it that way. The 'Inbox Zero' philosophy says that email messages are just calls to action - not clutter that we need to hang on to. Create three folders or labels in your email client: Action, Later, and Archive. Each day when you check your email, make a decision and do something with every new message you've received until you've moved them all out of your inbox and reduced your message count down to zero.

Ruthlessly delete the messages you don't need, on the spot. Respond to the ones that will take under two minutes. File messages that you want to keep for future reference in the Archive folder, those that will take longer than two minutes to reply to in Action (and add those to-do items to your list), and messages you need to follow up on at a subsequent date in Later. Then breathe a sigh of relief when you see that glorious declaration: 'You have no new mail'.

NEXT PAGE: Getting rid of messy cables and implementing a to-do list

  1. Tricks and downloads to prevent a tech nightmare
  2. Lose your mouse and get fit online
  3. Getting rid of messy cables and implementing a to-do list
  4. Use your camera phone as your digital photographic memory
  5. Passwords and encrypting your files
  6. Firefox keywords
  7. Master search techniques to pinpoint files or websites

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