You bought a new laptop or built a PC & the GPU can run Elden Ring on ultra, but you want your money to be worth more than short-term pleasures? When your new device can make you 163x more productive, only then can your purchase feel worth it. Gaming can come later. Out of the 100s of things I tried, here are the top 25 that can actually turn your PC into a productivity machine.
These tactics are in no particular order, and the productivity apps, extensions & tools are meant to be installed or implemented while you’re reading, so that you level up your PC productivity as you read.
- Introduction (important).
- tactic 1: Block distracting websites during work using LeechBlock NG.
- Tactic 2: Hide YouTube Home page and Recommended side-bar using Unhook.
- tactic 3: Install ShareX for screenshots and remember all its shortcuts.
- tactic 4: Don’t use the touch pad/mouse if you can use shortcuts.
- Tactic 5: Use Tick-Tick.
- Tactic 6: Use the Forest extension while working.
- Tactic 7: Start using a single notes app for all your notes.
- tactic 8: Turn off all browser/app notifications & always keep the DND mode on.
- tactic 9: Hide Windows Widgets in Windows 11.
- tactic 10: Make Eye-Care remind you to take a break.
- tactic 11: Uninstall all your games for now.
- tactic 12: Read & internalize tools on Untools.
- Tactic 13: Use Multiple desktops for different types of work.
- Tactic 14: Use the XMind app to create mind maps.
- tactic 15: Make a file manager hierarchy.
- tactic 16: Convert read emails into tasks or notes and then archive them.
- Tactic 17: Clean your YouTube Watch Later playlist regularly.
- tactic 18: Use Instapaper.
- tactic 19: Organize your “watch later” movies, TV shows, video games & books in one place.
- tactic 20: Use Espanso.
- tactic 21: Don’t forget to use AI tools.
- Tactic 22: Learn touch typing.
- TACTIC 23: Use Fready to read on PC.
- Tactic 24: Use Touchpad gestures on Windows 11.
- tactic 25: Use a password manager.
tactic 1: Block distracting websites during work using LeechBlock NG.
Online content creators try their best to make you spend as much time consuming their content as possible. However, as consumers, it’s our responsibility to make sure we spend our time responsibly.
Using LeechBlock NG I have successfully defeated my addiction to YouTube, my tendency to check my favorite author’s Twitter page and ask questions on Reddit that I already know the answers to.
I made a set of distracting websites on it which included Twitter, Reddit, Google News, and a separate one for YouTube as I want a separate blocking pattern for it. All the former are banned for life, and the latter is only allowed to be used on Wednesdays, Saturdays & Sundays. You have many options on it, you don’t necessarily have to block the websites for the whole day, you can just block them for a particular time. Like earlier, I used to block YouTube from 7 am to 12 pm because I like to binge YouTube first thing in the morning. You can also change how the website gets blocked, it can just close the webpage, blur it or mute it. Make sure the extension is turned for incognito mode as well.
Tactic 2: Hide YouTube Home page and Recommended side-bar using Unhook.
Are you in control of the content you consume on YouTube or does the algorithm recommend it for you? Obviously both but if we just use YouTube passively, we’ll end up watching all kinds of videos we never wanted to watch in the first place. It’s like you never asked for it unless you were told that you needed it.
If you want to get back control, I recommend using the extension Unhook. You’ll only watch the channels you’re subscribed to. Here’re the steps to take:
- Download the Unhook extension for your browser.
- Turn on Hide Home Feed and Redirect To Subscription. This will hide all the recommended videos that the algorithm chooses for you and redirect you to your subscription page.
- In the Hide Video Sidebar option, only keep Hide Playlist and Hide Transcript, Chapters off. This will make sure when you’re watching a video, there’re no recommendations shown and no annoying people “destroying” each other on live chats.
- Hide End Screen Feeds and End Screen Cards as well.
- Hide Explore, Trending, More From YouTube and especially the Shorts Tab.
- You can hide the comments as well, but I like the YouTube comments section.
tactic 3: Install ShareX for screenshots and remember all its shortcuts.
ShareX is my screenshot app of choice. It’s free and open source. Download it and make sure the Minimize to tray on start option is enabled. The best thing about the app is its tools. Here’re some of the features:
- You can make your own app shortcuts.
- It can automatically identify sections of you screen to capture.
- It can recognize the text of your screenshot.
- It can copy the screenshotted image to clipboard. Useful to quickly capture and send.
- It has a separate “tools” section that includes a color picker, image viewer, image editor, ruler, image thumbnailer, image combiner/splitter, video convertor, QR code scanner, and a lot more.
- It’s very lightweight.
tactic 4: Don’t use the touch pad/mouse if you can use shortcuts.
This one’s very important. The time you save by using shortcuts instead of your mouse adds up to a huge amount after some time. It’s really noticeable once you’re really used to it (which doesn’t take long) & you try to not use any shortcuts for a day. It’s too painful.
It makes you look pretty cool as well. Here are the ones I think are the must:
- Win+V: open clipboard.
- Win+[numbers]: open the app in that position from your taskbar (from left to right).
- Ctrl+W: close.
- Ctrl+W when using the browser: close tab.
- Ctrl+Shift+T: open recently closed tab.
- Win+[arrow keys]: snap windows.
- Alt+Tab: switch apps.
- Win+D: show/hide the desktop.
- F2: rename.
- Win+S: search Windows.
- Ctrl+[numbers]: jump to the tab in that position from the left.
Check out more life-changing shortcuts here.
Tactic 5: Use Tick-Tick.
Tick-Tick is my favorite app across all platforms. It’s a master productivity app. Basically, it’s a to-do list app, but it has a bunch of features that are integrated really well with each other.
It’s a to-do list, calendar, habit tracker, Pomodoro & notes app all at the same time. It has an Eisenhower Matrix task organizer built-in & you can also set up your shortcuts for it.
Tactic 6: Use the Forest extension while working.
If you’re satisfied with TickTick’s Pomadaro timer you probably don’t want a separate app for it. However, Forest is special. Forest will grow a tree while you’re focusing on your work. Quitting the timer halfway will cause your tree to die. It adds another layer of resistance between you and quitting. Plus, you can also add websites that it’ll block during the timer.
Tactic 7: Start using a single notes app for all your notes.
I used to use different apps for taking notes like Notepad, Wordpad, Evernote, Onenote, and Google Keep, which made finding notes time-consuming. Then I switched to TickTick and now all my notes are there. You can use a different one, just make sure it has a mobile app as well (important). The app Notion is trending these days, check why.
tactic 8: Turn off all browser/app notifications & always keep the DND mode on.
Some websites ask you to allow notifications from them. First of all, never agree to it, but if you have agreed to it, turn them all off. Here’s how to do that in Chrome:
- Open Settings on chrome.
- Select Privacy and Security on the left.
- Click Site Settings.
- Scroll down to Permissions and select Notifications.
- Turn off all notifications.
- Also, turn off the Sites Can Ask To Send Notifications option to prevent those extra clicks in the future.
Another thing you should always keep on is the Do Not Disturb mode so that notifications that you didn’t turn off don’t pop up on your screen and go straight to the notification center. Here’s how to do it:
- Open Windows settings (Win+I).
- Select System on the left.
- Open Notifications and turn on Do Not Disturb.
tactic 9: Hide Windows Widgets in Windows 11.
On Windows 11, there’s a Windows Widgets option on your taskbar which is just filled with news websites asking you to care about on their sensationalized news. The problem is that we never asked for it, if we need to read news, we’d just search “news” online. It’s a waste of time, attention, space and energy. Here’s how to turn it off:
- Right click on the taskbar and open Taskbar Settings.
- Now you’ll see the option to turn off the widgets.
You can also turn off Chat and Task View since the former you don’t use and the latter you have already memorized the shortcut for (Win+Tab).
tactic 10: Make Eye-Care remind you to take a break.
eyeCare is an extension that reminds you to blink, take a short break, or do some eye exercises to prevent strain or eye problems in the long term. Give it a try.
tactic 11: Uninstall all your games for now.
Your PC can run God of War Ragnarök on the highest settings, I know but games are the last thing you want as a distraction. As the great saying goes, no one games for less than three hours at a time.
Delete them until you start associating your PC with work rather than with #fun or while your schedule is so busy that gaming for more than an hour makes you feel painfully guilty.
tactic 12: Read & internalize tools on Untools.
Do you know about the website Untools? Most people don’t. It’s a collection of tools & frameworks that’ll help you to think better: make better decisions & solve problems. You can internalize the tools the following way:
- Read about a tool thoroughly.
- Solve a real-life problem using the tool.
- Repeat for a week.
- Record yourself with a camera and try to solve a real-life problem with the tool while speaking. Repeat for a week. This step is optional.
With time you’ll internalize the tools, just make sure you start using them in real life when trying to solve a problem.
Tactic 13: Use Multiple desktops for different types of work.
Multiple desktops are great for keeping unrelated/related projects organized, or for quickly switching desktops. For example, while editing videos/photos, you can open Premier Pro/Photoshop on one desktop and your browser on the other. Now you’ve separated “editing” from “research”.
You can seamlessly move from one desktop to another using the shortcut Win+Ctrl+Left/Right arrow key. To use different desktops, open Task view (Win+Tab) and you’ll see the option to add a new desktop.
Tactic 14: Use the XMind app to create mind maps.
It’s impossible to not create mind maps if you want to become a better learner. Mind maps are basically a way to organize any information. It’s based on the same concept of organizing using hierarchies. Try the app Xmind or something similar to learn & remember faster.
tactic 15: Make a file manager hierarchy.
We all use a hierarchy to organize things in our house. Basically, there’s a category, which has a few subcategories. These subcategories further have more subcategories. Remember, there should be an underlying logic behind a category. You won’t put your medicine in a box for your electronics.
Using the same tactic for your files is essential. Otherwise, a lot of time gets wasted in finding your files. And it looks pretty bad as well. Here’s how to get started:
In your Downloads folder, using the logic of “file type” make different folders, like Images, Documents, Apps, Compressed Files, Audio, Videos etc.
Each of these folders will have their subfolders. For example, the Images folder can contain subfolders for different types of images (.png, .jpeg, etc.) or, for different types of works (for editing, writing, homework, memes, etc.). You’ll have to organize using a logic that works for you.
tactic 16: Convert read emails into tasks or notes and then archive them.
Emails tend to get messy quickly, so they need a separate organizing tactic. First of all, you should unsubscribe from all the newsletters you don’t need. It’ll take some time but it’s worth it. Secondly, there should be a system to organize your emails.
I suggest each time you receive an email, first you should read it and then convert it into either a task or a note, before archiving it. If your email isn’t important enough to fit into either your to-do list or notes app, then you should just archive it without a second thought.
This way your emails stay organized, and their purpose gets fulfilled.
Tactic 17: Clean your YouTube Watch Later playlist regularly.
YouTube’s Watch Later playlist is the most underutilized feature on YouTube. There’re many videos that you click on either because your favorite YouTuber uploaded an enticing video, or you don’t want to forget the name of a random video you want to watch. You don’t have to start watching right away. You can put both types in your Watch Later playlist.
However, you should make sure to either remove the video after watching it later or just put it in a different playlist to keep your Watch Later playlist clean & focused for a single purpose.
tactic 18: Use Instapaper.
How many times have you procrastinated reading an online article by saving it somewhere? I used to have like seven pinned tabs on my browser for articles I wanted to read. All it did was make my PC slower by consuming more ram. Now, I use the Instapaper extension and app (on my smartphone) to save any article I’d like to read later.
Whenever I right-click on any article now, my browser shows me an option to save it to Instapaper. I can also save articles on my smartphone by installing the app. Now, I can access my “read later” articles in one place on both of my devices.
tactic 19: Organize your “watch later” movies, TV shows, video games & books in one place.
You can use your notes app to save all of these there, but I recommend using a service made for this task specifically like Friendspire or Likewise. Not only do they have great interfaces, but they also recommend content based on your likes. The only problem with them is that they don’t save your video games, but you can always just use your notes app for them.
tactic 20: Use Espanso.
Espanso detects when you type a keyword and replaces it while you’re typing. For example, I can choose “.em” to be replaced with my email address or “.ad” to be replaced with my address. It’s really helpful if you notice yourself repeating any long sentences or paragraphs over and over.
tactic 21: Don’t forget to use AI tools.
AI is changing the world, and people who don’t change with it sooner will suffer a little more than necessary. Here are some AI tools to boost your productivity:
- Copy.ai: a tool that helps you write better and faster by generating talking points (can even write a whole paragraph for you) for anything you want to write about. I’d only use it to get an idea about the question you’re investigating. There’re more tools available on this app as well such as a “hook generator” that tries to hook people’s attention with the first few sentences. And others like a YouTube title generator, YouTube description generator, etc.
- QuillBot: a paraphrasing tool to help you imagine different versions of a written text. Paraphrased example: QuillBot is a tool for paraphrasing that can assist you in imagining many versions of a written text.
- AssemblyAI: a speech-to-text transcriber that can summarize it. You can use it to record a lecture and then summarize it by making notes.
- Beautiful.ai: this tool uses artificial intelligence to help you create beautiful and professional presentations in minutes.
- ChatGPT: it’s a chatbot that can help you guide and think better about any question you might be investigating.
For the best in class (but free) AI productivity tools, bookmark this website (or just remember it). I’ll add more free AI tools to this website.
Tactic 22: Learn touch typing.
Touch typing is typing using all your fingers and without looking at the keys. It’s the fastest way to type on a keyboard and takes less than two weeks to learn. Learning to type faster saves a lot of time, and more importantly, it helps you match the speed of your typing and thinking, which is the main problem I faced when writing on paper. It’s a great way to think better & use writing as a tool to do that.
Here’re some of the free services I used to learn touch typing:
TACTIC 23: Use Fready to read on PC.
It works just like using your finger on a physical book. The word pacer highlights text and moves it to your desired pace which simulates the ideal eye movement & helps you read faster while improving comprehension. Download it here.
Tactic 24: Use Touchpad gestures on Windows 11.
Turn on touchpad gestures on your laptop by going to Settings, Bluetooth & Devices, Touchpad. Turn on both the Three-finger & Four-finger gestures and start using them to save time.
tactic 25: Use a password manager.
Since it’s recommended to use different passwords on different websites, remembering all your passwords will be hard. So, why not use a password manager to just autofill both your username/email and password itself? You can use your browser’s own password manager, but I recommend using a third-party one for more features. Browse some of the best password managers here.
Thanks for reading. Remember to avoid passing on a tactic before trying it for a few days. It may be a game changer for your productivity.
Read more unorthodox tactics about different subjects here.
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