Computers have become very typical tools used in everyday life. You can now accomplish so many things with a few clicks of a mouse or a quick internet search. So many jobs rely on computers – they give us the ability to speak to someone across the globe from the comfort of our living rooms.
However, computers also hold many distractions. There are games, social media sites, articles, blogs – you name it, it’s on the computer.
So, how can we ensure we’re making the most of these ingenious devices? Is it worth it for everyone to have one, or are they used more for our enjoyment than anything else? Today we’re going to answer these questions and more, identifying productive things to do on the computer.
What Does it Mean to Be Productive?
It is essential that we first discuss this idea of being productive, because, without a clear definition, it becomes harder to identify how we can be productive in one specific area of our life, like on the computer.
The Dictionary defines the word productive like this: “having the quality of power or of producing,” “effective in bringing about,” and “yielding results, benefits, or profits.”
In simpler terms, being productive means whatever you are doing have some sort of beneficial aspect to it that’s positive or helpful. It’s getting something done and revealing results.
We can attach the word productive to any area of our lives. You may remember being a child whose parents are frustrated because you didn’t do anything productive all day long. Now, as an adult, you probably equate productivity to your job, in most instances.
You can be productive through work, but you can also be productive in your relationships, your emotional health, your physical health, housework, yard work, hobbies, volunteering, and more. Productivity is not just limited to numbers on a spreadsheet.
The same goes for being productive on a computer. Like in all areas of our lives, we have the option to go with the non-productive activities. However, productive activities are the ones that give us positive results.
Why Should We Be Productive?
It’s much easier to do unproductive things; they take less time, less effort, and basically allow us to sit around a do the bare minimum. So, why should we give that up? What does being productive really do for us?
A Happy, Active Mind
When you’re productive, you’re quite literally keeping your brain happy. Being productive not only gives you a sense of purpose, but it keeps your mind active. An active mind has no time to worry or fear or think about negative things.
That’s not to say you need to keep your mind active at every moment of the day. Just like with your physical health, your mental health is all about balance. It’s okay to enjoy mind-numbing television from time to time; just make sure you’re also providing your mind with plenty of time to be active and productive.
The more productive you are, the more free time you give yourself. Anyone who has ever fallen into the habit of procrastinating knows how little spare time you tend to have. Everything keeps piling up, and before you know it, all of your due dates around right around the corner, and you still have everything to do.
When you’re productive, you plan everything out and can even get things done ahead of schedule. Maybe you blocked out your whole Saturday for lawn maintenance and gardening. A productive person has the ability to get everything done quicker, leaving the rest of their Saturday free for relaxing or other fun activities.
The same goes for work. Rather than staying late on a Friday night to meet your deadlines, productivity can enable you to get everything done at the beginning of the week. This leaves you free to leave work early on Friday and dive into your weekend sooner.
In the same breath as more time, we can talk about less stress. Nothing is worse than cutting it close to a deadline. Sure, we knew that project was due Friday throughout this whole week, but we put it off. Now we’re stressing at the last minute trying to get it done and avoid lateness.
You probably knew for a while that your in-laws were visiting tomorrow, but you’ve put off all your grocery shopping, cleaning, and other preparations until today. Bring on the stress.
Productive people are often less stressed than others because they manage their time well and get things done as they come, rather than doing it all later. You may not feel like doing something at this moment, but you’ll be happy later when you realize you have already crossed it off your list.
Inspiration tends to be contagious, and it’s hard to stay unproductive around people who are consistently getting things done. When you are productive, you’re inspiring others to do the same.
Take college roommates, for instance. While one is lazing around doing nothing, the other is getting work done at their desk. Be the one getting work done and motivating your roommate to do the same. That way, you both can finish up around the same time and move on to something fun.
The same goes for the office. If everyone is goofing off, gossiping, and taking extra long lunch breaks, then no one gets anything productive done. However, it’s productive people who will inspire the rest to get to work and accomplish something great.
If nothing else, strive to be productive for the sake of influencing others.
While we can sit here all day telling you to be productive, that’s not very helpful to someone who’s not quite sure where to start. There are many tricks and techniques you can use to ensure that you’re striving for production. Use these tips wisely; they can help you in all areas of life, such as the time you spend on your computer.
Use the MIT method to stay productive. MIT stands for Most Important Tasks. With any to-do list you may have for the day, week, etc., try to prioritize based on which tasks are the most important.
Take this tip into consideration for your work week. Make your list of what must be accomplished this week and start with the most important and work your way down to the least important. Hopefully, you’ll be able to get to those less important tasks. But, if not, you’ll at least have the most important work already taken care of.
Not only will you start your week in productive mode, but you will end your week with easy tasks as you start to lose steam.
This tip is especially important when working with computers because so many of the distractions are built right into the device you’re using. Distracts are what keep us from our work. It’s so easy to get caught up for hours in social media, junk mail, and gossip sites.
To increase productivity, you need to minimize distractions. If you can work without internet (writers, for example), disconnect your computer from the WiFi. This will take away the temptation to surf the web or check social media.
Make sure there are no games on your work computer. Disable pop-ups and even go as far as to block certain sites to keep you from logging on.
Try to keep your phone far from you. When I work from home, I will often leave my phone in a different room from where I’m working. This eliminates the constant desire to pick it up and scroll through all of my apps or text a friend.
If you can’t keep your phone too far away for whatever reason, turn it to Do Not Disturb or silent mode. Some phones have settings that allow only specified numbers to alert your phone. All others will stay silent.
Clear your space of anything that can take your attention away from your work. Remove magazines and books. If you work from home, never sit in front of the television. Some people find it helpful to complete tasks with headphones in to drown out all of the distractions around them.
Identify Your Strong Time
Many people are productive throughout different times of the day. Morning people seemingly get more things done before nine in the morning than most people get done in a whole day.
If you’re a morning person, use that to your advantage. Clean the whole house before your family wakes up. Get to the office early to get things done before it gets loud and busy. Hit the gym before it gets crowded.
If you’re not a morning person, there’s a good chance you won’t get much done in the early hours, even if you get yourself up. Plan to get your most important or toughest tasks done in the afternoon. If you hate cleaning, plan to do it after lunch when you have the most energy and willpower. The same goes for any other tasks you’re trying to complete.
Play to your own strengths rather than the typical nine-to-five schedule.
Using the Computer
Before we hit this main topic, it was important to go through some helpful definitions, tips, and techniques concerning productivity. However, it’s time to delve into computer use and how we can use computers productively.
As we mentioned before, computers can be both a great tool and a great distraction. The number of things we can use computers for is essentially limitless.
Playing games and watching videos is all well and good, but let’s discuss some of the more productive things we can use this technology for.
Learn Something New
The internet is full of endless information. These days, anyone can learn about anything. Your options are limitless, and the resources go on and on for pages and pages.
With a quick internet search, research, and a good amount of time, you can learn something new. Read up on a topic that interests you. Learn how to perform a new task.
Many people like to use the internet for how-to guides. You can figure out how to change a tire, how to fix a leaking pipe, how to train your dog, and how to help dry skin. The do-it-yourself method has become so popular that it even has its own abbreviation: DIY.
If you’re going to surf the web, you might as well use it for something useful.
Build Your Resume
You would be surprised by how many people don’t spend enough time writing, editing, and updating their resume. In this day and age, a resume is extremely important. We also live in an ever-changing and ever-evolving world, so resumes that were considered decent ten years ago may now not meet the standards of today’s professional world.
Use your computer to constantly update your resume. Think about the last time you even looked at your resume. If you can’t remember, it’s probably been too long. And, if you’re not sure if your resume is up to par anymore, you can certainly use the first tip we presented to do some research on your computer.
Your resume can also extend to online resources these days as well. Many creative professionals build online portfolios to display their work. You can use the computer to build your own portfolio, organizing things like written pieces, photography, graphic design, video production, and more.
The longer you have your computer, the more junk gets built up. Something productive you can do on your computer is to go through and organize all of your files. Split them up into folders and delete files you no longer need.
Collect all your photos in one place and divide them into categories. Clear your desktop of unwanted clutter by making use of your computer’s organizational filing system.
This will clear up space on your hard drive and will also make it easier to find things you need quickly.
Apply to Jobs
Like with your resume, applying to jobs has drastically changed over the last several years. The main method of applying to jobs is now done online.
There are several job sites out there that you can use for free. Employers will post open positions that you can search to and apply for, often times simply uploading your resume and clicking “submit.”
Whether you’re looking for your first job or are considering an employment change, you can make excellent use of your computer in this way.
Run Virus Scans
Running virus scans is a very productive computer activity that is often forgotten. However, it is a vital action to take in protecting your computer from harmful viruses that can destroy files, cause your system to run slow, or even render your device useless.
Running regular scans can help locate issues before they take effect, saving you lots of time and money in the process. It’s very easy to do as well and often only requires you to open and start a program. You’ll be happy in the long run that you took the time to perform this action.
The ability to type at a decent speed is a great asset to have. Any job that requires computer work like writing, editing, coding, or even just lots of emailing will benefit from good typing abilities. Some jobs even administer typing tests during their application and interviewing processes.
The internet has many resources for practicing typing. A quick search will help you find several free sites for practice as well as typing tests to tell you your typing speed.
If you spend any amount of time typing for your job or even as a hobby, I would recommend taking some productive time to improve your typing abilities. A slow typer in the workplace can be very frustrating for both you and your co-workers.
Watch Educational Videos
With the rise of YouTube and other video sites, our education has risen from not only reading about things but watching them. While writing is important and is certainly not lost, educational videos are on the rise.
Educational videos come in many different formats. You can watch someone use and review a product that you are interested in buying or using. You can also watch someone teach you how to use something or complete a particular task. For example, we mentioned changing a tire earlier.
You can still read about that if you want, or you can watch someone show you how to do it step by step with a clear video and helpful narration.
You can also watch videos with helpful information. If you’re interested in learning about the creatures of the ocean, you can find tons of videos to tell you about it and show it to you. You can also find important political speeches, newscasts, and entertainment updates on the computer. You never have to miss out on a thing.
Send a Message
When I was younger, I used to send emails back and forth with my grandparents, who lived several hours away. Email is still a tool we use every day, but it’s more times than not used for business and work purposes.
You can use your computer to maintain communication with those who are far from you. Of course, you can call or text them, but email is just another tool you can use to send a pleasant message to someone who isn’t expecting to see something personal in their mailbox on a Monday morning in the office.
Write a message to a friend or family member and make their day with a surprise email. It’s the little things that make us smile, after all.
Change Your Passwords
It is recommended that you change your important passwords once a year. This includes banking, emails, and other bill sites that you use frequently.
Because hackers do exist, it’s very productive to change your account passwords regularly. Many sites and businesses are pretty good about letting you know when an unknown or suspicious sign-in has occurred, but they can’t catch everything.
Learn a New Language
The ability to speak a second language is an invaluable skill to have. While it may have been very difficult at one point to learn a brand new language, online resources make it easier than ever. You can use your computer to learn a new language, whether it’s by downloading a specific program or searching for assistance on the internet.
You can even find online tutors using your computer if you prefer one-on-one interaction. There are endless numbers of resources online when it comes to learning a new language. A computer gives you access to all of them.
Plus, with a laptop, you can take your learning anywhere. Keep up with your learning while traveling, on vacation, or taking the subway.
Keep Up with News
Every news outlet has an online source at this point. You no longer have to sit down in front of the TV at six o’clock for the evening news. Presidential speeches, breaking news, sports, and entertainment can all be found online, both live and recorded.
In addition, reporters can write articles and post them immediately, making today’s news sources more up-to-date and accurate than ever.
You can even search for news on the internet using the news tab. Find articles, videos, and social media content with the latest information from all around the world. This can help you stay current and knowledgeable about what’s going on in business, politics, celebrities, sports, and more.
Find a Side Gig
There are lots of opportunities to make money through your computer. A productive way to use this technology is to take advantage of online side gigs.
Several sites nowadays will pay you to take surveys for them. You can also find many online jobs, like writing for a blog or performing editing responsibilities for a business.
In fact, many jobs offer work-from-home opportunities recently. This practice is growing more and more, allowing people to use their computers to work from the comfort of their home rather than going into an office.
Whether you find yourself an online side gig or a company that offers work-from-home positions, you can use your computer to raise your convenience levels and spend more time at home rather than at work.
Buy & Sell Things
A big chunk of the internet is used for online shopping. While shopping, in general, may not be considered productive – especially if you’re spending large amounts of money – it can be productive to order things you need online rather than finding time to run to the store.
You can buy basically anything online these days and have it shipped to your front door. You can even order groceries, saving yourself the trip.
At the same time, you can also sell things for a profit. Many people use sites like eBay, LetGo, and Facebook Marketplace to sell their old possessions that they no longer need. Use your computer to declutter your home by getting rid of unnecessary items, making a few bucks in the process.
Manage Your Network
There is a huge emphasis on networking these days, and the computer is one of the best ways to do it. There are even social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, that help us manage our networks. While some networking sites are used solely for social networking, like Facebook or Twitter, others use these sites to manage their professional network.
By exploring these sites, you can make connections with individuals, groups, and organizations. We’ve all heard the phrase: it’s about who you know. Your connections can get you far in life, and they can also help you assist others with their goals.
You can use the computer to stay in touch with professional contacts while also participating in certain professional groups and their discussions or events. At the same time, you can update your profile on these sites regularly so others can keep up with you.
You never know how or when you can use these connections, so it’s very productive to maintain your online presence.
Computers for a Productive Life
Technology certainly has its ups and downs within our lives. While some may argue that technology and all of our devices have taken away a level of substance in our lives, it’s also important to realize the benefits that they offer, too.
When used properly, you can greatly benefit from things like computers. The list we went through is certainly not comprehensive, as there is so much more you can do with these devices. However, it’s a good start for someone who may be unsure if computer use is for them.
It’s true that you shouldn’t let technology rule your life, but that doesn’t mean we have to shy away from it completely. The innovations that have been made due to computer use are outstanding and overwhelmingly helpful. Learn to be productive on your computer, and you will surely reap the benefits.