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3 Shortcuts that Ruined My Productivity

James Bacarro, Full-stack Marketer, Dubai

30 December 2018

Alt-Tab, Alt-Tab, Ctrl+Tab, Ctrl+Tab, Windows + E

+ the many other keyboard shortcuts..

(Warning: Content is relatable to Windows users only — sorry Apple)

I’m fast working with computers. I type fast. And I navigate between programs and browser tabs fast.

But the thing is..

It turns out that this speed is crippling my productivity.

Everyone prides themselves of being a multi-tasker. Myself included.
But.. if you do a quick google search “multitasking” you will know that there’s no such thing.

#1  The Alt+Tab

For Windows users, the Alt+Tab is a fast way of switching from multiple apps. So let’s say you currently have 2 apps opened: (1) Outlook, and (2) Google Chrome.

You just sent an email in your outlook so your window basically shows the outlook and now you want to get back to your Google Chrome browser to do research. Instead of moving your mouse to your taskbar, all you need to do is press Alt+Tab.

#2 The Ctrl+Tabs

Now, this is for those who love to open at least 15 browser tabs every time — like me. If you want to switch to your other opened tabs, just press Ctrl+Tab (Ctrl+Shift+Tab to reverse).

Cool shortcuts, right?

I’m addicted to these shortcuts.

Whenever Outlook freezes, I immediately press Alt+Tab.
Now I’m on my Excel spreadsheet.

— But wait, I’m supposed to research the right formula to find the duplicates in this spreadsheet.

Alt+Tab+Tab to open Google Chrome.

Google search: count duplicates in excel
Click a google result…
— Ugh! This excel tutorial website takes to long to load.

Ctrl+Tab+Tab+Tab, jumping to Linkedin opened on the 4th tab.
— Oh a prospect accepted my invitation request. Let’s see if his email is in the profile.. Yay his email is on display!

Ctrl+C to copy his email

Alt+Tab+Tab to open Outlook.

Ctrl+N to create a new email.

Ctrl+V to paste email address in “To:“.

Tab+Tab to jump to the subject line. Typing the “Subject”..

Tab to jump to the email body.

Typing the email..

“Dear [prospect],
How’s your day so far?”

— Hmm, what else to write?
— Oh wait, I just remembered the boss requested to send him the brochure design.

#3 Windows+E to open “File Explorer”

Navigates to the file server and inside multiple subfolders.

— Uh oh, this is not the updated one. I need to update this now!

Press Window button (to open the search bar of Windows 10).
Type “Indesign”. Adobe Indesign Opens.

— Wait, what were the changes he asked me to do again?

Alt+Tab…(maybe 2x) to open Outlook and look for boss’s email.

— Hmm.. I never used a shortcut to search for emails in Outlook.

Alt+Tab to open Chrome

Ctrl+T to open a new tab
Google search: outlook shortcut to search bar

— Ahah! It’s Ctrl+E

Searching for my boss’s email.

— Okay, here are the changes he wants.

Alt+Tab to open Indesign.
Makes some changes.
Export to PDF.

Then the mind wanders about the upcoming event next month.

Alt+Tab to open Chrome
Ctrl+Tab to view one of the 20 opened tabs to check if there are new registrations in our event website.

— Okay, no new registration as of today.

— Now, where was I?


So… I just lost count how many tasks I was trying to do at the same time.

Let’s see.

  1. Send brochure to boss
  2. Check website registration
  3. Complete the Excel file with the formula
  4. Send an email to the new connection from Linkedin.

Now that’s how these shortcuts ruined my productivity and efficiency.


Conclusion (note to self)

Focus on one work at a time. You will feel more accomplished and more fulfilled at the end of the day — since you actually completed a number of tasks. Not 70%, not 30% complete — but 100% complete.