Organizing your computer system for the work you do can help you reach peak performance levels. Bookmarking frequently visited Web sites into neat categories is worth the time it takes to do. Keeping your email inbox and other folders as empty as possible is another useful productivity technique. Reply to all emails as soon as you can so that you do not have a backlog building up. If you have multiple email accounts, consider using a computer application that will allow you to centralize these accounts on your desktop so that you are not having to go all over the place to retrieve email. Having an office software package installed on your system is pretty much compulsory these days for nearly any line of work. Fortunately, you do not have to spend hundreds of dollars on commercial office packages anymore; the open-sourced OpenOffice is a freely available and highly competitive piece of office software that will run on many different platforms. There are plenty of freeware utilities out there that make your life easier, everything from scientific calculators to password managers to world clocks that sit on your desktop and display the time for all major cities around the globe (a great help given the international nature of much Internet-based work).
Of course, having an organized computer means nothing if you are working out of a waste dump. Reducing clutter and having a neatly organized room or office seems to have a similar effect on your mind. “You are where you work” is the motto here. Have plenty of space in which to move around, but do not strive for the warehouse effect where you are walking fifty meters just to retrieve a pen and a piece of paper — assuming you still know what pens are.
One of the biggest sources of computer-related stress is losing access to your important data. If you are heavily dependent on reliable access to your work data, it is absolutely imperative that you plan for data-loss contingencies. Perform frequent saves of any files you are currently working on, creating a duplicate copy every now and then so that you have a rollback option in the case of disastrous edits. Perform routine backups of your data on external media. If your budget allows for it, consider purchasing an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) so that you can either continue working during a power outage or save your work and turn off your computer gracefully. Forgetting passwords is another way to lose access to your data, so if you have been known to have the memory of a goldfish, find a solution in the form of a password-management utility, either a software program or one of the many physical devices that have appeared on the market in recent years. Whether you have a dial-up Internet account or fast broadband access, if constant Internet access is mission critical for your work, you can avoid many common stressful situations by having a separate, low-cost dial-up account with a different Internet service provider. Finally, investing a little time, money, and effort in a basic computer-repair course will pay you back many times over when it comes to easily fixed computer problems that seem to strike only on weekends or during the early hours of the morning.
Learning a computer programming language will allow you to automate many of the tasks that form your grunt work and enable you to concentrate on those things that humans do best. If you start out with a simple scripting language such as Perl, Python, or Ruby, you will discover that programming a computer is not as daunting as it would first appear — in fact, it can be a great deal of fun. You may even find that your burgeoning programming skills can earn you some extra income as a freelance coder.