21 Ways to Optimize Your Life in Seconds

21 Ways to Optimize Your Life in Seconds

I’m typing this post on a new keyboard. Not a newly purchased keyboard, but rather a computer in which the keys have been all moved around.

It’s not going so well. My typing speed has dropped from 109 words per minute to nine. A 92% drop! Why make the change?

Top-end optimization.

In life and in business, we ought to focus on making small improvements to the actions we take every day. Because incremental improvement is magnified through repetition.

How I’ll Write 100 More Books Before I Die

My keyboard is now Colemak.

It’s a slightly different arrangement of letters that supposedly increases speed while minimizing movement. That means decreased risk of carpal tunnel for laptop warriors like myself. Plus, it’s a great brain-training exercise to rewire my neurons to know the location of each letter.

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Why take the trouble to relearn such a basic skill?

Typing is something I do every day, for almost eight hours a day at times. If I can improve my speed ever so slightly — and decrease my risk of spending so much time at the computer — this small change will have a massive impact.

In fact, I supposedly have 357 million keystrokes left before I die. If I could increase my typing speed even a modest 10%, I would have another 30 million keystrokes. Since the average word is five characters and the average book is about 60,000 words, my extra six million words could mean another 100 books that I could write in my lifetime.

What’s more likely is that this change will help me save a few minutes every day to think deeper and be more professional in what I write.

Optimize, Don’t Add

Making small changes to frequent activity has the greatest impact in our lives.

Typically we think of additive behavior when we want to make a change: Start exercising, eat more vegetables, meditate more frequently, write 1,000 words a day.

Additive behavior can have a big impact . . . if you do it. The challenge is that changing habits is incredibly difficult. Finding time for new behavior is even more difficult.

A more realistic approach to change in both our personal lives and our businesses is top-end optimization.

Find the small tasks you do over and over, and make them better.

As Noah Kagan of AppSumo noted:

You need to optimize from the top down. That starts with your health, then your computer, your phone, your typing skills and so forth. You use those 99% of your day if you’re a desk jockey.

21 Ways to Optimize Your Life and Business in Seconds

There are many ways to get started with top-end optimization. Here are a few ideas to get you going.


  1. Improve your typing speed (an efficient keyboard or practice works).
  2. Use a second monitor if you need to use multiple windows.
  3. Buy a faster computer and router.
  4. Turn your trackpad speed as high as it will go.
  5. Speed up drag and drop with Yoink.
  6. Sync clipboards with CloudClip.
  7. Create bookmarks of the websites you use most (and organize them into folders).
  8. Save your home or business in Google Maps to get quick directions.
  9. Create Favorites in your phone for your most-called contacts.
  10. Set up an automatic backup system for your photos (Dropbox does this well; I also use Flickr).


  1. Use Momentum to avoid distractions when you open new tabs.
  2. Write down your most important tasks for tomorrow (8FD can help).
  3. Avoid Parkinson’s Law and use the Pomodoro technique (or Freedom).
  4. Remove your newsfeed from Facebook.


  1. Set out your running shoes and workout clothes before you go to bed so there is one less excuse not to do it.
  2. Take walks while you are on the phone.
  3. Use Headspace, especially when riding on public transit.
  4. Sleep better and protect your eyes with F.LUX.
  5. Have a chiropractor look at your work area, and consider a standing desk.


  1. Read books by listening to them while you’re on the go with Audible.
  2. Take lessons on cutting vegetables.

It’s Not About Speed; It’s About Choice

Top-down optimization doesn’t have to be about speed. Life is moving fast enough, and there is enough pressure to be productive and efficient.

Instead, think about top-down optimization as freedom.

If there are tasks you have to do, and you can do them quicker, you will have more time. You can then choose what to do with your extra time.

Maybe you will just enjoy a little bit of nothingness. Maybe you will use it to get more done. Whatever you do, you will have the choice.

It will take me days (or weeks?) to catch up to where my current typing speed is. When I do, however, I will have a skill that will stick with me forever — and hopefully prevent future pain in my overworked fingers and wrists.

Invest a little bit of time now to save yourself seconds and minutes every day for the rest of your life.

Who knows, maybe you will be able to write one — or 100 — extra books.

Banner image: Mark Lane