Tech Shortcuts for Life

Introducing Tech Shortcuts for Life, a New Series About Optimizing Everything

How to make your days easier

Thomas Smith
Published in
3 min readJan 4, 2021


Life hacks. Pro tips. Cheats. Kludges. Heuristics. We all call them something different, but every field and every digital community has them. They’re shortcuts — simple processes, tools, or nuggets of insider wisdom that make work (and life) easier.

A good shortcut isn’t about cheating your way out of the necessary effort. It’s about finding a better, smarter, more efficient way to do something — ideally one that saves time, makes life easier, and gets you closer to your goals. Experts in every field use shortcuts. In fact, in many cases knowing the best shortcuts is what makes someone an expert in their field.

As a professional photographer, I can edit a photo in 6.8 seconds. (Yes, I timed myself.) That’s because I edit about 200,000 of them per year. My Adobe Lightroom interface has become a sea of carefully positioned panels, presets, and toolbars, and I have a complex system of labels and tags that let me categorize my photos with single memorized keypresses. These are my shortcuts. I’ve developed them over years of practice, and they help me do my job several times faster than when I first started out.