On Windows, turn off visual effects
If you can live without the flair of shadows, animations, and fadeouts while you're working (you can), turn them off to improve performance. Click Start > Control Panel > search for Performance Information And Tools > Adjust visual effects and deselect all that excessive flashiness.
Shut it down
And no, putting your computer to “sleep” is not the same thing. Important maintenance tools run automatically when you reboot, so get into the habit of restarting or shutting off your machine on a regular basis to keep things running in tip top shape.
If your laptop is hot to the touch, it means it's working too hard and needs to cool down, especially since prolonged overheating will slow its performance in the long-run. The best strategy is to keep it well ventilated at all times, even point a fan in its general direction if possible, and use it on a flat surface that allows for proper air flow underneath. Bad news for your totally healthy Netflix-in-bed habit.
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Joe McGauley is a senior editor for Thrillist Media Group with a crippling addiction to tabs.