When you’re doing work online, there’s a lot to consider, not just about the work you’re going to do, but about the tools you used to do it.
This goes beyond just picking between Blogger and WordPress or Tumblr and TypePad – the tools for web workers to build their platforms on range from getting the right laptop and Skype-ready headset on the hardware side, to picking seemingly low-priority things like task management software, browser plugins, and Instant Messenger clients.
Very often, the things that seem to be the least of our concerns when setting up turn out to make the biggest difference in the long term.
It’s easy to buy a new keyboard for a desktop computer. But what about laptops? We look for good screens, good speakers… Maybe a good processor or large harddrive if we’re savvy enough – but how many of us buy laptops based on typing tests and the way they fit our hands? It’s virtually impossible to replace the keyboard in a laptop.
Choosing your tools wisely is important. Here are some of the ones I use.
Some of the hardware that gets me through the day:
- Dell Studio 17′ laptop – I chose the beast based on screen size, keyboard, and capacity for graphical work. When you’re a writer, any old typing machine will do (If you can type on it) but storing loads of data – hundreds of pages of writing, images, photoshop files… Big data is making its way down to the individual, so having a large harddrive is a good idea. My Dell has a terrabyte of storage.
- Sony MDR-XB300 Headphones – picked based on their range (they work for the music I listen to) and for their comfort. I listen to a LOT of music, in addition to podcasts
- BlackBerry 8520 – I’ve got the WordPress app, as well as Twitter, Facebook, Google Talk, Live Messenger, and AIM on my phone. Oh, and Evernote as well. I use my phone as a backup publishing platform – mostly for ideation and review of ideas I’ve had. It’s astonishing how much having even a little access can increase productivity, and accessibility.
- Razer/Microsoft Habu mouse – it’s a gaming mouse, really, but I got it based on ergonomics and high DPI, which is a boon when working in Photoshop.
That’s an incomplete list, but you get the idea I hope – if any of these pieces of my kit fail, it changes the way I do my work. All of it was chosen based on knowledge of my workflow,
Some desktop software I use for productivity:
- iTunes for music – because… Well, it’s iTunes. And I have an iPod.
- Google Chrome – because it’s fast, even though it has some issues with WordPress’ post editor. Also, add-ons like;
- SEO Site Tools
- Instant Messaging software, like;
- Live Messenger
- AIM – AOL Instant Messenger
- Google Talk
- Evernote – as mentioned above, because it lets me keep information on the move.
- Dropbox because it keeps my things safe and lets me collaborate easily.
- TweetDeck for Twitter management.
- Adobe CreativeSuite software – it’s a standard, really, though mine’s outdated.
- YNAB – You Need A Budget to keep things in order.
There’s also web software:
- (mt)MediaTemple for web hosting – for reasons I’ve covered in a review previously. My domains register through them as well.
- WordPress.org as a blogging software, because it’s infinitely extensible and powerful – I’ll get into more detail about WP.org later.
- Standard Theme 2 which I developed my current site theme on top of, for reasons also covered in a review
- Google Apps for my domain email and other tools – everything, at this point, routes through my Google Apps account
This is, of course, an incomplete list – in both cases. However, the trend is clear; I’ve chosen a set of tools that works the way I need them to. It’s not all flash and sizzle, but it does the trick, exactly as I expect, every time.
Picking hardware and software that works well in concert with your best creative workflow is of paramount importance. What tools do you use to get stuff done online?
Image by extranoise.