- 15.6-inch 4K OLED touchscreen
- Intel Core i7 processor at 2.6Ghz
- 32GB RAM
- 1TB SSD storage
- NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 Graphics with 16GB GDDR6 VRAM
- How to Improve Your Photography Business in 2020
- Tips for Working From Home During the Covid-19 Pandemic
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As the old saying goes, time is money, and that adage couldn't be more important than it is today.
The times are tough, so the more time you spend trying to finish a task, the less money you will make. Thus the need to streamline your workflow and supercharge your productivity.
The question, of course, is how to improve your productivity level. I can't speak for everyone, but what I want to share with you today are the things I've done to enhance my productivity. The steps I've taken have really helped me focus on utilizing my time well, which has, in turn, led to improved success with my business.
Get a Rock-Solid Computer
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If you're like me, you run multiple programs at a time and have multiple internet browsers (like, 25...) open at a time.
Running all that stuff requires that I have a computer that can multi-task like a champ.
I know that many people buy what is convenient or what's on sale. The problem with that approach is that making a decision based solely on price doesn't take things like reliability and stress tests into account.
Over the years, I have tested a number of different computers. I've come to the conclusion that two machines come out on top in terms of power, reliability, and graphics. I'll also add in there portability - most photographers work on the go, so my recommendations are laptops.
I'll talk more about power and graphics in a moment, but from a productivity standpoint, having a computer that can go anywhere with you and offers excellent reliability is crucially important.
You want a laptop that gets high marks for performance and has an established reputation for handling everything you throw at it in a reliable fashion.
The two laptops I discuss below fit the bill on all of these fronts.
For all you Mac folks out there, three months ago, I would have wholeheartedly recommended my 15-inch Macbook Pro. It's the 2018 version with a 2.9GHz i9 processor with six cores, 32MB of RAM, and a Radeon Pro Vega 20 graphics card. That machine was a beast.
However, last month, I decided to make the upgrade to the newer 16-inch 2019 Macbook Pro with the 8-core 2.4GHz Intel i9 processor, 64GB of RAM, and the AMD Radeon Pro 5500M graphics card with 8GB of GDDR6 memory.
There are a number of things that make this machine an incredible investment.
First, it has a killer cooling system. One of the inconveniences with my prior Macbooks was the cooling - they just couldn't keep up with the heat output without a loud fan kicking on. Heat is the enemy, and Apple really cot the cooling right on this new 16-inch rig.
Razer Blade 15-Inch Studio
On the PC side, I'm even more judgmental and a tougher critic. Not because I hold different standards - far from it. It's just my experience with PC laptops over the years hasn't been all that great. In the past, this made it tough to recommend machines that could handle heavy lifting.
A few years ago, the Microsoft Surface Book looked promising. I tested a number of their computers over the years, but they always fell short in the video department (and with cooling, too). I have tested plenty of other machines over the years, and could never find that AHA moment with a PC laptop.
That all changed about six weeks ago when I was introduced to the Razer Blade 15-inch Studio.
Check out these specs:
Obviously, the claim to fame for this computer is its graphics card...
This NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 offers next-level graphics - the best I've ever seen in any machine, let alone a PC laptop. It has handled every video-heavy task I've thrown at it with flying colors.
As I expand the video portion of my business, you can bet that the Razer will be my go-to computer. It's got the power, the cooling capacity, and the graphics card to make quick work of my video editing tasks!
Give Yourself More Real Estate
Back in the day, I worked from a 13-inch Macbook Pro. I didn't have an external screen - just the laptop sitting on my desk.
Needless to say, multi-tasking on that tiny screen was difficult. Eventually, I invested in a couple of monitors so I could have different windows on different screens. While this worked much better than the tiny laptop screen, I had a new problem - the dual-monitor setup took up tons of space on my desk.
Recently, I upgraded my display situation again to what you see above.
By stacking them like I have, I've removed the clutter from my desk (which is great for my sanity) and improved my productivity - I can split screens, tile screens, and have multiple views open on both screens for multi-tasking like a champ.
I've tested a number of widescreen monitors over the years, including various models from HP and LG. But none have impressed me like these ViewSonics.
These monitors have unparalleled color rendition, which is obviously super important for photographers. Likewise, the sharpness is out of this world. Add in beautifully dark blacks and crisp whites, and you have the makings of the ultimate display.
Have a Dedicated Workspace
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I've worked from home for years, and I've found that one of the best things I can do to improve my productivity is have a dedicated workspace.
My home office is as far away from the main living areas as possible because there are too many distractions (wife, kid, and TV to name a few) that can pull me away from work.
Sure, I used to dream of working from home, sitting on the couch, laptop on my lap, a drink in my hand, and reruns of Friends on TV, but that simply is not reality...
Photo by Anchiy via iStock
If you're like me, you need a quiet, comfortable space where you can concentrate on what needs to be done, and a dedicated home office space is the best solution.
Coming up in a few days, I'll be doing a video tour of my home office. That video will focus on my YouTube setup, but you can still take a peek to see how I've designed my home office for maximum efficiency and productivity. Check it out on our YouTube channel in the coming days!
Take Advantage of When Your Body and Brain are Most Alert
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I work late and get up late. It's just who I am. I feel like I get much more done in the early morning and late evening when my family is asleep.
But not everyone can operate like that. Your best brain power might occur in the late morning or mid-afternoon. You just need to be attuned to when you're feeling your best and capitalize on that.
There is some interesting research out there that zeroes in on this concept. For most people, the highest levels of brain alertness occur about 2.5-4 hours after waking up. So, that's when you need to schedule your most important tasks, that way you can capitalize on your brain being at the ready.
I try to schedule business calls for late morning for this very reason. I'm not going to call a client at 6:00 am right after I wake up...I wait until my brain has had a chance to get going, and then I'll be more alert, concise, and productive.
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I break my day into short segments, or chunks. I do this for a number of reasons.
First, I like to break down complex tasks into shorter chunks. Doing so helps me feel as though the giant task before me isn't so enormous.
Second, by chunking out tasks, I feel extremely productive. I'll put each chunk on my daily to-do list, and when I can cross off each chunk in rapid fashion...man is it ever satisfying! By the way, having a daily to-do list is a fantastic way to improve your productivity...
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This method works for any kind of task - a long photo editing session, a round of emails to clients, shooting a new YouTube video....you name it.
Usually, I block out a large portion of time for related chunks. So, I'll put two hours' worth of 15-minute chunks on my schedule so I can complete the task before moving on to the next one. But sometimes I bounce around and do a 15-minute chunk on one task, then a 15-minute chunk on another task.
It's important to tailor how you chunk out your day to fit your needs, but take it from me that breaking your daily to-do's down into small, achievable steps will make you feel like the most productive person in the world. And when you feel productive, you'll be more productive!