Today I re-visit my favorite personal productivity technology tools. I’ll do another post about “technology productivity blackholes”, tech issues that suck time out of my day.  

Screen Real Estate and Multiple Instances of Application Windows. For me, ample screen space is the most important productivity tool. I’ve previously blogged about the benefits of dual monitors. I suspect you can achieve the same two benefits with a sufficiently large monitor:

  • “Random access” to any open application with the click of a mouse.
  • Ability to drag items between two open applications

The second point is key. I regularly work with two open windows of MS OneNote and three of MS Outlook. Especially in Outlook, I find that I save much time being able to drag messages from my sent or inbox folder into a folder list in another open window.

Telecommunications. Telecom has changed dramatically in a decade.

  • My business phone is a VOIP line; I receive voice mail messages as WAV files attached to an e-mail. It is hugely convenient to listen to v-mail on my PC rather than having to dial in by phone. I can delete the v-mail with the click of a link in the e-mail message. This works from my PC or my BlackBerry smartphone.
  • I auto-dial from my contact list via the PC’s built-in modem. Old but effective technology.
  • What good is talking on the phone if you have to hold a handset? I use a high quality wireless handset that keeps my hands-free to type. It also lets me roam anywhere in my house and even outside.
  • When I’m overseas, I use Skype to make phone calls. If I were truly high tech, I might rely entirely on Skype for all calls.
  • High speed mobile broadband keeps me productive during the hours I spend on Amtrak and at airports. I use my BlackBerry in “phone as modem” mode; it’s slower than than a dedicated wireless card but cheaper and one less device to carry (and lose).

Favorite Free or Low Cost Utilities.

  • Google Picassa for pictures (hard drive and web)
  • SugarSync for backing up files except PSTs
  • SmartSync to synchronize files between any two disk locations
  • Norton Internet Security 2009 – as MSM reviews point out, this edition of NIS does not monopolize the processor and kill PC performance. I list here because it is a huge improvement over prior versions that were productivity blackholes.