KEVIN SLIMP

Taking Control of Your Time

Kevin slimp
Some tools that can increase productivity

It has been one of those days. You’ve had them.

It began with a website that wasn’t working like it was supposed to. When you have a website that lists items for sale on the homepage, and the homepage is blank, you have a problem. That’s how my day began.

It seems like it’s always on your busiest days when things go wrong. Thankfully, with the help of a friend in Dallas, we were able to find our problem and get the site up and running in about an hour. So, the day could have been a lot worse.

I redesign a lot of newspapers these days. It reminds me of the work a lot of my readers do. It’s deadline-driven. A newspaper will come out with a new design in two weeks, whether it’s ready or not. So, it had better be ready.

Just this morning, I wondered why I hadn’t heard back from the co-publishers to tell me how they liked the designs I sent them two days ago. Then, late this morning, I got an email from a mail server letting me know the emails to my client never made it to their inbox due to an error in my email system. That took about three hours to fix, but everything is fine now.

Both of those issues were caused by servers in other places that control things like how my websites work and where my email goes. I couldn’t have seen those problems coming. Problems arise all the time in the high-tech world in which we operate. Still, it’s tough when the problems come in pairs.

Time is my most important commodity. I make a great effort to get the most out of my time. Maybe I can’t control a website host in Eastern Europe or an email server across the country, but there are things I can control to get the most out of my time.

One of the most important things I can do is use the right tools to do my work. Some of you have been following my work long enough to remember when I used to receive shipments from software and hardware companies almost daily, hoping I would mention their products in a column. Those days were fun, but they’re past. Like everyone else, I buy my own hardware and software these days. I’m not looking for the least expensive tools to complete my work. I’m looking for tools that allow me to get the most work done in the shortest amount of time.

Hardly a week goes by that I don’t invest in a new piece of hardware. Here are a few of my favorites that save me a lot of time:


Keyboards:
Logitech MX Keys for Mac ($119 US). It allows me to control up to three computers at once. Typing is smooth, requiring much less effort than most keyboards.

Chesona Wireless Keyboard for Mac ($40). I decided to purchase a second keyboard this week and researched if there were any new keyboards with the same features as the MX Keys from Logitech. I found it in the Chesona, available in both PC and MAC versions. It controls up to three computers simultaneously and feels almost identical to the Logitech while entering text.

Mice:
Logitech MX Master 3 ($99). Like the Logitech keyboard, this mouse fits firmly in my hand while allowing me to control up to three computers simultaneously. Other mice pale in comparison, except…

Logitech M720 Triathlon ($36). Again, I researched to see if another mouse worked as well as the MX Master 3 without the price tag. I found it in the M720. It’s almost identical to the $99 mouse. It’s built with less metal and more plastic. Thus, the lower price.

Monitors:
I use three monitors. Believe this: If you design pages for a living, the difference between two and three monitors is significant. I’ve tried many monitors and found three 4k monitors (QHD) I love without breaking the bank (4k monitors can run $1,000 or more). I get great results with each of these.

Dell S3222DGM ($349). This 32” monitor is my favorite. I never thought I’d enjoy working on a curved monitor. Go figure. The color is excellent, and the detail makes me think I’m working on a much more expensive machine. Built for gaming, it’s great for what I do.

ThinkVision T32h-20 ($389). Another 32” monitor, the ThinkVision, replaces the Lenovo (same manufacturer) C32q-20. I’ve owned several Lenovo monitors, so I decided to trust the ThinkVision. It hasn’t let me down.

Samsung ViewFinity S60A ($349). Again, an excellent monitor. It sits above my desk, along with the other monitors, held up by adjustable gas spring monitor arms.

When purchasing monitors, shop around online for the best price. I found some of these monitors selling for $600 or more online. I always check Amazon, Best Buy, and the manufacturer. Just now, the Thinkvision was listed for $200 less on Lenovo.com than on Amazon.

Okay, I’m going to be working late today. There have been a lot of interruptions, and somebody is waiting for a new newspaper design.

Kevin Slimp has been a popular consultant and speaker in the newspaper industry since developing the PDF remote printing method in 1994. His upcoming webinars on design, circulation, and software can be found at newspaperacademy.com.

Kevin Slimp is former director of The University of Tennessee Newspaper Institute and founder of NewspaperAcademy.com.
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