Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt to prove it.
I have techie shirts going back way too far. They’re comfortable, and who could part with a “Team OS/2” or “Windows NT 4: I saw it first” T-shirt?
But just as hanging on to too many T-shirts starts to clog your dresser drawers, clinging to older operating systems or outdated hardware because you are comfortable with it can gum up your business.
And though you don’t need to be a beta-testing pioneer, you could be missing out on revolutionary benefits. (Besides, your customers and competitors have already upgraded, so you better get onboard!)
Want a relatively easy place to start? How about adding a second monitor to your desk. The pace of modern business demands multitasking beyond having several windows open.
Does this sound familiar? Maybe the last time you upgraded your PC (four years ago), your favorite program wouldn’t run on the new system. So you kept the old PC and swiveled over when you needed to run the old app. The swiveling may be good for the waistline but not for efficiency, space or power consumption.
A virtual approximation of this scenario has been available for a while but is really gaining acceptance beyond programmers and designers. Powerful processors and large drives allow multiple operating systems to run on one PC. And slim, flat-panel displays make using multiple monitors possible.
Various studies going back to those vintage T-shirt days have shown that using a dual-monitor setup can increase productivity. For example, Microsoft research back in 2003 saw gains from 9 percent to 50 percent in productivity. And women in particular realized significant benefits from the multiple screens in the Microsoft study.
Back then, programmers might have a debugging session running on one screen while coding on the other. This is the case at OverDrive, where many developers use three screens, but CEO Steve Potash says he is the “low man on the totem pole” with only two.
Today at ONOSYS Online Ordering, the Cleveland company that provides online ordering systems for restaurant chains such as Rascal House, Papa John’s and Beef ‘O’Brady’s, developers use three or four monitors for keeping live work sessions, code libraries and debugging sessions separate and organized without having to minimize windows.
“That has been a lifesaver to them,” says ONOSYS partner Stan Garber, who switched to two monitors himself a few years back. He’s even got a dual-monitor system setup at home. “I can’t work on my laptop anymore,” he says.
And the multiple monitor revolution, thanks to 20-inch widescreen flat-panels selling for less than $150, has swept up more than just the geekiest of us.
A 2008 productivity study by monitor-maker NEC and the University of Utah found a 44 percent increase in productivity on simple text-editing tasks when using dual 20-inch monitors over a single 18-inch monitor. Productivity increased 29 percent for spreadsheet task on the same setup.
That same survey estimated that providing dual 17-inch monitors rather than a single 17-inch monitor saves a company with 250 employees more than $840,000 annually. Bump the sizes of thoses dual monitors up to 19 inches and the estimated savings tops $1.5 million.
How does that happen? Browse some photographs using one monitor for your thumbnail library and one for the enlarged pictures and you’ll start to see the potential business benefits of such a setup.
“Having two monitors allows me to get so much more work done,” says Jim Kukral, author of Attention! This Book Will Make You Money. “I can monitor my social media presences on one monitor and work on the other.“
I often keep a search page open while working on the other. Adding a second monitor is easy and relatively inexpensive. Try it first by keeping your e-mail or browser open on one screen. You won’t go back.
For many, Windows XP is their favorite comfy T-shirt. But XP was released in 2001, and so much has changed since then.
Windows 7 is the best personal computer operating system I have ever used (including Mac and various flavors of Linux). It stresses things that are important now such as security, collaboration, browsing and multimedia that were not as prevalent in 2001.
The interface of Windows 7 includes timesavers such as Snap (auto arrange windows), Peek (see-through open windows) and Shake (shake the mouse to maximize a window). With touchscreen hardware you can use your fingers instead of the mouse.
“I upgraded to Windows 7, which is a massive improvement from Vista,” says Joel Libava, a franchise consultant, franchise marketer and blogger known as The Franchise King. “That alone adds a couple of hours a week in productivity.”
And just think what new projects you could tackle with a few extra hours each week. You might even be able to reorganize that T-shirt drawer.
Along with his DroidX, two monitors and virtual machines, Dan Hanson is a fan of Windows Home Server. Plug in the half-toaster-sized box for easy backups, remote access to your stuff and streaming media. Tell him what you use, and about your techie T-shirts, at email@example.com.