Is your laptop ready to travel?
Whether you’re working from halfway around the world or just from the Starbucks across the street, your laptop is basically your portable office. You have to keep it running well and giving you all the support you need… otherwise, you’re out of work!
Follow these tips and check out some clever Chrome extensions to make your laptop ready for maximum productivity wherever you go.
Check it before you wreck it
Make a habit out of double-checking your bag before you leave your house. You might think you’ll never forget something important, but the one time you do will be the one time you really need it!
A list of essential items for your computer might include your charger, microfiber screen cleaning cloth, extra battery, headphones and USB drive.
If you’re a digital nomad, taking your work on the road, your laptop will need some extra gear. Power converters and adapters are a must, and I recommend a protective case for it when you travel.
Protect your security on public WiFi
Free WiFi is ubiquitous these days, and most of us use it all the time. Coffee shops, airports, hotels, and even some
towns (and the New York City subway system!) offer it for anyone’s use.
It’s convenient and makes it easy to work from anywhere, but these public WiFi networks come with their own risks.
It’s incredibly easy for someone on the same network to steal your passwords and data, or just spy on what you’re doing. Hackers get sensitive information like this all the time.
Protect your computer with a few simple measures.
- Turn off Sharing. Usually, your computer can share files, connect to printers and even to other computers without so much as a password, but you don’t want that when you’re on a public network. Here’s how to disable Sharing on Windows and Mac.
- Make sure your firewall is turned on. You can check this simply by going into your security settings (Control Panel > Systems and Security > Windows Firewall for Windows, System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall for Mac). A basic firewall won’t stop a determined expert hacker, but it’s a good first line of defense.
- Use only HTTPS, a more secure version of HTTP. You can see which a site uses in the address bar. Most websites that require sensitive information will automatically be in HTTPS, but if you notice they aren’t, log off and use them only on a secure server.
- Enable SSL in your email. This will encrypt messages that pass between your computer and the web server.
- Do your sensitive work at home. Going into your online banking or entering your social security number into a form are tasks best left to when you’re on a secure private network.
Maximize your laptop’s battery
It’s a remote worker’s nightmare: you go to your favorite coffee shop, all ready to finish an important project that’s due in a few hours, and to your horror, you realize you forgot your power cord.
That little “50%” battery icon at the top of your screen suddenly looks like a ticking time bomb.
You can try to beg, borrow or steal a cord from a stranger with the same laptop, or just be smart and squeeze the most juice out of your battery.
If you have Windows, activate Eco or Battery Mode. This will reduce all of your laptop’s settings into a low-power mode.
On Mac, you can adjust your Energy Saver preferences to power down energy-heavy systems like the screen and hard drive sooner during inactivity.
In general, you want to find what is draining power unnecessarily from your computer and deactivate it.
Bluetooth and WiFi are usually top culprits. Try to do as much as possible with the WiFi deactivated, and only turn it on when you need it.
In many email services, including Gmail, you can enable offline use. This allows you to access your account and compose messages that will be sent automatically once you reconnect.
Disable any unused optical disks, USB mouses, external drives or other devices. Your four top choices here are:
- Graphics card (found under Display Adapters)
- Optical drive (DVD/CD-ROM Drives)
- WiFi adapters (Network Adapters)
Note that for Mac, it isn’t recommended to disable the USB ports. It might make your system act up later.
Dimming the screen and reducing its resolution will also prolong your battery’s life.
Needless to say, you should avoid downloading or uploading, watching videos or listening to audio. If you need to hear something, use small earbuds instead of your laptop’s main speakers.
Try to run as few programs as possible at the same time.
You should also turn off any apps and processes that are draining your laptop’s juice. With Windows, you can do this through the Task Manager. Open it with Ctrl+Shift+Esc or Ctrl+Alt+Delete. Close any apps you aren’t using, then select the Processes tab and disable any that you don’t need right now.
On Mac, open the Activity Monitor by going to Finder and opening the Utilities folder, or by just doing a Spotlight search. Here you can sort the apps by CPU percentage and close any that are consuming more than their share.
Many people also carry an extra battery to swap out in case they’re in a tight spot. If you’re serious about productivity, this might be a good idea.
Make good use of apps and Chrome extensions
There are tons of productivity apps available that can turn your laptop into your best work ally.
My personal favorite is Limestone, a new tab browser extension for Chrome. When I’m working hard, nothing picks up my spirits like a beautiful image of nature and an inspiring quote, and that’s exactly what Limestone provides.
There’s also a box for you to make your to-do list, so whenever you open a new tab you can check your tasks.
Inspiration and time management in one package!
Asana isn’t just what you do in yoga now: it’s also a popular new app for teams to track and coordinate their work. You can synch it with personal time tracking apps like Harvest. (more on using yoga positions for productivity can be found here)
You might know the Pomodoro technique, where you focus single-mindedly on one task for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. It can really boost your productivity, and there are now apps like Focus Booster and Forest to help you follow it.
Finally, if you work a lot after dark, be easy on your eyes with f.lux. It adapts your screen to the time of day, substituting a gentle yellow glow instead of the normal harsh blue electronic light, which can cause health problems ranging from headaches to sleep hormone disruption.
It says in the Bhagavad Gita that the mind can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
For many of us, we could say the same about our laptops – which, when it comes to work, are basically an extension of our minds!
Your laptop can allow you to take your work anywhere, escape the confines of a 9-to-5 desk job and work from wherever you feel the happiest and most productive.
When your laptop is prepared to go anywhere, your entire work horizon opens up. But when something goes wrong, you might find your plans going down the drain with no support system.
That’s why it’s important to follow these tips and always think ahead. Then you’re really ready for anything.