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23 May 2014

A Workstation Setup That Will Make Your Workday More Productive

What is it about Fridays that make me want to write about being productive? Perhaps it’s the looming feeling that Monday will come sooner than later? Maybe it’s knowing that the last day before the weekend needs to be productive regardless of how ready I am for a breather from the hectic week behind me. Whatever the case, it makes for good advice for indie developers all the same.

Whether you want to be just a little more productive or you have noticed that you are starting to slack in your productivity recently, today’s post is for you. Follow these little nuggets of advice if you wish, and do you know what will happen? Your workday will be more productive than ever. Use this advice at your leisure, and watch your productivity skyrocket.

Quick tip: It’s a given that you should always work in a distraction-free environment. While I’m not going to discuss this in detail, read one of my past posts to learn more about the importance of working in a peaceful environment.


Give yourself an opportunity to stand up and work

Believe it or not, but sitting down all day is killing your health. Besides, sitting down all day and working gets quite boring after a while, making it easy to drift off and lose focus after a while. One of the best ways to fight both side effects of sitting all day is to do the opposite: work while standing up!

If you’re in the market for a new desk and cost isn’t really an issue, Lifehacker has a nice rundown of a few awesome standing desks (including my favorite, the UpDesk UpWrite desk that can be raised and lowered by merely pressing a button). If you’re like me and you don’t want to spend a fortune on a new desk at the moment, there are also from pretty nifty ways you can get the benefits of standing by siting your keyboard, mouse, laptop, etc. onto surfaces such as crates, plastic tubs, and the like. If you want a super simple and cheap DIY solution, again, Lifehacker has a pretty solid solution.

Sit for a few hours, stand and work for a few hours, and repeat until the workday is finished. You will feel much better after each work day, and you’ll get more work done than before.


A solid keyboard

You never know how much a good keyboard can change your life until you actually buy one for yourself. I used to use a cheap keyboard to work, and I noticed at the end of the day, my hands would hurt a bit. I knew what the problem was – my keyboard was awful. I put up with the problem for a while until I took the plunge and purchased a mechanical keyboard. A year and a half later, and my hands never hurt!

I also noticed I wasn’t as tired throughout the day. Working on a keyboard that isn’t designed for long periods of use (i.e. generic keyboards boxed in with newly purchased computers) can drain your energy (believe it or not) – and nobody wants that. Again, a mechanical keyboard is the answer.

This is the keyboard I use. Yes, I know the price is pretty shocking, and I thought it was ridiculous to pay that much for a keyboard as well. But once I tried it? I knew I made a worthy investment. These keyboards (from a small company called WASD) truly feel as if you are typing on air, and not only that – but reaching for the keys is painless as well. They’re also very responsive as well, meaning you do not have to press keys all the way down just to type a letter. Opting for the Cherry MX Brown switch type, all I have to do is barely press a key on the keyboard.

Be forewarned: mechanical keyboards can be loud. Some people like hearing the ‘clacking’ of keys on a keyboard, but if you are unsure if you will? Opt for the O-ring installation on the keyboard. It will silence your keys so the clacking noises do not become distracting.


Along the same line – a good mouse

If you are finding that your mouse is uncomfortable, do yourself a favor and buy a new one. Luckily, a comfortable mouse isn’t expensive (I use this one and I’ve never had a complaint). If your hand is cramping from using your mouse all day – buy a new one and avoid any excess trauma to the hand.


Dual monitors

Unfortunately, I haven’t started using dual monitors yet, but I need to. Essentially doubling your work space on-screen, a dual monitor will come in handy daily as you continue to develop your indie game. The size of your second monitor will depend on:

a)      If you want to keep your current monitor (if you do, you will want a monitor that is the same size).

b)      The size of your desk.

You will need to conduct a little research to see which monitor(s) is ideal for your workstation, but it isn’t difficult to figure out on your own.


Comfortable chair

You need a comfortable chair – end of story. If you are complaining about back pains, your bottom is hurting, or you generally feel pains around your back to lower areas at the end of the day, buy a new office chair with proper support. Especially if you haven’t replaced your office chair in a few years, now is the time to buy one.

If money is no object, splurge on a good office chair too. It’s one of the best ways to fight the fatigue of sitting and working all day. No, it doesn’t have to be 100%, but it does need to be comfortable.

And please, be sure to use good posture when sitting.


Bonus tip: External hard drive

You never know when your hard drive is going to crash. If it happened tomorrow and you lost all your data, you would either have to hire a data recovery specialist to recover your precious files (a service that’s usually quite expensive) or start from scratch. Plan ahead by buying an external hard drive and backing up your data daily. External hard drives are dirt cheap too. For less than the price of a next-gen console game, you can buy a terabyte external hard drive. There’s no reason not to plan ahead.

Why not plan ahead even further? Make a habit of backing up your important files to a cloud service such as Dropbox so your important data is backed up in more than one spot.


Want to share your own productive workstation setup? Let us know in the comments below!

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