Writing from home or while traveling offers incredible flexibility, but to ensure you can complete your tasks efficiently, you must prepare your laptop properly.
This article will cover essential tips for writers to optimize their laptops for online work and maximize productivity.
Whether you're a freelance writer or part of a remote writing team, these tips will help you create a writing-friendly laptop environment and streamline your workflow.
Solve Potential Wi-Fi Issues
Let's start with Wi-Fi. Online work is only possible with internet access. Since you are working on a laptop, wireless networks are the go-to option, particularly when traveling.
One of the biggest concerns about Wi-Fi is the signal's strength. Poor Wi-Fi hinders work productivity by:
- Disconnecting you from work calls
- Forcing you to wait for websites to load
- Slowing downloads and uploads
A Wi-Fi booster is an accessory that takes the existing signal from a Wi-Fi router and rebroadcasts it. A network extension created by the booster also amplifies the signal's strength.
An ethernet cable is another alternative to your Wi-Fi woes. So long as your laptop is static (placed on a desk, for example) while you work, you can replace the wireless connection with an ethernet cable. The option limits the laptop's portability, but you stand to gain a better overall internet signal.
In some instances, the Wi-Fi issues can be resolved by restarting the computer or disconnecting and reconnecting to the network, so keep that in mind.
Finally, be mindful of third-party peripherals jamming the signal. For example, if you have a wireless printer between the laptop and router, the odds are that the printer is interfering with the connection.
Similarly, having too many devices connected to the same network also puts a toll and takes away the bandwidth you want to dedicate to your work laptop.
Invest in Laptop Accessories
We briefly touched upon accessories that solve potential Wi-Fi troubles, but that is not the end of available laptop accessories to complement your setup.
The laptop is the cornerstone of your work tools, but it would be a waste not to make the most of the available accessories.
External Mouse and Keyboard
Laptops have integrated keyboards. Instead of a computer mouse, you have a trackpad. The setup is fine, but some users find it uncomfortable to use.
You might get used to a laptop keyboard after some time, but if the flat keys are not working, why not get an external keyboard?
Ranging from well-known brands such as Razer and Steelseries to simple and cheap keyboards, there is a plethora of available options.
The same can be said about computer mice. You can purchase one if you cannot stand using a trackpad.
Some laptops produce scuffed sound quality from the internal speakers. Moreover, there are bound to be times when you want to keep the audio from the computer to yourself.
Depending on the earbud model, you can also benefit from noise cancellation to avoid distractions and focus on work.
Sleeve and Accessory Bag
A compact bag to store the most important laptop accessories, such as the mouse and a few cables, eliminates obstacles while traveling.
Meanwhile, a laptop sleeve functions as a means to protect the laptop from scratches and other hazards.
Laptops have integrated webcams, but an external accessory becomes an option if you are unsatisfied with the quality.
Hard Drive and USB Flash Stick
It is no secret that some laptops have relatively low storage. The work files themselves might not be too much of a problem, but when you combine them with other data like media or video games, running out of disk space becomes possible.
An external storage solution in the form of a hard drive or a USB flash stick is an excellent investment. The latter in particular, since it is one of the smallest laptop accessories you will have.
An overheating laptop warns about potential hardware problems. To lower the device's temperature, consider a cooling pad. Depending on the cooling pad's model, the accessory might also be used as a laptop stand.
Having said all that about laptop accessories, note that while these accessories are great, they put you in a bit of a problem. If you have to travel and take the laptop with you, the odds are that you will have to leave some, if not most, of these accessories at home because of how much traveling space they take.
Install Relevant Software
Work-related software is a given. For example, if your job involves video editing, you'll want a dedicated tool for video editing.
However, there is some general software that one should have on a computer.
Start with antivirus software. It should be running in the background while the computer is active. You cannot predict when someone might send you a corrupted attachment in an email or share a URL that redirects you to dangerous landing pages.
Antivirus protects you from cybersecurity threats and helps you avoid data loss, personal information exposure, and worse computer performance, among other problems.
Google Chrome is the most popular internet browser due to all the available extensions. However, if you find it to consume too many computer resources, consider an alternative.
Mozilla Firefox, Vivaldi, Opera, and other available browsers have pros and cons. It is about finding a browser that suits you the best.
Cloud storage is great for storing files safely and sharing them with others. The best thing about services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud is that they offer free storage.
You get only a few gigabytes for free, but that should be more than enough for everyday use. And if you need extra space on your cloud account, you can spend a few monthly dollars to increase it.
TeamViewer and Zoom are arguably the most popular screen-sharing tools. You never know when one of your workers or someone else will ask for your help. And if sharing your screen makes giving the instructions easier, it would be a waste not to have screen-sharing software installed on your laptop.
Over time, the computer accumulates temporary system junk, such as cache, extensions, and plugins. You need a cleanup utility tool to delete temporary files.
There are two notable reasons to get rid of unnecessary system storage. The first frees up disk space and the second minimizes the number of files on the computer. Fewer files mean less strain for the operating system to process, which translates into better overall performance.
One final thing to mention about the software you use on a laptop is that quite a few tools do not require installation on the computer itself. Grammarly, Canva, and Ahrefs are examples of such services. If you find a tool suitable for your work that provides enough features
Take Care of Security
Antivirus software, which we discussed in the previous section, is a fundamental aspect of securing a computer. However, it should not be the be-all and end-all solution to cybersecurity threats.
In addition to a reliable antivirus tool, you also need to find a data backup solution. You don't want to lose your files, right? Whether it is a cloud service, an external storage accessory, or both, make sure to back up computer files regularly as a precaution.
Next, use different passwords for your online accounts. If you can’t memorize multiple combinations, rely on a password manager, which stores login credentials you can access with a master password.
Lastly, pay attention to operating system updates. While new OS versions tend to focus on overall performance upgrades and new features, some updates exist precisely because of cybersecurity threats.
If an operating system becomes prone to malware or another threat, developers react and push an update to protect the users.
Consider Performance Improvements
The last bit of advice is about considering different methods to improve the overall computer performance.
For some, basic hardware is enough because the work does not involve high-end software that consumes computer resources.
On the other hand, if you notice that your laptop runs sluggishly, do not expect that the problem will solve itself.
Upgrading a computer's hardware is the most effective way to improve its performance. The problem with this idea is that not all laptops are compatible with hardware upgrades due to integrated pieces.
At best, an external GPU or additional RAM (so long as there are free slots to put them in) are the available options.
If hardware upgrades are out of the question, you should focus on the following:
- Make sure that the laptop's drive has enough free disk space
- Close redundant background processes to limit resource consumption
- Avoid cluttering the desktop with shortcuts
- Clean the dust inside the laptop
Establishing a laptop maintenance routine and sticking with it is enough to prolong the computer's lifespan and help with the device's performance.
Preparing your laptop for work takes a while, but each step mentioned in this article plays a prominent role.
Make the most of the information mentioned in this article, and you will start working online with your laptop with no or very few issues.