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A couple of weeks ago I was online with some fellow Mac 20 Questions Round Table contributors and we were posting pictures of our workplaces and discussing our equipment (ooh err). This morning I took my camera in to work and set out my desk ready for the working day.

But before getting down to business, I took a photo, which will form the basis for this blog post.


On the left hand side I have my ToDo board (or my GTD Board as I like to call it). In this high-tech world, sometimes it’s quicker to use good old pen and paper. I have 3 main headings – Website/DIBS, Vista and Other.

I maintain the department website which is integrated with DIBS – a booking and customer management system that I designed and built. For the techies amongst you the data is stored in a SQL Server database and the website is coded using ASP. Whenever one of my colleagues or I find a bug (which are few and far between by the way) or come up with a new feature, I write it down on a new sheet of paper and pin it to the board. This is by far the busiest section of my board.

So why the low-tech solution? Sometimes it can be easier to see all the tasks at-a-glance. I can make quick notes and take them into meetings without having to worry about network connections – and when Outlook was unavailable for a few hours the other week, I wasn’t as badly affected as I could have been. Don’t get me wrong, I do use Outlook for task management – but that’s a whole separate blog post.

On top of the cupboard I have a physical Inbox into which I toss all paperwork and other “Stuff” – yes the David Allen (not that one) influence is rubbing off. Also a few books – mainly Microsoft Office and VBA development books (well the Technical Lead of the team has to have some technical books). The books are too tall to live in the bookcase, so they live on top. The bookcase stores a couple of mice. a tub of multi-coloured pins (for the pinboard – red is urgent, yellow is normal and green is “someday I’ll get round to it”. There’s also a MacBites (remember them?) mug.

On the wall are my certificates – Fellow of The Institute of IT Training, Microsoft Certified Professional and Microsoft Certified Trainer and ECDL – Foundation and Advanced.

On the desk are:

  • An Executive Writing Pad with the iPhone on top of it
  • 2 laptops – 1 is a Vista laptop and the other is my MacBook
  • An iPod and docking station
  • An Adobe cup
  • A Router

I can’t plug the router into the network – it’s used as a DHCP server. For developing ASP-based applications, I have IIS running in a VM under Parallels and Dreamweaver CS4 running natively on the MacBook. Although they are on the same physical machine, I couldn’t get them to “talk to each other”, however, by using the router to generate IP addresses, it works.

Also, I have had problems using the “Create Network” option on the MacBook so when I need to get the MacBook and the iPhone to communicate (for example controlling a Keynote presentation from the iPhone or using the Airshare app), the router comes in handy for creating a network that both devices can join (and i don’t have wireless in the office so there’s no clash – in fact I can’t even get EDGE).

So, back to the original question – “Why do you have 3 monitors?”. When I got rid of my PC at home, I had a spare monitor. I hooked it up to my iMac, configured it to use spanning (as opposed to mirroring) and now find it difficult (if not impossible) to live without 2 monitors. So at work I have an additional 15″ monitor for each laptop (that’s all we had spare in the office).

My colleagues didn’t quite get it, but once explained, they can see the difference it makes.

I just wish that my Windows 2000 machine (I use this the majority of the time – the system unit is under the desk on top of the drawer unit) had 2 graphics cards as I have a spare 4th monitor under my desk. The 17″ monitor attached to it is great but I wish the graphics card was capable of a better resolution than 1024×768.