Feeling lonely this Valentine season? Feb. 14 doesn’t have to be all about chocolate, a significant other and an overpriced restaurant. Rather, take a moment to appreciate all the things you love – it will likely be cheaper. Off the top of my head, the following make me swoon.
Photoshop alternatives. Graphic designers have been depending on Adobe’s Photoshop for almost 20 years, and while it’s a great product, let’s face it: It’s expensive, it takes up a lot of RAM and it can sometimes just be more than what you need. Often I just want to resize a photo, and that’s where programs such as GIMP and IrfanView come in. They take just a second to open up and do your thing, and they’re often free downloads. Photoshop isn’t going anywhere, but it’s good to have alternatives to Adobe products.
Mousepads. I use a trackball, yet I still love my Lady of Guadalupe mousepad.
Free resources. There was a time just a few years ago when entrepreneurs, telecommuters and freelancers were mostly on their own. If they had questions or wanted to bounce ideas of off others, there weren’t many options. But with the explosion of Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, you can amass a following of people to exchange referrals, thoughts and banter. Sites such as Business.gov and PsPrint.com offer a bunch of resources for small businesses – everything from how to start one to how to market it. No more consulting fees or flying by the seat of your pants!
Travel mugs. Could there be a better invention? It keeps your coffee hot, and it keeps you from buying paper cup after paper cup, only to throw them away.
Aeron chairs. These are downright luxurious. Manufactured by Herman Miller, Aeron chairs are ergonomic and adjustable and provide the perfect lower lumbar support that you didn’t know you craved. The mesh also provides circulation. And the chairs are 94 percent recyclable! I’ve been known to steal these from other cubicles – that’s how much I love ’em.
Newly sharpened pencils. They smell good, there’s a satisfaction to the sharpening process and it means the difference between a fine line and a smudged stroke.
IM. Remember when you used to have to get up to communicate with your co-workers, and they’d be away from their desk, so you’d have to sit down, only to get up and return again? Instant messaging has been slammed for eliminating face-to-face communication, but I love it because I can ask a question of a co-worker without feeling like I’m interrupting, and in fact, I can check in to see if the person is available for some one-on-one time.
Snail mail. An actual, physical thank you card beats a hastily typed e-mail any day.
Mix CDs. They’re faster to make than mix tapes and easier to distribute than MP3 playlists. Plus you can design CD cover art. They make cheap gifts and marketing tools!
Coffee. Or tea or energy shake. The morning ritual is comforting.
Keyboard shortcuts. I’ve been addicted to using the Apple key since I started on computers. There are times I don’t even know how to execute certain commands without them. While designing, it’s often faster than scrolling all over the place, especially as monitors get bigger and bigger.
Your turn – what do you love this Valentine’s Day?