If you work from your computer, or from your devices, or even if you’re just on them a lot, then you should remind yourself of just how valuable your time is. For every minute you wait for that pesky color wheel or hour-glass, you could be out enjoying the world! For years I was using my devices with their stock parts, but lately I’ve started to notice that I’m waiting around a lot for load times, connection and battery charging. As a digital nomad, time on the computer is money, so I finally started to make some relatively inexpensive investments into my electronics to speed up my work efficiency considerably.
If you’re ever using programs like Final Cut, Photo Shop or any other app that takes a considerable amount of CPU to run, or if you’re online often, then you should definitely consider these inexpensive upgrades (even if you’re not a digital nomad).
Here are some essential electronic upgrades that can save you an insane amount of time!
More RAM ($109.00)
If you’re ever waiting for load time on your computer, then this should be your first upgrade and you should do it now. Think of every time you wait a minute for a page to load or an app to open. Add those minutes up and in the course of a year, you’re probably wasting days. RAM can help! I was using my Macbook Pro Late 2011 model with its stock 4GB of RAM since I bought it in 2012. It was pretty fast, but as soon as I had multiple applications open it would bog down. If I tried to open big, RAM sucking apps like Final Cut and After Effects together… forget about it. The computer would grind to a halt.
I upgraded to 16GB of RAM (4X the capacity) and today my computer opens apps at around 6 times the speed. The installation was super easy. I just followed this video and was done in about 10 minutes. I used to open Final Cut and watch the little app icon bounce on my dock for 2 minutes and 21 seconds before it would finally open. It now opens in 26 seconds! You can pick up 16GB of RAM on Amazon for just over $100! Click Here to search for the right RAM for you on Amazon.
Range Extender ($39.99)
We’ve all been in hotels where the wi-fi doesn’t reach the room. We have to head out to the common area or just hang around the front desk so we can send emails, work on social media or upload an article. This problem can be remedied with the D-Link Wireless N 300 Mbps Compact Wi-Fi Range Extender which can be bought on Amazon for just $39.99.
This compact little contraption can get rid of dead spots and give you full bars in places where you’d otherwise have no signal at all. When I researched this product, I was amazed that as a digital nomad, I had never heard about it at all. For a smaller, more travel friendly version you can try the TP-LINK TL-WN823N 300Mbps Wireless Mini USB Adapter for just $15. It may not get the range that the D-Link does, but it’ll still help. Or you could be like us and just order both!
SSD Hard Drive ($109.99)
If you’ve been looking into buying a new laptop or computer, you’ll see that almost all of them are coming with SSD (Solid State Drive) hard drives these days. The problem is that these super fast, über-efficient hard drives are very expensive for a small amount of storage. But there’s a way to add a new SSD to your laptop without getting rid of the traditional spinning drive that’s already in it, and you’ll see BLAZING speed increases that will save you a ton of time. For Mac users, pick up a 256GB Corsair SSD Drive on Amazon for just over $100 and then a $9 Optical Drive Caddy.
You’ll have to open up your Macbook again but it’s easy if you follow this video. Should have it done in about 20 minutes and this is probably the biggest speed increase that you can do to your laptop. Because you’re installing the SSD in the Optical Drive bay, you can keep your original hard drive and all of its space for larger files like photos and video, while using the SSD for your OS and Applications. If you have a PC, just Google the right SSD size for your computer and find the appropriate video on YouTube to walk you through the process. It’s generally a very easy upgrade to do at home.
3G Wireless Router Or USB Stick ($15.99 – $36.57)
Sometimes when you’re travelling, you don’t have wi-fi but you need to post something. Not all of us have an iPhone or Android device (though that will probably be our next upgrade) so if you’re like us, then a USB Wireless Stick or Wireless 3G Router may be the answer. Just make sure that whatever one you go with is “Unlocked” so that you can use it with any 3G provider in any country around the world. We bought one in Mexico recently that was locked to Telcel so it’s pretty much useless now that we’ve left the country.
Travel Card ($30)
This little thing has come in very handy from time-to-time. There are days when we’re heading out the door to a place that we’d like to report on via social media and then we realize that our iPod is going to die in about 2 minutes. This little credit card sized gadget can charge almost any device on the go, and it barely takes up any space. The only downside is that you to remember to always charge the Travel Card in order to charge your devices, but hey… it gives you one extra chance of having some juice in your iPhone when you’re out and about. Definitely worth the $30 it costs! Click here to buy it from their website.
Get With The Times.
When I started doing research on how I could improve my efficiency as a digital nomad, I was blown away by how “behind the times” I truly was. These simple and inexpensive upgrades have really improved our productivity levels and helped us to take our online business to the next level. Even if you don’t work from your computer, if you spend any time waiting for load times, searching for a wi-fi signal or charging your devices, these 5 awesome gadgets and hardware, which total just over $350, may just give you more time away from your computer and exploring the world that you love! I know it’s helped us immensely.
Have you found some great electronic devices, gadgets or upgrades that have helped your productivity or your quality of life in general? Please share with us in the comments below!
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