What makes me productive?

A quick glance on some aspects of my working environment
June 18, 2017 by Michael

Yesterday evening I tweeted about my mouse’ battery being drained which caused a lot of tweets. In the end, Ralf asked, what makes you productive?

General workflow

I know and use a lot of shortcuts, wether being it in an IDE, terminal, browser or whatsoever. I start nearly all non-terminal applications via Spotlight or other means of textual inputs. Most of the window handling that one has to do, I also do with keyboard under macOS, although I must give in that I find the window handling in Windows more intuitive till this very day (I’m on Mac OS X since 2003…). Nevertheless, there are still things I prefer doing with a mouse and that’s fine with me.

On the desktop I tried a lot of them, including all styles of Apples Magic mouse. At the moment I’m using a Logitech MX Master, mainly because it has a sane method for horizontal scrolling which is sadly often needed in apps like iTunes and co. I do have some macOS Mission Control shortcuts on one button which I use regularly.

In my opinion there’s still no better touchpad around than Apples implementation regarding notebooks. We have a lot of Lenovos at work which have a great keyboard and still a sucky touchpad, barely useable. Even the red knob is better.


Sitting at a permanent desk, I prefer one single display. The bigger the better, with a resolution fitting the size. In my home office I’m using a 2011 27″ iMac, with 32Gb RAM and nice fusion drive. Still very happy with it.

In my current office I have a 2006 EIZO 24″ monitor hooked to a 13″ 2014 MacBook Pro. The monitor is old but has still a better quality than current low cost LED screens. I have a notebook stand for my MacBook to have it approximately the same height as the screen but I rarely use it for more than E-Mail, IM or Twitter.

What mobile work is concerned: I prefer smaller devices. I loved my 11″ MacBook Air very much and I only changed it because I ran out of disk space and RAM. In short: Small screen with a resolution as high as possible (read: Still readable with -8 Dioptrien on both eyes). I’d move to 12″ screen or lower as soon as one company (preferable Apple) decides to offer a device that small with 32Gb RAM.

Keeping stuff in sync

Stuff I edit on both machines is usually in a Git repository, either on GitHub or a private host. I keep presentations and articles in a Dropbox folder.


Desktop: Time Machine plus automated backup on a local storage device plus manual full bootable backup on 2 external disks via SuperDuper (one disk in my office, on in my drawer).

Laptop: Time Machine in my office and one manual full backup via SuperDuper.


Being a Mac user for over 10 years I’m really used to some features of macOS. Also: I bought a lot of software over the years which I would miss when moving back to Windows. I’m also a big fan of macOS because most of the time it still works very well in all sorts of environment without sacrificing a Unix subsystem. The move back to Windows seems possible because one can have a Bash respectively a linux subsystem since a few months, which is a requirement for me.

Stuff I use on a daily base: zsh, git, vim, SQL*Plus with rlwrap, NetBeans, TextMate, Tower, Texpad, Paw and VMWare fusion. Oh and I love iTunes for my music collection (Yep, I’m that old, I still have one of those).


I prefer light and cold environment. Light as in actual light but also in light themes in the software I use. I tried some of the dark themes, but I really have a hard time using those.

Regarding noise: I hardly can work in the office if a lot of chatter is going on, especially some rooms away, when people are talking in a high volume about problems in the same area for example. Headphones and music does not help me in those situations. I only listen to music when I’m in the flow. However, I’m very productive in trains, cafes or something similar. That’s quite a different thing of noise.

I literally hate eating at the desk. People munching their apples or stuff in the same room in front of a screen is driving me nuts, the same way as smelly food is.

If you want to know more, just ask in the comments 🙂

(The picture for this post is from Heather Kennedy.)


  1. Jörn wrote:

    Have you ever thought about Carbon Copy Cloner? Or did you have good reasons to use SuperDuper? I currently only use TM, but this must urgently expand. Only TM does not seem good to me.

    Posted on June 18, 2017 at 1:32 PM | Permalink
  2. Michael wrote:

    I tried CCC way back in 2004 or so and I remember having problems creating a bootable backup. Shortly after that their licensing changed and I didn’t approved. SuperDuper has worked flawless from day one. Fire and forget until you need a working, bootable external backup. Already used it several times to restore a full or partial mac.

    Posted on June 18, 2017 at 5:24 PM | Permalink
  3. Jörn wrote:

    Looks interesting. I’ll give it a try. Did you buy the software or is the free version sufficient?

    Posted on June 18, 2017 at 7:23 PM | Permalink
  4. Michael wrote:

    Bought early 2007 (just checked). Got free upgrades ever since.

    Posted on June 18, 2017 at 7:25 PM | Permalink
  5. Kaush wrote:

    When do you love to work more ? Night or morning ?

    Posted on September 4, 2017 at 6:49 AM | Permalink
  6. Michael wrote:

    Mostly from somewhat 9am to 1pm and then like 7pm to midnight…

    Posted on September 4, 2017 at 9:21 AM | Permalink
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