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Eight Steps to Follow In Choosing a Laptop

Chelsea and I live on the road, and we work from the road. For us, our laptop is quite literally our lifeline to the outside world. With it we run our business, we communicate with our family and friends, we check out map details for our routes, we purchase our gear and clothing online, we pay bills and check bank accounts online, and we go online to line up places to stay down the road.

In order to do this effectively, we need a laptop that produces the goods.

For nearly five years, we’ve been using an Asus laptop, running Windows Microsoft XP Pro and Office 2000 Premium. It’s got a CD/DVD player, headphone and speaker jacks, and a PCMCIA card slot. We have absolutely loved this laptop for its functionality and durability.

Now that we are living on the road, and not going “home” in between stints on the road, it became urgent to get another laptop so we could both be working. I do nearly all the writing, which is really time-consuming, and that means Chelsea has to find things to do during the massive number of hours that I’m writing or doing research.

If we’d had a second laptop, she could have been writing the html code for the postings I’m writing, or entering our QuickBooks data, or doing research for her own book, updating the websites, managing the affiliate accounts, or any other number of things that always seem to need doing.

So, the time arrived to get another one. And then the million-dollar question arose – what laptop to get? How do we ever decide what to get among the overwhelming number of choices out there?

I don’t know about you, but with the rapid speed of change in technology, I used to feel nearly paralyzed when I had to make a new purchase like a cell phone, landline phone, or laptop. Several times I bought items that I really regretted almost immediately. And for the money I spent, I had to live with it for much longer than I wanted to.

So I finally figured out some basics to make the process less stressful and more rewarding. Here are my rules that we followed in choosing our newest laptop.

I realize that these “rules” may seem obvious, but I’ve been really surprised to meet people who seem pretty focused and savvy who haven’t followed the basics, and who end up living for several years with a piece of expensive technology that simply isn’t serving their needs. I did it myself when I purchased my current cell phone, and it’s been annoying enough that I swore to always follow my own rules from now on.

Step 1. Think about what you’ll use it for, in detail. Include hardware, software, and compatibility requirements. Think about service and support and warranties.

Step 2. Think about what conditions and situations you’ll be in when using your laptop.

Step 3. Prioritize your needs and wants.

Step 4. Set your price range.

Step 5. Do the research.

Step 6. Develop a short list.

Step 7. Talk to a local computer store and “test drive” your choices.

Step 8. Make the final decision.

Don’t skip any of these steps if you want a successful conclusion to your purchase. It may seem annoying to have to go through it all, but you’ll be incredibly happy you did.

Take the time to really imagine as many possible scenarios as you can. Imagine a full month, one day at a time, and list all the activities you’ll be doing. Think about your full year upcoming, and think through what trips you may have in the works.

Think about things you’d like to be doing, but aren’t yet. Imagine your perfect scenario for your current life.

Decide what you use your laptop for, in detail. Include hardware, software, and compatibility requirements.

One of the first things to consider is how you will use your laptop. Is it a desktop replacement – do you want all the features of your PC at your home office? Are you doing full-on business on the road? Will you be gaming, or developing websites, or editing movies and videos? Do you travel extensively under difficult situations?

If your answer is yes to any of these questions, you’re looking at getting a full-featured laptop.

Do you primarily want to check your email, listen to music, and surf the Internet? If so, you’ll be able to get by with a netbook – a much lighter option with fewer features.

When I bought my current laptop back in 2004, I had the great luck to have a local store, Computers Direct (in Boca Raton, Florida), to head off to and ask questions, rather than have to do all my research online. I’d been out of the laptop market so long I was absolutely clueless about what was available.

Don Elias, the owner, began by asking me a series of questions about what I wanted to use it for, and how I’d be using it. That process with him was so successful that Chelsea and I got our heads together and did the same thing this time. We run a full business on the road, so here’s what we wanted to consider.

Hardware

Design
The overall design of the computer is the first factor. Is it low profile? Clunky? Does it have a double screen? Is it minimalist? What colors and materials does the case come in? What are the dimensions?

We, like most road warriors, wanted something very clean and simple, so a very uncluttered design is what we looked for. When you’re diving in and out of messenger bags or briefcases as often as we do, and under as many circumstances, we wanted something really low profile and easy to maneuver. Many times we want to simply throw the laptop in our small daypack and take off for the beach or park.

Small and lightweight is what we were going for, with as large a screen as we could get. Anything else is unnecessary for us.

Hard drive size, RAM, processor speed, battery life, fan:
Hard drive size: The more storage the better, with regards to hard drive space, especially as it’s not expensive to go bigger. You never know what you’ll want to put on your laptop, such as DVDs, your music collection, and huge numbers of photos.

We wanted a good-size hard drive, though it wasn’t essential, as we don’t use much space. We keep all our documents on a flash drive, so music and photos would be our biggest space hogs. The thought of having our DVDs on the hard drive was tempting, as it meant we could save space not having to carry the physical DVDs with us.

RAM: RAM is a general term for how much memory you have available during your work sessions on the laptop (it’s a computer data storage term). You’ll need more if your applications are memory intensive, or if you run many applications at once, and if you keep many browser windows and files open.

We often work on multiple documents and often have many browser windows open, going back and forth between applications, so for us a good RAM size is important.

Processor speed: The processor is considered the brains of the laptop, and has a big impact on the overall functioning of the machine. You’re definitely better off getting the best and fastest processor you can, as the laptop will be able to keep up with technology changes better in the near future.

The processor speed is important to us, as we spend so much time on the laptops, and we want fast and efficient. We don’t do gaming, so a super fast speed wasn’t necessary, but we wanted the fastest we could get short of spending extra money for gaming speed.

Battery life: Battery life will affect your efficiency significantly, so get something with as much battery life as you can. Keep in mind that the manufacturers test the batteries under ideal circumstances, so you’ll probably never get what they say you will. And you can always get an extended battery.

Battery life also depends on what tasks you’re performing, wireless access, processor speed, screen resolution, the brightness setting on your LCD, and many other things. We have found that working on Internet with wi-fi or with our Verizon Wireless card significantly shortens our battery life, especially when it’s searching for signal.

We are often stuck in remote spots without any electricity, and we need to maximize our work time. Having the longest possible battery life is wonderful.

Fan: Check out what kind of fan the laptop has and what the reputation for noise is. Having a noisy fan is really disconcerting!

The only downside to my current laptop is the incredibly noisy fan…it makes us nuts when it won’t quit and we are in a quiet space.

Screen
The screen is the next consideration. You need to think about where you’ll be using the laptop, and the screen needs to work for those conditions.

Size: How often do you use the laptop? Do you need a large screen since you work with photos a lot, or watch movies and YouTube videos? Do you want a large screen because you work with documents frequently and you want the eye relief that comes with using a larger screen? Are you only going to be using the laptop infrequently or for short bursts at a time?

Chelsea and I are on the computers so often and for such long periods at a time that we were absolutely clear that we wanted to get as big a screen as we could get, and still maintain a decent weight on the overall laptop.

Brightness: The brightness is a big factor to consider. Will you be mostly inside? Will you be in low light conditions or working outside a lot? How adjustable is the brightness?

We already knew we’d be using the laptop in a wide variety of situations – we are frequently outside, in both sun and overcast. Then again, we are often in low light situations indoors, or we’re working on a train or bus. And we can be found huddled together in the tent watching movies on a cold night, too.

Screen resolution: Do you need a screen with high resolution? Again, it comes down to how much you are on the laptop and what you use it for. If you work with photos, or work with graphics in any way, or watch movies, then you’ll want a great screen resolution.

We chose a compromise from the highest resolution, as we wouldn’t be doing any gaming. Our primary goals were to have something easy on the eyes, as well as being good for viewing, working with photos, and watching movies.

Viewing from angles: Will you be working in crowds (think airports, coffee shops, Internet cafes, airplanes)? Do you need to have privacy while you are working? Or do you collaborate on work, and need to huddle around one screen. Do you watch movies with your buddies?

Chelsea and I need good visibility from different angles, since we collaborate on documents frequently, and we are constantly looking at photos or doing online research together. We know that if we are working on sensitive materials in public that we will have to be careful about people around us, so we save that work for when we are alone.

We also know that we can get a privacy screen if we ever need one.

Matte or glossy screen: A matte screen appears flat as distinct from shiny. It often appears somewhat “grainy”, but glare is greatly reduced. The trade-off is a reduction in contrast and brightness.

Glossy screens have a reflective nature that gives higher degrees of brightness and contrast. Colors seem to stand out more with glossy screens. However, because they are reflective, nearby light sources will frequently create a glare on the screen.

Whether you notice eyestrain on matte or glossy is highly individual; for some people the higher brightness and contrast of the glossy screen actually causes eyestrain. Other people find that the lower, diffusing contrast with a matte screen is more likely to cause strain. As technology on the screens improves, the brightness and contrast issues on both matte and glossy are fading more toward a middle ground.

Keep in mind that in a dark, glare-free room, the glossy screen will look better than the matte screen, but bright lighting conditions will cause high glare situations. Fingerprints and smudges also show up on glossy screens more than matte.

For us, it was a toss-up between matte and glossy screens, as we wanted matte for easier viewing every day, and for using outside, but we loved the glossy for photos and movies. On the other hand, we didn’t want the glossy screen turning into a mirror, reflecting any and every light source near us, and we didn’t want to be crazy always noticing those inevitable smudges.

DVD/CD player, quality of graphics card, quality of sound card
You’ll probably want a high quality graphics card and sound card no matter what, but if you’re going ultra-lightweight you’ll want to skip the DVD/CD option.

For us, these are an absolute requirement. We both love music, and we want to play CDs on occasion, though we have our own MP3 players. And we frequently get CDs for downloading new programs (like our new Spanish verbs conjugation software).

We also love movies – one of our big luxuries is a small collection of our favorite DVDs. We’ve had several glorious occasions when people we’ve met offered us a collection of their music – one time it was a great collection of the 50’s and 60’s, and another time we got an amazing library of Zydeco and Cajun music.

Built-in speakers, webcam, microphone
Look at the quality of the speakers. Is the sound tinny and awful, or could you stand to listen to music through them? Do you want a built-in microphone so you can do Google Talk or something similar? Will you be using Skype or Google Video? If so, you want a built-in webcam.

Since space is so tight for us, and we have very little tolerance for extra “stuff” to keep track of, we loved the idea of a built-in webcam, and good quality speakers and microphone. Though we do have a great set of small Sony speakers, sometimes we don’t want to have to get them out and set them up, if we’re just making a quick call or listening to a short video.

We definitely want a way to communicate with our family and friends in a more personal way through Skype, Google Talk, Google Video; and having the webcam gives us a chance to expand our blogs by adding podcasts.

USB ports, placement of USB ports and accessory jacks
You’ll inevitably have any number of things you’ll want to plug into your laptop. Consider how you will do this, for example do you need a firewire port? How many USB ports do you need? (USB ports on the sides are quite handy, as they’ve got such easy access.)

We wanted as many USB ports as we could get, as we always use a plug-in keyboard and mouse, along with a flash drive or two. Then we have MP3 players to charge, camera cables for downloading photos, network cables, and who knows what else.

Memory card reader
Will you be downloading photos from your camera? If so, consider getting a memory card reader. The ease and convenience is wonderful. You simply pop out your memory card and plug it into the memory card reader. No searching for your cable, and you can pop in someone else’s memory card without worrying about having the right size cable.

We hadn’t considered this essential, but we had spotted it on another laptop, and since we do so many photos, it looked really, really handy.

Internet – express card (PCMCIA card), built-in wireless
One of the major points of having a laptop is mobility, and you’re going to want Internet access on your machine. There are two ways to get Internet – express cards (also known as PCMCIA cards), and built-in wireless cards.

You’ll need to be sure that you have an express card slot on your laptop – it’s a slot in your machine that the actual physical card goes into when you buy a data service like Verizon or Sprint.

Built-in wireless is now standard on most laptops, but make sure you have the latest generation on your built-in wireless card.

Headphones/speakers, microphone jacks
Will you be using Skype or Google Talk/Video in public places? If so, you’ll want to use a headset to give yourself more privacy. Do you like to work and listen to music? Can you see yourself wanting to listen to music or movies with speakers? Make sure your laptop has good speaker and microphone jacks. The microphone jack becomes more important if you want to do podcasts or any other recording.

One of our essential luxuries is a small set of Sony speakers I got after we finished our cross-country cycling trip in 2006 – we use it for music and for movies. We each use headsets for music when we want “alone time” while working, and we wanted a headset with a microphone for using Skype or online chat/ phone calls.

Keyboard
You’ll need to look at keyboards carefully, as the designs vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. The way the keys are placed, the color of the keyboard, whether it has a trackball, how it manages the scroll bar and “mouse” functions – all affect your comfort level.

The keyboard design doesn’t matter too much to us since we always use a full-size plug-in keyboard. We spend so much time on the laptop that using the built-in keyboard would be ergonomically disastrous for us.

Weight
Weight may or may not be a big deal to you. If you primarily take planes or cars for your travel, you may be happy with a roll aboard briefcase, so the weight isn’t a big deal. If you sling a briefcase over your shoulder, an extra few pounds gets wearying after awhile.

You can get an astonishing set of features in the heavier laptops, and conversely, you’ll be paring down features noticeably to get an ultralight experience.

Weight is certainly a big deal to us, since we carry our life’s belongings behind us in a bicycle trailer. We weren’t willing to forgo a full function machine, however, just to shave a pound or two. We’d rather get tougher and stronger than do without our DVD player and bigger screen!

Software

You’ll need to decide on an operating system first. Will you go with open source? Do you want Microsoft Vista? Do you want to stay with XP? Next is deciding what you’ll need for your basic functions. Do you write letters and documents? Do you publish your own newsletter?

Most often, you’ll get a bundle of software that comes on the laptop, so make sure it’s what you really want. You may want firewall and anti-virus software installed, along with things like DVD/CD burning software if you opt for that feature.

Decide in advance, because you’ll normally save a lot of money by having the software bundled with the laptop, and the installation will already be done for you.

Ask about bloatware, and request that it be taken off. Bloatware is all the “garbage” software that’s put on your machine that you’ll never use. It simply takes up space and slows the machine down.

Microsoft XP Pro was our operating system of choice (even though we aren’t lovers of Microsoft, we use so many programs that require it). We’ve had the opportunity to use Vista, and we found ourselves so annoyed with it, that we really wanted to wait until something better came out.

In addition to our own negative experiences with it, our highly trusted computer guy told us that Vista has more security bugs, it’s slower, it can’t use older software, and it has more overhead (which makes it run slower and start up slower). XP is 10% faster just because it doesn’t have that “stuff”. He also said that on Vista we can’t use any Quick Books before the 2007 version, and that was a deal killer right there, since we have a 2006 multi-user version of QuickBooks.

Compatibility
Make sure all your machines are as closely alike as possible if you switch back and forth with team mates and co-workers, or if you switch from a laptop to a desktop. It really slows productivity to have to remember how each machine works, both in terms of software and hardware.

If you have to get an upgraded version of software for the new machine, you may want to upgrade all your machines to the same version, so you don’t go nuts.

Mac users are pretty diehard about their loyalty and affection, so it would be unusual for a Mac lover to get a Windows based PC, but Windows users may be sorely tempted by some Mac offerings like the MacBook Air. If you’re tempted, be sure to consider whether you’ll be frustrated changing back and forth between two very different systems.

Since Chelsea and I work so closely together, and since we may occasionally use only one laptop at times, we wanted both machines to be as similar as possible, so we wouldn’t have the frustration of learning and using different systems.

Service, support, warranty
Consider what kind of warranty you’ll have and how easily you’ll be able to get repair services for your machine. Is the company a reliable and well-known company? Can you get it repaired locally, or will you have to send it off for repair (thereby losing it for several weeks)?

Step 2: Think about what conditions and situations you’ll be in when using your laptop.

Will you be traveling frequently under physically stressful circumstances with it? Will you be outside a lot? Will you be opening and closing it frequently, often in a hurry? Will you be pulling it in and out of its carry case constantly? Will you be setting it up under tough circumstances?

If your answer is yes to most of these questions, then you need to seriously consider ruggedness, durability, repair issues, and weather resistance in your final choice. How sturdy is the case? Does it flex alarmingly? Is it made of cheaper materials? How’s the hinge on it? Are the internal components known to be reliable?

We’ve worked in buses, trains, airplanes, at airports and train stations, in remote campgrounds, on park benches, in hotel rooms, and on the kitchen table in our couchsurfing hosts’ homes. We’ve worked with ants crawling across the screen; worked in 110 degree heat with high humidity and in 45 degree cold; and we’ve cycled in temperatures as high as 118 and as low as 28 degrees.

Our laptop has been pulled out and used under some really tough conditions, and it bounces along behind us, day in and day out, month in and month out, in our bike trailers.

We need something like the Energizer Bunny – a laptop that just keeps chugging along, under all conditions. We are most often nowhere near computer repair places, nor are we able to mail back a defective machine.

On my Asus, after nearly five years of heavy use under all these conditions, I’ve only had to replace my hard drive (it never actually went out, just had some bad sectors, so I decided to upgrade); and my PCMCIA port went bad (Asus fixed it while I waited, for free). Now that kind of durability and reliability is awesome!

Step 3: Prioritize your needs and wants.

Now that you’ve thought everything through, create a comparative checklist for all your desired features. Start by compiling a list with every feature you want, and write it down on the left of your page (we always use Excel). Now rate each item from 1-5 by how important it is to you. Would you be willing to pay extra for anything? Is anything a deal breaker or a deal maker?

For us, weight was a big consideration. We wouldn’t shave a pound and lose something we really wanted, but neither were we willing to go with a ten pound machine. We wanted a lot of USB ports, but we also know we can get a 4-USB adaptor for virtually no cost.

We were very clear that we wanted as big a screen as we could get, while balancing screen size with the weight issues, and we wanted the design we got to be minimalist, emphasizing screen size and functionality.

Step 4: Set the price range.

Most of us have pretty strict budgetary constraints, so this step is pretty straightforward. Look at what you can afford, and see if there’s any way that you can come up with a little extra in case you find the perfect machine.

This is an investment in your business and in your life, and it’s a big expense, so consider going with real quality, and not going the cheap route. You don’t want to go the cheap route now, only to find out your new machine is completely outdated or broken within months.

And doing your research carefully should get you more bang for your buck.

Step 5: Do your research.

Start by asking around and seeing what others are using. Ask what they like and don’t like about their laptops, and what they’d do differently next time. Find out what they use it for, and under what circumstances (it may be nothing at all like what you’ll be using yours for). Beware of fanatics who believe firmly in one and only one option.

Talk to any of your industry groups and see what others are using.

Get yourself educated online. Check out the reviews on www.cnet.com, and look up any suggestions you get from others.

Ask what others are using.
Talk to industry groups.
Go online and do research.
Check out a large computer store like Best Buy.

As you find a possible laptop – something that looks really interesting for whatever reason – add it to your “desired features list” (the one you created in Step 3). List each possible laptop across the top of the page (remember that your requirements are listed down the left of the page). Now check off each feature of each possible laptop against your master list.

Step 6: Develop a short list.

If you’ve done your homework, several possibilities will rise to the top. Use your checklist and eliminate all the laptops that don’t meet your requirements. Even if something looks great, just eliminate it if it’s got anything you’ve listed as a deal breaker. Keep things on that may not be perfect, but that look really interesting for one reason or another.

We had several choices on our short list:

MacBook Air – we were tempted by the ultralight 3 lbs., but we wanted more features and we wanted a DVD/ CD player. It didn’t get great reviews on cnet.com either, and it was pricey for what we felt we were getting.

Sony Vaio TZ150 – It’s very lightweight, with great battery life, and has a DVD. The price was on the high side, and it apparently is pretty sluggish and has a lot of bloatware. Two separate computer repair stores told us that it’s very nice, but it does break fairly easily and it’s hard to service, so they didn’t recommend it.

Lenovo X Series – This was highest on our short list. It’s got great features, it’s lightweight, and it’s considered reliable. It got great reviews on cnet.com. However, the screen was smaller than we wanted, and the price was on the high side.

Step 7: Talk to a local computer store and “test drive” your choices

After going through all your research, it’s a very good idea to get down to a local store and check out the prices, and try out your various choices. Talk to the salesman and see if you can get any ideas for something you may not have considered yet. Be aware if you go to a large store that you’ll have a lot to look at, but the salesmen aren’t always as knowledgeable as you might like.

Check around and see if you can find a smaller store that will have better customer service. Very often these stores have amazing prices and extremely knowledgeable staff. Best yet, loyalty often brings good deals and good support. You want to find someone who knows how to listen to what you want and need, and translate it to what’s available on the market.

In early 2002 we had the very good fortune to discover Computers Direct, a small “mom and pop” store in Boca Raton, Florida. We were really impressed with their level of knowledge, their prices, and their no-nonsense approach. I ended up buying a new desktop from them, my laptop a few years later, and then three full desktops a year after that, tailored to our individual needs.

They’ve done all our repairs (my youngest son tends to lock up his computer with malware), with great turnaround time and great prices. When my laptop PCMCIA port went out and I could no longer get my Verizon Wireless to work (I was three thousand miles from home), they looked up my warranty for me, phoned Asus in San Francisco, and arranged for me to stop at the main manufacturing plant to get it repaired. Better yet, they called me in a few days to see how it worked out!

After we’d done all our research for our new laptop, we called Don at Computer’s Direct and let him know what we wanted. He gave us an amazing amount of useful information – Chelsea took a page of notes. We told him what we’d been looking at and what we thought the price range would be.

They’ve always given us incredible prices on everything we’ve done with them and bought from them, and we trust them to give us the information we need to make the right decision. Chelsea found it really refreshing to be able to call Don, ask all her questions, know that he’s knowledgeable, and that he didn’t mind telling her in detail so that she understood too.

Step 8: Make the final decision

Look down the road as far as you can, and get the most for your money (highest quality components, most memory, biggest hard drive, etc.) right now. That way your laptop can still hold its own as long as possible. I always aim for the highest level I can get at the time. Again, don’t cut corners and settle for cheap components.

By now, after all your research, you should have an excellent idea of what’s available. Your decision should be clear at this point in the process.

Our results
After talking to Computers Direct, we ended up not choosing anything from our short list, but rather going for an updated version of what I already had. We chose an ASUS A8 series, model A8SC-X3.

Why? After four years of impressive and reliable service on my laptop, the Asus is a known quantity.

We are getting everything we wanted. We got a sleek low-profile design; a 14” screen with wonderful resolution; a DVD/CD player with DVD/CD burning software; it’s got built-in speakers with a nice clear sound, a built-in webcam, and a good microphone.

It’s got an Intel Core 2 Duo T5550 1.83G processor, 3GB of RAM, a 250GB hard drive, and a great graphics card. The battery life is decent, and the fan is really quiet. We’ve got five USB ports, enough for all our needs; and a memory card reader. We’ve got an express card slot for Verizon Wireless if we choose to get it, and the latest generation on the built-in wireless card.

The built-in keyboard with its track pad is perfectly fine, but we still opted for a full-size plug-in keyboard and mouse.

We opted for Microsoft XP Pro (we’re still waiting for an improvement over Vista), and we got Office 2007 Professional with Word, Excel, Power Point, and Publisher.

We love it that Chelsea and I have essentially the same system, so the learning curve is nearly zero, except for having to learn Office 2007 (I’ve got Office 2000 on mine).

At 5.25 pounds, it’s not in the ultraportable category, but for the features we’ve got, it was a no-brainer decision. The difference between 3.5 lb and the 5.25 lb is not significant given what we know about this laptop’s durability and reliability, combined with its incredible set of features.

We also have our two-year direct Asus warranty, along with a one-time accidental damage warranty.

Computers Direct tested everything, and shipped it to us fully loaded with software and push-button ready.

And best of all, coming in at under $1300, it’s significantly less expensive than anything we looked at online, while offering more.

We checked out a few reviews on the Asus, and I thought I’d include a few excerpts here:

“Good value for money; small 14” laptop with enough power and performance to put most larger laptops to shame. Especially considering the price, nothing can touch this.”

“This laptop is perfect for anyone that wants mid-high performance, portability, good battery life, and just an overall high quality product for a price that can’t be beat. It has all the connections and accessories you could want and will last you for a good long while.”

We couldn’t agree more.

We’ve used our new laptop now for over six months. We have a few issues with the fact that Chelsea has Office 2007 Pro and my version is 2000, but we love her built-in webcam and microphone. Her latest generation wi-fi card is fast and effective.

We’ve already done several Google Talk/ Video calls, and we had a two-hour Skype call with my sister. Chelsea picked up the laptop and walked around the place where we’re currently staying, showing my sister on the webcam what it looks like. We were even able to walk outside and show her the street views!

We’ve had an awesome conclusion to our laptop buying adventure.

Your results
Make sure to take the time to think carefully and honestly about what you want and take the time to do your research. You won’t regret it. You’ll love your increased productivity, and your life will be improved in ways you wouldn’t have believed.