In a previous article I discussed the importance of customising where you work to minimise context switching, so this week I thought I'd include examples of what I do.

My Workstation

At work I have a laptop, so I can take it to meetings or off-site.

I attach a USB mouse as it's more ergonomic than the touchpad, and my attempts to work only via keyboard failed, partly due to learned behaviours, and partly due to the fact that copying text between windows is a chore without a pointer device.

I have a monitor on my desk to serve as a second display, or primary display of a development board.

I run Debian Wheezy on my laptop, with AwesomeWM as my window manager.

I used to have some complicated customisations to AwesomeWM, but regressions in the packaged versions of AwesomeWM failing to load my customisations have led me to learn the defaults instead, so even though it's now fixed, I don't customise AwesomeWM.

I have an irssi window and a mutt window on my second display, always open so I can see when there's something that requires more immediate attention.

I have different tabs for my web browser and all my work terminals on my primary display, which I have in front of the secondary display, so I'm not always focussing on IRC or E-Mail, but I can glance up to see if there's any changes I need to be aware of.

I have a second browser open on my secondary display with Google Music running, as I find it helps reducing office noise distractions.

My Hackstation

I run Ubuntu 14.04 on my personal laptop, as I also use it to play games, and the required drivers were not available in Debian Wheezy.

I have a USB docking station with a built-in VGA port which is sent to my Laptop via DisplayLink. This means I can have an extra monitor, a keyboard and a mouse just by plugging in one USB cable.

The convenience of using just one USB cable is the difference between being bothered about using an extra monitor and not.

I'm considering upgrading my docking station to an UD-3900 since it includes an ethernet port and isn't limited to VGA displays, though it can't be powered over USB and it claims not to support Linux.

In addition to the docking station, I have two USB touchscreens. A Lilliput UM-80 and a Mimo UM-720, taking the physical separation of contexts further.

The touch functionality doesn't work so well in a multi-monitor setup, as the touch coordinates are assumed to be relative to the whole virtual desktop, rather than per-display. However, after fixing the quirks that make it treat the input as upside-down, they can be used in [mutli-seat][] as extra desktop sessions.

Apart from the different Linux distribution, I run mostly the same software at home as at work.

The exceptions being that I play my music on my Chromecast instead of on my laptop through headphones, and I occasionally use cool-old-term as my terminal emulator for fun.

I have my work terminals on my Laptop display. I put a web browser on my second monitor, and on my little USB touchscreens I run my irssi and mutt windows.