There are a few other areas where your hardware habits can affect the efficiency of your Photoshop workflow.
Digital Camera Transfers
If you feed Photoshop with a steady stream of images from digital cameras, I hope you aren't still transferring your photos to your computer using the camera cable. It's much better to remove the card from the camera and insert it into a USB 2.0 or FireWire card reader connected to your computer. Using a card reader has the following advantages:
Card readers are inexpensive, so if you don't already have one, you should definitely give them a look.
That Pointing Device in Your Hand
Yes, your humble mouse might actually be a hardware bottleneck. When using a mature product like Photoshop, you can potentially hold yourself back if you don't take full advantage of mice and other pointing devices. If you are a Mac user with a one-button mouse, you owe it to yourself to try a two-button scrollwheel mouse. Photoshop takes advantage of both the right mouse button and the scroll wheel in powerful ways. Context menus, which you see when you right-click (Ctrl-click on Mac OS X), are all over Photoshop and can save you many trips to the main menu. You can use the scroll wheel to scroll and zoom in Photoshop.
To get the absolute most out of Photoshop, switch to a graphics tablet such as those made by Wacom Technology. A good graphics tablet comes with a pressure-sensitive stylus. Photoshop understands stylus signals such as pressure and tilt, so you can paint or retouch with almost as much control and subtlety as if you were using an actual pencil or brush. For example, you can use Photoshop brushes that make a stroke darker or wider as you press harder, and lighter or narrower as you ease up on the stylus pressure. I talk a little more about brushes in Chapter 4.
Get Rid of Excess Traffic
You know by now that Photoshop image editing works best when it has the full attention of your CPU, RAM, and hard disk. Every extra program you run can draw system resources away from Photoshop and slow it down.
If you have a spare computer lying around, consider running non-Photoshop programs on that computer. A computer that doesn't have the horsepower for Photoshop is often more than capable of running e-mail clients, Web browsers, and music and chat programs. Try to reserve your Photoshop computer for production tasks, freeing up more system resources for Photoshop.