We all know the cliché: "Work smarter, not harder." What exactly does it mean to work smart in Photoshop? To me, working smart is about getting the most done with the least amount of time and effort, and without being slowed by avoidable bottlenecks. Although this may not seem as exciting as ordering the newest, fastest computer, the advantages of working smart can be profound. For example, if you give the same job to two different users, and they have equally powerful computers, the difference in their productivity can come down to which person works smarter. Working smart can also potentially make you more productive than another person who has better equipment or more time.
Working smart has a lot to do with the idea that small changes can have large results. Small changes may initially seem inconsequential, but every little increase or decrease in efficiency makes a bigger difference as your workload scales up. If you perform a two-step task 100 times a day, and you find a way to perform that task in one step, then you double your efficiencyyou cut your workload in half, or you can do twice as much in the same amount of time.
The number of images we process is certainly rising. A few years ago, the cost of film limited the number of images that were practical to shoot in a single session. Now, with a digital camera and a large memory card or tethered to a computer with an even larger hard disk, you can shoot far more images per session than you could have with film. A few years ago, most jobs were print jobs with fixed page counts; now there is no practical limit to the number of images you can upload to a Web site such as a stock photo agency or a retailer's online catalog. With the increased volume of images to process, and the fact that there are better things for you to be doing than clicking the same buttons all day long, working smart in Photoshop is more important than ever.