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How to Optimize Your Desktop

How to Optimize Your Desktop
Desktop

Does your computer’s desktop look like a jumbled mess or a sleek Ferrari?

The following tips, tricks, and power toys will help you turn your desktop
into a productivity machine.

Sticky Notes

Do you ever find yourself needing to make a quick to-do list or write down thoughts and ideas? Sticker Lite is a free Sticky Notes software that allows you to do just that. Using virtual sticky notes, you can keep all of the information you need to remember right on your desktop.

This productivity tool allows you to drag-and-drop sticky notes anywhere on the desktop.

You can also customize your notes by setting different priority levels: low, normal, and high.

Best of all, you’re not just confined to the desktop. Sticker Lite allows you to easily print your computer sticky notes and take them with you.

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Desktop Timers

A timer is one of the best productivity tools you can use. Ever since using a timer to complete my tasks, my productivity has increased by 300%.

My favorite desktop timer is Workrave.

According to the website,

“Workrave is a free program that assists in the recovery and prevention of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). The program monitors your activity. Using this information, it frequently reminds you to take breaks, and restricts you to your daily limit.”

Like any desktop timer, Workrave can time your tasks and set a countdown for you.

However, it has lots of other cool features as well.

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Workrave allows you to set reminders to look away from the screen and walk around every so often. This has been a very useful feature for geeks like me who have a hard time stepping away from the computer.

Workrave allows you to set rest breaks, micro pauses and daily time limits.

This unique program also has exercises that you can do at your desk during breaks.

Find out more about this free software at http://www.workrave.org.

JDarkRoom

JDarkRoom

This is a very cool application that allows you to write more efficiently by removing all distractions. JDarkRoom gives you an entirely blank page on which to type. This way, you’re not distracted by the web, e-mail, or IM. When you’re done, you can save your work as a text file.

You can try it out for yourself and start saving lots of time.

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If you’re using a Mac, then I would suggest Writeroom.

Customize Your folders and desktop icons to easily locate your favorite applications.

icons

Customizing your folders and desktop icons can help you to easily locate your favorite applications.

This way, you’re not stuck with all of those bland, traditional folders.

You can find thousands of free icons at:

GTD Desktop Backgrounds

Bring GTD to your desktop with GTD desktop wallpaper. This desktop wallpaper will help keep you motivated and focused on Getting Things Done.

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If you’ve read David Allen’s bestseller, Getting Things Done, but can’t always remember all of the tips, tricks, and concepts held inside the book, then this wallpaper is the perfect reminder.

Download you own GTD wallpaper at…

AutoHotKey

Are you a shortcut junkie? If so, then you’ll love AutoHotKey. This application allows you to script any block of text or sequence of keystrokes to perform repetitive tasks at the push of a button.

It takes a bit of practice to learn to write your own scripts, but once you’re up and running, you’ll speed through your daily activities.

Kim Roach is a productivity junkie who blogs regularly at The Optimized Life. Read her articles on 50 Essential GTD Resources, How to Have a 46 Hour Day, Do You Need a Braindump, What They Don’t Teach You in School, and Free Yourself From the Inbox.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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