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How to Pimp Out Your Desktop for Productivity

How to Pimp Out Your Desktop for Productivity
Clean Desktop

Is your desktop a cluttered mess? If you’re like me, then your desktop can quickly get overloaded with unused icons, folders, and miscellaneous junk. Thankfully, I have turned from my woeful ways and would like to teach you how to do the same.

By the title of this article, you may have thought that it was going to be about desktop themes and cool tools, but that’s really not the main point here.

You will definitely find some cool tools here for your desktop, but they have only been included because they enhance your overall productivity.

What’s the use in having a pimped out desktop with killer design if it’s cluttered with unused icons and useless gadgets? This article will show you how to create a sleek, powerful desktop designed for optimum productivity. In addition, you will also find a few cool desktop tools for the inner geek in all of us.

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But first, you have to do a ruthless clean up of your desktop. You must get everything down to the bare minimum.


Get rid of all of your unused desktop icons. If you have any icons on your desktop that you don’t use everyday, then delete them.

If you have any folders or programs that you just can’t bear to take off the desktop, then create a new folder and place all of those applications into this folder.

The goal of this exercise is to get your number of desktop icons down to 3 or less. Yes, I know it sounds hard, but I promise it’s doable and the zen-like state of a clear desktop is well worth it.

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The next step is to remove unused icons from your system tray. The system tray is the area located in the bottom right of your taskbar in Windows. This area can quickly get filled with unused icons if you’re not careful. To keep this area clean and efficient, be sure to delete unused icons on a regular basis. The key to a productive workspace is a minimalist design.

Now that you’ve cleaned up your desktop, it’s time to have a bit of fun.

One of the few desktop gadgets that I actually recommend is known as ObjectDock. This is a program that enables users to organize their shortcuts, programs, and other utilities into an animated Dock that looks a lot like the animated Mac taskbar.

This tool will help you to organize all of your favorite applications without the need for having those icons all over the screen. Download ObjectDock and start reclaiming your desktop’s valuable real estate.

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There’s one final tool I recommend for customizing your desktop for ultimate productivity.
It’s known as Launchy. This tool eliminates the need for having any folders on your desktop or even a Start menu. Launchy allows you to search intelligently for programs and launch them with a single click. It’s a smart search program, which tries to guess which program or file you are looking for as you type.

Plus, Launchy also has a number of additional features which allow you to:

  • perform web searches
  • build and run custom commands
  • search all of your FireFox bookmarks
  • and much more…

Launchy provides a number of plugins that give you even more searching power.

You truly have to try this program out for yourself to discover it’s smart searching powers.

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If you know of any other tips and tricks for designing your desktop for ultimate productivity, please feel free to add them in the comments.

Kim Roach is a productivity junkie who blogs regularly at The Optimized Life. Read her articles on What’s Your Learning Style, 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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