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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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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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