It is a simple fact that if your desk is clean and organized, usually you can work better and more efficiently there, because you know where everything is and there is nothing cluttering you. Same goes for your computer desktop. How to go about organizing and navigating your computer will greatly impact how effectively you can use it when you need to. I have achieved the perfect desktop for me, which includes never again fumbling around trying to file a file or program that I put somewhere.
1. Use Launchy. Launchy is an application launcher that will run programs for you as you type them into it’s bar. You bring up launchy by hitting Alt + Space, and then just start typing the name of the file or program you want. The start menu is a horrible way to launch applications because it usually requires four to five clicks to open something. Launchy on the other hand makes launching apps easy and speedy.
2. Adopt an iconless desktop model. Contrary to popular belief, your desktop is not there to store the shortcuts to every single program on your computer. If you are using launchy to launch your programs, all you need on your desktop is temporary files, important files you are actively working on, and maybe your recycling bin. If you are currently feeling slightly claustrophobic of your desktop, an icon less desktop is probably for you. Not only does this make your desktop feel cleaner, but it can also significantly speed up your system.
3. Replace the default Alt+Tab Manager. Personally I use TaskSwitchXP, which lets you thoroughly customize your alt-tab experience and shows window previews as you c ycle through. If you have too many windows open to navigate properly using the taskbar, then using an enhanced Alt+Tab manager might be your thing.
4. Organize your Start Menu and My Documents. You should keep your startmenu organized so that if you ever do need to go into it, you aren’t sorting through tens of random program folders in no particular order. A general rule of thumb would be to keep the height of your All Programs list lower than the actual start menu. Usually I organize my programs into folders such as “media”, “security and maintenance”, “utilities”, etc.
5. Optimize your taskbar. Turn off the quick launch, and hide inactive icons in the system tray. You won’t need quick launch because of Launchy, and useless icons in your system tray only reduce the size of your taskbar, which is actually important. By default when my laptop boots up, I only have 3 icons: Wireless, Battery, and Volume.
6. Use AutoHotKey for repetitive typing. If you find you yourself having to type out something more than 2 times a day, AutoHotKey could be a real timesaver for you. Basically you can assign any combination of keys on your keyboard to either launch a program, or send different keystrokes to the computer. For example instead of tying your email address every time, set the hotkey “e@” to automatically insert your email address.
7. Use stickies to catch your thoughts. I am a big believer in David Allen’s GTD, of which one of the laws is to empty your mind by writing down your thoughts. Normally I use my trusty Moleskine, but when you are near the computer, it is nice to have a virtual sticky note on your desktop so you can stay productive.
These 7 methods are my favourite ways to stay productive on the computer. However what you do is completely up to you. If you have any great computer tips, please drop a comment and let everyone know!