Quit Sabotaging Your Productivity with a Cluttered Desktop

You would never let your desk get so cluttered with papers that you had no room to work. We instinctively recognize the negative effect that would have on our productivity. So we regularly take time to clean off our desks, put everything back where we got it from, and keep things organized.

But when was the last time your computer desktop was completely cleared off? How many files do you have there? How many would you have to open to identify?

Sitting down to work with a cluttered computer desktop can have just as negative an impact on your productivity. Here are nine tips for why you should keep your computer desktop clear and how to clean it up.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay/sebagee

Photo courtesy of Pixabay/sebagee

One Word for Committing to a Task without the Guilt

The best definition I’ve heard of character is “the ability to carry out a worthy decision after the emotion of making that decision has passed” (Hyrum W. Smith). It’s doing what you say you’re going to do.

When you put a task on your list, you’re making a commitment, either to yourself or to someone else, that you’re going to do something. I used to struggle with this, feeling that the only way a task could come off my list was by doing it. Otherwise, I was breaking the commitment.

If you’re like me, this can cause problems for your productivity. You want to write everything down so it can stop swimming around your head, but you don’t want to write anything down until you’re certain you want to commit to doing it.

Fortunately, there is a word that can help you escape from this trap, remember the commitments you’ve made, and enjoy life.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockPhoto/3sbworld

Photo courtesy of ©iStockPhoto/3sbworld

The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.

Vince Lombardi

The Power of Regular and Consistent Growth

Like most kids who get the chance at a quiet weekday mall, my sister and I were playing on the escalators. I made it to the top of the down escalator without any problems, but my sister—with shorter legs—was struggling. She got tired, stopped to rest, and started being carried back down.

“Keep moving!” I called down to her. ”If you need to rest, take the steps one at a time as they come. If you stop, you’ll just have further to climb. Don’t stop moving!”

She has always remembered that lesson and regularly applies it in the different roles in her life. There is no such thing as standing still. You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. If you want to get better, it takes regular and consistent effort to improve yourself.

©iStockPhoto/pioneer111

Photo courtesy of ©iStockPhoto/pioneer111

Four Lessons from the Frozen Soundtrack

We recently spent a week at a beach house in Oregon. We drove up the coast, so we spent over 26 hours in the car with our kids in the back seat. We know the soundtrack to Frozen pretty well now.

Music changes how we learn. The more parts of your brain that are engaged, the easier it is for us to learn and remember. If you’ve ever gotten a song stuck in your head, you know how well the melody and meter reinforce the message and make it sticky. Plus, it’s learning disguised as fun! Preschoolers love learning to sing their ABCs; they wouldn’t get as excited about a rote recitation.

Here are five life lessons that stood out to me as we wound our way through the redwoods and rocky coast on US–101. These are by no means the only interpretation, or even what Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez necessarily intended, but they’re good lessons to keep in mind.

Image ©2013 Disney

Image ©2013 Disney

How to Create Email Templates in Automator

We are constantly sending emails (over 100 billion every day by some estimates). We regularly distribute information via email, and can send the same basic message monthly, weekly, or daily with little variation. As long as the email has to be sent, it’s a great candidate for automating.

I recently helped my wife send a weekly email more efficiently. Each week, she sends out the list of hymns we’ll be singing for the next few Sundays. She had a good process in place, but she was always worried that she was going to forget to add the BCC recipients (and it’s not easy to check afterwards). I helped her automate her process a little so she would have one less thing to worry about.

There are multiple ways you can automate creating an email draft and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Since she uses the built-in Mail.app and wants something that would be easy for her to maintain, we created an Automator application.

Here’s how to create an Automator action that you can double-click to create a draft message in Mail.app. If you drop files on it, they will be attached to the message.

A little work up front can save lots of time down the road.