The myth that a crowded desktop on your PC or laptop slows your computer down is not true, but that doesn't mean an over-cluttered desktop isn’t keeping you from being productive. Just like a real, physical desktop, your computer’s desktop or home screen lets you do your best work when it’s clean and organized. Properly organized files, a minimum of icons, and sleek, minimalist wallpaper can do more than just look good—it can help you find exactly the file you need, when you need it, with fewer distractions on the way.
Organizing Your Files
To find files easily, it’s important to have a system for organizing your documents, photos, video files, etc. This is why Microsoft and Apple desktops will often start with giving you a home directory separate from your program directories. Just like with a physical filing drawer, everything needs a place. Ideally, these places will relate to other document locations in a way that is intuitive to you and your workflow.
For example, if you use the same laptop for both work and personal entertainment, having one cohesive My Photos library might not work. Your family photos might be located next to the scanned images from the last report meeting. In this case, it would likely be more useful if you had separate photo folders for work and home. There would be two main ways to do this, the first being to create both Home Photos and Work Photos folders under your generic My Photos library. (On a Microsoft OS, this might look like My Libraries > My Photos > Home Photos.) This way all photos are located together, but you have two separate sub-folders which will keep your work and home images from intermingling.
The second way would be to eschew traditional media library usage and create your own folder trees that have been separated into Work and Home documents. While it’s possible to do this under a preexisting library (like My Documents), creating a library tree that originates from your desktop can mean quicker access to your files. Another option would be to simply use desktop shortcuts to access these more general folders, which are saved elsewhere. If you’re interested in learning how to reorganize your file folders, BuzzAGeek’s informal computer training might be of use.
Minimizing the Number of Icons
Though creating desktop folders is one way to help minimize the number of program, document, image, and other icons on your desktop, it’s not the only way. Several programs exist to help you cut down on desktop clutter in other ways. First, check your computer’s personalization options, as there may be pre-built settings that will arrange or group your icons in a more manageable manner. These will allow you to arrange your icons by name, type (document versus program, etc.), size, the date you last accessed the program or file.
Downloadable programs such as Fences, RocketDock, and MyFolders allow you to take this a step further. Fences creates small enclosed areas on your desktop which can be used to group related documents or programs together, without taking up extra space. RocketDock creates a dockbar (Mac users will be familiar with the concept) that is highly customizable and will minimize itself when not in use. MyFolders will be especially useful for those who are looking to access their newly organized folder trees more quickly, as it allows you to search deep into your various folders for the specific file you want, all without the hassle of extra clicking.
Though personalizing your desktop wallpaper and theme might not seem to be purely aesthetic, it can actually help your productivity and organization, too. By minimizing visual distractions (including obvious notifications from social media and other means of procrastination) your theme can help create a mental association between your computer and productive use of your time. The best themes to use are ones with clean, iconic imagery which does not draw the eye and either cooler tones, which promote calm and focus, or cheerier (but not obtrusive) colors for more creative activities. Sites that specialize in providing pre-made themes and wallpapers, such as MinimalWall, can be easily found using your preferred search engine.