Here’s my Top 5 productivity tips culled from various places in the past twelve months (I am guessing that most of any software mentioned is multi-platform, but if they are only Windows then I apologise)*.
- Clear your desktop
This is definitely Windows, but so simple to implement. Right-click your mouse whilst hovering over the desktop. Select ‘Arrange Icons by…’. Untick ‘Show desktop icons’. Now look at the bottom right of your Status Bar: to the left of the clock and other icons you will see ‘Desktop >>’. Voila—clean desktop but with all the desktop icons available via a popup menu if you need them from your Status Bar.
Without a doubt the most useful application I’ve put off from buying for over a decade. How foolish was I? The functionality is brilliant, the effects you can add great (see the image above in the ‘clear your desktop’ section), the ease of use stunning. I was an idiot for not getting this a decade ago. Don’t be an idiot and not buy it yourself–once you purchase you’ll wonder how you ever did without it and what horrendous number of hours you lost working around it.
A Microsoft product that has legions of die-hard fans (I’m one of them) and yet is so hard to describe (but watch this video for more info). Consider it a note taker (but it’s not Notepad), a journal, a scribe, a memory saver, a doodle pad, a fully searchable database (that searches inside images!). This and PowerPoint2007 are the reasons I stay with Microsoft rather than migrate to some Linux distro.
- Kybtec World Clock
I’ve used this since its early days. Love it. Yes, there is plenty of competition for multi timezone clocks, especially in the Windows Status Bar. I have stuck with World Clock simply because it works. Every time. It’s now on version 3.3.1 which works within Vista (no build before did). I love it and it’s the only way I can keep up with Second Life time, Californian time, London time, Copenhagen time, Brisbane, Sydney, Perth, Toronto and all the other places that are important to me for one reason or another. Even better, I don’t have to be online to keep accurate time. Don’t be put off by the poor English and the amateur look on the website. This is a damn fine application!
Note: For keeping time online when I’m visiting a webcafe I use use timeanddate.com and create a personalised clock.
- Xilisoft Video Converter
Download YouTube videos by whatever mechanism you choose (there are loads of different websites and even apps within Facebook that will let you do this) then use Xilisoft to convert the flash file to something that PowerPoint will recognise. Prior to purchasing Xilisoft Video Converter I wrangled with a long, convoluted way of playing flash videos in PowerPoint. Now I simply download the video, convert it to wmv and plop it straight into PowerPoint. I have saved hours of productivity with this one app.
Close to the Top 5:
saves repetitious keystrokes. A boon. I just keep forgetting what keystrokes and shortcuts I’ve saved. Click on the image to download a free 60 day trial – trust me, you won’t regret it!
- Windows LiveWriter
My offline blog editor of choice (and the choice of many others too). Only has a few niggles (compared to the others) but gets sooooo many things right. Still in Beta, can’t wait to see what the final product is like.
- ACDSee Photo Manager
I became unfaithful and migrated to Adobe’s Bridge (because it offered such tight integration with Fireworks, my web image editor of choice), but the lovely maiden Sarah Serendipity crossed my path and I’m back with ACDSee: low ‘overhead’, which means it doesn’t tie up my precious ram, ease of use, very quick to load (all of which cannot be said about Bridge).
- Wacom Bamboo tablet
Wanted a wacom tablet for ages, finally lashed out and nabbed one. Has given my mouse rsi a nice bit of relief and makes editing images a lot more fun.
- Roland Edirol R09 digital recorder
A gift from Ross Monaghan at Deakin University and a much-loved gift it is! My sound card constantly plays up, I haven’t been able to get rid of a hum from my Tapco mixer/cablefest, my office is so ‘live’ makes me sound like I’m recording in a toilet if I use my beloved Shure SM57; the Edirol and a Sony lapel mic solves it all. Wonderful! Thank you Ross—you don’t know how many FIR reports you have saved from the waste bin!
- Microsoft Movie Maker
a free bit of ‘throw away’ software included with Windows XP, it sure packs a mighty punch! No, you can’t have more than one soundtrack at a time, but that is a small price to pay for being able to create professional-looking videos that you can whack up to YouTube in a day.
Windows only, sorry. Go ‘Start, Run…’ type ‘msconfig’, select the ‘Startup’ tab and ‘Disable All’. Then click on the REALLY important apps, like your firewall, virus and trojan software, etc. Will DRAMATICALLY reduce your Windows startup time and highlight to you how exactly many apps you thought were essential actually aren’t. Click on the image below to see it full size and marvel at how simple it can be to get rid of all those annoying, pesky apps that load themselves automatically into the startup!
A social-media friendly version of Firefox. Very neat and I’m growing to appreciate it more and more each day as I spend more time with it.
A great way of cutting those mega-long urls down to a reasonable size, plus Snipurl allows you to create your own profile and store your snips for reuse. Cool!
Since paying my miniscule annual fee I’ve become increasingly indebted to this marvellous third-party email service. You wouldn’t believe the amount of spam I no longer get in my email inbox! Saves me more and more hours each month. Comes with free 30 day trial. Bargain!
* I had a chance for a bit of reflection today, whilst waiting for Second Life to resolve some server issues. I’m a long-time Windows user (from 3.1) so cut me some slack for being Windows-centric!
Currently listening to: – Monkey Business – we belong together