Distraction-Proof Your Desktop

Distraction-Proof Your Desktop

3. Set Essential Applications to Open on Login

Like a faithful house elf, OS X is happy to prepare your work area the moment you sit down at your Mac. To begin, open System Preferences and click the Accounts icon. Select the Login Items tab, and click the plus icon. Browse the list of applications and select those most necessary for your work. Log out, and the next time you log in, these applications will launch automatically.

 

When your work applications open automatically on login, there’s less temptation to start hunting through the Dock for something fun to do.

 

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4. Clear the Desktop

Aside from being inefficient, a messy Desktop is a distraction waiting to happen. Make your Desktop work-friendly by dragging any file that doesn’t belong to an active project into your Documents folder (any folder will do, as long as it isn’t on the Desktop). Then, click Finder > Preferences, and uncheck the boxes next to Hard Disks; CDs, DVDs, And iPods; and Connected Servers. Close the Preferences window. Now, the only files on your Desktop should contain work in progress. If the lack of a hard drive icon bothers you, remember that you can see a list of local files and folders by summoning a new Finder window with Command-N.

 

An uncluttered Desktop is less likely to take you off task.

 

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5. Highlight the Active Application

For many tasks, running several applications at once is a simple necessity. Fortunately, Freeverse’s free app Think helps you focus on the active application by dimming everything behind it, including the Desktop. After installation, Think presents a list of all running apps. Select the one you want to work with, and Think will highlight it in the foreground. To work with a different app, summon the list again by clicking Think’s icon in the Dock.

 

Selecting an app's icon from Think's list will cloak all other applications in shadow.

 

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To take item #1 to the next level, turn off the "Check for updates automatically" setting in all your applications, then use VersionTracker to do the checking for you in one batch. You can do this manually, say, once every month. It will prevent those "An update is available" messages from popping up unexpectedly.

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