I just read Confessions of a Desktop Neat Freak over on Channel 10, which highlights the feature in Windows where you can hide the icons on the desktop. This is all well and good, but as Larry said himself in the post, it is just like sweeping it under the carpet. Although this helps it look clean, so that you can see your nice desktop background picture, what real benefit is it giving. It hasn’t really done anything to help you keep it neat. Potentially it has made it worse by allowing the mess to grow bigger with an out-of-sight, out-of-mind attitude.
I propose to use your Windows desktop as you would your physical desktop. Typically, you don’t leave piles of paper right in front of you on your desk. You file papers away, either into a filing cabinet, piles on your desk, or bin. Accessible if required, but not interfering with your current task. Things you do leave on your desk are items you use all the time, like a pen and phone. These are equivalent to your desktop shortcuts to commonly used applications. In Windows though, pinning these to the start menu can be more effective, since they can be seen quickly without minimising your current work.
While you are working on a task, often it requires a set of documents, reference material, drafts and other random things being bought together. In development, when building a new feature or debugging some code, I often have a few code files, test scripts, saved web pages or PDF’s for reference, and other miscellaneous files that are all useful for that task. These files I just dump straight to the desktop, since it is clear and a ready workspace. Once I have finished that particular task, I sort the files. Some get deleted, others get filed safely away.
The desktop is a very convenient workspace if it is keep clean for that purpose. Files can be grouped into sections easily to help better tackle the task. BumpTop takes this further to really help make the computer desktop like a real desktop. I work so that if there are any files on my desktop, it means I am in the middle of a task. I do similar with my email, anything in the inbox needs action taken against it. If the email has been dealt with, it is filed or deleted. This all helps me stay neat, organised and effective at my tasks. I understand that some people’s physical desktops get more out of hand than their Windows desktop, and in the end, what’s wrong with a messy desk?