My Productive Desktop

I was talking to a client yesterday about productivity and how I move content and communication across my desktop. As someone who has a 95% paperless office, I rely primarily on my computers to keep me organized. Combine that with a need to have all things “in the cloud” so to speak (I move from laptop to desktop often) and I need systems that work and work well.

My Productive Desktop

The first thing that is the most important for me when it comes to being productive is having what I need at my fingertips.  I need to be able to quickly and easily access and see what I need to in order to be the most effective as content and communication flow across my desk.  If you click the image below, you can open it to a much larger size to see the notes, etc. but I’ll quickly recap below what you’re seeing:

  1. Freshbooks (the invoice, accounting and time tracking tool we use) is always open on the left-hand side of my browser.  This allows me to quickly track time for any client or any project.
  2. A single Finder window is always open below Freshbooks. This allows me to have quick and easy access to the files I often need, access desktop items, downloads, etc. and I’ve bookmarked my most frequently used folders on the left-hand side to create less clicking and faster access.
  3. The main area of the screen is my browser.  I use Chrome and I pin tabs within the browser to keep the things I most often use open but not taking up valuable browser real estate.  I always keep Gmail, Freshbooks, Twitter, Facebook, Google Calendar and Basecamp open and pinned (although here I do not have Basecamp pinned at the moment) as those are my most used and visited websites. I’ve made notes on the image below as to how I have my Gmail organized but I’ll dive deeper into that in a moment.
  4. Google Tasks is always popped out and to the far right.  I use this a lot to track tasks I need to do that are not needing to be documented into Basecamp.  Anything that requires my team’s support or documentation to be added, I put into Basecamp instead.
  5. Skype stays open with desktop real estate because I use it all the time.  It is the primary way that I communicate with my team and clients so having it open is a necessity.
  6. A TextEdit window stays open below that as I like to be able to quickly paste formatted text into it to copy back out unformatted.  Keeping it open allows me to have that fast flow in my work process.


Being Productive with E-mail

An area that many of my clients, colleagues and friends get stuck is with e-mail.  Most people are living in e-mail overwhelm but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The first thing you need to do is to clean up your existing e-mail inbox.  If you’re using Gmail like I am, there is this amazing button called the archive button.  You can archive e-mails you are done with / that require no action and access them later by using the All Mail label or by using in-Gmail search.  Super easy and super effective.

Here are some of the rules that I follow with e-mail.  Some of these are taken from the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen and others are just things I’ve devised over working online for the past ten years.

  1. First thing in the morning, before I do anything else, I clean out my inbox.
  2. I answer any and all e-mails that require a response that I can craft in two minutes or less.
  3. Archive/delete all unnecessary or spammy e-mails.
  4. Any e-mails that require my action but don’t require the original e-mail to stay in your inbox, I add it to Google Tasks window and archive (ex: I do this with Basecamp messages a lot - I don’t need the Basecamp copy in my active inbox, so I add the client’s name to my Google Tasks to notify myself to check into their project and then I archive the Basecamp message).
  5. I then label and sort the remaining e-mails. In Gmail, I use the Important area for client to-dos and anything else that is super important, I use the starred inbox for new business inquiries and I use the everything else section for everything else.  I also apply labels to my emails so that I can easily identify what to answer when I’m batching my work (I don’t skip between projects/clients - I focus on one, do everything I can and then move on).
  6. Through the batch work process, I then respond to the important / urgent e-mails as I’m focused on that project / area of my business / client’s project.  This usually clears out a good chunk of the e-mails.  Once I’ve done that, I’ll focus on the starred e-mails and then the everything else e-mails.

Usually at the end of each day, I get my inbox down to about 5-12 e-mails.

* * *

In future e-mails, I’ll talk about how I quickly delegate out tasks to my team, how I use Basecamp to keep the entire business afloat and how I organize my Google Calendar and scheduling systems.  In the meantime, leave any questions you might have in the comments and let me know what other productivity systems you’d like to know about!

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One Response to “My Productive Desktop”

  1. Linda says:

    Great post Erin. Loved it!
    Linda recently posted..I Just Couldn’t Resist Posting This Article

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