43 Folders

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In praise of the junk folder

I often end up using my Desktop as a parking lot for current files. Not exactly an inbox, but given how easy it is to hit CMD-D in a dialog box, it’s where a lot of tmp files, exported jpgs, and assorted stuff naturally ends up. Still, I find it distratcting when too much stuff accumulates there, so I also keep a “Junk” folder on the desktop.

“Junk,” my mounted drives, and my downloads folder are all I want to see permanently on the Desktop, so I label those items a certain color. When things start feeling a bit crufty, I open a new list-format Finder window showing the desktop, sort by color, and grab anything that’s not my permanent label color.

I drag that all into the “Junk” directory, which I’ve set to do an automagic PsyncX backup to an external drive every night. That way, I can prune the local junk folder without ever worrying I’m throwing out something important.

It’s more of a mental crutch than a really useful hack, but I find it an efficient way to deal with stuff I don’t want to devote much thought to. And, at least once a month, I do end up wanting something that I thought was “junk,” in which case I always know exactly where to look.

[BTW: this is a classic TMTOWTDI: there are a bunch of OSX apps and Applescripts that can help you do this automatically. I just prefer this more hands-on way. Feel free to nominate your own cleanup tips in comments, of course.]

Merlin's picture

Thanks, Dave, and I really...

Thanks, Dave, and I really like your point about the tie-in with GTD (partly, because it gives me a chance to mention something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately).

I think the business-y bent of the book should definitely allow of some alteration for people’s different needs and skills—especially when it’s being applied to nerds whose “trusted system” includes a command line interface, sharpshooting searching skills, and massive storage abilities.

For example, there’s stuff like this junk drawer concept that falls outside (or even seems to contradict) the “only touch it once” philosophy. But to me that’s the big take-home of GTD that strict adherents and process scolds just don’t get: Getting Things Done is ultimately about learning how you work, where you get bogged down, and how your brain wants to operate. Once you develop the tweaks for your own contexts and special situation, you’re golden.

(more on this in future posts, I suspect)




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