Best productivity hack on Windows 10 ever

I am vivid reader and consumer of articles about productivity, achieving more and using this limited time we are left with in most efficient way.

From testing various mobile and desktop applications, selecting particular part of the day for certain task type up to different techniques (like Pomodoro) — tried them all.

And ashamed to admit, one obvious, easy to find and easy to apply feature, sat there on my desktop / laptop computers quietly, waiting to be discovered.

Windows 10 Virtual Desktops

Did you ever asked yourself what is this icon for (Task View):

Win10 - Virtual Desktop
Task View

Or, what Windows + Tab keyboard combination does?
Same here — I stumbled on that completely by chance, trying to switch windows with Alt + Tab. Curious as I am, immediately asked Google what is that.

In turned out that it is deadly simple, highly effective and does something every one of us is trying — reducing noise and enabling you in this chaotic world to concentrate on one thing and to do it right. And not even new feature 🙂 – first version was build by Xerox PARC in 1980s (!!!) and implemented for Windows 3.x as Rooms for Windows.

Virtual Desktops (VD) are way to run multiple desktops (= your working surface) on same computer. That means that you can arrange open applications / browser windows, documents … anything you need on any set of Virtual Desktops. That also means that you can organize all of above according to task you are doing.

Instead of just switching applications, you switch whole environment and get in focus (“zone”) in no time.

Possible usages: one “noisy” VD for all IMs, browsers, social networks, one VD for important private stuff, one for work; even better (how I do it) — you can create VD per task, like having one to write next great Medium story 🙂 and other to write next great web application.

Start is easy:

  • Create: click on Task View and select (bottom right) or use WIN + CTRL + D:
    Create Virtual Desktop
    (click for larger image)
  • Switch between VDs either with WIN + TAB or with WIN + CTRL + LEFT/RIGHT (previous / next)
  • In Task View you can drag/re-arrange applications from one Desktop into other
  • Close current Virtual Desktop with WIN + CTRL + F4
  • Finally, you can fine tune Settings for this in Settings / Multitasking – most important part is which applications will appear on task bar – only for active Virtual Desktop or all active applications.

Try it, stick with it for couple of weeks and you will wonder how you lived without this feature before 🙂

Trust No One … Google Included

I am a big fan of Google – I like services it offers, as well as Google “attitude” toward outside world.

Once when you start using those services, and transfer most of your digital life online, you are hooked – possibility to access/create all of data from anywhere and virtually from any device which interprets html (and that means your mobile phone) is something that you will appreciate much.

Well, maybe “was” is better tense for first sentence; and of course, being human, just one simple thing was enough to change this: they blocked my Google Account (and related GMail account):

Google Disabled My Account

For no apparent reason (one night I was sending my mail and next morning I was presented with dreadful message) I got “Sorry, your account has been disabled”. This is not just access to mail, but to Google Docs, Google Notebook, Google Reader, Google Bookmarks – just to mention ones that I use most often.

Of course, I was vaguely aware that this possibility (to get account disabled) exists, but I was also thinking that it is reserved for bad violation of Terms of Use and I was not even close to this; my usage was just regular mail usage – none of unusual activities mentioned in help / troubleshooting documents or in related posts in GMail help groups.

Also, disruptive and unannounced access restriction to the same online repository can hurt you a lot.

Add on top of that very slow response of Google Support (third day, and I have two automated responses and one form filling) and no idea when or even if I would get access to my account again – that put serious doubts in my decision to give trust to Google as big and “good” firm with my data.

Google is not nice; Google is just another company in search for steady and infinite revenue streams; all “free” services it offers are just way to expand market where ads (as main source of revenue) can be placed.

As soon as my account is enabled, I will change two things right away – change/add new online “office” provider (I am testing Zoho now) and backup all of the stuff regularly to desktop (good old offline storage) – my data and time invested to create them is of utmost importance.

Update: they enabled my account after four days; as expected, no explanation was given why account was suspended in a first place. Not nice – 4 days in speedy and busy everyday life w/o mail and many of documents and notes is at least “not nice”. Maybe all those services are free, but I would rather pay some amount for benefit of having telephone support around of clock.