Productivity Boosting Tools (for Windows): Third Week Rundown

 

Another week has gone and I’m still using most of the tools I started off with, excluding QTTabBar which I replaced with a full windows explorer replacement, XYplorer.

XYplorer

XYplorer has been very useful in my day to day work, and I am getting accustomed to the different interface for accessing and navigating the folders I work in. I’m still not utilising a lot of the available features, but I continue to find both the tabbed panes and the dual pane views very useful and time-saving. Having them available simplifies working with files and folders, today enabling me to attach files from two completely different folders to emails in quick succession. Previously, I would have needed two explorer windows open, which I would also have had to arrange so that they were both visible and accessible as I had many files to attach to many emails.

A partial failing I’ve seen, which may even have a solution by a setting I’m not aware of, is that in renaming folders the folder extension is also available to edit. I’ve ended up breaking a file after accidentally removing the file extension and then putting it back in, so I would like to be prevented from editing the extension in the first place really.

Another is that the auto-refresh doesn’t always do exactly that, but that is a minor gripe which I can overlook, along with the renaming thing, in exchange for the dual pane and tabbed browsing.

The final thing bothering me is the long start up window, which is only there because I am still in the trial period, but I would prefer if it just started and then bugged me later rather than slowing down the launch.

As I get more used to those two features and maybe find a solution to the renaming issue, I will probably explore the other features some more and eventually write up a full review of XYplorer.

I’ve also just discovered that the lifetime license is on sale while England is still in the World Cup, half price. So that’s clinched it for me. I don’t care about football, but I do care about good software deals.

Desktops V2.0

Q: Why should I keep using multiple desktops after discovering that cool Windows and number key short-cut?

A: Because that short-cut is a bit awkward to hit and leaves my desktop cluttered, as well as not letting me quickly switch between multiple instances of Excel!

This week I tried using the Windows and number key short-cuts to switch between programs rather than keeping them on different workspaces, but I found that I was getting distracted much more easily than I had when I first started using the Desktops tool, which probably meant I wasn’t as productive as I had been before.

cluttered

When I went back to my previous set up, emails and browser on one workspace and main work task on another, I got distracted far less often and found my flow more easily. This alone was enough to convince me to keep using Desktops.

The downside, and the reason I was thinking of using the short-cut rather than separate workspaces, is that if I want to respond to an email immediately and attach a file I’ve been working on it isn’t as straightforward. Luckily you can copy text and files between workspaces, so if I need to access the same folder on both workspaces, it isn’t difficult, just a few extra steps than if I had a single workspace.

For me though, it’s a small sacrifice to make for the other benefits it gives.

PhraseExpress

I enjoy having PhraseExpress around and using it to replace some long words that I don’t want to type in full, or that I might type incorrectly, but I don’t know if it has really been helping me very much.

Again, that might be partly to do with me not making much use of many of its features, I’m still not in the mindset where I am automatically thinking of good uses for its text replacement features, but I think for a tool like this to be integrated into a regular workflow, it would need to behave more intuitively.

How could that work? Perhaps it would need to constantly monitor and analyse your typing, which it does a little, but maybe it would then bother the user more than it does now, providing many more suggestions than the ones that got in my way before while typing in Excel.

I only have 1 day left to continue reviewing the Pro version of PhraseExpress and unfortunately I don’t think it has delivered enough for me to pursue purchasing yet. There is the free version, which it will revert to once the trial expires, so I will continue using that and see how it goes with the more limited options.


There are no other productivity tools that I’ve thought to trial yet. I did try Ditto a while ago for expanding the copy-pasting options available in Windows, but it didn’t feel like it fit in with the system and I haven’t really made much use of it because of that.

At the moment, the next biggest challenge I seem to have is dealing with emails, which I can split into two parts. The first one is dealing with incoming emails appropriately every time and setting myself actions and reminders on what to do with them next. The next part is to set up enough templates and have them easily customisable so that I don’t have to dig through all my sent emails to be reminded what is appropriate and who my reports should be sent to every month.

The templates part is something I keep seeing solutions like MailChimp for, but I feel like that’s probably going to be more than I need for sending out a few reports internally every month.

 

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