Electronic Tidy Week: Backdrop to Your Day

Teach your desktop and screen saver the Craftsman philosophy. You hear me harken back to this credo again and again – "Have nothing in your home which is not beautiful or useful or both" – but remember that even for Discardians it applies not only to eliminating those things which don't meet that standard, but also to enhancing your surroundings with beauty and utility.

In 2005 I started actively using the principles of Getting Things Done and found a really great chart that summarized the whole approach. So handy! Did you know that on the Mac you can make your desktop pattern use a pdf file? Yep, that's right. My work desktop on my secondary screen (the laptop when it's plugged into a monitor) is now a constant reminder to keep focused on the right next action. (Turns out it was a good thing I saved that chart when I first saw it – I can't find it anywhere anymore).

Okay, useful. Check. What about beautiful?

I find favorite photos of friends and scenery to be a great way to let go of stress and energize myself and a little variety to be the spice of life, particularly in this regard. Did you know that the Mac allows you to set a desktop pattern that changes randomly every 15 minutes drawing from a folder of images? This is very pleasing on many levels, most notably that my background pattern on my primary screen provides new views out of my windowless cube. Best of all, utility still comes into play because the color changes at the edges of my screens under all my open windows remind me that 15 minutes have gone by and serve as a little nudge to ask myself if I'm focused on the right activities.

Check into the functionality available on your computer and see what you can do to provide small pleasures, especially at work.

If, unlike me, you actually do work at your desk with the computer idling, then your screen savers are another good place to provide yourself with images that give you a positive feeling. Whether it's beautiful vacation vistas or kids making silly faces or handy references, personalizing your virtual space will give you a lift.

Be sweet to yourself

Society has plenty of ideas for what couples should do on Valentine's Day, but how about those of us who don't have a valentine?

Today is a reminder that no one knows what we like best better than we do ourselves and that we deserve that sweetness.

Here are some ideas for things you can do today to treat yourself right:

– If the line isn't long at the flower stand, buy yourself a beautiful bouquet. If the line is long, do it tomorrow or the next day instead. Men, you should do this too; flowers are fantastic things to have in your home.

– Do that thing that no one else will do with you or that's just better alone. Indulge that craving for weird/stinky foods. Play a round of your favorite convoluted solitaire game that takes up the whole dining table. Listen to that music that your friends don't like and sing along to it. Spend two and a half hours in the used record store.

– Go to that movie no one else seems to want to go see with you. Eat as much popcorn as you want.

– Get some of your favorite luxury beverage – premium coffee, exotic teas, gourmet hot cocoa – and enjoy it this evening while reading a book you really enjoy or watching an old favorite movie.

– Bath takers should go all out with the luxuries: scents, bubbles, conditioning oils, candles, whatever fabulousness you like best.

– Book a treat for yourself. Schedule a massage. Reserve a fun, sporty car for a weekend drive. Make a plan with a friend to try out that great restaurant. Plan a little vacation to somewhere you've always wanted to go.