Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


Neat Tip: Keeping Your Goals In Focus

When I sit down to plan my week, there are usually several "top focus" areas or items that serve as anchors. Recently, I began adding these areas to my desktop so I'd see them each time my computer booted up, to remind me of my top goals. A friend of mine was intrigued by the technique so I thought I'd share it here, in case it's useful to others.

The concept is simple. First, I create a self-contained web page using Microsoft Word. Then I use Windows XP's active desktop functionality to display the contents of the file. The result is that I always have visibility into my focus areas or goals because they appear right there in front of me on my desktop.

I find that this serves as a gentle reminder of what I intended to get done during a given week, and has served me well.

If you'd like to find out how to do this on your own, then read on.

Making the list

The first step is to create the list of goals or focus area. To do this, create a bulleted list of your focus areas in Word, then save the file as a "Single File Web Page" - I save mine to my desktop (you'll see why in a minute).

If you want to shortcut the process, you can download a ready-made template right here [Focus_Areas.mht (6 KB)] (right-click and save it to your desktop - don't just open it).

I use a black background on my desktop, so my template has a black background with light-colored text. If your desktop has a different colored background, you'll probably want to adjust this so that the list blends in with your desktop.

[Note: Click any of the pictures below to see an enlarged version.]

Putting the list on your desktop

The next step is to get Windows to display this list on your desktop. To do this:

Web Tab

  • right-click on your desktop and select "Properties"
  • go to the "Desktop" tab in the Display Properties dialog box
  • click "Customize Desktop" to bring up the Desktop Items dialog
  • select the "Web" tab (see figure "Web Tab")
  • click "New" to add an item to the desktop
  • browse to the "Focus_Areas.mht" file on your desktop and click OK
    (note: file extensions might be hidden on your system, so it might look like "Focus_Areas" with no extension)
  • uncheck "Lock desktop items" in the Desktop items dialog
  • click Ok.

Locking down the list

Now, your desktop should have a new item on it - a list of your focus areas (or the generic list I included in my template). Adjust the size and position of the list to your satisfaction, then lock it into place by doing the following:

  • right-click on your desktop and hover your mouse over "Arrange Icons By..." to bring up a submenu
  • select "Lock Web Items on Desktop"

Now, your list will be displayed for you all the time on your desktop.

Editing the list

When you want to edit the list, the process is very simple:

  • go to your desktop and find the "Focus_Areas.mht" file
    (note: file extensions might be hidden on your system, so it might look like "Focus_Areas" with no extension)
  • right-click on the icon and select "Edit" from the popup menu
  • now, edit the file to your heart's content, then save it and close Word

To get the new content to show up on your desktop, right-click in an open area on your desktop and select "Refresh"

Other ideas

This method makes it easy to add lists to your desktop. You might consider creating multiple lists, or subdividing your list into "Work" and "Personal" focus areas, or "Self" and "Community" - or whatever fits for you.

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