I’m a neat freak. I hate it when things get cluttered up. My desk can sometimes be a contradiction to that fact, but still, I’m a minimalist at heart. I like to keep the distractions limited to exactly what I need for the task at hand.

It drives me nuts when a computer has so many open windows that you can’t find one from another on the taskbar. It really slows me down if I have to click the Windows Explorer button and dig through the pop-up to figure out which of the four open windows is actually the one I’m looking for at the moment. What this means practically is that any time I have more than 6-7 windows open I consider my taskbar cluttered.

There’s been a bit of a buzz around the web recently about how having more and bigger monitors can increase your productivity. It’s certainly true that you can increase your productivity by increasing your screen real estate. Depending on the project it’s almost hard to work without one or more big screens in front of you. The big 22″ widescreens can have a hefty price-tag though, and there is a solution to your screen space problems that is a lot easier on the wallet: Virtual Desktops.

For those of you who haven’t used virtual desktops before, a virtual desktop manager basically gives you multiple desktops on the same computer. You can have multiple screens with separate programs running at the same time. If you switch to a different desktop, you immediately leave all your open programs on the old one behind. This is great for working on separate tasks while still leaving the original task all set up so you can go back to it later on.

In addition to the multi-tasking benefits, it’s also a great clutter reducer. When my screen is all full of various windows I can easily switch gears by hitting a hotkey and I’m suddenly switched to a clean desktop where I can get started on a new task or just open more windows that wouldn’t easily fit on a single desktop.

There are many different programs out there that give you virtual desktop functionality. Dexpot has worked very nicely for me. It’s light on the system resources when it’s running in the background. It supports up to 20 separate desktops, which would seem to be a bit of overkill unless you have a supercomputer to keep all those programs running without filling your RAM to capacity.

Anyone have experience with Dexpot or other virtual desktop programs? Let’s hear how they’ve worked out for you in the comments.

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