Spring cleaning your Mac and organising your time

I’ve been trying to clear out my clutter online as well as in my home so I can start 2012 feeling on top of everything! As I work for myself I have to manage myself, so I try and organise my time as efficiently as possible.

Here are some of the tricks and tools I’ve been using that can streamline your life and hopefully, save time and hard disk space.

Sync your task list from Google Tasks to iCal
If you are a Mac user and a Google fanatic like I am, you may find yourself a bit frustrated if you are trying to sync your iCal Task List and your Gmail Tasks List. I’ve found a small app that enables you to do that: it’s called iGtaskforiCal and it’s by Innov8tion software – they also sell a similar syncing tool for Outlook. This is very easy to set up and run and you will find your Tasks lists syncing in no time so that all your Tasks are visible in iCal as well as Gmail and automatically updated when you change either. You can also choose to sync your Gmail calendar to iCal – I’d set mine up already so didn’t enable this option.

I’ve got my Google Calendar syncing on my Android as well (using GTasks, a free app available in the Android Market) and it all works perfectly together. This is great because I can set up a To Do list with dates on it that are viewable in my calendar, and I can view everything on my phone or on my desktop computer. It’s $19.99 (£12.95) at the moment, but it just saves a lot of time and the only free alternative (a work around where you email your To Do’s to Gmail) isn’t really that satisfactory. There’s a free trial.

Clearing out your inbox
Archive all your email and get it out of your inbox. It’s so simple if you have Gmail – just select all your emails and hit “Archive”. Your inbox is automagically empty and you can search for your emails whenever you want, or view them under the appropriate labels if you have set up Filters. If you don’t use Gmail, thenextweb has simple instructions for doing this. I now have a more or less empty inbox which I can quickly declutter each day.

Get rid of duplicates in iPhoto.
I’ve noticed that I have a lot of duplicated images in iPhoto from multiple imports, etc, and as most images I use are quite large they are taking up a lot of disk space. I’ve looked around and the best solution I could find online was Duplicate Annihilator, as Apple does not appear to have an in-house solution for this problem (why not? I don’t know). This is not a free app but searching the first 500 images in your iPhoto library is free in the trial version – it costs $7.95 (£5.15) to buy. I found 12 in my first 500 and the app is currently claiming to have found 1143 while searching the computer – that’s over 1GB of space! You can set it either to trash the duplicates, or just label them so you can double-check.

Increase my productivity using Rescuetime.
This is a free app and well worth investigating. You can set up projects and keep track automatically of the time spent on them: it also automatically categorises everything you do online so you can see exactly how much time you waste on Twitter and browsing shopping sites…I’ve set the app with all my different projects: for the billable ones it’s a big help although you have to set it up quite carefully for it to be accurate. You can set up daily goals (eg more than one hour on writing) and it will send you a report each week telling you how productive you have been. There’s even a widget for your iGoogle page, if you have one set up.

Back up to the Cloud
I’m always terrified of losing data, as I’ve had several hard drives fail on me. I love the ease of use of Time Machine but my elderly back up drive no longer works with it. I could have splashed out on a new one but I decided to investigate online backups instead and discovered Dolly Drive. There are some disadvantages – the first back up takes forever if you don’t use their hard drive service (which is free with some accounts) – but I like the idea of being able to access this data from anywhere and the fact that even if my computer and back up drive were stolen, I’d be able to get hold of all my information again. It’s worth noting that if you back up to Dolly Drive with Time Machine you can’t back up to a local drive as well, so it isn’t a belt and braces solution. However, Dolly Drive allows you to create a bootable clone which you can keep on a hard drive and use to get your computer working if (heaven forfend) the hard disk breaks.

If you fancy doing some more digital decluttering, Lifehacker has a great round up from last year (but still relevant!).

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