Unclutter Your Mac in One Week – Day 1

Inspired by, and shamelessly riffing on, the wonderful Unclutter Your Life in One Week, the next 5 days will show you how you can apply some quick and simple steps to get your Mac into ship-shape.

We are going to start with cleaning up your Desktop (and keeping it that way). A computer desktop can get cluttered very quickly with files and folders. After all, it is intended to operate just like a real world desktop – a place to hold items you are working on. But, just like the real world, that spot operates best when it is being used to hold only the items you are working on. Luckily, the Mac makes it easy to file and organize these items into fairly logical grouping which will make them easy to find should you need them again. Much of this may seem rudimentary to you but, trust me, there are many that can benefit from this info.

  1. In the Finder, go to the “View” menu, click on “Arrange by” and choose “Kind.” This will group items based on the type of file they are.

  2. Open a Finder window and navigate to your “Home” folder. One of the nice things about the Mac is that it actually encourages you to organize into some logical groupings. Documents, Pictures, Music… It is all right there ready for you to get your org-fu on.

  3. Take the files on your Desktop, now grouped by kind, and organize them into these folders. Place Documents into Documents, Pictures into Pictures, etc. Don’t worry about their final resting place (iTunes, iPhoto, etc.) right now. The goal here is simply to get your Desktop cleaned up.

  4. While doing this, think about the things you don’t need to keep and can go straight to the Trash. This includes .DMG files for applications you have already installed. .ZIP files for archives you have already unzipped, etc. If you don’t need it there is no reason to file it anywhere but that circular file in your Dock.

  5. A clean Desktop is easy to keep that way. Commit to taking a few seconds at the end of every day to file away items no longer needed at the ready using the steps above. The fewer the items, the less time it will take.

Modest Goals Revisited

Last year, instead of standard resolutions for the new year, I committed to some small, achievable, and meaningful [modest goals](http://patrickrhone.com/2009/01/14/modest-goals/) instead. I did not want the stress of big and perhaps unachievable missions for the year. I simply wanted to make a commitment to doing a few things a little bit better. Before I publicly lay out what my modest goals are for the coming year (see future post), I will revisit this past year and provide an update as to my successes or failures:

* “I will learn and use keyboard shortcuts more and use the mouse and/or trackpad less.”_ – I have been working really hard at this and would call this largely a success. It is not perfect but I use key commands far more than before, especially in apps I use on a daily basis. I have made a conscious decision to learn the shortcut for any command I find myself doing more than once a day. Also, hiding toolbars and their associated buttons in certain apps has helped because I am then forced to pause a sec before trying to use them and think of the corresponding key command instead.

* “I plan to be much more mindful of the signal to noise ratio of my online life.”_ – Success here as well. I think my RSS feeds are better organized and more regularly trimmed and evaluated for usefulness than before. I have worked really hard to keep Twitter at a manageable level (I am very picky about my follows and regularly tuck and trim that list). Recently, I have been making a real effort to try to meet people in real life wherever possible. I have met some amazing people and had unbelievable opportunities through social networking. Certainly, the signal currently outweighs the noise.

* “Of course, the signal and noise argument cuts both ways. For this reason I will continue to post here according to the following criteria and schedule – Only when I think I have something of real and original value to add to the greater internet conversation.”_ – Yep. And I hope I added even more real and original value at [The Random Post](http://therandompost.com/) and [Minimal Mac](http://minimalmac.com/) as well. Same plan for next year.

* “In addition, I will be adding regular and more reliably scheduled content over at my other project, [work.life.creativity](http://worklifecreativity.net/).”_ – If I had any failure for the year it was this one. I am actually rather perplexed by why it was not quite working on my part. I’m not sure if it was my general discontent with the idea of talking about things like creativity and productivity instead of simply “doing” or “making”. The other founders and I have had some conversation about the project in general and can’t seem to come to terms on where to go or what to do next to breathe life back into it. I sure would hate to see it just die but I’m not sure quite where to start with the CPR.

* “I will continue to seek ways to grow my consulting business into something that can reliably sustain me and mine.”_ – [Machine Methods](http://machinemethods.com/) is continuing to grow and I have done a lot of things I am proud of to help that. The majority of my business comes through word of mouth and I have been doing everything I can think of to maximize that while at the same time testing new marketing methods.

* “As is the case with many a couple, Princess Bethany’s resolutions and goals are, by proxy, mine as well. Towards that end, I also will work towards a better appreciation for our home.”_ – Not everything we had hoped is done but many things are and my appreciation has grown. [Our new library](http://therandompost.com/post/159542667/rands-in-repose-the-book-stalker) sure is a nice place to spend time.

In a while, I will post the modest goals I have set forth for this coming year. Stay tuned…

Eat Well

I recently watched a documentary called Food, Inc. While I knew a fair bit about the subject matter through other anecdotes, the film caused me to consider this stuff on a deeper level than before. For those unfamiliar with the film, here is a very basic bulleted synopsis:

  • Our nation’s food supply is controlled by a handful of companies with deep ties to just about every level of our Government including those agencies in charge of regulating them.

  • They put profit ahead of everything else, including our health, the income and well being of farmers, the safety of workers, and the environment.

  • They use chemical and genetic manipulation to manipulate the size of chicken breasts, the growth cycle of livestock, the yield of corn and soybeans (which almost all of our food now contains), and shelf life.

  • Our food is increasingly tainted with drug resistant bacteria like E-Coli because we have genetically bread our livestock to easily pass it on.

  • Diabetes and obesity is at epidemic rate among children and adults (nearly 1-3 Americans will contract diabetes in their lifetime) due to increased exposure to sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup.

  • We, as consumers, vote for this every day with our money. We demanded cheap food and we got it at a cost that was deliberately hidden from us (i.e. the cost of our health and well being). This is OUR fault. We can change it by demanding better and voting with more of our money.

    The movie is available via “Watch Instantly” streaming on Netflix right now. I urge you to watch it.

I was deeply affected by the film and have since been putting a lot of thought into, at the very least, becoming more educated about the food I am eating.

I am lucky enough to live only two blocks away from a really good food co-op that is big into locally sourced food and educating their customers. I have not been using it enough but decided last night to go and really spend some quality time there looking around, comparing prices and asking questions. Here are some things I discovered:

  • Most of the beef they sell is from Thousand Hills Cattle Company. It is locally produced, locally butchered, grass fed, and ethically and humanly treated. It is about three times the price of what it would cost you at the average supermarket. The reason: It costs what beef is supposed to cost.

  • Most of the chicken and pork (forgot the name of the farm and did not write it down) is also locally produced and ethically and humanly treated. It costs more (about double) but your are getting an immeasurable amount more quality.

  • The reason meat at the supermarket is so cheap is because it is fed steroid enhanced grain, raised on barren land, crowded together by the thousands, standing in each others manure, slaughtered by the thousands per day in less than clean or safe conditions by big companies that care only about delivering you what you are paying for – cheap food at a high profit by whatever means necessary.

  • Lots of the veggies they sell are locally grown by independent family farms. In the winter (this is Minnesota after all), the number of these decline but the ones that remain are grown in greenhouses. This includes lots of root vegetables, lettuce, mushrooms, and some tomatoes. All origin of food in the section is clearly labeled as to place and/or country of origin. In the case of things grown outside of the region, they still only buy from wholesalers with a commitment to buying from family farms with ethical and sustainable growing practices. Once again, this costs a bit more but it costs what food should cost.

  • Not all Milk that says it is “organic” is in fact organic. Just like your meat, make sure that the cows it comes from fit all of the same requirements. The brand at my co-op that meets that standard is Cedar Summit Farms. It is a bit less than double the cost of milk from the supermarket. Once again, this costs more because it costs what milk should cost (do you sense a theme here?).

The bottom line is this:

  • Know what you are eating. Become educated about it. If you are shopping at a place where no one can tell you exactly where the food comes from, how it is grown, how the animals are treated, even after death… Don’t shop there!

  • Be ready to pay 2-3 times what you are paying right now. Cheaper rarely equals better and this is especially true when it comes to food. Quality food that is safe to eat is more expensive at every level of it’s production. And it should be.

  • Eat locally produced food as much as possible from independent and/or family run farms that practice ethical and safe practices. Find a good food co-op that buys from and supports these folks and/or local farmers markets and/or CSA to buy directly. Not only because you will have a better idea who and where your food is coming from but it is less impactful on the environment because it does not travel as far to get to you.

  • If you do have to eat out, choose a place that does it’s darndest to adhere to the same standards (example: Chipolte).

I really believe that all of this can change if enough people decide they are done with the way things are, pay a bit more money, and educate ourselves. Here are some links that will help you:

  • The Cornucopia Institue – They promote economic justice for family farms but what is really insightful is the reports they produce. Especially about “organics” (not all “organic” is organic).

  • Fair Food Fight – A forum and blog community built around this topic. Tons of good information and recipes here.

  • Local Harvest – Find where to buy locally produced food in your area.

  • Eat Local Challenge – Seriously, I challenge you to eat local as many times a week as possible.

  • My Eat Well Pinboard – as I research more on this subject, I will be updating my links here under the tag “eatwell”.

The reason things have gotten this way is because not enough of us have stood up and chosen to eat well. I, for one, am standing. Stand with me. Let’s stand together.

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