Adding a reminder to email my bossToday I’ll share a trick I’ve been using to keep myself organized. It relies on a piece of software called Fences (free version) and Windows shortcuts. Fences is a program designed to help you organize icons on your desktop by dividing the desktop into rectangular areas (“fences”) into which you put icons. Even if you don’t want to use it for a to-do list, it’s pretty cool all on its own.

I can make a “fence” just wide enough for one icon, so it looks like a list. All I have to do now is add an icon and it will slide up to the top of my list. I find it’s most useful to create shortcuts to add to the list, so I can have easy access to the file, a reminder to do something about it, and when I’ve completed the task I simply delete the shortcut. Once the shortcut is deleted all the other shortcuts automatically move up in the list, which some how feels more satisfying than simply deleting a shortcut.

To give it a whirl you can grab a copy of fences here and of course if you have any to do list tricks let us know in the comments.

Regrettably, Fences is for Windows only and isn’t as powerful as a dedicated to-do list app like Remember the Milk,  Task Coach, or Toodledo.  All three of these will work on Windows and Macs and will sync with your iPhone and other PDAs. But Fences is great for some quick desktop organization.

About the Author
James Curran


  1. James

    Fences also allows you to quickly hide all your desktop icons, simply by double-clicking on the desktop.

  2. James

    You can also change how fences looks by right-clicking on a fence and selecting “Configure Fences…” from the context menu.

  3. Lisa Presley

    Yippee!!! I’ve been wondering for a long time how to “store” easily the things that I’m working on, but can’t finish up–leaving them open and my laptop running forever didn’t seem to be a great solution, but it’s what I’ve been doing. Fences, though, is great!! (although one time the things I put there disappeared . . . not sure why, but they did)

    Thanks, James–keep these great ideas coming! You’re making my work life much better, which makes my “real” life better too!

  4. Lisa Presley


    Files are leaping over the Fences and disappearing! Well, at least twice, the contents either disappear entirely or one or two things stay, and the others disappear. This has happened twice, and I’m wondering what’s up–they will stay there for quite some time, then, poof! Vanished. Thankfully on one i had only two items and i remember what disappeared (the one that’s entirely blank) and i also remember the three (of the four on it) that disappeared from the other. Is this something that is happening to other people too?

  5. James Curran

    That is rather unusual. One possibility is that fences lets you hid all the icons (and fences) on your desktop by double clicking on the desktop. It also lets you right click on an icon and exclude it from this feature. Could that be causing your disappearing and reappearing icons? If that isn’t it I recommend a reinstall of Fences.

  6. Lisa Presley

    thanks. Nope, it’s not the hiding thing–all other icons are on desk top. . . restart didn’t let the items come back. so when i have time and energy, i’ll try a reload.

    thanks, James!

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