“How Organized Are You” – The Ultimate Test

Here’s a quick test that can tell you how organized you are. It has one easy step that includes counting, and second step that includes checking the results:

The First Easy Step: Count the total number of icons (shortcut icons, game icons, folders, documents etc.) you have in your computer desktop

Count all text files, shortcut icons, exes… anything you might have in your computer desktop.

The Step Number Two: check the following points and see your results:

  • “I didn’t count”: you have either a very short attention span or you are just being lazy. Go back to step one and come back after you’ve finished.
  • 1-7 icons: either your math is poor or you’ve just installed windows: no game producer will have that few icons. Get more stuff to do.
  • 8-19 icons Good, you’ve managed to keep things tidy and put unnecessary stuff in folders properly. I bet your physical desktop is clean too.
  • 20-49 icons: There are some unused icons on your desktop. I’d suggest creating couple of folders in your desktop and then simply putting unnecessary stuff to those folders. You might also delete some old images or installers that you don’t need any more. Oh, and if you don’t want to delete those .zip archives, then simply move them to one folder to get more room for important things.
  • 50-89 icons Locate the trash can. There’s an icon called “Recycle Bin” in your desktop (hopefully). If you can find it, put some stuff there – okay?
  • “I lost count”: Either you don’t take seriously tests like these or your desktop needs some serious cleaning. Group some stuff properly, and perhaps delete something unimportant – and come back to do the test again.
  • 90+ There’s not much hope for you – keep on getting lots of stuff to do simultaneously, adding more programs and buy a new computer when hard drive comes full…. remember to ignore tips about doubling your productivity and keep getting assignments (which you can then place on your desktop).

There you go, hopefully you enjoyed the test.

My own result: 30 icons (pretty clean). What about you?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. 7.
    I’m thinking this test is flawed ;)
    over the course of the day, my desktop fills up with files I need to ‘deal with’ but they mysteriously disappear when I’m done with them…

  2. Same here :) I use quicklaunch for programs, and my raptr takes care of a launch list for all my games, so my desktop is always pretty clean :p just contains some temporary text files with important notes and such.

  3. I have 31, but it doesn’t matter. The only icon I use is shortcut to TotallCommander. There I have all I need including shortcuts to other applications. Is there anyone still using desktop for copying, moving and other operations on files ?

  4. I usually have anywhere between 10-30 icons, the extra icons are usually temporary downloads/folders which get deleted quickly. I also use the Windows Virtual Desktop PowerToy to organize my windows, and Firefox for all the web browsing that I do. Speaking of web browsing Safari is now available on Windows, at the moment its very unstable (early beta) but it has a ton of awesome features for the power browsing folks out there, I’m really looking forward to a stable release.

  5. Ok, this is plainly downright stupid, all right :)
    I have trash bin, and apart from that, I use my desktop for ideas organisation. When I get ahold of something new, I open the notepad, write it down and save it on the desktop.
    They’re somewhat like post-it notes on the fridge – just looking at them makes you think about them. And it gives effects :)

  6. I’m sorry but I can’t agree with you.
    It all depends on which resolution you have. For instance you can have a quite high resolution and keep some documents and important folders on your desktop instead of having them in my documents and so you can avoid some clicks, productivity above all.

    If you have 800×600, each column can only have 7 icons, if you have 1024×768 you can have 9, and if you have what I have 1440×900 you can have 11 by column.

    I can say that if you have 800×600 and 30 icons your desktop would look very unorganized, but if you have 1440×900 it might look a bit empty.

    To conclude I can’t say I agree with you, at least if you don’t consider the resolution for each range of icons you have. Also there are people who use windows icons, for instance trash bin, my computer and others on desktop and others who prefer to use it through start menu. So a fair count would be excluding all windows-related icons and folders, and depending on your resolution, in my opinion.

  7. I hate the Start Menu. Never use it. I do have some shortcut keys for frequently used apps.

    I used to have a lot of icons but recently organised them into folders and it feels much better. Basically stuff that I use EVERY DAY is on the desktop otherwise it’s in a folder. I also have a middle area where I make little text files like post it notes for pending tasks or emails that I haven’t dealt with yet.

    My physical desk is very tidy, so is my office :-)

  8. Mac OS X has done wonders to my efficiency. I never see the desktop. I’m using Quicksilver for all of my file-finding and application launching needs – well, practically eveything I do, including launching bookmarks in a web browser. I just hit Alt – Space and type the first few letters of whatever it is I want to do. Works like a charm, I’m so lost without it these days. Not to mention slow.

    On Windows machines I just don’t use the desktop for anything other than storing some application icons I don’t want to cram into the quicklaunch bar.

  9. I’m not at home right now, but I guess I’ve got about 10 icons. Most of them I don’t use however. My desktop’s main purpose is having todo-lists or some other notes (which I have currently two of them), and I always place them on certain positions where they make my wallpaper look ugly (that way I recognize them a little more ;).

    But I’m a start menu guy and have 7 folders directly over the “Programs”-folder. Those are called Graphics, Games, Programming, Office, Internet, Music and “etc”, and this is where I organize all my programs. Inside the original “Program” folder there are mostly applications which I use once a year, such as stuff like Adobe Reader (who’s really starting that directly anyway?), driver toolboxes and everything like that.

    And I’m using my quicklaunch bar for Opera, Firefox, Thunderbird and SciTE.

  10. 49..
    And I made a wallpaper that puts blue boxes under similar sets of icons, and for each set there are usually icons that link to folders the set’s in and have a red background.

    About half should be there and the other half are used but it wouldn’t be too bad to do it through explorer.

  11. I have something over 200 icons on my desktop. Enough to fill the entire thing with icons. I’ve started jamming away things into a “floor” folder; That’s where I sweep things off of my desktop when I need more space on my desktop.

    I am not terribly organized.

  12. I gotta second my friend Corvus; I have 602 icons on my desktop. How do I get anything done? I don’t use the spatial metaphor of the desktop. I use Mac OS X (with Windows Installed in Dual Boot) so I have the Finder, which I suspect is an Apple held patent. I just press Apple-N, open a new screen, then type whatever I want, and it finds it based on alphabet. Sometimes I only have to type two characters and I get it. You’re defining productivity in terms of what Microsoft interface designers have laid out for you as acceptable, and with all due respect, that makes me think your projects would benifit from a full time writer/designer who isn’t afraid of having a cluttered desktop, and is preferably a Mac user.

  13. Exactly zero. Call me anal-retentive if you wish. ;)

    I have, however, a menu bar with two launchers, one for firefox and internet related stuff, and one for the console and other stuff. But I don’t think that counts as icons.

  14. In Linux (I use Kubuntu) I have only 2 icons: home folder & trash bin. I can easily access programs using Katapult (similar to Quicksilver in OS X). You just press a few keys and you can play a song, do some math operations, launch programs, open a website…

    In Windows I have 3 icons (My Documents, My PC and the trash bin). Most frequent used software is on a toolbar.

    I want my desktop to be clean :)

  15. – Laptop (development and everyday use): 8-19 But because I leave in them some temporal “important stuff” (like PDFs I’m reading)
    – Gaming PC: 1-7 icons (exactly 7)
    – Home Server: 1-7 icons (5 precisely)

    I have my Start Menu highly customized. I create my own folders (Games, Development, Utils, Video, Sound, Burning…) and place shorcuts on them. And wipe everything else out.

  16. 65 icons here, but as Kamils says, dividing them into zones really help. I don’t have any problem navigating them.

  17. i have one, the recycle bin.
    and thats only because i cannot delete it.

  18. Although I have 71 icons on my XP desktop, I can still find things on it. I divided my screen into zones. Top-Right -> Games, Bottom-Right -> IDEs, Graphics Utilities, Bottom-Center -> Books and documents currently read and left side is for downloads (yes firefox is dropping all that stuff to desktop)

  19. Thanks for the tip, HoboBen. Back when I was a regular Windows user, I used to revel in the powertoys. Now I feel like I’m wading waist deep through mud when I run Windows with all the services turned off. The thought of adding extra alarms me!

  20. Sorry, I keep thinking of more to write… as you do when you’re putting off important things :-)
    But, the best way of keeping your desktop tidy in my experience is creating a dedicated “Download” folder on your desktop, and configure your web browser to download files there by default.

  21. You crack me up, Juuso. You really do.

    I have zero icons on my desktop. Furthermore, I have nine separate desktops, each of which is completely devoid of icons. Each application I use on a regular basis is represented by a two-key shortcut and each application opens on its default desktop which I can easily navigate between with a few more keystrokes. The less commonly used applications are easily accessible in the “start menu” via a few short key strokes.

    Navigating with a mouse is extraordinarily inefficient.

    As a matter of interest, each of the nine desktops is identified with a semantic component of my RPG’s magic system and I use that to organize my tasks across the desktops.

    My development platform is Linux running the KDE window environment.

    When forced to use Microsoft Windows, I have only one desktop and no application specific shortcuts, but I still navigate via key strokes, keeping the most commonly accessed applications pinned to the XP start menu.

    My physical desktop, on the other hand, is a complete mess, covered in CD jewel cases, scraps of paper with sketches and diagrams, magazines, origami, books and business cards with illegible notes scrawled across them.

  22. I have just 7 icons on my Ubuntu desktop. These are just folders to my files. All the programs are accessed through menus, although I suppose the toolbar full of short cuts inside “drawers” counts for a bit of clutter :-)

    On XP, I have just a few folders and shortcuts to folders and drives (CD, hard drive partitions) again. 12 icons in all. I have another toolbar at the top of the screen with links to all my programs, which keeps things easy to find, but really would add up to >50 icons if I did it the normal desktop shortcut way.

    I’m a bit of an obsessive when it comes to fine-tuning my desktops just how I like them.

    But, on XP, Colibri is a pretty nice alternative to that silly Start Menu

    Ubuntu Linux is much more organised, so menus are less of a pain to navigate.

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