Most often its not the case that you have only one application open at a particular time on your computer. With hardware becoming cheaper & faster, multi-tasking has become a norm. Its a common sight today to have a media-player, web browser, chat client & an image editor all running in real-time on one’s desktop. Though the computers can handle such multi-tasking the user’s productivity most often than not gets crippled. Blame it on to the cluttered desktop for the decrease in productivity. Half of the user’s time is wasted in finding the right application window. Grouping similar windows is handy but still not too much either. However, most of the user’s are unaware of the feature called ‘Workspaces’ in Linux Desktop Environments. Almost all desktop environment offer this feature enabled by default. It is set to 2 or 4 workspaces by default but can be altered to provide many more.
The logic behind workspaces is to shift the applications across multiple virtual desktops. A virtual desktop is identical to your default desktop. With Workspaces, you can divide the open applications across different desktops(virtual). For e.g. You can group all Internet programs like Browser, Chat Clients, Torrent Clients, FTP Clients etc on Workspace 1, Media Players & Image Editors on Workspace 2 & so on. Applications can be shifted from current workspace to other workspace in many ways but the simplest is to right click on the panel where the running applications are listed, right clicking on them & then selecting “Move to another workspace” under GNOME.
You can switch between different workspace by clicking on the tiny boxes(Workspace Applet) which appears at bottom right on panel in GNOME or next to K Menu in an KDE environment. Alternately, press “CTRL+TAB+Right arrow” to shift to right workspace or “CTRL+TAB+Left arrow” to shift to left of the current workspace(The shortcuts may vary & you’re advised to check the applet’s settings for default shortcut setting). Workspace behaviour can be altered by right clicking on the workspace applet on GNOME panel & selecting “Preferences” from the sub-menu. The options there are self explanatory & so I leave it for you to explore & set as per your preference. There you have, an organised & clutter free desktop to work on with improved productivity.