I have used a very cool Preference Pane called FinderPop as an application launcher for many years. After it is installed you add aliases of applications to the FinderPop Items Folder in your home user Library. Then when you right click on the Desktop or Menubar FinderPop drops down a menu of those applications (or folders) for launch.
I have had the slow boot up in my Mavericks install in the past and have, at times, boiled it down to connected devices. On these occasions I have done the usual things, zapped the PRAM, SMC reset, fixed Permissions, etc. with little or no effect.
You cannot believe how many Mac people I worked with when doing tech support who had Desktops that looked like a maze. They could not find files they needed half the time. It was a real drag on their productivity. But, Desktop chaos can be prevented!! This article shows how to organize your Mac Desktop using Finder settings.
This is a really good article on things you can do to make the Preview app in OS X a more productive tool. I have implemented these settings previously and they work great. If you are a Preview user, especially for PDF viewing, give this a read. There are great suggestions here.