I was working with my laptop today and I realized I had too many icons sitting in my system tray. I really needed a system tray overhaul. Here is a little gem you can use to clean-up the system tray for peak performance in Windows XP.
1. Right-click on some empty space in the system tray area and choose Properties.
2. Select the Hide Inactive Icons check box on the Taskbar and Start Menu window.
3. Click the Customize button and you can choose the following behavior for any current startup item: Hide when inactive, Always hide, or Always show.
By choosing Hide when inactive or Always hide, you can reduce the amount of icons appearing in your system tray or just limit them to your most important system tray icons.
Note: See post Windows XP: Disabling services in the System Tray.