Your home screen may be your phone's focal point, but it doesn't have to be the only place where you store useful information. Android's lock screen -- you know, the thing that pops up when you first tap your power button -- can be transformed into a function-filled portal.
The tool you need is a handy little program called WidgetLocker. WidgetLocker lets you place live widgets right on your system's lock screen so that you can see them before you enter your credentials. Throw on, say, a widget for the latest stock or weather report, and you'll always be able to get that info at a glance -- no digging or multiple button-pressing required.
WidgetLocker can handle interactive widgets, too. I frequently use it to control my music players and podcasting utilities; with those widgets on my lock screen, I can stop and start play or skip to the next track without having to unlock my phone. And WidgetLocker doesn't let you actually open any app without first entering the standard system password, so your security is never jeopardized. Note that you need Android 2.1 or higher to run this app.
WidgetLocker costs $2.