Fun Friday: Favorite Productivity Hack

We all have tools that keep us focused, on schedule, getting stuff done. This thread is going to where we share our favorite with each other.

Mine is Lasso.

Disclosure: The Gotham Gal is an investor in Lasso's parent Edison Jr. So I have a financial interest in its success. That said, I think it's awesome.

Lasso is one of those "less is more" hacks that just works. You sync your calendar to Lasso and anytime you have a phone number in a calendar event, Lasso calls you on one of more of your phones, you pick up, and you are connected. It is particularly helpful with conference calls when you don't want to type in all the codes and such. Lasso does it for you.

Lasso is in beta and is a paid service. So it has a few kinks every now and then. But it's still great.

Lasso comes from the same people (in a different life) who brought us phonetag, another amazing productivity hack that I love.

What is your favorite productivity hack?


Comments (Archived):

  1. Cam MacRae

    f.luxMakes your display progressively warmer at night and colder during the day — I find it really reduces fatigue.

    1. Jeff Jenkins

      F.lux is amazing. I only wish that I could program it to not coincide with sunset. The warmer color tends to make me feel sleepy and at 5pm in the winter that’s not what I’m looking for.

      1. Cam MacRae

        I wonder if changing the lat/long might help?

        1. Jeff Jenkins

          I tried some close to the equator, but it didn’t help too much. I considered switching between New York and (say) Peru depending on the season, but it seemed like too much work.

    2. fredwilson

      Desktop display? All kinds?

      1. Daman Bahner

        I’ve got it working well on my iMac and Macbook Air…if you set the color to switch over an hour it’s not noticeable, but still effective.

      2. Cam MacRae

        Almost anything running windows, os x, ios, or linux.

    3. ShanaC

      i hate it, I notice the color change

      1. Cam MacRae

        Interesting. I don’t notice it at all. Mine transitions from 6500k -> 4500k over an hour.

        1. ShanaC

          I’ve always been sensitive to nuances of color. Of the list of careers I could have had, one of them was radiologist πŸ™‚

    4. David Petersen

      f.lux is a cool concept, but if they want to be taken seriously they need to commission a study that shows their product actually increases the amount of melatonin produced in the brain at night.If.lux can’t hire a lab to do some quick blood work on the melatonin levels of their users, it’s hard to believe their product is anything but a gimmick.Quick primer: when your retina (eyeball) is exposed to light, the pineal gland (in your brain) suppresses melatonin production. This allows you to build up a melatonin store, so when the sun goes down, the pineal gland produces a huge melatonin surge which puts you to sleep. This is the melatonin cycle, which manages your circadian rhythms; allowing the body to perform certain biological functions at night and others during the day. The problem is that computer light (and other light sources) also cause melatonin suppression, wreaking havoc on your circadian rhythms and for some the ability to sleep. So, the theory behind f.lux makes sense.

      1. Tyler Hayes

        Even if it has no effect on melatonin production, I’ve noticed it’s much easier on my eyes because it’s more similar to the light in my home rather than my display mimicking the harsh white of day.

        1. David Petersen

          Good point, it is a little easier on the eyes than even the lowest brightness level on my computer.

      2. Cam MacRae

        In my case it’s probably not the computer keeping me up, but the coffee. I use it because I find it reduces fatigue e.g. eye strain.

  2. Jeff Jenkins

    I was until recently using RescueTime to audit what I was doing and to occasionally block huge chunks of time out. The weekly update stats also tapped into my competitive nature, making me want to be as productive as possible.The other thing I use is an RSS reader. Since everything I want to read is in Google Reader, when I am trying to slack off and there’s nothing left to read there I just go back to work right away. Whenever I had individual websites I went to there was a much higher degree of going and seeing if anything changed.

    1. Ping Lu

      what are you using now instead of rescueTime and why did you switch? I’ve just started using it…

      1. Jeff Jenkins

        I’m using a hosts file which just blocks hacker news :-)I stopped using it because the startup I founded went under and I went back to working a normal job. As the technical co-founder how much we could get done was limited by how much I could get done, so measuring my productivity was a practical thing to do.For what it’s worth, my maximum productivity week was 45/60 hours (also note that this is on-computer productivity, I had lots of productiveβ€”or unproductiveβ€”conversations offline that I didn’t enter in).

    2. fredwilson

      RSS readers bring the tyranny of the inbox to reading reducing joy and serendipity. Its not for me.

      1. Jeff Jenkins

        I keep the feeds well below the level of what I can get through. I only put in individual bloggers and a couple urban policy blogs. I get 10-20 items per day, most of which I don’t actually read.I get my general news from the The Economist podcast and my tech news from the Flipboard technology section (which is mostly based on tweets). I was following techmeme via RSS for a while after you recommended it, but I ran into the inbox problem and Flipboard’s section turned out to be good enough for my needs

      2. brian trautschold

        most have failed in their orignal goal of signal-to-noise improvement… In reality, most function as: ‘come here and get all the noise available’ – whilst looking have a good point.

      3. Richard

        And the formatting and layouts are abysmal.

      4. Jason Kelly

        It’s the opposite for me — serendipity increases w/ a long RSS feed of individual blogs that get posts infrequently. Where do you get serendipity then? Once something hits my Twitter feed it’s just the news of the day that everyone is on about — not the serendipitous find.

  3. Ela Madej

    Working on my iPad (with external keyboard). You can’t really multitask. Keeps you really focused.

    1. fredwilson

      Yeah. I use my nexus 7 for a similar effect

    2. Jeff Jenkins

      It also can make things context-specific if you only have it in one place. I read basically all of my news, feeds, tweets, etc through Flipboard which doesn’t have a web version, so there’s a hard delineation between when I’m on a laptop (work) and my phone or iPad (play).

    3. Tian Yu

      Maybe producing big screen iPad-Mac is a good idea!

    4. Tyler Hayes

      Ditto. is one of my favorites apps, so much so that I even bought it on OS X. Talk about making you focus.

  4. JimHirshfield

    Lasso sounds cool. The thing that sucks about phone numbers in gCal is that if you place them in the event, you can’t click to dial. And if you happen to put the phone number in the “where” field, then clicking it launches Google Maps. Oiy. Unproductive.

    1. fredwilson

      I agree completely. But Lasso also fixes all that because i don’t dial anymore. I get called by lasso

      1. JimHirshfield

        Ever had Lasso call you just as you’re about to step into an in-person meeting? Many calendar events for in-person meetings include the attendees contact info (i.e. their tel#).

        1. Jeff Bodle

          I havent used lasso but i started to use mobileday based on brad feld’s post and that works great for one touch access to conference calls and has been great particularly when i am on the road and need to dial in.

          1. JimHirshfield


        2. Siminoff

          We actually don’t automatically set up a call just because there is a number in the Calendar item for the very reason you are saying. We look to make sure that it supposed to be a call and not a in person meeting where the numbers are included in the calendar item.Jamie (Founder of Lasso)

          1. JimHirshfield

            That’s smart Jamie, thanks. Don’t know if you remember, but I’m the guy who thought you and Ellen were siblings a few years back. ;-)Hope you’ve been well.

          2. Siminoff

            I do remember:)

          3. JimHirshfield


  5. JimHirshfield

    EvernoteLove the sync’ing between mobile and “desktop”. Great for organizing thoughts…banging out lists, to-do and otherwise.

    1. Anne Libby

      Along the same lines, I have started to use — and in particular the bundles — for organizing things I read into subject matter areas.I’m also playing with using the bundles to replace a link-heavy client newsletter I used to send out…

      1. JimHirshfield

        I’ve never been good at curating/saving links. Haven’t used browser bookmarks much since the early days of the net.

        1. Anne Libby

          Agree 1000% on bookmarks.I tried using Evernote for curating, and something about it just didn’t work for me. I use for articles I share online anyways, so it’s easy to take the extra step to add to/create a bundle.

      2. Elie Seidman

        Interesting – will take a look at using for that. Despite Twitter, Facebook etc. I think link sharing and organizing/curating for myself and others is still very much broken. Twitter is great for real-time news etc. and the article of the day but for things that are more permanent, Twitter is too ephemeral. For me email remains a huge part of my link sharing and to a certain extent, organizing (via inbox search). There should be a better way.

        1. Anne Libby

          Yes. I wind up digging through old tweets looking for something I posted, aargh.You can also take another step out of the process and tweet via — hopefully this won’t get broken in Twitter changes. Your links and bundles can be public or private…(as much as anything on the web is private!) I like.

          1. Elie Seidman

            Yeah – painful.

    2. fredwilson

      It is widely loved. But I have never gotten into it.

      1. Anne Libby

        For me, I think it just does too much. It’s overwhelming. (User issue.)

        1. Harry

          I really wanted to love Evernote. I tried to for the longest time to use it as a bookmarking service, as a to do list, etc. Never cared for it and just last year I quit Evernote and unistalled. I discovered Workflowy for my super simple To Do list program. Works from any device. simple like notepad. perfect for me.

      2. JimHirshfield

        I’ve only gotten into it recently.

      3. howardlindzon

        me neither…phew. Thought i was the only one

      4. Abdallah Al-Hakim

        me neither! I have tried but never got hooked.

      5. Talton

        +1 on Evernote. The ability to pull up the same note anywhere and on any device is pretty awesome. Also, the search functionality on the newest version of their desktop app is pretty killer since it searches for the individual word present within a note. This helps when I can’t remember the exact title.

      6. Tyler Hayes

        The key I learned is creating a “Temporary thoughts” notebook so that in-the-moment thoughts don’t clutter up the more structured notes from meetings/1:1s/etc. cc @JimHirshfield:disqusThen just revisit the Temporary notebook whenever it naturally happens. Great way to get ideas down that can’t be actionable right away and that may benefit from stewing for a while. And it removes the guilt of worrying you may never revisit those thoughts (like how you’ll never revisit meeting notes).

        1. Aaron Klein

          Inspiration. Love it.

        2. Derek

          I call mine “Ideafreaks” and use it for this purpose – helps keep Evernote clean.

      7. markslater

        me neither – gave it another try the other day – no dice.

      8. JamesHRH

        +1, download & meh.

      9. Lee Blaylock

        i use Evernote for my prosthetic long term memory for all the product, marketing, culture, sales leads, and BOD information I want to track and be able to pull up easily, or share with my team/new hires to get them up to speed quickly. Your PC CEOs will find evernote uber valuable when used that way.I don’t use it all for to do lists as those are more ephemeral and there are other tools even more simple

      10. Aaron Klein

        It was one of those apps that took me three tries to grok. The key is to pay for premium so your scanned stuff is indexed and searchable, and then not mess too much with folders.I’m completely paperless with it now. I just throw stuff in there and find it later on any device. Magical.

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          Yeah, whenever I have a paper I don’t know what to do with but that I don’t want to destroy, I just scan it and send it to Evernote.

          1. Aaron Klein

            I literally have one small file drawer of paper that I’ve kept and it may go soon. My basic rule is that if it doesn’t belong in my safety deposit box at the bank, it gets scanned into Evernote and shredded.

        2. brianfrumberg

          Agreed. It took me three tries too, and when it stuck it stuck good. I take copious notes at events and startup pitches, during meetings and brainstorming sessions, and they are all available to me at all times, no matter where I am. This means two things: (1) I am never copying notes back to a central repository; it is my central repository. When I have a second meeting on a specific topic/company/product, the notes are added to the note from the previous meeting…I love that. And their new app release for the iPhone and iPad is awesome. Mac desktop product doesn’t suck either πŸ™‚

          1. Aaron Klein

            My new hack…my assistant sorts all of my mail. Throws out the junk. Scans everything else and puts it into a shared notebook on Evernote.I often find myself processing my physical mail at 30,000 feet on my Mac. πŸ™‚

          2. brianfrumberg

            I like that one. I’m working on the “build my business so I can hire an assistant” hack. It has a lot of promise, in 18 to 36 months.

      11. Donna Brewington White

        I hear so much about it that I am trying to use it, but it requires so much work at this point that I’m not yet seeing the true benefit in terms of productivity. I keep thinking it’s me making it more complicated than it is.

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          The thing with Evernote is that it’s very open purposed. If you try to do all things they/other-people say, it’s gonna overwhelm you. I think the key is to use it just for one thing (like webclips and scanned documents repository). Then you’ll find yourself trying to use it for more things because you like how it is (or not, and then you’ll export whatever you have there and uninstall).

      12. RichardF

        tried it twice and the software download knackered my main desktop both times. Shame because I like the idea of it.

    3. James Fayal

      I recently started using it as a hub for all of my research. I do research on a plethora of industries and it keeps it all in order, plut when I google something it lets me know if I’ve already done any work on the subject.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Hmm…how does it do that, the google part?

        1. Dasher

          If you add the evernote webclipper to your browser it will bring up relevant notes to the stuff you are browsing.

          1. JimHirshfield

            Oh, good to know. Thx.

          2. panterosa,

            Love the clipper

    4. Elie Seidman

      It’s great. For me it’s my modern day commonplace book that Steven Johnson talks about in Where Good Ideas Come From.

      1. JimHirshfield

        +1 on that. Great book, too.

    5. Fernando Gutierrez

      It’s my most used app after the browser (I much prefer the desktop version to the web one).

      1. JimHirshfield

        I’m with ya on desktop version, but mobile sync is cool. So using mobile app for quick notes/thoughts/lists is a big plus.

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          Yes, I also use the Android version so much that I a widget in my home page. I even use it for voice notes while on the go. Automatically having them in my desktop to process later is great.

        2. Fernando Gutierrez

          Also, in Android you can always choose Evernote as destination when sharing something, so you can send info from virtually everywhere.

          1. JimHirshfield

            Thanks for pointing that out. I didn’t know that, but just checked…very cool to know it’s there. To-date, I’ve been sharing a lot of links with myself by just emailing them to myself. This is better.

    6. panterosa,

      LOVE Evernote. Was a mess before it. Changed my life. I use almost every feature.

      1. JimHirshfield


        1. panterosa,

          I put in a comment for Skitch – my most unique feature besides EverNote other awesomeness. I love using from mac to ipad to iPhone. I clip a lot of webpages, but only on mac since sadly it is not mobile friendly.

  6. JimHirshfield

    “User-Agent Switcher”It’s a Chrome extension that makes the browser mimic other browsers. I use this when tethering my Android so that my carrier doesn’t interrupt my browsing with that ever-so-annoying message about paying more money for data when I already have an unlimited data plan.

    1. fredwilson


    2. William Mougayar

      We use that test software for different browsers or mobile devices. You can mimic a tablet on your desktop.

      1. JimHirshfield

        makes sense.

    3. sprugman

      Isn’t that built in to the Chrome Developer Tools?

      1. JimHirshfield

        I have no clue.

        1. sprugman

          I guess your use case isn’t web dev, so a plug-in is probably easier to use, but yeah, you can do it natively. Hamburger menu (the one to the right of the location bar) -> Tools -> Developer Tools -> Settings Gear (in the lower-right corner of the tools panel) -> Overrides -> User Agent. Easy peasy. πŸ˜‰

          1. JimHirshfield

            I’m not seeing “Overrides” in my Chrome Settings. :-/

          2. JimHirshfield

            Found it. Thanks. πŸ™‚

    4. ShanaC

      you switch your chrome to android?

      1. JimHirshfield

        Something like that. It basically makes the browser that’s requesting the data look like a mobile browser. Otherwise, if it looks like a big browser (“desktop”) that triggers the carrier – they figure out that I’m tethering – and they serve up a roadblock page telling me to sign up for tethering plan. No thanks.

  7. johndefi

    IFTTT is one I haven’t used much yet, but it has the potential to be a favorite.

    1. MFishbein

      Here’s a link to a Udemy class on IFTTT:… and here’s a quick tutorial video that’s very helpful:…As of now I’m just using it to get weather updates via text in the morning, but there are definitely many other great uses.

    2. Vinay Pai

      This might seem silly, but one of the things deterring me from using it is the obnoxious GIANT fonts they use all over the place. For something that is supposed to save you time, they make you scroll a whole lot for no good reason.

  8. Javier Gomez

    MightyText. life-changing for me…

  9. Nick Grossman

    I just started doing 1-hour “moving the ball forward” sessions, which has been great for me (I am an urgency addict in the process of reforming myself). see…In terms of tools, the thing that is the most useful for me right now is Wunderlist. I use it all day long (particularly on mobile), to capture to dos and follow ups. And then I use it at the beginning of each day / working session to make sure my priorities are right.I also use IFTTT to send me reminders. I have ifft as “Super Ego” in my phone, and it sends me texts at certain days and times to help me stay on track. For instance, it prompts me every night to write into my journal, and every Sunday to write my weekly status report email.I love productivity hacks but also have to stop myself from productivity hacking myself out of productivity….

    1. Richard

      Did u attend then seminar?

    1. fredwilson

      I know many who swear by mighty text

    2. smikolay

      How safe do you feel with it? I have a few second factor IDs go through sms… Using mightytext would mean there are ways to get at them, no? Very keen on the idea, just still having 2nd thoughts

      1. Maneesh

        Yes, but I think they plan to allow “do not forward” numbers so that certain 2nd-factor auth sms won’t sync with mightytext.

    3. K_Berger

      +1. Makes it so easy to text without interrupting workflow to pick up my cell.

  10. Mark Hirsch

    CreativeWorx “TimeTracker”TimeTracker silently captures how I spend my time and automatically produces timesheets and analytics. Focused currently on users of Adobe Creative Suite, the next version supports calendars, email, Microsoft Office, browsers, phone and provides more analytics. (Full disclosure: I’m the company CEO, but I wouldn’t respond to Fred’s post if this wasn’t a truly innovative productivity tool.)

  11. jason wright puts so many people out of a job. what will be the new employment?

  12. Angela Min

    I absolutely LOVE the ipad app “Paper”. It has absolutely increased my ability to think more clearly. Perhaps its a bit old-fashioned, but I personally need to write, sketch and mind-map with “pen” in hand (now stylus), in order to clarify my thoughts and ideas. Now I can do it all in one place, and organized in separate notebooks, with an infinite number of pages in each one. It’s like having an endless supply of Moleskines – without having to shell out the $$ each time, which I think subconsciously prevents me from really being free with my thoughts.My second essential is a Filofax. I still have my Google Calendar and Evernote for ongoing matters, recurring events, etc, but there is nothing like having a physical piece of paper/agenda before you to remind you what is most important to do, now. I tried weaning myeslff off a peper system, but found that if I am am too digitally streamlined, I find it easy to disregard notices and events which all bleed together into the vast ether of the web. Putting an event to paper, with pen in hand, creates a physical connection between me and the event, one that makes it harder to dismiss. I also admit to a bit of old-fashioned-ness here too, in feeling that we are becoming more and more dismissive, as a culture, of the personal touch. Last summer, our startup had a group of interns, all in their early 20s. None of them, except one from Vietnam (where handwriting is rigorously taught – I believe that descends from the importance the Chinese place on calligraphy, and this infuses all Asian cultures), knew how to write in cursive script. I was shocked! I also suddenly felt so old!! πŸ™‚ I made a personal promise to myself to make sure my daughter learns the value of handwriting, and the practical, cultural and even neurologic benefits of it, of which I think there are many.Okay, that was possibly more than the question asked, but this very fun post inspired me to write it (by web, haha!)

    1. Anne Libby

      Have you played with Notetaker HD? You can import a document, and then take notes on it. While I was away over the holidays, I used it to sign a client contract and email it back…And the calendar, I agree. I don’t think I can be online only — I need a visual representation on paper.

      1. Angela Min

        Is that the transcription app? If so, I think I have it, but its a bit less “free-form” than Paper. But if I can use it for contract-type stuff, that would be terrific.

        1. Anne Libby

          Yes, it’s a lot more linear than Paper.My main use case: presentation materials (i.e. package for a board meeting) I can scribble my notes on the document, print what I need when I need it — and then not drag a binder back to the office for permanent storage and dust collection. Worked nicely for the contract, too.I use it less for creating documents and taking notes, although that’s possible too.Here’s a link:

    2. Donna Brewington White

      “more than the question asked” is pretty common around here

    3. ShanaC

      Actually, I’ve noticed that I am the only person my age who regularly writes in (albeit bad) cursive. Even people older than me have often stop writing in cursive.I have no idea why. It is faster.

      1. Cam MacRae

        I write in cursive, but then I also write with a fountain pen so I’m probably an outlier, wot eh?

        1. ShanaC

          nah I love fountain pens too πŸ™‚

      2. CJ

        I don’t write. It’s too slow to keep up with my thoughts. So on the odd occasion I do find myself with pen in hand, literally, I have to search the recesses of my mind to remember how to write in cursive. I always end up writing in this weird mish-mash of cursive and print. It’s hilarious…but sad. πŸ˜›

        1. ShanaC

          I have anon again off again diarying habit πŸ™‚ hence why I write

  13. Taj Chadha

    I love Boomerang for Gmail by Baydin (http://www.boomeranggmail.c… . Allows you to schedule when emails should be sent (especially when you are working late catching up on email and you don’t want emails going out) as well as sends reminders if you don’t receive a response to an email.

    1. Jeff Jenkins

      Are you using a paid account with it, or do you find you fit within the free limits?

      1. Taj Chadha

        Both. For personal email, I am using the free Basic version but for my work email, I am paying for the Professional version. The number of emails that I could use with the Basic or Personal version wasn’t enough if I was really going to use it effectively.

  14. Anne Libby

    I would love to hear from this crew about what online calendar you use — and whether anyone loves theirs.(And the google calendar — anyone else have privacy concerns? Mine are visceral, rather than information-based. And I’m trying to untangle myself from FB and do not want to be sucked into the G+ vortex…)

    1. fredwilson

      I love Google calendar. Its everything I’ve ever wanted in a calendar

      1. Anne Libby

        You don’t worry about Google aggregating info from your calendar (for I don’t know what purpose, but that’s where my free-floating anxiety on this one hovers…)

        1. fredwilson

          i share everything with google. my emails are there. my calendar is there. my contacts are there. our docs are there. our spreadsheets are there. i think you can see that i trust them. maybe i shouldn’t. but i do.

          1. michaelgalpert

            this is the main reason why im LONG google now

          2. LE

            Honestly if price isn’t an object prefer a solution that doesn’t involve trusting sensitive business information to a third party that you have absolutely no control over. And yes it will cost more money but so does any insurance policy.All the things you are mentioning are quite valuable in the wrong hands (or even hands that would do something just for fun.)That said if you are going this route you might want to setup accounts at another service (say that get forwards of all your mail that is at gmail (which kinda contradicts part of what I”m saying but there is also the chance of the gmail info becoming unavailable/offline so it’s trivial to have a copy somewhere else that you can get to in a pinch.)

    2. leeschneider

      google on the web, agenda (which pulls in google cal data) on iphone, ipad

      1. Anne Libby

        Thanks, Lee!

  15. Bruce Warila

    Trello – use it for everything from managing and sharing the family grocery list, to allocating sales leads to the sales team, to managing our software development tasks list.Instapaper – my favorite mobile app. Instapaper has liberated me from my chair and desk. When it comes to reading on the web, anything longer than 6 inches of text goes into Instapaper to be read later (from a position other than sitting).

  16. Barry Nolan

    Email hack: create a gmail filter for any mail containing the word “unsubscribe” to skip the inbox and archive. Hovers up most noise and spam.

    1. Angela Min

      that’s brilliant!

    2. Tian Yu

      There might be friendly fire…but that is manageable. Great idea!

      1. Barry Nolan

        Irony alert! Because I had unsubscribe in the disqus comment, I wasn’t getting disqus emails!

    3. sprugman

      I prefer to just click those unsubscribe links if I don’t want to receive the message. I find that most emailers respect them these days. (Then I filter the ones that don’t.)

      1. Aaron Klein


    4. thomasknoll

      This is the text of my “Unsubscribe Language” filter:Matches:{ “Stop receiving emails””Manage email preferences””To unsubscribe or change subscriber options””Unsubscribe by clicking here””Click here to safely unsubscribe””please opt-out here””Update email address preferences””Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser””unsubscribe from this list””update subscription preferences””If you are unable to see this message, to view Click Here””To unsubscribe from future emails””click here to manage your email notifications””To unsubscribe click here”}Do this: Skip Inbox, Apply label “unsub”

      1. thomasknoll

        I also use this for “bulk mail”:Matches: From:{ action@ alert@ alerts@ announcements@ app@ automated@ bacn@ community@ contact@ deals@ digest@ directmail@ do-not-reply@ donotreply@ editor@ editors@ email@ emails@ feedback@ hello@ help@ info@ invitations@ list@ lists@ mail@ mailer@ marketing@ members@ news@ newsletter@ newsletters@ nonotreply@ no-reply@ no_reply@ noreply@ notification@ notifications@ notify@ offers@ reminder@ reminders@ sales@ store-news@ support@ team@ vibe@ }Do this: Skip Inbox, Apply label “bulk”, Never send it to Spam

      2. thomasknoll

        I also use this for “social notifications”:Matches: ({from:(“flickr | twitter | meetup | facebook | linkedin |”) subject:(“YouTube Digest”)})Do this: Skip Inbox, Apply label “social”, Never send it to Spam

      3. thomasknoll

        I also use this for “news lists”:Matches: list:{ * * }Do this: Skip Inbox, Apply label “mailing list”, Never send it to Spam

      4. thomasknoll

        The combination of these four filters, (and a few additional ones more specific to my own personal data) means that almost all the email that hits my inbox is actually from a person.Then, once a day, I search for “is:unread” and scan through all unread messages for anything relevant. typing ‘*a’ selects all messages, and typing ‘shift+i’ marks as read.

        1. fredwilson

          Thanks so much for sharing them with us

    5. rahultongia

      Thats pretty neat. One other way is creating a shared email folder (Notifications / Spam) using Each folder has a unique email address and is automatically visible in your inbox folders. Use this folder’s email to subscribe any service. Saves me so so much time. Disclosure: I am CTO at SquadMail, I am sure you will love it.

    6. Anne Libby

      @barrynolan:disqus, @thomasknoll:disqus — genius! I dumped most of my (klugey) mail filters, and reset using “unsubscribe” and others similar to the ones on Thomas’ exhaustive list.Now, thanks to you, everything in my inbox is from a person. Thank you both.

  17. KeithCowing

    Two recent hacks I love.1. Pocket (Read it later): I forward emails and flag websites I want to read later on. Then I put my Pocket RSS feed into Google Reader so that I have one place for all my “to read” materials.2. IFTTT – SMS me if person X emails me. It sounds crazy, but using it on the weekend does wonders. You can set up an alert to text you if your boss, a key client, etc. emails you. That means you’ll get a rude interruption when something comes in that you should look at. But when you have no texts you can peacefully turn off email without compulsively checking every 15 mins to see if there’s something important. I’ve found that disconnecting on weekends and refreshing your mind makes you exponentially more productive during the week.

  18. Richard

    skitch and clearly, a startups best friend.

  19. Seth Lieberman

    Gyazo for ultra-fast screen shot and share.

    1. Richard

      how does it compare vs skitch?

      1. Seth Lieberman

        far far exceeds for dead simple capture and share. Skitch is miserable these days- but allows for annotation. With gyazo I hot key to launch- drag the area it automatically uploads and copies the url into my clipboard.

        1. Richard

          Will check it out, though skitch has been bug free for me.

    2. raycote

      Very nice!

  20. awaldstein

    Biggest boost to my productivity is not a hack, its the intersection of close to ubiquitous public wifi and a MacBook Air.In NYC, you just head out for the day on foot, meetings everywhere, time in between.Sitting down and working anywhere, including parks in the summer, has changed everything.

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Very true.

      1. Elie Seidman

        Very true. Add Verizon 4G and a MacBook Pro Retina to that.

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          And a Pinot Noir πŸ™‚

          1. Elie Seidman

            πŸ™‚ Perfection. Especially if its a Williams Selyem Pinot.

          2. Elie Seidman

            Awesome. Great movie.

          3. awaldstein

            Perfection if it’s a Pinot Noir from Chais du Vieux Bourg or Gannevat from the Jura for me πŸ˜‰

          4. Elie Seidman

            Will add those to the list to try

          5. awaldstein

            And of course a bunch of great ones from France and less known, some from Germany that I tried recently.The more I know, the more I taste, the more there is to learn and discover with wine. Perfect side obsession for me.Where do you buy your wine if you don’t mind sharing?

          6. Elie Seidman

            Couple of different places – some of the winery mailing lists (Williams Selyem, Merry Edwards, etc.) and from my brother-in-law. He’s in the wine business and just opened a store in Boston – Streetcar Wines. He’s incredibly knowledgeable about wine – takes his job very seriously. Happy to connect you. He knows value and all the advice he gives me is fantastic.

          7. awaldstein

            Knowing someone with passion and knowledge is a big plus.We are super lucky here on the east coast with many incredible small shops, deep in knowledge and a love of wine.I seriously believe that wine is a product that needs to be sold, not just bought from a catalog. You might find this post interesting:Wine needs to be sold, not bought

          8. Donna Brewington White

            Evernoting this. Thanks.

          9. awaldstein

            Although going with a German Pinot tonight. Quite amazing one so I’m told. The Vouvray I know is a show stopper.

          10. Donna Brewington White

            Did someone say Pinot Noir? Yessss.

    2. Daman Bahner

      As a recent 11.6 purchaser, I love this! Time to unplug and go find a new temporary workspace πŸ™‚

    3. Aaron Klein

      +1. Love the freedom that the MBA gives me while traveling or working out and about.

    4. rahultongia

      Absolutely love MBA. Killed my iPad and MacBook Pro combo. 2012 MBA 8 GB even works great for programmers like me.

  21. pointsnfigures

    thought you were talking about this one:… Such a good name two startups took it!

  22. Tom Hughes

    I’m a huge fan of Trello. It was built, I think, as a platform for easy creation of agile-development workflows, but it shines as a simple, collaborative list-management tool. You create a “board” with multiple lists, each entry on a list is a “card,” and a card can have features like due-dates and checklists; you drag cards from list to list. I use it for my main to-do list (by myself) and share lists with my wife, for instance our post-Sandy “recovery and resiliency” list.Once you start managing lists like this you start to find other life problems that you were ignoring but can now tackle. For example, we collaborate on a list of foods that we’ve discovered or researched that we like and don’t like — this makes every trip to Whole Foods, or order on Fresh Direct, more efficient and more likely to result in food that gets eaten.

    1. fredwilson

      we’ve started using it here at USV for a few things

  23. Matt A. Myers

    Todo lists on Qcards

  24. bsoist

    All kidding aside, one thing that greatly increases my productivity is avoiding on Fridays. These discussions can derail me for hours – or worse. πŸ™‚

    1. ShanaC

      we love you too πŸ™‚

      1. bsoist

        It’s because I love all of you so much that I trust your opinions. Now I have all these new hacks to check out. I’ll obsess for hours about which ones I’m really missing out on. It’s my problem. I’m learning to live with it. :)BTW, I’m thrilled when Fred uses Fridays to post about the NBA. I love my Nets, but I don’t obsess over sports like I do this stuff.

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          Same for me… I have now around 15 open tabs with things to check and I’m still half way through comments…

    2. fredwilson

      me too

  25. Alan White

    I love MyLifeOrganized and have used it for years, every day throughout the day. It has a superb outliner and intuitive UI; you can manage tasks, projects and notes on it. I use it on the PC and PDA; haven’t tried the mobile version.

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      I love the desktop app and have been using it untill a couple weeks ago, but their lack of a web version ended breaking the deal for me. Also having to purchase separate apps for every device and paying again for syncing is not very nice. BTW, their Android app is great.

  26. Tom Hughes

    I turned on the GMail Labs feature “Quick Links” to save my frequently-used searches. I really mostly just one search, though, which is “is:unread in:inbox” — click once and see only the unread messages in your Inbox.

    1. fredwilson

      wow. i want to try that

  27. leeschneider


    1. michaelgalpert


    2. Greg Neufeld

      +`1 for Sanebox, also surprised no one has mentioned Contactually – it’s amazing for contact management and follow up reminders

  28. Luke Chamberlin

    Each morning, I write down everything that I want to get done on a 3×5 index card. If it won’t fit on a 3×5 index card, you probably weren’t going to get it all done anyway.I have tried many apps, but I have never found a to-do list or productivity app as effective as a 3×5 index card.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Sounds as though “focus” is the key here. The size of the card forces this. A lot to be said for that.

  29. Carl Rahn Griffith

    “What is your favorite productivity hack?”Notebook + pencil and going offline.

    1. fredwilson


  30. sprugman

    I’m a little bit of a productivity addict, so I tend to try a lot of things. My current favorite is the Siri-enabled, location based reminders on my iPhone. “Remind me to X when I get to Y.” is awesome. My only beef with it is that I wish it had a snooze because it always reminds a bit too early.

  31. ShanaC

    idonethis for reverse task keeping. While I keep lists of stuff to do, it is helpful to go back and figure out of something is working, and the only way to do that is having a reverse task list sorted by date

  32. Elia Freedman

    I’m a list guy and like to see my tasks and events laid out in the calendar. Almost every calendar handles this horribly though, or not at all. I ended up creating a special calendar called Tasks and every time I have one, I assign it to the desired day and make it an all day event. Now I have tasks and events all in the same app, which means I only have one place to look for stuff that needs to get done.

    1. Aaron Klein

      I love asana for this. Now when you set due dates, the tasks pop into “today.” It really is like a super intelligent piece of paper.

      1. Elia Freedman

        I’ll check it out. Thanks.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Still looking for something electronic that replaces my old Franklin planner. That was the bomb. Each page was a prioritized and scheduled to-do list and calendar in one. I’m certain there are tools out there that do the same thing but so far I have found nothing with the same simplicity..

      1. Elia Freedman

        Not that sync across devices, anyway. I haven’t found it either.

  33. abbashaiderali

    Logging out of email and only checking in designated windows. When I need to get stuff off the to-do list, this makes the single biggest difference. I schedule 4 email windows (15min each) during the day and that’s it. Rest of the time on those days is to get things done. Same rule applies to social, and comments on blogs too πŸ™‚

  34. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Google Calendar + an Android smartphone. I still find enormous value in having my phone remind me when it’s time to do something.After all these years, though, I still can’t top a spiral notebook for keeping track of my to-do’s and projects. I have years’ worth of them, and I can still put my finger on a note taken 10 years ago in under 15 minutes, if necessary. There are a bunch of cool scientific reasons why writing with a pen or pencil is so effective.A friend of mine recently showed me a technique whereby she keeps the first 3 pages or so of her notebook set aside for creating a table of contents as she goes. I’m going to try that.

    1. fredwilson

      yup. google calendar on android is what a calendar is supposed to be

  35. Katerina Jackson-Suchkova

    I use Lift and Alarmed on my iPhone. Both apps are quite simple though do the trick quite amazingly. Particular Lift – helps me to develop and stick to my habits and get things I committed to done. Also use gTask across my Android product (syncs with gCalendar, gmail, accessible on the phone, tablet and via browser clipper)

  36. Charlie Crystle

    Evernote for stuff. Scrivener for writing.And scheduling as much as possible to it gets done. (google).

  37. howardlindzon

    Mine is Mute on my phone…I can work and discuss 12 things while on conference calls πŸ™‚

    1. William Mougayar

      Incredible. I’ve seen you with 2 phones.It wouldn’t surprise me if you took 2 simultaneous conference calls, one in each ear πŸ™‚

    2. fredwilson

      that explains a lot πŸ™‚

    3. FlavioGomes

      The myth of multitaskinghttp://www.thenewatlantis.c…

    4. Aaron Klein

      But then there was that time when you muted me on a conference call, forgot about it and called me on my other line…an epic Lindzon move. πŸ˜‰

      1. Fernando Gutierrez


  38. MFishbein – – Set follow up reminders (allows you to send an e-mail and completely take your mind off of it) and re-inbox e-mail to the time when you can deal with it (clean up your inbox and starred folders). This videos gives a great example of practical uses of

  39. karen_e

    Productivity is currently unhacked. I cannot wait for a room of my own again (the home office got sacrificed when the child arrived).

    1. fredwilson

      build a little cabin in the back yard!

  40. Vinay Pai

    I hacked together a little Android app that’s designed around recurring or scheduled tasks. The main purpose is to create tasks that automatically repeat, say every n days or weeks or months. If find that while daily things are relatively easy to stay on top if, things on a longer time cycle tend to fall through the cracks. I use it for practically every aspect of my life, for example “Get to inbox zero” every weekday, “Check in on linked in contacts” every month, and even “Change toothbrush” every three months.It’s been pretty helpful around keeping on top of things that I want to do regularly but have trouble keeping on top of. Someday I’ll actually polish it up and upload it to the Android Marketplace.

  41. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    I have been relying more recently on to save links to articles that I want to read later. They have a nice integration with twitter whereby I can save an article to read later. I prefer this option much more to ‘favourite’. It is also synced across mobile, tablet and desktop devices so I can always catch up regardless of the device.

  42. Ro Gupta

    Rapportive, Ghostery and this thing called Web Startup Toolbar:… have been godsends for me over the past couple years. All are essentially instant, automated metadata / annotation for a website, company or person that comes across my inbox or browser.

  43. tyronerubin

    totally off topic but wanted to let the community know about the awesome words @bfeld said about fredwilson on This Week In StartupsLink is queued at the point in the interview where Jason asks ‘Who are the VC’s you really respect and work really hard? and proceed to mention why he feels Fred is so special.

    1. fredwilson

      that was very gracious of Brad to say. we are old friends and have great respect for each other.

      1. Dasher

        Awesome interview. Wonderful to see him say nice things about you and see the friendship and mutual respect you share.I loved what he said about a lot VCs chasing the puck (e.g enterprise software right now). You mentioned you didn’t see any deals that you liked in 2012. Do you think this has to do with the puck moving from your sweet spot? If so, where you do you think the puck will be in 3 years? May be time to change the thesis?

        1. fredwilson

          Yes and yes

          1. Dasher

            Maneuvering this change must be hard. But this is also what makes life exciting.

  44. kidmercury

    jing. if you take a lot of screenshots, it’s a must.stylus for your touchscreens in the cold weather. some folks like the special gloves, though i prefer the stylus.

    1. Brandon Burns

      i do take a lot of screenshots… how does jing help me there?

      1. kidmercury

        i should clarify it is a desktop/laptop software program. i have it set up so that it runs in the background, i created a keyboard shortcut that lets me capture the part of the screen i want to, some basic editing/annotating, then auto FTP to the location i specify. this way i don’t have to take a screenshot, open it in a separate image editor, fire up an FTP client, etc. jing costs me $15 — one time fee, pretty cheap. they have a video module too that i think runs $50 that i might get.

        1. LE

          If you know shell scripting and can use the command line on a mac you can also do some neat things with screencapture.Open up a terminal window andtypescreencapture someoutputfile.jpgto view it type:open someoutputfile.jpgMany options that said I use skitch although there are things that screencapture might be better suited for with the scripting.

        2. Ruth BT

          Love Jing, have used the video module extensively for basic in-house training like how to use Jing (!) Quick simple and very easy to use.

    2. LE

      screenshots: skitch I’ve been using for years on the Mac. A great tool.

    3. Dave Pinsen

      Kid, question for you: I know you mention below that Jing is a desktop program, but maybe you know of something similar that might help with what I need to do on an iPhone. I take a lot of screen caps of the Portfolio Armor iOS app output screen, but the output screen for the upcoming 2.0 version requires a scroll, because it takes up about 1.5 lengths of the screen. Is there an easy way to snap together two screen caps (one pre-scroll and one after-scroll), one above the other vertically, into one image?

      1. kidmercury

        not that i know of. jing fanboys like myself have been begging for jing for android/iOS but to no avail thus far. but, iOS has a pretty robust developer ecosystem so perhaps there is an app out there that does what you need.there is photoshop touch which you can get for $20 a month, although i haven’t tried it. putting photoshop on a phone seems a bit much, i’m sure they were thinking more along the lines of tablets with that offering. but perhaps it is something you might find useful. 30 day free trial, but then $20 per month.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Thanks, Kid. I was able to do this using Paint on my desktop. A little slow, but a solution for now.

    4. David Petersen

      Have you used Cloud App? Seems a little more intuitive for screen shot sharing although maybe I am missing something.

      1. kidmercury

        requires OSX……against my religion

  45. Douglas Craver

    Podio. I can customize it to all my needs. Over my 30 year career I’ve used them all and Podio is by far the best.

  46. Brandon Burns

    My favorite productivity hack is a regular schedule. I’m unfortunately a very undisciplined person, so doing something in regular intervals is the best way for me to make sure shit gets done.

    1. fredwilson

      me too

  47. Daman Bahner

    Started doing a nightly gratitude list in Evernote. Doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, could be anything that made me smile throughout the day, a small success, etc. I usually review a couple of earlier ones if I have ‘gratitude block’. After doing this list continuously for a while, I find that I do much better recognizing and using the resources I have.

  48. Rudyc

    This may sound prehistoric but I tossed my cellphone away a few years ago and honestly, it was/is the best decision I’ve ever made. In the end, for me it’s nothing but a distraction. My kids have phones (which annoy me btw at dinner) and if I do need to make a call, my car has a phone built in, but to carry one, never again.Clear thinking, no distractions, peace of mind, can’t place a dollar figure on guys continue what your doing but for me NO Freakin way!

    1. FlavioGomes

      Its not the phone…its how you use it.

      1. Aaron Klein


    2. Cam MacRae

      My dad did the same thing when he retired and I don’t ever see him going back.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Retired. That’s the key word here.

        1. Cam MacRae

          I dunno. I could probably without mine 99.25% of the time. It would certainly decrease my stress levels.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            But think of all the mayorships you’d miss out on!In all seriousness, though, how would it decrease stress?

          2. Cam MacRae

            Because the bastard thing wouldn’t ring ;)But more than that the immediacy demanded by the device is stressful.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      I draw the line at using phones (or any devices) at the dinner table. Except at a restaurant to check in on Foursquare or Instagram — then we put them away.My phone is so much more than a phone. It is a control center for managing family and work and allows me to exist almost paperless — as well as to be flexible and more accessible (mainly to my kids).

    4. RudyC

      Fortunately for me it was a just a matter of what is/was more important. I’m organized enough w/my business that I don’t need to be on call 24hrs. a day. At first some people that worked w/me were annoyed but they got ‘over’ it.Honestly, I will NEVER get another cellphone again. It was such a trap. Everything was a distraction. I equate it to the camcorder. Would you rather be in the picture or taking it? I chose to be in it..

      1. FlavioGomes

        Problem it seems is that you let yourself be slave to the phone. With various ring tone and alert configurations you can enjoy the benefits while firmly being in control. I tell my smartphone what to do….not the other way around.All calls that aren’t on my “important list” go to voice mail. I choose when to listen.All emails have alerts/notifications turned off. I choose when to read.All calendar alerts are by my own design. I choose what I want to be reminded of.

  49. andyidsinga

    I’m using the “send to kindle” mac app to send all sorts of tech docs (mostly PDFs) to my kindle account ..and then read them on my ipad as if it was a 3rd screen when at my desk ..or a take-with-you bookshelf in almost any other context – garage, meeting, train, plane…

  50. andrew thomas

    I wrote an iphone app that tracks my time at different locations. Mainly use it for contract work but also for tracking time at them gym, etc.

  51. LE

    You sync your calendar to Lasso and anytime you have a phone number in a calendar event, Lasso calls you on one of more of your phones, you pick up, and you are connected. It is particularly helpful with conference calls when you don’t want to type in all the codes and such. Lasso does it for you.What you wrote above does a much better job of explaining what Lasso does then a quick read of the website does. In addition to a rewrite incorporating something like the above, Lasso should also give a couple of fictional use examples to drive the marketing points home.

  52. David Petersen

    Sleep, yoga, paleo diet (no sugar/ flour / cheap oils).A healthy, happy body is more productive, more energetic, and focuses better.

    1. kidmercury

      i’ve been wanting to paleo diet. time is an obstacle, as is my love affair with ice cream. i wish the whole world was into this type of stuff, then it’d be way more convenient.

      1. David Petersen

        Biggest obstacle to paleo diet is not the taste of the food (actually pretty delicious) or what you give up (although not being able to eat ice cream is just sad) but that society as a whole rejects it so you need to prepare virtually every meal by yourself, from scratch.If you tell me the name of your social community I will prepare you 5 (five) paleo meals.

        1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          My wife doesn’t use white sugar -SO to make icecream Milk (not low fat) – + honey from neighbours (supposed to help allergies – some sense through exposure to micro concentration of local pollens etc) + 1 mashed banana + coconut flesh and a twist of lime (slug of rum optional). Liquify / freeze / enjoy / test our more ingredients πŸ™‚

          1. David Petersen

            haha. how does it taste?

          2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            Well we eat it – and I crave it. Especially melting over a hot apple crumble – Ok we use flour for that ! πŸ™‚

          3. ShanaC

            the honey thing does help. I’ve done it before!

      2. Anne Libby

        Just skipping “white foods” for a few days can give you a boost, not quite as daunting as a wholesale lifestyle change.

      3. CJ

        I’ve been putting Paleo off for months. Soon…soon

    2. fredwilson

      I am doing two of those three

  53. Mark Essel

    0) exercise every morning for 1-2 hours, either walk downtown (and back up later), or the gym or a long walk outdoors. Energy > Time cost cultivating it1) Focusing on one task at a time, one app/window. Burying everything else until it’s complete2) Keeping anything with notifications on my laptop while I work on my iMac3) commuting into Manhattan two days a week for real time interaction (and distraction) and working at home the other 5 to get things done (development). And yes, I take breaks on weekends to hang with Michelle and work in the afternoon.4) Batch process social info, email, this blog, Big Red Car, Arnold’s blog, Twitter/Facebook/(and sometimes Engagio). But keep it closed off most of the week.5) Pocket since we’re talking apps. I use that everywhere for later reading and batching interesting topics without interrupting another web/search activity

    1. Lisa Quera

      Batch processing is one of the toughest disciplines to cultivate yet one of the most beneficial to productivity. Productivity > Real-time responsiveness + FOMO. Degrees of both difficulty and benefit do depend on your role, though.

      1. Mark Essel


    2. Modernist

      great stuff mark

    3. Donna Brewington White

      Batch processing. I like how you’ve applied that.

    4. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      Why sometimes engagio πŸ™‚ (#4) – I sometimes catch up on missed articles by going through the engagio emails from the past week!

  54. michaelgalpert

    ive been using Lasso for some time now and LOVE IT. it just works.

    1. fredwilson

      You see something like Google voice or uberconference and they look great but they require a commitmentPhonetag and Lasso are simpler and they just work

  55. FlavioGomes

    Hackpad…ever since being exposed to it here on avc

    1. fredwilson

      I love hackpad too.Gdocs for local area document collaborationHackpad for wide area document collaboration

  56. Talton

    A program that will make you look like a magician is GrabBox. We use it on the Disqus support team for quickly sharing screenshots, though some friends have been amazed at how fast I’m able to created them.Another actual hack that me and few other colleges find useful is removing the time from your computer screen. It’s pretty awesome when you just want to hone in and focus. If you really want to know the time, your digital pocket watch (your phone) is probably nearby. Regardless, it’s a neat productivity experiment. A good blog post explaining one guy’s experience: Working without a clock

    1. Tyler Hayes

      Huge +1 on working without a clock.Unfortunately Zach doesn’t have comments on his site but we had some discussion about this not too long ago on my blog for anyone interested:

  57. leigh

    I’ve been using Sanebox — basically trains your email inbox. my favorite thing is that you can send a message to come back to you based on a new date, new time (i.e. i have no time to deal with this today but i’ll resend it to myself to show up in a week from now at 830 so it’s the first thing in my inbox)and it tells me how much time i’ve saved by using it (which is prob inaccurate as hell but i love it)

  58. LE

    quicktextpro running on Thunderbird email client.http://extensions.hesslow.s…Also (wiki software) have been using for years have about3500 pages of info I’ve compiled and saved all searchable and linkablefor anything I learn or figure out and might need at some point in the future.(It runs on a server in colocation that we operate, not on some cloudhost although you could do that. See my other comment re: security.).3×5 cards I’ve been using for years and still do.Large office, 3 monitors, multiple computers, a desk/computer for each discrete thing I do, all sorts of physical organizational things, custom noise cancelling ear plugs, tarmac ear muffs (like being in a soundproof room used in industrial applications and at the airport) and other things.Google voice in front of most phone numbers so calls can be easily screened and you don’t have to give your real cell phone number to the delivery guy and can easily block someone and do other neat things.As a young kid I was paid piecework for assembly at my dad’s place so I’m always aware of any way to improve efficiency and do more. I used to setup the work in the most efficient manner in order to have higher output.One thing I don’t do though is locate the laser printer in my office. It’s in the outer room so each time I print I have to getup which I do for that reason.

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      I use Texter instead of Quicktextpro. You can use it across all applications and saves me a lot of time. Not actively developed now, but it great how it is, so no problem for me. I want to check Autohotkey for these kind of things, but I haven’t found the time yet.

      1. LE

        Texter is for Windows only apparently but thanks for that idea. I did a search and came up with some other things for Mac and I wouldn’t have done the search if you hadn’t suggested texter. Which raises an interesting point of it being a good idea to revisit even good solutions to see if there is something better out there.

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          Glad to help!We, the Windows crowd, are getting smaller and smaller πŸ™‚ Can’t switch though, I can’t live without my Lenovo’s pointing stick. Maybe I should go the hackintosh way, but I’m not sure if it’s worth the hassle.

  59. Phi Pham

    I love to use pinterest boards to bookmark youtube videos by subject

  60. Thomas Schroder

    Pocket is a huge time saver for me. I push longer reads and videos to it via Twitter or Google Chrome extension, then everything is waiting for me in one good looking, easy to use app on my iPad that night.

  61. Daniel Weisman

    citelighterIt is billed as an automated bibliography generator (really useful for students), but I use it to save and organize research, blurbs, quotes, etc. that I find online for work or topics I’m interested in. Great way to keep sources easily accessible.

  62. micahmerrick

    No e-mail organization folders, except one called “Archive”, where every e-mail goes unless it’s a “to do”. Search bar = organization. Saves tons of time.

  63. Korf

    Ive come all the way back to Reminders on iOS and OSX as my trusty cloud and calendar synced todo list. I wish the UI was better and adding notes to todos could be improved – but after trying all the other todo list apps – reminders is the one that just works for me.

  64. skysurfer172

    I can no longer manage my life without Evernote.

  65. anon123

    A way to drastically reduce distracting email alerts: set up four email accounts: (a) work, (b) personal + important, (c) semi-junk, (d) junk. Provide A to your boss, B to your wife, C to AVC, and D to any random retailer that you don’t want to hear back from. I rarely check C and never check D. On my old Blackberry I could set C and of course D not to create any alerts at all, which I don’t think is possible on my iPhone (will be happy if anyone found a way to do this – different alerts for different email accounts on the iPhone – if so please repost). D is just not set up on my iPhone at all and I’m considering doing the same to C (and checking it using the browser if I really feel like it).

    1. sprugman

      On the iPhone, you could use a different email client for C & D than for A & B. E.g. the native one for A&B, and the gmail one for C & D. Then set your alerts accordingly.

    2. Fernando Gutierrez

      You need to switch to Android πŸ™‚

  66. Dave Kim

    My hack is for my iPhone. I hate typing out my email address, so I’ve created a custom shortcut for it. Instead of typing out da…[email protected], I’ll just type dk@. Clearly you can use whatever shortcut you want, but I’ve found this to be super helpful.Another hack I’ve been using a lot has been creating a Google Form and then saving it as bookmark on my homescreen. In under 2 minutes, I now have an “app” I can use to capture data through Google Forms/Docs.Simple things, but it’s helped my work flow tremendously.

    1. CJ

      I wish android had these text shortcuts. One of the few glaring omissions in my opinion.

  67. Gordon Bowman

    Unplugging. It’s not novel. But when I want to see a big productivity leap, I just turn the Internet off.

  68. Chad Dickerson

    One of the most useful hacks for me is using the built-in digital signature capability of Preview on OS X. Printing a document, signing it, then scanning (or worse, faxing) is a pain. Not many people seem to know about it, and I use it all the time:…I find the method for getting your signature into the system an awesome hack all unto itself.

    1. aweissman

      totally, an amazing tool

    2. fredwilson

      I wonder if there is something similar on android. Sounds awesome

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        There are a few in Play Market (just search for digital signature). I tried one sometime ago and it wasn’t very smooth (can’t remember which one) so I uninstalled it. Maybe now they are better.

  69. panterosa,

    I love Skitch on my iPad. Since I work in visual field, it’s a great way to take pix or screenshots, then annotate, and store or send. I link everything to Evernote, which I adore and use heavily.

  70. Chris Phenner

    As a long-time Instapaper user, I am having feelings about Pocket, because it supports the ability to save video. Also for video I am testing Plex with a friend, since it re-formats video so nicely for larger screens and lean-back consumption.And for reminders I use Nudgemail, and I wish there were an email-only way to fire calendar requests at folks — Nudgemail reminders only reside on my calendar.And I would love a one-click way to take links out of FB/Twitter and save them in any of the above-mentioned queues, if anyone has hacks or bookmarklets for that.CRM (Light): Streak has been giving me fits via its ‘Send Later’ feature, so I’ve found a better option in Yesware, but I’m delaying the (inevitable) $20/month for an unlimited number of trackable events, as well as integration.And I sign up for so many new services each week for reasons that continue to befuddle me, but I love this topic.

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      I know how to do what you ask about links in Twiiter, but it’s only Android. when you are seeing a tweet you can share it to Pocket (Share > Add To Pocket). When you get into Pocket you have the page behind the link prepared for you to read. It doesn’t work with FB.

  71. Patrick Parker

    Smartsheet for team, and Google Apps w- Evernote for both biz and personal.

  72. kareemk

    I built which is essentially Siri in your inbox for scheduling meetings with people. autobot will share you schedule and negotiate picking a time with invitee. It’s been saving me a ton of time.

  73. David Petersen

    Minimalism. The things you own end up owning you — Tyler Durden

  74. Lee Blaylock

    good topic today. thx. some good ideas to favorite 3#1 is turning off Outlook and shutting it down. Email is someone’s task list projected on me and i like playing offense and focus on what’s important to me and my company rather than play defense.#2 (not of all time, but recently) is Notes Tab Pro #3 from the iOS app store. you can store frequently typed messages (like sales pitches, investor pitches, etc…) and it sits next to your dropbox icon at the top of your mac. click, copy, paste your most typed paragraphs and save oodles of time.#3 count me in the evernote fan club. not for daily todo lists (it sucks at that) but to organize my long term memory/thoughts and ideas.

  75. Daniel Clough

    I picked up on a good gmail inbox hack here – emails come in and show unreadn as normal. However after reading hey will disappear and be archived (whether you took an action or not).Amazing how this keeps your inbox clutter free (mine always says no new mail or has a few unread in there) and stops you reading and putting off emails. Also encourages batch processing email.Only once you use it for a few days does it really start to feel great!

    1. fredwilson

      Sounds great. Thanks for sharing

  76. Payam

    Trello – I’ve tried them all but Trello does a fantastic job of managing tasks and todo lists regardless if it is just you or using it with a bunch of people. Its visual board presentation makes all the difference. I am also seeing some use it as a lightweight CRM…

  77. SamuelHavelock

    Save interviews (like TWIVC) videos in a “To Watch” folder. Play interviews on long commutes / long wait periods.

  78. Sunny

    Greetings from Gujarat India ….just done with my edu ….entered into Project Financing a self confessed addict of your blog….p.s read it first time during my working hours …:)

  79. rahultongia

    Lasso looks cool. Surely, would try it. For task management use Asana. Love it. For email use SquadMail (shameless plug as CTO there) helps in shared email folder collaboration, inbox organization and managing projects.

  80. Donna Brewington White

    Not a hack per se, but…My only real pet peeve with Android is the interface with Outlook or rather the lack thereof. Borrowing from @annelibby:disqus “if it isn’t in my calendar it doesn’t exist!” Just started using ClearSync to combine calendars — mainly to transfer between my Outlook calendar and my phone, but I’m seeing new possibilities for organization because it coordinates multiple calendars.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Sorry @annelibby:disqus for misquoting you — that was actually a @leigh:disqus quote

      1. Anne Libby

        Hah, you just made me smarter than I remembered being!

    2. fredwilson

      I think its best to be on gmail, gcal, gapps if you are on android

    3. CJ

      You read my mind on this one Donna. Loading ClearSync now!

  81. george

    Couldn’t get it to work with iCal, is gmail the only other active link option?

  82. campryenwater

    For password management and integrated bookmarks with the passwords, has made it to my favorite productivity hack.

  83. Aaron Klein

    I’d love a service like Lasso if I could open an app and tap “now” – the automatic call would stress me out. What if my last call was running 30 seconds over schedule?

  84. Screendoor

    I’m surprised there hasn’t been more discussion here of mind mapping tools. First, I’ll note that I’ve always hated that name for this software category. It sounds so zen and new agey, when in fact these are fantastic organizational / tracking aids for business. They structure everything (notes, web sites, emails, brainstorming sessions, task lists, etc.) in a very heirarchical and super visual tree-branch structure. The category leader here is Mindjet, which is very powerful. Definitely recommended.

  85. Ted Harro

    Tripit. I love having all of my travel details in one place and available from any mobile device. And with the premium service, I’ve been able to quickly see my rebooking options (even on other airlines) when flights get screwed up.

  86. gorbachev

    I’m catching up on my unread AVC posts today, so I’m a little late with this.My productivity hack, if you can say that, is Wunderlist.It’s a task management application (i.e. a todo list) that has clients on Android, iPhone, web, Windows, Mac, and you can sync your todo list across all those platforms.This means that when I’m on a train to work, I can write down notes / tasks I’m thinking sub-consciously and they’ll be synced on my work computer by the time I arrive in the office.I write down everything I can think of…my todo list is about 300 items long. There is no way I can keep even a fraction of them organized without Wunderlist. Obviously most of the items are in the “nice to have” category and may never actually be completed, but that’s not really the point. The point is to clear your mind of the distraction of having to remember them.I also use Evernote the same way for tracking developing ideas.These two tools have really enabled me to be more organized, get more things done, and using them often gets me thinking of associations between different ideas and todos that I would otherwise never think of. They essentially start acting as a kind of a idea generation machine of its own.