I spend a lot of time trying to maximize my efficiency. For all of us, time is the scarcest resource. Here is a list of some of the tools I’ve picked up along the way to help me get more out of my days.

Toggl is a free time tracking app. I try to track every minute of my working day. I thought I spent my days with a certain time allocation among deal sourcing, helping portfolio companies, business development and diligence. Capturing every minute of my day revealed the reality differed dramatically from my expectation.

TextExpander expands short codes into text. For example, if I type “atb”, TextExpander replaces it with my signature, “All the best, Tom”. I use TextExpander all the time and have more than 150 of these text expansions. When I worked in customer support at Google, we used codes like these religiously to save time and handle large email volumes. There’s a GMail Labs feature which offers similar functionality in GMail.

Vitamin R is an attention focusing application. I tell Vitamin R that I’d like to spend 15 minutes writing email. During those 15 minutes, every minute, the app makes a small chime reminding me to stay on task. Every fifth minute, the computer speaks “X minutes remaining.” Vitamin R helps me focus and also better estimate the amount of time I need to complete tasks.

Things is a task manager. Jot to do’s down and then strike them off the list. It has a basic integration into Vitamin R. And best of all, great keyboard shortcuts.

Alfred is a launcher. Using a few keyboard shortcuts I can open a new browser window, define a word, change a song, search Google Docs or GMail, LinkedIn, Salesforce or Quantcast by using the advanced search features. Quiksilver, it’s predecessor, defined the category, but development stopped after Snow Leopard and Alfred has picked up the slack.

Divvy is a screen resizing tool. With a keyboard shortcut, I can resize a window to take the left hand side of the screen or the bottom right hand corner or the entire screen. It’s useful when researching from the web and pasting things into documents.

1Password creates and stores login credentials for websites. With one keyboard shortcut, I can login to any site. No more typing passwords.

Feedly is my news reader. I switched from Google Reader to the much prettier Feedly a few weeks ago. A few things don’t work yet, like the Twitter integration, but overall it’s a great product. In particular, the highlight text to tweet is killer.

I use Hootsuite and Buffer for Twitter. Hootsuite is the best tool I’ve found for Twitter inbox management, tracking clicks and responses. Buffer is great for automatically tweeting links throughout the day.


4 thoughts on “My productivity hacks

  1. Thanks, this is great. I already use Alfred, Vitamin R, and Buffer; the others will be very useful though. I would suggest Redwood App – http://redwoodapp.com/ – it allows you to search your GMail, GMail Docs, Basecamp, and Pivotal Labs remotely from your desktop in one search field. My only gripe with it is that it doesn’t run in the background (icon sits on your dock).

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