Life Hacks

I'm contstantly on the hunt, the hunt for a combination of tools and tactics to make me more productive, both in the office and outside of it. For simplicity's sake, we'll call them hacks.

I've spent countless hours testing and optimizing, in the hopes of shaving off wasted mintues, hours, and days in the long-run. Now, my wasted time is your gain. This section is dedicated to those findings. It'll be a living, breathing place where I'll share my hacks on an on-going basis.

If you think I'm missing something, send me a tweet and let me know.


  • To Do List | I use a varation of the GTD methodology for managing my To Do list. Whenever I have an action, I throw it into my Things inbox. At the start of the day, I go through the inbox to determine what I'm going to accomplish that day. Those then go into Today, which I work through. I do this each day. Long term lists go in projects. Here's a snapshot of my setup.

  • Email | Email is a beast, and preferences vary so much. But for me, I try to maintain perpetual inbox zero. Anything that doesn't require a response or action from me gets archived. I don't use folders, I only archive and rely on Gmail's search, which has worked great. I try to set blocks in the day for email, to not to let it distract me throughout the day. At the end of each day, I make sure my inbox is at zero, so I start fresh in the morning. It can spiral out of controll pretty fast if you let it. Some recommend SaneBox, but it didn't fit with my style.

  • Meetings | I rarely take notes in meetings, I only relay action items I have to the Things iPhone app during or at the end of the meeting. In conducting the meeting, I try to follow the "Death by Meeting" methodology.

  • Scheduling | The calendar can be a very powerful tool to avoid falling into procrastination. I use my calendar methodically to organize my day. I have slots blocked off for everything, not just meetings, including things like working out, writing, etc. To help maximize heads-down time, I try to schedule all of my meetings on 2 or 3 days of the workweek, with the remaining days being saved for bigger projects that require no interruption. By doing this, I avoid switching costs that eat into productivity. Weekends are always no meeting, with one day being held to completely reset, often Sunday.

  • Busy Work | Think about all the time spent on busy work each day. Things like scheduling meetings, booking travel, doing research, etc. That's all wasted time. Recently I started using Zirtual to help me with this and I've been very happy with it. I use the smallest plan, which is $199/month for 8 hours of work and it's been plenty.

Chrome Extensions

  • Strick Workflow | Breaks your work into 25-minute intervals where social media and other distracting sites you specify are blocked.

  • Momentum | New tab screen saver that inspires and simplifies your focus.

  • Instapaper (or Pocket) | Bookmarking tool for saving webpages, articles, and video that you want read or watch at a later time.

  • OneTab | Condenses all of your open tabs into a single view that you can restore, save, and re-open.

  • Buffer | Social sharing tool for Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin that lets you schedule and share to multiple networks at once.

  • Offline Gmail | Allows you to view, respond, and cue up responses to email when you don't have internet access.

  • LastPass | Securely keeps track and stores your passwords so you don't waste any time trying to remember.

Mac Apps

  • Alfred | Dead simple interface for quickly finding files, folders, and applications on your computer.

  • Caffeine | No, not that kind. But that too, I guess. Similarly, this app keeps your computer display from falling asleep.

  • Soulver | It's not free, but so worth the money. Makes doing quick calculations easy and quick, while also accepting plain text.

  • Mint Quickview | Allows you to keep track of your finances from your status bar.

  • Cloud | Drag and drop files onto Cloud so you can simply host and share them via a URL.

  • Twitter | Some people prefer Tweetbot. I like Twitter for Mac because it shows interactions. Pick your poison.

  • Things (or Wunderlist) | I've tried countless to do apps. These two are the best. One is paid, the other is free. Explanation on how I use Things in the Tactics section below.

  • Dropbox | I likely don't need to explain Dropbox, but they help you store files. The Mac app makes it easy to sync to your account from desktop and status bar.

Gmail Plugins

  • Boomerang | Returns emails back to your inbox when you specify, great for programmatic reminders to follow-up and get back in touch.

  • Rapportive | Dynamically pulls in social contact links, headshot, and bio of the people you're emailing and receive emails from.

  • Undo Send | Gives you a 3 - 5 second window to rescind an email that you hit send on. Life saver, trust me.

  • Auto-Advance | Another Labs feature that automagically saves or archives an email you respond to, and kicks you to the next email.

  • Unread Count | I pin all of my daily-use tabs, like email. This handy little feature shows you a count of unread emails on the tabbed email icon.

  • Shortcuts | One of the many reasons why Gmail is awesome is its shortcuts. Pick your favorites, I use mute and search almost daily.

Hi, I'm Andrew, an entrepreneur that loves the process of building companies. Currently, I work at betaworks in New York City.

This is where I share my journey and lessons learned, feel free to follow along. Read more →

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