Productivity Hacks: Making Time by Shaving Time

Productivity TipsIf there’s one thing I learned in 2011, it was how to be ultra-productive.

I’ve discussed productivity in detail before here on SPI, namely in podcast session #12: Mind Hacks, Physical Hacks and Work Hacks for Better Productivity and Getting Things Done (which was actually posted almost exactly 1 year ago). However, during this past year there was one major factor that contributed to my going beyond just being productive, and becoming ultra-productive:

My son.

With a kid, especially one who was in his 2nd year of life (from age 1 to 2), the time I had available to work dramatically decreased, as did the time I wanted to spend on work.

My son has become the center of my life—in more ways than you can imagine unless you have a child of your own.

With random nap intervals and various things that happen during child development between the ages of 1 and 2 (e.g., teething, learning to walk, learning to walk into things, learning to talk, learning to talk back, and general craziness), I had no choice but to become extremely efficient.

Obvious productivity tips come into play, of course, such as:

  • Getting rid of distractions in the work environment: noise, the dog, cell phone, etc. An office with a door works well too.
  • Getting rid of distractions online: non-work related websites, especially “domino sites”, which are sites like YouTube that can lead you from one page to another, to another, to another without you even knowing you just blew 30 minutes of time watching some pretty awesome, but totally worthless videos that did not help you make any progress in your business.
  • Getting rid of brain farts: those times when you just sit there wondering what to do next. Knowing what to do ahead of time, how to do it, and practice all help get rid of brain farts. Check out the folder system I use in podcast session #12 for even better to-do and planning tips.
  • Getting rid of tasks you don’t want to do: and handing them off to others. In 2011, I hired my first virtual assistant, Mike, who I found through Virtual Staff Finder. He has helped me “clone myself” and get a lot more things done, and I only wish I started with Mike sooner.

Besides this kind of stuff, a major chunk of my increased productivity came with learning how to speed up the little repetitive tasks that I end up doing over and over again. If you look at the math, it’s pretty incredible how much time you can actually save by shaving just a few seconds off here and there.

The Quick and Easy Math

Let’s say you learn how to do a task 10 seconds faster and you perform this task 100 times per week.

In total, that’s more than 14 hours of life (yes – life!) saved per year, and over the course of 30 years, that’s 18 entire days – just from learning how to do something a little bit faster.

Add on multiple chunks of time saved here and there, and you’ll open up a lot of free time that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

The issue is this:

People, especially nowadays, want the immediate return, and unfortunately the only immediate return from shaving 10 seconds off a task is, well, 10 seconds, which to some isn’t worth the effort.

Personally, I can tell you that my work-output to time-spent-working ratio (i.e. efficiency) has gone through the roof, as I’m always looking for ways to get more done in less time.

You could go nuts and become super-obsessive over saving time like this, but you have to draw a line somewhere. You still need to enjoy life!

I don’t count the seconds, but if something is easy and can save me little bit of time, I go ahead and do it.

Below are some of the tools I use and the techniques I’ve learned to help me get back valuable (and non-renewable) time in the long run, and just become more efficient while I work.

Productivity Tools and Tips

There are so many tools available for helping us becoming more productive – some better than others, of course – but here are the ones that I’ve found to be the most useful.

Note: for Mac users, I recommend downloading the apps via the Mac App Store (if available). This way, you can download the app to all of your Apple devices that use the same Apple ID. 


TextExpander is a powerful tool that allows you to use customized abbreviations to automatically type in longer lengths of text (and you can include images as well).

For example, if you have a standard response to a specific question you seem to get all of the time, instead of typing out the response in whole each time, or even copying and pasting a text file of your response that’s already written out, you can just type in a customized abbreviation and the tool will automatically replace the abbreviation with your longer, pre-written response.

Text Expander

I personally have about 20 abbreviations that I use to quickly write out the most common things that I type, from certain email responses to URLs, and even specific tasks for my VA.


This is a tool that I use to easily organize the windows I have open on my desktop. Most of the time, I’ll have multiple windows open and need to view two, three, or even 4 simultaneously.

With this tool, I can drag a window to an edge of the screen, or a corner, and it automatically snaps into a convenient position. It only shaves just a few seconds of time but it’s definitely a tool I use every single day.

Better Snap Tool

I also use this to easily expand a window to full-size by dragging it to the very top of the screen.

Total Finder

TotalFinder takes the ability to open multiple tabs that many web browsers have, and applies it to the Mac Finder. With this, I can have multiple finder locations open at once, which makes dragging and dropping, and locating files in folders I commonly open up a breeze.

This seems like a feature that should be built into the Mac OS already, but until then, this app works perfectly. See screenshot below:

Total Finder


This tool allows you to use a simple keyboard shortcut to take a screenshot of something on your desktop, and it keeps the selected image floating on top of everything else, until you close it.

This is especially helpful if you need to copy information from somewhere where you can’t copy and paste, and type it into another. You can capture the part of the screen you want to keep afloat, and just easily go from there.

To be honest, I didn’t think I would use this tool that much, but I find that I actually do use it quite often.


This is an extension for Chrome Users, although I’d be surprised if Firefox or Safari didn’t have their own equivalent.

It’s basically a suped-up bookmarking app that makes it easy to organize, categorize and visit your favorite websites. When I click the “+” symbol to open up a new tab, I see a screen like this which makes it super convenient to navigate to the sites I use the most:

Speed Dial 2

Everyone has their own bookmarking preference, SpeedDial2 is mine.


I’ve mentioned BufferApp several times here on SPI.

I love it not only for scheduling tweets and Facebook updates ahead of time, but I also love it because it’s extremely convenient to add things to your BufferApp queue, which can save you a lot of time.

I use the Google Chrome extension to easily add any page I’m currently on to my queue, and even on Twitter I can easily add retweets to my BufferApp in just a few seconds.

VLC Player 

VLC Player is a video player (for Windows and for Mac users) that I use to watch downloaded video content at 2x to 4x speed.

Most of the video content I download and consume comes from courses that I’m taking or tools that I’ve purchased that come with instructional videos, and it’s extremely convenient to watch these videos in half or even a quarter of the time.

Imagine an hour long video that only takes 30 minutes to watch, or even 15 minutes! It’s crazy.

VLC PlayerPassword Tools

One thing that I know I do at least 20 times a day is login to various websites with a username and a password.

I use various password tools to quickly and easily sign-in to these websites, and I honestly don’t know how I would survive without them (especially considering I have over 300 usernames and passwords for various websites).

With tools like 1Password and Lastpass, all I need to know is one master password in order to login to any site I need to access.

Both work great – the reason I have two is because I first started with 1Password and that’s where most of my logins are located, and Lastpass I’ve recently discovered and have used it mainly to allow my VA to login to sites without actually knowing the passwords to those sites – only needing to know just one master password.

Google Apps for Business

The best thing I did in 2011 relative to productivity was setting up SPI on Google Apps for Business (the free version is what I use). The biggest benefit was being able to utilize the Gmail interface with email for the business, which has drastically cut down the spam email I receive, and is also allows me to easily organize the emails as they come in.

I’m in love with the label feature of Gmail, which I use to categorize the emails as they come in. In other words, before I even read the emails, I can separate them into categories based on the sender’s email address, certain text in the subject line or in the body of the email.

Here’s a screenshot of how I can make sure I catch all of the submissions for the SPI Reader Challenge, for example:

Google App LabelsI also label comments from the blog, emails from my contact form, affiliate sales, emails that have blog post suggestions (which I request via my email autoresponder), just to name a few things.

How About You?

These are obviously just a few of the thousands of different tools and techniques one can use to become more productive and end up saving a ton of time in the long-run.

What are some of the tools that you use that you’d like to share with the rest of the community?

  • Jon Cooper

    Love the topic choice – Glen from Viperchill wrote up an awesome post on productivity, but it’s nice to see a few of the tools you recommend to help speed things up.

    Thanks Pat 😀

    • sai krishna

      yes jon i am also read that article.its also very nicely explained.Pat also nicely explained about this :)

  • Craig Bennett

    Perfect timing Pat,

    With a 4 year old and a 4 month old to deal with, time is a precious commodity for me. Add in, I’ve just received my new mac book air and looking for productivity apps, this is the prefect post for me just now.

    Keep up the good work Pat, Love the Blog & Podcasts.

  • Rich Kent

    One of my favorite tools is Growl –
    It’s a Mac OSX notification manager, but you can set it up to notify you on different parts of your screen and even with a transparent background so that it’s mostly non-distracting.

    Perfect for telling you when uploads are done, Emails received, etc.. but without distracting you from what you’re doing.

    Thanks for the recommendations on other products!

  • David

    your site, because it gives answers to questions for which I could spend hours on looking for the answers :)

  • Danielle McGaw

    I think this is one thing that everyone can improve on to some degree. Productivity is what makes your day more efficient. It helps you make more money. It makes you feel more confident. It gives you time. What more could you want?

    I often need to put together lists of links to sites (for blogging or for my own personal use) and I have two great tools that I use. For Chrome it is called “Grab y’all links” and it can also convert all your tabs to PDF’s or open up a list of urls in new tabs. In FireFox it is called url lister and you can copy a list of the urls or the html for all the urls or the html in a list format. Both are very cool.

  • Gary

    Hi Pat,
    Wunderlist is a great tool to get organized. See here:

    They are coming out with a new thing called Wunderkit very soon. We will see how “Wunder” it is
    Thanks for the great post!

    • Matt

      +1 for Wunderlist!

  • Matt

    Great list Pat, I use BufferApp and LastPass religiously.

    Not to mention Chrome itself is a great timesaver as it’s quicker than the other browsers and has better tab management.

    Another tool I’d add to the list, for people who have multiple WordPress websites (and I think most folks who read this do) is It allows you to manage multiple wordpress sites at the same time. You can update and install themes and plug-ins, update and write blog posts, and more across all your websites all from one console. It saves me gobs of time on my niche sites.

  • Nick

    Phew, you’re back! That was one long week for me. But anyways, another great post. Definitely some great tools. I still need to check out and decide whether I’m going to use BufferApp. I use Tweetdeck already for scheduling posts.

    • Gregory Ciotti

      Speaking from experience, Buffer is WAY better.

      Use it in conjunction with Tweriod, and you’ll never have to manually schedule a tweet again.

      • Nick

        But I like manually doing the tweets for the most part. I just set the tweets while I’m at school. But I like manually tweeting them and then connecting with others as well. I enjoy Twitter. It’s my main form of marketing.

  • Ralph Quintero

    Awesome post Pat! One tool that I find that keeps me ultra productive is Evernote. For me its like a server for my brain. Everything I do, see, read, think about, etc.. goes into my Evernote for later access. I can tag, search, or share any content that I have. It’s amazing how useful it is to have one central place to keep it all!

    • Luci

      +1 for Evernote. No more trying to remember where I saw something, or searching through bookmarks in my browser. AWESOME product!!!

  • Tom Schiffer

    Great tools. The one tool I’m using right now is a pen and pad to write down all these reccommendations!

    I have four kids. I know the feeling of not being able to get things done because of the time children can take up. Mornings, homework, dinner, play, baths, bed time, and doing it all again the next day.

    For some reason I can balance it all out with the simple pen and steno pad. wWriting down what needs to be done and then attacking them at every free moment.

    A simple tool, but thought it deemed mentioning. It certainly has helped me be more productive.
    Thanks again Pat for your podcasts. I love them and sharing them.

    • Danielle McGaw

      I have to agree with this one Tom! Although I love my computer I can’t be on it all the time. And there is something…calming almost, about writing things down!

    • Luci

      You could just use copy-paste into Evernote!

    • Restored Relationships

      Everyone is speaking of children and time management. There is a great book to help with your children called, Happy Family “Simple Rules”, you will find on my site. I just completed a YouTube as Pat recommended last week. Plus I’ve learned form Tim Ferris and others about explaining your WHY first, then your HOW and your WHAT is last.

      You’ve been a great help, thanks again.

  • Justin


    Great post. Got to add one for podcasts, and that’s the “2x” speed that you can select when listening to a podcast on your iPhone or iPod. It has dramatically sped up and increased my learning over the last few months. Like the video, you can get through a podcast just in the time that you are at the gym, or washing the dishes, or making dinner, whatever’s clever. You can also listen to audiobooks in “2x” speed on audible or other platforms…

  • Gordon McNevin

    Another great post! I use SpringPad to quickly write down the many hundreds of ideas i have each day. Instead of looking at it straight away, i make a quick note (in browser, iPhone or iPad app) and then come back to it later so im focussed on what im doing right now.

  • Md

    In my humble opinion, every tool and tactic to be more productive won’t work if you don’t enjoy the work that you do. I love to blog. I’ll be running on no sleep and I still write a blog post. My friend wanted to get into blogging. He blamed his job for him not having any time. Then he quit his job. That didn’t help much as he just found new excuses (driving sister to school or helping someone move). If you want to be productive you simply need to do something that you enjoy.

  • Ryan

    I’ll have to look closer at some of these. They look interesting and I love the topic of becoming more efficient. For me by far the best tools for me in keeping me productive and focused are OmniFocus, Evernote, and my ScanSnap scanner. I unfortunately receive a lot of paper in my job and getting in the routine of dropping that in my scanner in to evernote has helped me save loads of time. Omnifocus integrates well with Evernote and no matter where I am when that to do pops in my head I just immediately pop it in the omnifocus inbox (via my phone usually) and continue on with what I’m doing. This way I can stay on task with what I’m doing without worrying that I’ll forgot to do something later.

    • Ryan

      Oh I also forgot to add a recent addition that goes to shaving seconds of those normal tasks. Hazel for Mac. Allows you to setup lots of automated rules that keep me from having to do lots of little manual things. Like cleaning out my downloads folder or even emptying the trash.

  • Tram Tran @young business oppotunities

    awesome Pat, some of the tools are really cool and can come in handy.
    May I suggest a good old notebook where you write down your to-do list. This may sound newbie with all the available technology and all, however, imagine one day your mac decides to go on strike, it is always good to have back up=)

  • Tram Tran @young business oppotunities

    The list is really cool btw=)

    • Tram Tran @young business oppotunities

      oh May I suggest a good old note book to write down your to-do list. It is always good to have back-up incase your Mac or Iphone decides to go on strike=)

  • Dana Duncan

    Pat, thanks for the insight into how you stay so productive! All your tips were good, but the part that really helped me put something I’ve been thinking about together was the WHY. It’s obvious to anyone who reads your work how much you care about your family, and having that motivation to become ultra-productive so you can spend more time with your son sounds like it really helped you reach your productivity goals. I think many people who struggle with productivity could be missing that intense motivation. In other words, they know WHAT they should do but don’t really have an overwhelming reason WHY they should do it. This seems to be especially true in the corporate world. There’s a big difference in wanting to be more productive to make your boss happy (especially if you still have to be in the office 9-to-5 either way), and wanting to be productive so you can have extra time to be with your family!

    Also, I want to share a productivity tool that’s been helping me out lately. Have you heard of It’s a startup from one of the co-founders of Facebook that makes organizing tasks and working with a team simple (and its free). They have a great feature when you can setup a project with steps once and duplicate the entire project as many times as you want. The way I use it is to make projects for things I’m frequently doing like “setup client website” or “setup niche site”. Once you capture all the steps in your process it speeds up things A TON the next time through (and makes it easy to track your progress). Very helpful to anyone who plans to setup multiple niche sites!

    • Keith

      Great find, just signed up for Asana… I was having a hard time justifying the payment for Basecamp as I am small still, this may be exactly what I needed!

      • Dana Duncan

        Glad you’re finding Asana useful Keith! It’s been really helpful for me. You’re right about it being a good Basecamp alternative. Plus you can’t beat the price.

    • Beau

      Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve checked out a few different project management tools but was never that impressed. This one actually seems really great! I got up and running on it super quickly.

  • Ling-en Hsia

    Office time on iphone/ipad to track time spent on consulting gigs. Thx Pat!

  • Remco

    I use the Freerecorder toolbar. If there is a video or audiofile, i want to see/listen to later. I just press play and immediately on pause.
    Freerecorder saves it in the background, and I can then view/listen to the file later offline

  • Taline

    I couln’t agree with you more! My son turned 1 in November and it just seems like I cannot get enough things done and there are not enough hours in the day! It makes me ask myself what the heck I used to do with all the time I had before having a baby! I’m happy my site is coming along well considering I work full time, watch my son, and try to manage the apartments that I own…all in a days work! :) Thank you for all of the helpful tips!

    I realize some of you may laugh when I ask this question but I really don’t know how to do it…how do you leave a picture of you in the comment as your avatar instead of the default image? Thanks!

  • sai krishna

    very nicely explained mate,cool pointing view and also good resources.keep sharing :)

  • Dan Sumner

    Great stuff Pat. Thanks For the Better Snap and Total finder. I am relatively new to MAC and still finding new things out each day. I still can get the hand of Camtasia for MAC so I’m still switching between MAC and PC for now.

    I use Evernote and sync between iPhone and MAC when I have ideas when I’m out and about. It works well for me.


  • Chris

    Read it Later is my number one time saver. Anytime I come across an article or web page that looks interesting but I don’t have time at that moment to read it, I just click the Read it Later icon on my toolbar (ie, firefox, chrome, safari are all available). It saves the page as an article and I can read it later, either on my Mac or my iphone or ipad, and you don’t need an internet connection, so it makes for great reading on planes. Keeps me focused on the task at hand, yet I know I’m not missing a thing. Love it!!!

  • Jeff is without a doubt one tool I can’t do without. It allows me to access any document via any device and add notes. If I am working away from my desk I can add notes to a document from my iPhone. When I get home I can resume adding notes via my PC or iPad. You can get 50 GB of storage if you register using a mobile device. I like Apple but this puts their 5 GB of storage to shame.

  • Adrien

    Haha it seems that the first thing to do is to buy a Mac Book!

  • Benny

    I’ll definitely have to check out some of those tools you mentioned. I’ve heard about them before but I think it’s time to actually try them out.

    One I found out about is called StayFocusd (that’s how it’s spelled). It’s a Chrome extension. It sets time limits on websites you designate. So if you know you spend too much time on and, you put it on the list. The default time is 10 minutes total for the day on the sites you put on the list.

    If you use up all your time, those sites will be blocked. You can unlock it, but you’ll have to do some long boring repetitive task. I haven’t tried that part of it.

    Great for those who need some help on time wasting websites.

    • Personal Growth @

      Thanks Benny. I’ll definitely use this in the future.

  • Mirko Kloppenburg

    Hi Pat!

    Thank you for this great post which I just read after waking up! :-) This is the topic I am blogging about.

    I am also using some of the tools you mentioned and I would like to add two additional ones that I am using every day: web-based task management tool that helps me to organize my todos. Just put all tasks into the system and don’t worry about the management of the tasks any longer. It definetly saved me a lot of time.

    TimePanic: Time tracking tool which helps to do single tasking. Sounds crazy, but by tracking my time, I am saving time! I can focus on just one task and I learn a lot about my working habits. :-)

    Keep on going with this great platform!

    Viele Grüße aus Hamburg!

    • Rebecca Livermore

      Mirko, thanks for this. I think I’m going to give TimePanic a try!

  • Miriam Gilbert

    Hiya – Loved the post! I was in two minds whether to comment as I don’t have a techie tool to suggest and was in awe of all the great ones mentioned. But then I thought, what the heck, why not….
    I try to be efficient in the every day, boring things that don’t need much attention- e.g. I read while brushing my teeth, listen to podcasts while peeling & cutting food for dinner, etc. Of course you have to be careful 😉

  • Ole

    I liked the TextExpander tool the most, but other are also awesome.

    Good tool to make a screenshot of the selected area for PC users is ScreenHunter. Perhaps not exact same features as ScreenFloat, but will save the screenshot to the file and/or clipboard.

  • Paul Thewlis

    Hi Pat, great post – a number of excellent tools.

    I’m in pretty much the same boat with an 18 month year old. I work full time (for now) and I run 2 businesses and multiple blogs on the side. I find time by getting into the office early and sneaking an hour before I start work – then again at lunch. I then work from about 8pm in the evening (my son’s bedtime) until about midnight. It’s killer sometimes but 100% worth it when you start seeing some results. If you’re telling yourself you don’t have time – you’re not serious enough about this. Like SPI says – work hard now and you’ll see the results later. After about eight months of this workload, I’m just about set to drop my hours working a ‘proper’ job in half and I’ll be entirely self-employed in around 8-10 months all being well. As a motivational sentiment, where will you be in 8-10 months? Get to work!

    As for tools – I want to throw Rapportive into the ring. This is a Chrome plugin (perhaps other browsers too). If you use Google apps and therefore Gmail (as Pat suggests above) it replaces the usual Adsense sidebar with a social media hub. When you receive an email from a customer or fan, it’ll give you there social media profiles right alongside the email. I use it to follow people I want to interact with longer term on my business and even answer a few questions publically on Facebook, telling them to visit the page if they want to find out the answer to their query. This helps promote ‘likes’ for my brands.

  • Dev

    Hey Pat,

    Awesome list. I will definitely have to check out some of those tools you mentioned but I think i need to buy a Mac Book, first 😉 .

    Thanks for sharing this great list, buddy.

  • Lyndsy Simon

    I love Google Apps – and I started out doing Google Apps for Business, just like you’re doing Pat. Over time, I added a second, then a third account for different emails and domains I had set up. It got to be a real pain.

    These days, I’ve consolidated into a single gmail account, and have all of my emails forward to it from my host. Gmail allows you to set up multiple send addresses, so I can send from any of about a dozen emails with the click of a button.

    As emails hit my inbox, they’re tagged and color coded based on what email address they were sent to. When I reply to a message, the “From:” address defaults to the address the email was sent to.

    What really ramped this up was when I got an Android-based phone. The Gmail app has the same labeling and multiple-email friendly features as the desktop version. It has really taken my productivity to a completely new level.

    I heard a couple of weeks ago that the iOS apps for Gmail were updated – they may be on par now, I just don’t know. I had an iPhone from iOS 3.0.1 to 4.3 or so, and the biggest problem I faced was getting push notifications to work with Gmail.

    Yes, I need to write a blog post on how my Gmail is set up and how it impacts my productivity… I’ll put it on my list 😉

  • Emily

    Pat, wait until your son hits three. He will be all about daddy – and probably have a hard time figuring out why you can’t play with him even though you’re home all the time.

    (On the other hand, since you ARE home all the time, it may not be such a big issue as it is with my DH and DS.)

    Oh, and let’s not forget giving up naps…

    But there is hope – somewhere between three and four they become much better at playing independently for longer periods of time.

    PS–My DS is five…

  • Personal Growth @

    Happy belated birthday Pat! :-)

    These are some great productivity tips! I’m working on an authority site and will be implementing a lot of these. Thanks a bunch Pat!

    – Seleema

  • Drezz

    Wow – I haven’t visited SPI in a long time, and I decided to check in to see how things had progressed. Great stuff, Pat!

    This post couldn’t come at a better time as I’m looking for ways to keep productivity high and ‘make’ more time for getting tasks done. My wife is expecting next month, I have a graphic novel I’m trying to finish up, and I’m on a bi-weekly podcast for a site I am a regular columnist on – all this in addition to my regular day job!

    Finding those choice nuggets of spare time are vital for keeping my head above water. Thanks for putting these out there – now I have something to refer to when I start to lose focus.

  • Mike

    Great post! For passwords, I like KeePass; free and never failed me.


  • Miriam Gilbert

    Hiya – had to come back to say I LOVE the bufferapps, thanks so much for the tip!

  • Gabe Arnold

    Hi Pat – Great article. I wanted to share one technique that I keep coming back to year after year: It’s very simple and there are many little times you can use. Hearing a ticking timer or watching it on my screen really keeps me focused on 25 minute “sprints” that help me focus. I highly recommend it to you and all your readers.

    • Jared Dees

      I love the Pomodoro Technique and I’m glad you brought it up Gabe. I use to get started on projects I don’t look forward to or find too big to tackle. Just go to and get started on your project. I’ve found that once I get into a project I go well beyond 25 minutes and get into the zone (flow).

      • Gabe Arnold

        Hey Jared, thanks for showing me that site. I have never used a web based one, only this one: which I love :) Yes it does help me get into the flow for the projects I feel like I don’t want to do, whatever stupid reasons I may have made up in my mind, the ticking noise seems to break them down.

        • Rebecca Livermore

          Oops, sorry, Gabe! I didn’t see that you mentioned focus booster before I did. It’s a great tool!

          The funny thing is, my family knows exactly what I mean when I say, “I’m in the middle of a Pomodoro!” The translation, of course, is, “I can’t talk or stop what I’m doing right now!”

    • Rebecca Livermore

      +1 on the Pomodoro Technique. It helps me tremendously, and is the number one thing I use to stay focused and productive throughout the day. There is a great app you can use with it — It’s an app that was made specifically to work with the Pomodoro Technique.

  • Rebecca Livermore

    I think I’m addicted to productivity hacks, so thanks for these! And I totally agree about how it pays to save even seconds on actions you routinely do.

    In terms of email, though I love Gmail, I have found that Outlook saves me tons of time because of all the shortcuts and tools it provides, and the way that everything from calendar to email to tasks lists, etc. are all integrated. So I’ve combined the best of both by setting up my Gmail to be used in Outlook. I still access gmail from the web when I’m in casual work mode, but when I’m in serious work mode, I open up Outlook and just get the job done.

    I especially love the Quick Parts option in Outlook, because I can have even very large chunks of text, complete with all the formatting I want, pasted into email with just a couple of clicks. This works great for email I handle for one of my clients, as many of them require a form response, and this is by far the fastest way I’ve found to do it. (Outlook also has templates, but Quick Parts is way faster, and in a lot of ways less limited.)

  • Roy Marvelous

    I find that Gmail is indeed my best productivity tool. I have multiple email addresses, forwarded to one Gmail and I extensively use filters and labels.

  • Alejandra

    Great article, Pat! I’m actually a productivity coach and Certified Professional Organizer, so I come to the topic of productivity from a slightly different perspective. I spend my time helping people learn how to keep their lives organized and productive (anyone, not just business owners). The tools you listed are great ways to increase your efficiency and leverage yourself through technology. But technology alone will not solve your issues. You must have systems and processes in place to keep your life in order (you began to touch on this concept in the tips you listed in the bullets). Once you have systems and a plan to maintain your organization, you can focus on unlocking the potential in the other areas of your life, such as your business, relationships, and goals.

    Many clients think buying products will solve their problem, but they usually just end up adding to the clutter because they are not the right products. I have tested hundreds of organizing products throughout my career. I compiled a list of the best organizing products on my website. Hope that helps.

  • Wan @theshortguyjournal

    Hey, Pat.

    Thanks for the VLC player tips. Never thought that can make a difference actually. I dread watching video courses that only 20% accounts for the 80% of content in the video. You had saved a lot of my time by sharing that tip.

  • Ethan

    Here’s the Windows equivalent of the programs that I use
    Total Finder

  • Amy

    I’m a Windows user and make heavy use of productivity applications.

    For those who don’t use Macs and want something like TotalFinder, a couple of good Windows Explorer alternates include Directory Opus (not free, but very customizable and awesome if you’re willing to take the time to set it up to suit you) or xplorer2 lite (less complicated and what I used before I paid for Directory Opus).

    A Windows alternative to ScreenFloat is ScreenshotCaptor (free). Gives windows users the ability to take screenshots of regions of the screen like in OSX, can automatically save screenshots in your preferred file format and location, can pop up a window with the screenshot on your screen immediately if you prefer, allows you to make quick edits to the screenshot (such as highlighting something) without oepning it in a photo editor, tools to automatically upload your images via ftp or free image sites, etc.

    Firefox has an addon called “SpeedDial” that works similarly to SpeedDial2 for Chrome.

    I use a program called Toodledo to manage my todo lists. I have it on my iPhone too so it stays with me.

    I also use 1Password on Windows and my iPhone.

  • Gerard

    I love the topic subject, but I am not quite sure I fully agree with it. Money that you save can be kept and added to grow. But you cannot save time. A minute saved now is not available later in the day or the year.

  • Sahil Parikh

    Awesome list! In addition we use Alfred,,, and

  • james lobbler

    Great Post pat Keep em coming

  • Brendan Vraibel

    You’ve outdone yourself with this post, Pat. I had never heard of almost all of these apps.

    A tool that I use a lot to keep my productivity in line is an app called Focus Booster. It allows you to set time intervals for work and to time your breaks in between sessions. It really boosted my productivity.

    Thanks for the awesome post as usual!

  • Christopher Knopick

    I use Evernote all the time, from writing posts, to storing websites and lists of writing ideas and just about everything else. Here is an article I wrote on how I use it, .

    I also use HootSuite to write posts for Twitter and Facebook. The scheduling feature really comes in handy and I can schedule the same tweet several times per day so different people see it at various times (increases the views when I’m linking to something).

    Another feature of my mac that speeds up my intake of info is the scroll wheel zoom, where if you hold down the control key and push up on the mouse scroll wheel the whole screen zooms in or out and then follows the mouse left or right as you move it. It saves time in that I don’t have to reach for my glasses all the time. I wish that it worked this way in Windows…maybe someday.

  • ross walker

    second the people that mention evernote and hootsuite. I need to add Quicksilver for Mac. Unbelievably cool and would die without it!

  • Dan

    Great list, I use Evernote every day.
    Personally, I have to shave a good chunk of time off an activity (say a minute or more) before I can guarantee that the time saved will be used mostly productively. If I just shave off 10 seconds, then I’ll probably just waste those 10 seconds anyway so it wouldn’t be good use of time saved. But that’s just me!

  • Custom Software Development

    Thanks for listing out the huge list of tools. Hope this helps to save time for my search. Thanks for sharing and describing it Pat

  • Trevor Gallant

    I have to say these tips were great! I’ve only recently launched my website as a direct result of reading Smart Passive Income and I’m finding it’s a Huge amount of work up front. Anything to save time and work smarter is appreciated. Thanks!

  • Mr X.


    Wow! What a great list of tips to be more productive! Thanks for sharing and all that you do!

    I love the podcast!

    Mr X.

  • Toby | WikiWarrior

    I’d never seen the BufferApp or the Snap tool, pretty sweet. At the moment I think the thing that will increase my productivity the most is simply getting a second monitor. It’s a real timewaster flicking back and forth between tabs. Once I have two monitors I can just mash out content and glance at the other screen for reference without slowing down.

  • Daniel Roach

    Hands down, VLC has saved me more time than I could possibly count. Every time I go through an educational course, video, or even your podcast, I’ll use the play speed feature.

    For anyone who has never tried it, you’d be surprised how fast you can listen to something and still catch everything being said.

  • MacFantastic

    Hey Guy,
    i like you site, i found it at a german blog!

  • Find Freedom

    Awesome post Pat. There are quite a few tools you listed here in your post that I never even heard of before. I’m going to be downloaded those tonight! Thanks for the great info..

  • Erol

    Hey Pat,
    I’ve been following your site for the last month or two, and I am not only incredibly motivated but excited about the opportunities you present.

    Want to thank you for the transparency of your work. Once I get myself moving, following your advice (and others) I will let you know.


  • Justice Wordlaw IV

    Some of these tools that you mentioned I’m going to have to really look nto especially the Gmail account with emails because I use email accounts via Hostgator and I receive a lot of spam.

    With the password tools that looks like something that could be really useful to have with going in and out of different sites each day.

    I know how you feel with outsourcing tasks out to people. I just hired on a editor for all of my blogs posts and written content because that’s just something I just really dislike doing a lot of the time.

  • lee

    not bad! i like it very much!

  • Opera cheats

    Thanks,i’ll look into this right away,once i’ve done that,i’ll give my review here.

  • Latest mtn tweaks

    Wow,i never knew i would do this,it’s so easy,because figuring it out your idea,i found out that using two monitors helps a lot and fasten things up.
    Omodico@ freebrowsingtime

  • Kyle

    A great browser-independent alternative to Speed Dial 2 is!

    I have been using it for over a year, and have made it my home page.

    Thanks for the post,

  • Smarty

    Hi Pat,
    I actually never used VLC for speedy watching even I’m VLC usre for over five years. Thanks for the idea and for this great blog.

  • Richard

    Hi Pat, what a great article. Thanks to David Allen’s GTD system I’ve gone from super disorganised to highly effective within a few years, but there’s always room for improvement. Your article has inspired me to make hyper-productivity a focus area for 2012, so thanks!

    Anyway, I installed several of the apps you recommend, but in my quest to find a better floating window I came across this: which will float most Mac Apps, including TextEdit. As I do pretty much all of my to-do work in TextEdit, it’s perfect! I hope you and your readers find it useful.

  • Operamini cheats for MTN.

    That’s correct,1password is the best tools to use and check your password different logins.they’re some that areFree to use,
    operamini cheatsOpera cheats for mtn december 2011

  • Timo Kiander


    Me and my wife got a baby 5 weeks ago and my schedules have turned upside down :)

    I try to wake up earlier than the rest of the family, so that I can get stuff done. However, if my son keeps me awake at night then I like to sleep in (I’m too tired to wake up at 5 AM :) )

    Having a baby in the house will definitely make you take advantage of every available second there is for your personal projects :)

    Thanks for these tools, I gotta check them out!


  • Taline

    Another great article! :)

  • Alex Aguilar

    Great tips Pat, especially the VLC fast forward trick. Much like the commenter above me, I’ve been using VLC for the past couple of years without even being aware of the speedup feature.

  • Michel

    Great article Pat, I use to get my written content out all over the web. Did you ever use it and what do you think about it?

  • Carsten

    Great article at the right time, Pat! My biggest problem is “Getting rid of distractions online”. So please do me the favour and stop writing theses interesting posts so that I can focus on writing my new started strategy-blog instead of reading your blog. 😉
    Keep up that good work!

  • Michel

    A very useful small app (from the Apple App Store) is simply called “cmdQuit”.
    Have a look on it, you won’t regret…

  • Nathan

    I find simply starting the day with writing a to do list very productive.

  • Jeremy Roberts

    For me, I use Evernote all day, everyday.
    The fact that I can have an idea on the train, write it down, and then run with it when I get to my desk is priceless… made even better that it is in fact free.

    For tracking those quick todo’s, I use Wunderlist and am very much hanging out for Wunderkit.

    However, in terms of actually getting things done, I don’t think that tools are the only answer – too many tools just make your workflow longer and more complicated. To save time in your day/life, consider ending each day with a list of three to five things that you have to complete the next day. When you get to your desk the next day, you already know what you need to do, and once you’ve done them, simply think of 3 to 5 new items and leave your desk. Done! No longer are you tied to the clock thinking that “I need to spend X hours doing this and Y hours doing that” to fill in a day. Just make a list, do it, and leave!

  • Jeremy Roberts

    Oh… and has made it into my workflow too. Updating various networks and things is now taken care of for me!

  • Rodderz

    Great Post! – One of main weaknesses (opportunities to develop) is time management and it’s the one thing I find hardest to concur on a regular basis. These tools are great and I’m going to start using them straight away. Thanks again for another really helpful post.

  • Carrie Smith

    I am a HUGE fan of saving time. I’d rather save time (and make more money in the process) than to spend less money. These tips are a massive help to me, and I can’t wait to start trying them out. I haven’t used Buffer yet or the Chrome bookmark extension but I think those will really help me.

    Awesome as always Pat!

  • Ian

    Nice list Pat. I have installed the snap tool onto my new macbook air. This was a feature that I was missing from my pc desktop, very simple but very useful. I have also signed up to lastpass. I did look at 1password when you talked about that a few months ago but did not want to fork out for several editions to cover all my different pcs/macs/iphones etc. Lastpass will do all of this automatically and it’s free!
    Thanks and have a great xmas.

  • Christie

    I just picked up Breevy, thanks for the recommendation Pat!

    Two of my personal favorites: Evernote and

  • Chris Green

    Wait till you have two kids Pat, it get’s even more inportant to manage time. 😉

    I never thought about watching vids at 2X speed, that’s one i’ll be checking out this year.

  • Brock @ Amazon Affiliates Blog

    Cool post. It reminds me of the Japanese concept of “Muda” (find it on Wikipedia). It has to do with getting rid of all excess in a business, especially manufacturing, but it applies to any activity, whether it be keystrokes or whole tasks.

    Also, you can download “Shift” as a great free alternative to paid window/screen organizers for OS X.

  • Brian Wong

    Great list. I love reading other people’s productivity tools! I already use quite a few of these and also the Pomodoro technique. I just wanted to add one tool that I find really useful called “Fantastical”. Basically, it allows you to enter iCal events using everyday language. e.g. “Meet Joe for Coffee next Tuesday at 2pm at Starbucks”. It will just convert that into a properly formated even in iCal. :)

  • jin

    Nice list of productive tools Pat. I also use some productivity tools check this one;
    It is a time tracking tool that can help you manage time efficiently and effectively. Using this tool it can track time on different tasks accurately. You can also set an amount of time to do each task so that you won’t waste time and help you stay focus to improve productivity.

    • Randy Garcia

      Great topic and I have to just remind myself that I actually did try using time doctor’s tracking software like you suggested in this post and my site wealth generators was having a minor glitch with the template being out of order so I have to now get an expert site developer to fix it. I heard it was good so once this is fixed i’ll keep you updated on the results. Thanks Jin

  • Mike From Maine

    I also really like Text Expander. It saves me a lot of time when I am trying to copy and paste instructions for my virtual assistants. It’s definitely a time saver.

  • Max

    I was experimenting with some “TextExpander for Windows” solutions lately and found an app called Autotext (, it’s cheaper and more stable than the others and support TextExpander bundles and macros commands.

    Perfect for my needs.

  • Matt Nall

    I really like the list. I use a lot of these myself. Lastpass is perhaps at the top of the list though. I can’t begin to tell you how helpful it is to have all of my sites with really secure passwords that are only a click away. Another text expansion tool that I like is texter from

  • Hashim

    This is a very good post.


  • Chris

    Very helpful post! I have moved to Evernote as my ‘catch-all’ and it is an ‘everyday’ tool. Also for mac Voila’ (screen capture) is well worth the money – comparable to Snagit for PC.

  • diksha

    Nice tips and great post. I would suggest Replicon’s time management
    solution since it had been pretty simple and easy to access and undoubtedly quite efficient and productive tool for our business time and project management.

  • Zac Wilson

    Very useful list. Me use proofhub, google docs, skype daily to handle my projects as well as clients. All these three tools has eased our work a lot.