Productivity Tools I Use

One of the great things about being in the business of investing in technology is getting to play with and demo different types of technology.

I could talk about mounting an AWS server or Github or even Koding (which if you are a hacker and you don’t know about it you should – Koding is a developer community and cloud development environment where developers come together and code in the browser). The thing that occurs to me is the readers, who are technologists, probably know this stuff better than I do and I’m not really breaking new ground.

So I’m going to go the productivity route and share the cool things that I’ve come across that help me keep track of everything and organize everything and print less and lug my computer around less.  The upfront caveat is that I’m an Apple guy and a SaaS guy and a cloud guy.  I haven’t touched Outlook, or a Blackberry or downloaded a desktop app, or even operated Windows in ages.

So here goes:

Rapportive: Not as cool as it used to be before LinkedIn bought it but still an amazing tool.  An add-on to Gmail that goes out onto the web and essentially collects a dossier on any email address that you type into the ‘To:’ field.  Really great. Hint: it’s great for spoofing an email address if don’t know it in advance.

WriteThatName: This is so simple.  The application looks that the signature block of your incoming emails and it compares it to your contact database. If the info is there it does nothing. If it isn’t it writes it.  Sometime it does part of it.  Sometimes it does all of it. And the application allows you to decide of the data gets added.

Cue: (Formerly Grepplin) – A mobile app that intelligently ties together and surfaces useful information at the right time from the accounts people use most, including email, contacts, and calendar. People can see their entire day at a glance or simultaneously search across all of their accounts with Cue.

If This Than That: This is a personalized application rules engine.  I know that sounds complicated but literally you can set up rules.  If I post to my WordPress blog automatically Tweet about it. If I post a picture to Facebook, copy it into Dropbox.  And on and on. It’s really easy and really helpful.

TextExpander: So there is a bunch of stuff we type over and over. I can’t count how many times I have to give people directions to our offices in a week. Instead of retyping that or even cutting an pasting literally you just set up a shortcut. For example, every time I type ‘aaddre’ that paragraph automatically comes up.  I have set up a bunch of rules. It’s awesome.

Boomerang: This is just for Gmail.  It helps you keep a zero inbox.  It reminds you of things at the right time. That’s all that needs to be said.

Pinboard: This is how I “pin” links from the web and organize them into RSS-accessible feeds. For example, the RTP web site “news” is just a Pinboard feed with a “publish” tag. Setting up appointments via email sucks. It’s back and forth.  You can’t see the other persons availability.  You are guessing.  Then you have to also set up an invitation.  This app just lets the other person see your calendar and schedule a meeting. Easy.

Buffer: If you don’t use Twitter as a curated news feed you are missing out.  If you don’t have a social media strategy, that’s a lost opportunity.  And if you tap out all your tweets one at a time, when the mood strikes, I have no idea how you have time for anything else. Use this application to stockpile all sorts of things that you post and automate the dispensation.  Huge time saver.

Evernote: This one is down the list because I don’t want to be insulting.  I assume most people use this.  It’s a SaaS notebook with unlimited pages that you can paste anything into and get it back on any device.  If you use this it will save at least 4 legal pads per year.  This is your ecological responsibility.  If you don’t… use this.

There’s a bunch more.  Maybe I’ll do another post on this, but in case I don’t, figure out what these are yourself.

Just to conclude, let me say that some of these applications are not free.  Most are.  However I fully believe that if some hacker someplace is providing you value you should support her/him.  I’m willing to take a chance.  I encourage you do the same and give a little bit.  It’s never much.

Finally, I just gave up the ghost here.  I think these apps are cool.  It took me a long time to figure out what’s useful and what is impractical.  If you know a cool productivity app, share it in the comments section.  And don’t just hawk your iPhone App.  Let me know what else is out there that I should pick up on. Thank you.


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