Play Your Device Like An Instrument
  • A long-lived live is only 700,800 hours — and you’re only awake for ~500k of them. Treat those hours preciously, and do great things with them, because you can never get them back. Here’s a field guild to prioritizing your most precious asset so you can make the most of it.

Being able to use a computer (or a phone, or a tablet) like a master virtuoso plays a violin makes you more effective, and faster. It gives you a competitive advantage due to the amount of time we spend in front of our device screens.  While it takes commitment to learn these skills (and even harder to break old, bad habits), it's creates serious multiplier effect for anyone who really cares about optimizing how much they can accomplish in a day.  

It’s been four years since I wrote my last blog post on my top efficiency hacks.  This time, I wanted to create more of a living document where others could post their top tricks too, and we can learn from each other, so I've created this collaborative hackpad.  Here are the rules to play:

  1. Create a Baseline: You can only improve what you can measure, so start by learning how (in)efficient you are on a computer.  I've created the F1 GeekSpeed challenge to form a common baseline. I encourage you to see how your speed stacks up to others who have tried it, and I’ll happily add you to the leaderboard.

  1. Add (or comment on) your favorite hacks by posting a comment to this collaborative hackpad. I’ll open up full edit access once I see your tip, and I'll prioritize the most helpful hacks in the list.
  1. Learn the basics first:  If your F1 GeekSpeed baseline time is over 1 minute, you are probably a slow typer, and that’ll kill your ability to work quickly and efficiently.  Learning to type at least 40 words per minute (and ideally over 60WPM) is the most basic of skills in this knowledge economy.  Don’t let yourself off the hook if you’re a slow typer.  Improve your speed.  Typing is the most fundamental building block to working efficiently on a computer.  It’s so basic it might seem dumb to even include it here, but I so consistently see slow typists who justify “I’m just slow” as being OK that I’m specifically calling it out as not being OK.

Here are the tools & hacks I use to be insanely productive on a computer (prioritized based on how valuable they are for me):

Speed

  • What it does: Speed is a skill. Recommend you try to consume podcasts, audible, videos, etc. on as fast a speed as you can while still maintaining high comprehension.
  • Where to get it:
  • Desktop: you can listen to any video (on YouTube, Vimeo, CloudApp, etc) faster using the Chrome Video Speed Controller” plugin.
  • Audible: You can listen at up to 3x
  • Otter: You can listen at up to 2x (or as a Premium user, 3x)
  • What it costs: This is a hack that is 100% FREE and only requires your dedication to making it happen. Here’s how to do it:  
  • Start at 1.1x speed. You probably won’t even notice the difference. That wasn’t so hard, right?
  • Try 1.2x speed — or whatever speed you can actually notice a difference in. Get comfortable at that speed.
  • Rinse & repeat — keep pushing yourself a little faster as you increment

“Speed Leaderboard”
Name
What’s Your Current Speed Comfort level?
DROdio
  • 2.45x speed for most things
  • 3x speed for Audible (the speakers speak more slowly in audio books, generally)
Your Name here!

Slack

  • What it does: Slack helps teams communicate better.  But it’s oh so much more than that.  I’ve got a bunch of Slack hacks that I can’t share publicly (I will someday), but suffice it to say that Slack is a complete game changer, especially for B2B startups.
  • Use cases:
  • Largely replaces email.  If you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably already using Slack.
  • We use it as a lead generation tool… ask me for details; too sensitive to share publicly
  • Find information related to the channel via channel topics
  • What it costs: Slack is infamous for its sneaky (but transparent) pricing model, which is best-in-class at turning “adopters into addicts” and then making them pay for their addiction.  It’s worth it.  Here’s their pricing page (they give discounts for non-profits).
  • Pro-tips to optimize it:
  • Message @Slackbot /remind [@someone or #channel] [what] [when]  to set a custom reminder
  • Here are some pro-tips on how to reduce Slack Overload and boost your Signal to Noise ratio:
  • Learn keyboard shortcuts: Esp  CMD+K to quickly go to a convo or channel (instead of scrolling the left bar), SHFT+CMD+K to find or start start a group DM. Here’s a full list.
  • Optimize your notification preferences and use DND: Screenshot
  • Become a searching pro: Do you often have a hard time finding old Slack convos? Learn how to search in Slack: Use CMD+F to open the search bar, then:
  • From:@[username] let’s you find messages from a certain person. Screenshot
  • Add in:#[channel-name] to search only within specific channels. Screenshot
  • Add date modifiers to narrow your results, like on:[M/D/YYYY] , before:[M/D/YYYY] or after:[M/D/YYYY]. Screenshot (and here’s a full list of search modifiers, like has:link etc)