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TPS27: 10 Computer Hacks for Higher Productivity

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The Productivity Show

Zachary discusses hacking your computer for maximum productivity with Asian Efficiency’s own technology systems and design expert Dylan Hassinger.

Dylan’s Top 10 Computer Hacks

  1. Use Apple computers
  2. Use Google Chrome as your main browser
  3. Use a left-sided dock
  4. Use Dropbox to keep everything in sync
  5. Use an internet blocker to eliminate distractions
  6. Use Gmail (or another high-powered email client – can archive, search, and filter)
  7. Use Google Docs
  8. Use a clipboard manager
  9. Use 2 browsers for separating personal and business
  10. Don’t upgrade until you have to

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19 Comments

Posted by Sourav Basak  | March 21, 2016 at 1:02PM | Reply

Loved this article when people are busy for the 1st time where someone can convince others to read more or subscribe. As people constantly needed this tricks that IT people mush have added this prior.
Sounds like this tricks can enhance the efficiency even this is a tougher task.


Regards,
Sourav Basak [Blogger, Entrepreneur, Thinker]

Posted by Karl  | August 12, 2015 at 4:46AM | Reply

I took my previous comment above and wrote a blog post:
http://karl-voit.at/2015/08/11/prodictivity-experts/

It contains additional arguments and URLs to give a better background.

Once again: Despite the rant I posted, I do like your podcast! I learned a lot. If I would not care for your podcast, I wouldn’t have written that long comment for it.

Greetings from Graz/Austria!

Posted by Thanh Pham  | August 12, 2015 at 9:08AM

Thanks for writing it up Karl! Lots of food for thought here and for everyone to mull over.

Posted by Karl Voit  | August 11, 2015 at 6:22AM | Reply

Hi!

I do like this podcast and I appreciate many things I came across bylistening to it.However, I do have some issues with Dylan’s tipps of this episode andcertain tendencies of some experts on this show in general.

First of all: I do miss productivity experts who aren’t Apple fanboysonly. It’s not the most productive system for all users. For example Ido believe that most IT literate people (which know someprogramming/scripting) do prefer more advanced systems as OS X is ableto provide.

OS X is not a UNIX-like operating system from the user’s perspective.Apple has done many things to hide or even corrupt (permissions) theDarwin system. There is no working packaging system for Darwin forexample. And I did try Homebrew, ports, and fink. They all suck in toomuch cases. They’re just bad workaronds. Sadly.

Even former Apple employees which worked for the core of OS X for manyyears did acknowledge that Apple now fails at supporting the advancedusers. I do have *many* examples that support this opinion from my ownexperience. I have worked with OS X since 10.3. And I do work onMicrosoft Windows and GNU/Linux on a daily basis as well. I failed atimplementing too much workflows on OS X because they were in contrastto the “Apple Way of Life”. If you’re fine with Apple’s preferred”solution” of any problem, you’re fine. If not, you do have a harderlife than on Windows or GNU/Linux. Apple, a shiny golden cage. Sadly.

However, I do think that for the average computer user without much ITknowledge, Apple’s products tend to be the best option for them – Iagree. I also think that people willing to optimize their PersonalInformation Management (PIM) workflows tend to be not average usersbut advanced users.

Secondly: I do miss productivity experts who don’t upload their privacy/dignity to all kinds of cloud services.

Cloud services do cause problems. Most computer users don’t think ofit this way – I know. However, I can’t use cloud services for manyreasons. Read http://karl-voit.at/2015/05/30/the-cloud/ if you want tofollow my arguments on this topic.

If you want to keep your workflows for a longer period of time withoutgiving ways your personal data to companies that are under thepressure of agencies or black-hat hackers, you have to findalternative solutions. I tend to think that I do very well in terms ofhaving (very) advanced PIM workflows *and* a decent level of securityand privacy. This is a value on its own and mostly forgotten by mostcomputer users. Sadly.

Most tipps from so called productivity experts these days are featuresof cloud services described for the masses. My approach is a bit moregeneral than this. I do reflect on my actual requirements. Then I do aresearch on tools and services that might lead to a solution for me.And the last step is the realization of the workflow using the tool ofchoice with my set of requirements. This phase does also have acertain level of influence on the workflow, depending on the featuresprovided by the tool I want to embrace – or not.

If you show a person how to use a feature like “mail filters in Gmail”they might be happy being able to filter mails via Gmail but this ispretty short-sighted. You rather should describe the purpose or therequirement you want to address. Then you might take Gmail as anexample on how to implement the desired workflow with it.

This approach does teach the person much more than just a feature.It’s more likely that the same person is able to implement similarworkflows with other tools as well. For example within an corporateenvironment (Outlook) or when Gmail is going down as many other Googlecloud services did before.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish andyou feed him for a lifetime”. You do seem to give away fishes all daylong. That’s better than nothing, I agree, but not the best option tostrive for.

Thirdly: The tipp of not upgrading is very dangerous! Please becareful when proposing such behavior to the masses. I do know, whatyou wanted to say – I guess: you wanted to express concerns on usingthe latest major-release shortly after its first hit on the market.Which is a good advice in my opinion.

However, the way you were mentioning this tipp was different. Ordinaryusers most likely get “don’t update – only if it cannot be avoided anymore”. And *this* is bullshit: (minor) updates are *very* important toprevent users from running systems which are open for vulnerabilities.

Apple has a sad history of no or wrong reactions to very severesecurity issues. Yes, there is almost no malware on OS X so far.That’s true. But OS X is *far* from being a secure operating system.If you follow the yearly hacking contests of different operatingsystems, OS X is sometimes regarded as an easy (and thusuninteresting) target to hack. You get more reward among hackers whenhacking Windows which had to learn the hard way to implement securitythe recent ten years.

So *pelase*: do never ever tell users that they should avoid(security) updates of their system. They might want to stay on theirOS X major release which is still be supported by Apple. That’s OK.But don’t use general and simplified phrases like “Don’t upgradeuntil you have to”. That’s evil.

You should keep a higher standard than this.

Posted by Ben  | June 24, 2015 at 1:42AM | Reply

Hi there,

this episode was really great but I’m wondering too why you haven’t covered Alfred or some sort of alternative to it.

Is there a chance that you can list out all the Chrome Extensions you’ve talked about in the show and do a little Tutorial how this folder thing on the dock (I need to try left handed, you use it on the left side of the screen from top to bottom, right?)?

Posted by Chris  | June 13, 2015 at 9:24PM | Reply

How is Alfred not mentioned? I don’t even use my dock anymore as I can call up any app, doc, file etc with a few key strokes. Much more Asian efficient!

Posted by Zachary Sexton  | July 23, 2015 at 11:51PM

Agreed. Kind of a big omission. I’m a LaunchBar man myself. But considering I just bugged Dylan to come on the show while he had other hacking work to do, I think he came up with a decent top 10.

Posted by Ryan  | May 13, 2015 at 4:46PM | Reply

Great tips. I’m also perplexed about Google. I use many of their services (I have to for work) but want desperately to avoid being consumed by Google’s ecosystem.

I would love tips about how to avoid attempts by companies to lock us into their platforms. I don’t like having my data spread out.

I’d rather just use dropbox or google, but since i need to use Google already I almost want to just throw my hands up and go all the way in.

Posted by Zachary Sexton  | July 23, 2015 at 11:53PM

I feel like Dylan suffers from the same problem. The dislike of giving all of his data away to Google, yet, liking so many of their tools. It seems to be the price of doing business. If I find an expert in the area of data personal data security, I’ll be sure to ask them on the show.

Posted by Adam  | May 6, 2015 at 9:42AM | Reply

Interesting podcast and I’m trying some of the tips. Dylan mentioned that he used an extension to change the color of one browser so he always knew which one he was using. What is the name of the extension?
Thanks…

Posted by Zachary Sexton  | July 23, 2015 at 11:56PM

He didn’t use an extension to change the color. He downloaded a different version of the browser called Canary. It’s less stable, has all of the latest updates and is a different color than the standard Chrome. Here’s a link to download it: https://www.google.com/chrome/browser/canary.html

Posted by Warren  | April 5, 2015 at 5:10AM | Reply

Interesting podcast. I love the Dropbox recommendation and have implemented this for all of my working files. I haven’t migrated the music library yet, but I’ll have to have a look at this.

I can’t say I agree with the “Use Apple computers” recommendation though. I find some aspects of the Mac OS frustrating and I think the fact that you can’t interact with the screen through a touch mode, holds the OS back. In other ways it’s brilliant. For me it’s knowing how you best work and then finding the OS, tablet, phone, pen, pad, gadet, widget, whatever that matches your style. And I don’t think that all software comes out first on the Mac either. I don’t mind you saying that, but I think you need to back that kind of statement up with some facts. You may well be right, but show me the numbers on that one please!

Posted by Jay  | March 5, 2015 at 3:04AM | Reply

Absolutely love the Productivity Show. Zach, you’re awesome Dude! This episode was great! However, as I tried to implement some of the great hacks suggested, I think I might’ve missed something with using the two browsers. Do I need to create another Google account for this to be truly effective? Right now, I haven’t, and so all the bookmarks from one go to the other. Not really what I was looking for, since I want one for work, and the other for fun.
Another thing, regarding the clipboard app. I found out that the PowerPack for Alfred has this feature. Alfred by itself is a great efficiency tool, but with the additional option of purchasing the PowerPack, with its clipboarding capabilities, really makes it “Asian Efficient”!

Posted by Zachary Sexton  | April 17, 2015 at 1:48PM

Thanks Jay. Here’s a quick video about our Chrome account settings as well as a clipboard manager I now use with LaunchBar:

http://quick.as/bw8kirap7

Posted by Zachary Sexton  | July 24, 2015 at 12:01AM

The answer is yes. You’ll need two different Google accounts in addition to separate browsers. One for work one for personal.

And you’re right on the clipboard manager. I was using Clipboard Guru until I fond the clipboard manager within LaunchBar. One less app to deal with seems more efficient to me.

Posted by Daniel Saunders  | March 3, 2015 at 6:19AM | Reply

Thanks for recommending Clipboard Guru. I’ve often seen clipboard managers mentioned, but never seen the need. But the explanation of how they work was great-so I bought it and used it already a dozen times today!

Posted by Zachary Sexton  | July 24, 2015 at 12:04AM

I was just training someone without a clipboard manager. I wanted to shoot myself every time they accidentally copied the wrong piece of text. But, like you, I never knew how essential they were until Dylan exposed me to them. Glad he could help.

Posted by Craig Webster  | March 2, 2015 at 7:52AM | Reply

Interesting episode. Still not sure why I should have my dock on the left (or right) of the screen though – would welcome clarity on that. Also, since Dylan is not a fan of Google there were a lot of Google apps on there – so it lost a bit of credibility for me.

Good work anyway.

Thanks,

Craig.

Posted by Zachary Sexton  | April 17, 2015 at 1:54PM

The advantage to the left hand doc for me is the fact that it is not being covered up by windows as often as the lower tool bar. Personal preference really. The broader point is to not passively accept of all the default settings out there, customize to suit your personal needs.

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