Turbocharge your email productivity

Since mid-2012, Lifehacker has run a popular interview series called “How I Work”

Each week, they ask an expert to share their productivity secrets, fave apps, tools, routines, time saving secrets and  best advice they’ve received.

Why I Like It: 

  1. It tells a full storyEach person shares their must have apps and how they use it (the process is often almost as important as the app!)
  2. It’s actionable: These bite sized tips give you a highly curated list of apps to try and why.
  3. It’s a guilty pleasure: From pictures of their workspaces to details of their sleep routines, you get a rare and intimate peek into how they run their private lives.

The series interviews a lot of great people – from Tim Ferriss (4 Hour WorkWeek), Maria Popova (Brain Pickings), Ryan Carson (CEO, Treehouse), Phil Libin (ex-CEO, Evernote), Warby Parker CEOs, Russell Brown (Principal Designer at Adobe), and is a treasure trove for productivity tips and tricks.

Here are some classic interviews with their takeaways:

 1. Guy Kawasaki

It’s no secret that I have been in love with Guy Kawasaki ever since he replied to my tweet.

Fave AppsEvernoteTextExpander

 *PRO-TIP: There’s a free Chrome Extension Auto Text Expander which is perfect if most of your work is done online 

Fave Tip: He does not keep emails for more than 21 days, nor does he make to do lists.

Fave Quote:

“I challenge myself to remember what to do in order to delay the decay of my brain – @guykawasaki”

*Note: There  are two ways of reading what he said: 

a) a humble way of saying he has a photographic memory
b) an elegant way of saying he is not a “to-do list” person,  i.e. tends to make decisions at the last minute and can be disorganinzed.

A great way to sound smart in an interview or side-step a question if you don’t do it.

2. Amit Agarwal

LifeHacker How I Work Interview with Amit Agarwal

Amit Agarwal is one of India’s most popular tech bloggers and one I follow religiously.

I learnt how to make my first Twitter bot from him (in Sep 2015)  and now I have 17 Twitter bots!

Fave App: If you  find your browser freezing by having too many tabs open, One-Tab is a life-saver that collapse all open tabs, saving your links which you can rearrange, group and export or publish, and immediately frees up 99% of memory.One Tab

He doesn’t say it on this particular interview but he is also a big Evernote too and has posted many Evernote tips on his blog including his hack on how to post notes to Evernote via email for free (a premium feature).

Fave Tip: He’s a big fan of keyboard shortcuts and avoids using the mouse (a common theme)

Fave Quote:

“Never, ever work for free – Amit Agarwal, Digital Inspiration”

3. Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin is an Evernote Ambassador and writer and blogs about going paperless.

Fave Apps: Use IFTTT (If This Than That – FREE on IOS / Android / Web) to save your favourite tweets to Pocket for reading over the weekend.  Do the same with Feedly’s RSS reader.  When you’ve had time to read the articles, save the best ones from Pocket to Evernote via this recipe.

Pocket to evernote

This is a very popular recipe used by editors and writers and was one of the more creative uses of IFTTT when it first came out.

This simple solution lets you use Twitter as a bookmarking tool to save headlines that you might not have time to read when you’re scrolling through your phone in the day and makes a an overwhelming amount of information more accessible by breaking it down into smaller pieces.

Bonus: Here is Kevan Lee from Buffer’s Feedly Reading List!

Fave tip: Automate anything you need to do more than once. Jamie writes a lot about automation on his own blog  and is also a big fan of using a text expander.  Micro-automating snippets of text does take a while to get used to, and it may not seem like a big deal but it adds up.


“The internet can be quicksand for the curious – Jimmy Soni, Huffington Post Managing Editor”

These experts reduce their digital complexity and get things done by automating repetitive tasks, having simple but structured workfows and eliminating emails and meetings. 

“Learning to ship work that isn’t perfect—work that will never be perfect—is hard to get used to. But it’s part of a decision to make progress each day, share it with the world, and grind some more.” – Seth Godin

“Ship often. Ship lousy stuff, but ship. Ship constantly. – Seth Godin “

Want more?

This series has been running since end of 2012, with an interview conducted every week. That’s at least 150 interviews.  However, there isn’t an index of those interviews.  Even the Best Of Guides is not an efficient way to decide which ones are good to read.  So I decided to  hack the Lifehacker website for all the ‘How I Work’ interviews so that I could rank them by social shared count! Lifehacker fans will love the result. Check out my Hacking Lifehackers How I Work post here!

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