10 Tools for Optimization and Productivity Junkies (Like me!)

Over the last few years I’ve discovered a handful of tools/apps/products that I use on a daily basis. I constantly find myself telling friends about these products, so I created a list to share it with the world and hopefully make your lives easier :)

Lets dive right in….

1) Streak— Streak is a CRM that plugs directly into your gmail. I use it everyday and would cry if someone ever took it away from me. It is literally the one tool that I can’t live without. I use it to categorize my ongoing conversations, send pre-made email templates, remind me of emails that haven’t been replied to, and send personalized mass emails.

The best part? If you’re an individual user who doesn’t need to share your pipelines with anyone, it’s FREE. I’ve been using it for the last two years and I couldn’t be happier. Their team has also been rapidly releasing improvements to the product, making it even easier to use as time goes on.

Here’s what a sample pipeline I use looks like…

Some of my favorite features that Streak offers….

Snippets — Snippets are pre-made email templates, so that you never have to type out the same email ever again. They have a nifty feature called “shortcuts” so that you only have to type in a few letters to get the entire email to pop up. You can create unlimited snippets, tie them to specific pipelines you’re working on, and even plug in UTM’s. Here’s what it looks like in action.

Mail-Merge — Ever wanted to send an email through Gmail to 100’s of people without having to use something like Mailchimp or BCC everyone? Enter Mail-Merge. This nifty feature allows you send personalized bulk emails individually, rather than BCCing everyone into the same thread. Depending on the parameters you have set up in your pipeline, you can also customize various parts of the email to make it seem more personalized. Here’s what it looks like in action (in combination with Snippets as well 😉)

Snooze— Similar to other products like Boomerang, Snooze allows you to remind yourself of the emails that people haven’t replied to. Lets say you send an email today, and want to be reminded one week from today at 8am if that person hasn’t replied. This email will rise back to the top of your inbox so that you know to follow up with them. This feature isn’t as revolutionary, but I do find it easier to use than Boomerang or other products I’ve tried in the past. In combination with the other features, it’s hard to complain.

2) Linkedeep — Do you spend a lot of time on linkedin sending messages and connecting with people? If so, this tool is for you. Although the name of the company sounds like an Indian man’s first name, it has the potential to change your life.

What does it do? Search by position title and geography, and it will automatically add people on linkedin for you with a custom connection message. Then, when the person adds you back, it will send ANOTHER message known as a “greeter” to start the conversation for you. Both the invitation message and greeter are optional, in case you don’t want to use them.

Prior to discovering this product I spent the majority of my day scouring through Linkedin looking for business leads and connecting with as many people as I could. Now I spend less than 1 hour per day. It’s $40/month for an individual and $100/month for a team of three people, but it’s worth every penny.

3) Email Crackers — I use a variety of tools to crack people’s email addresses. Don’t hate on me, everyone does it.

The two I use most are 1) SellHack and 2) Hunter.io. There’s a ton more out there, but these two work best for me.

4) Datascraping Chrome Plugin — MY FAVORITE CHROME PLUGIN PERIOD. The Advanced Web Scraper Plugin allows you to scrape information off of any website that you look at. I primarily use this to source lists of companies, but I’m sure you can come up with other uses for your unique situation.

Use case — Let’s say that you are attending a conference and want to know the name of every company also attending. It will be time consuming to copy paste all of them from the website, so instead you scrape their names and domains off of the page. Here’s what it looks like…(Sorry Pioneers! :/ )

5) Giphy Capture— How did I create all these awesome gif’s you see above? Giphy Capture! This has been a game changer for me in three specific ways.

1) Employee training — Somehow, no matter how descriptive you are when writing an on-boarding document, something always gets lost in confusion. Since implementing videos that show employees how to do the tasks I ask of them, the error rates and back and forth due to confusion has significantly reduced to almost zero. The combination of instructions + gif videos has revolutionized my training process.

2) Bug Reporting — In software development when a bug arises, your first mission is to try and replicate that bug. By taking a video of the process a user has to go through to trigger the bug, it helps engineers solve the problem quicker. My engineers LOVE these videos and it has become a mandatory part of reporting any bug we discover on the website.

3) Product Demos/Walkthroughs — I often use GIF to explain new product releases to users. Rather than writing about it, I show them exactly how it works. Since implementing GIF’s as explainer tools, we’ve been able to move towards a more self service model and reduce the number of questions we get by email.

Don’t have Mac? — A good alternative for PC is Loom.

6) Awesome Screenshot— Similarly to the above, sometimes I need to take a screenshot of a page that I have on my website and visually display what I want to be changed. Where a video won’t work, Awesome Screenshot will. Here’s an example of how I use them for myself on a recent project that I worked on, where I was teaching someone how to use the snooze feature on Streak.

7) Newsfeed Eradicator — Newsfeed Eradicator removes your newsfeed and replaces it with an inspirational quote. This helped me cut the habit of checking Facebook when on my desktop. Now I only use messenger, and my entire feed is gone.

8) Rescuetime— Rescuetime is a time tracking tool that shows you where you’re spending your time when you’re on your computer. It will also categorize your projects into buckets of varying productivity and give you a “productivity score” to show you how well you have been performing. You can then compare your results in daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly spans. Here’s what mine looks like today….

9) Hemingway App— Need an extra hand editing your writing? Enter Hemingway. This incredible tool will highlight all of the things that a basic text editor won’t catch. Complicated sentences, adverbs, passive voice (basically all of the things I was never properly taught in school). This has made me a better writer and helps me catch many of my bad tendencies. Here’s what it looks like in action (taken from the homepage)

10) Ecamm Call Recorder— Record your calls so that you can listen back to them in the future. Why might you want to do this? Personally, I do this to see where I can improve. I like to look for verbal ticks. Count how many times I said “like” or “um”, see what questions I asked (or people asked me), and pay attention to how fast I spoke. All of these things make a difference. Isolating the variables that lead to a successful call help you replicate that success in the future.

You can also use this to record podcasts. I’ve done this multiple times over Skype and iPhone and it works perfectly. You might not get the best audio quality, but it’s manageable.

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And that’s it! There’s a handful of others out there but these are the ones that I use most. I only recommend tools that I use, so while there are others I have seen that seem interesting, these are the ones in my personal artillery.

Do you have any others that you use? Let me know in the comments and share the wealth!

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