Getting things done the Galavant way

I’m a huge fan of lifehacking, by which I mean “I am completely overscheduled and need more hours in my day, so in lieu of a Time-Turner I’m going to need to be as efficient as possible”. I sometimes call this life in beta.

My preferred tools and techniques have evolved over the years – I used to be full-on hipster PDA, for example.

Here’s my GTD toolkit circa September 2012, ranked in order of measurably-improve-my-(perceived)-productivity.


Quicksilver – this is by far my favourite application launcher for OS X and it’s consistently the first application I install on any new Mac. Use this constantly. (Free)

Divvy – Found via this post on Reddit, Divvy is the single best window management tool for OS X. Use it about once every 10 minutes. At least. ($)

– Google Apps – Google organizes my life. I’ve been a Gmail user since 2004 (when Blogger users received invitations to the beta), and a Google Apps user since at least 2008. I won’t tell you how many email addresses I have. But it’s a lot. I use Google Apps for calendaring, document collaboration, email hosting and analytics for my domains.

Asana – I use this for everything – at work for project management, at home for grocery lists and travel planning.

 – iDoneThis – I started using iDoneThis in July 2011 (from my first entry: ‘wrestled inbox back into submission’). At the time, the iDT team were alpha-testing what has become their primary product: iDoneThis for teams (then called ‘WeDoneThis’). I use iDoneThis to keep track not just of “what I did today”, but also what I ate, whether I had a migraine, what time I woke up. It’s part #gtd, part quantified self. ($)

Alfred – I confess to being late to the Alfred train – I used it on and off while Quicksilver was on a development hiatus – but after reading this post on how to integrate iDoneThis and Alfred I coughed up the GBP 30 for a Mega Supporter license. Don’t be a free user, etc. (Free, $ for the advanced feature set)

Fantastical – Holy calendar management, Batman. Fantastical allows you to use natural language to enter calendar events (like “breakfast next Tuesday at 8am with Brianne at Ground Support); it syncs with iCal, BusyCal, Entourage, or Outlook (and by extension, iCloud and Google Calendar). Use this hourly. ($)

Evernote – Recipes, yoga poses, notes from classes I’ve attended, pages ripped from magazines and newspapers, receipts, bills, travel itineraries  – Evernote is my go-to digital filing system. (Free, $ for features like offline notebooks and searchable PDFs)

BusyCal – Because iCal is terrible, terrible piece of software. Even without the skeuomorphism. I rarely ever have to open BusyCal – because Fantastical is just that good – but when I do, I’m able to seamlessly manage my (embarrassingly large number of) Google Calendars which span two different Google Apps accounts.

DropBox – DropBox makes it automagical to access and sync files across all my devices, or from wherever I am. And I never have to travel with external harddrives again. (Free, $. Referral link)

CrashPlan – After one catastrophic hard drive failure and a subsequent roommate-formatting-my-iPod incident, I converted to the way of the backup. My backups have backups. TimeMachine + CrashPlan + multiple external drives = peace of mind.

Lastpass – Even though I’ve been increasingly been moving to the xkcd approach to password management, Lastpass is a brilliant, useful tool. (Free, $ for premium features like mobile access)

Pinboard – I was a long, long time Delicious user. And then – that whole thing. And that other thing. Cue swift switch to Pinboard, which is a brilliant service. The archiving feature is well worth the paid upgrade. ($)

Instapaper – Flirted with Read it Later (long before it was Pocket) and Readability. Subscribed to Instapaper and paid for the app when there was still a free option available. No regrets. (Free, $)

IFTTT – The glue of the internet. IFTTT makes my phone ring when I get an email with certain terms in the subject line or body. It sends articles I like in Instapaper to my Pinboard archive. It’s awesome. (Free)

– MailChimp – I switched to MailChimp from TinyLetter (which was acquired by…MailChimp) for the Galavant Times newsletter. Easy to use, full featured. (Free, $)

– Shoeboxed – Paperless life, activate. Every month or so I gather up my receipts, assorted business cards, hand-written notes and other paper-based odds and ends and mail them to Shoeboxed. Shoeboxed scans all those documents and allows me to download the scans to Evernote or in the case of business cards, export the collected contact details to a CSV. ($)

Week Cal – Because calendars on the iPhone don’t have to suck. ($)

Tweetbot – RIP Tweetie. Long live Tweetboot – brilliant on the iPhone, tremendous on the iPad. ($)

LiftFoursquare for habits. Simple, elegant. (Free)

Hardware / Offline:

11″ Macbook Air – The best laptop I have ever owned, bar none.

iPad 3 – Great for my ploughing through my Instapaper backlog. And catching up on Tumblr.

Kindle – The basic, ad-supported $79 edition.

iPhone – 4S, via many Blackberries and preceded by an HTC Sensation.

Sennheiser HD 380 Pro – Money well spent (as recommended by Marco Arment).

Doxie – A lightweight scanner with solid software and seamless Evernote integration.

Moo – Gorgeous, cost-effective business cards and stickers. ($, referral link)


5 thoughts on “Getting things done the Galavant way

  1. Brandon,

    Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. I listen to Build and Analyze, and I confess that MPU is on my to-listen list (what’s an Instapaper for podcasts, because I need that!)

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