PSP Productivity Hacks

Park Slope Parents held a brainstorming session for folks to share their productivity secrets, including email hacks, hidden gems from the App Store, and strategies for staying focused.

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To kick off the session, we asked everyone:


What is the one thing that you do to help you feel more productive each day?


Responses included…


-Wake up with a small win


-I write myself a post-it at the end of each day of what needs to happen tomorrow—it helps me focus the next morning and get a sense of priorities. Also...pack my lunch the night before.


-I just love updating my to-do lists first thing/prioritizing my day.


-Take small breaks to watch TikToks!


-Schedule out my time in my calendar—realistically!


-Email rules to filter as they come in, so I can deal client by client, etc.


-Being very clear of your most important priorities and focusing on accomplishing directly related tasks (versus just getting a lot any sh$t done).



General Tech Tools and Tricks


Two monitors

Many of us swear by having two screens. If you’ve only worked with a single monitor or laptop thus far, you may be surprised at how adding a second screen can change the game. It’s worth checking whether your employer will subsidize this for you.


Working remotely

In the office on the go? Recommendations for remote desktop apps include Splashtop, GoToMyPC, and TeamViewer.


Saving space on your computer while presenting in PowerPoint

Need to access other tools on your desktop while you’re presenting in PowerPoint? Set up your show as “Browsed by an Individual (Window).” This allows you to save screen real estate and multi-task during a presentation. Here’s how.


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Email Hacks



For a small monthly fee, SaneBox “identifies important messages, hides distractions, has Do Not Disturb, banishes annoying senders, reminds you to followup and more.”


Snoozing emails

Using the Snooze feature in Gmail banishes them from the inbox and schedules them to reappear at a set time. This can be a helpful way of scheduling when you want to read your email—for instance, you might snooze a personal or less time-sensitive email until after work hours.



Similarly to Snooze, Nudgemail allows you to boomerang an email back to yourself at a scheduled time. It’s pay-what-you-wish, with suggested plans of $0, $5, $10, or $20 monthly.


Turning emails into tasks

Some email clients, like Outlook, will allow you to take an email and turn it int a “task” or reminder. Here’s how.


Canned responses

If you send a lot of emails with very similar content, you can speed up the process exponentially by using canned responses, or templates. This way, you don’t have to search through your sent items and copy-paste the message every time you want to send it. Here’s how.


If your team is big on canned responses, consider TextExpander, a product that works across Mac, Windows, Chrome, and iOS, and can be used by teams, so everyone can have the same, up-to-date messages.


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Pages for iOS and desktop allows you to speak your notes into the app, which can be quicker than typing them in.


Google Keep

Another note-taking service, Google Keep offers a suite of services like collaborative workflow, reminders, checklists and more.



Intended to help you learn better when you read, Readwise periodically reminds you of passages you’ve highlighted. It also allows for voice-to-text note-taking and syncing of highlights between the app and your Kindle.



The Rocketbook Smart Notebook is an erasable notebook that allows you to transfer your handwritten notes and drawings into an app on your smartphone.



If you have children in the public school system, they can use an app called Sora for free access to ebooks and audiobooks. Users can look up definitions, take notes, and save their notes in various file formats, even once the book has been returned.


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Focus and Prioritization Strategies



Meant to replicate working in an office environment, Focusmate allows you to book a session with a “buddy” for a set period of time. You can work with mics on or off, holding each other accountable through your presence and reporting back on what you’ve achieved at the end of the session. Aside from being helpful for avoiding distractions, Focusmate can connect you with people of all ages from all over the world!


Pomodoro Technique

YouTube has tons of videos to help you practice the Pomodoro Technique, a time management method involving 25-minute intervals of focused work time punctuated by short breaks.


Prioritizing by “sand, pebbles, and rocks”

The “7 Big Rocks” productivity system sorts tasks into sand (constant low-level pings and tasks), pebbles (manageable tasks with slight consequences if not achieved), and rocks (the most important things in life, which will have serious consequences if not dealt with). The idea is that you fill up your day with sand, you’ll have no room left to deal with the rocks. Learn more about the system here.


The Quarter Jar

One suggestion was to lay out quarters in a row and drop one into a jar for every half-hour of work you accomplish. Once you’ve accumulated enough quarters, use them to reward yourself or give to a cause you believe in. If you’re a tactile/visual person, the quarter jar can be a satisfying way to mark your progress.



Further reading on Park Slope Parents


Software systems and apps for managing multiple projects and deadlines

Increasing Your Productivity

How to Stay Organized and Get Focused


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