A dead horse could have beaten me in a race. Everyone was running triathlons. But when I was first immersed in PPC, I was still learning how to walk.

Slow and steady wins the race. The tortoise obviously was referring to some outdated marketing world, not the realities of digital marketing. Things move fast here, and I had to get ramped up quickly.

While studying the best practices of PPC, watching webinars, and bugging my teammates for tips, the hacker in me had to wonder, “How can I accelerate this process? How can I deliver more results in less time? In other words, how could increase my work’s ROI?”

I pulled my best tricks out of my sleeve to shave off minutes and keystrokes for my tasks. After all, seconds add up to minutes. Minutes add up to hours – hours that you could be using to get things done.

Are you into hacking? Testing? Optimizing your productivity just like your campaigns? Or maybe you’re just a neurotic marketer (like me)? Then keep reading.

Here are 10 tools for you to maximize production while minimizing input – or at least edge out that dead horse.

1.    Launchy

This will be your new best friend that gives you a big step towards throwing your mouse away once and for all. Launchy allows you to launch programs and execute actions in fewer keystrokes. Open specific files and folders without having to dig through hundreds of folders. Customize almost any shortcuts you want. Need to do some quick back-of-the-napkin calculations? Use the built-in calculator. You could spend several weekends hacking this gizmo to your liking. (Probably only I would.)

Bonus: If you use a mac, use the award-winning alternative Alfred. You’ll be an unstoppable speed machine with it.



2.    LastPass

This is standard across our company, but sometimes it’s not used to its fullest potential. Lastpass saves all of your passwords so you can switch across multiple accounts with ease, be it Google, Bing, or Marin. When I switch over to other desktops and laptops, all I have to do is login to my Lastpass and I have access to all of my login credentials needed to do my work. For high-risk websites, I generate my own unique passwords for each site. Lastpass does the hard work of remembering your passwords so you don’t have to . For low-risk websites with little to no sensitive information (e.g. your Instagram account), activate auto-login to make your life even easier. Think of all the keystrokes, clicks, and headaches you’ll avoid by using this.


3.    Evernote

I cringe when I receive notes on Microsoft Word. I think to myself, “Why create additional layers of unnecessary file management and organization?” Word is great… if you’re writing a novel or a state of the union speech. If not, use Evernote instead. It’s the last notebook you’ll need. The benefits are its capabilities for collection, organization, and cross-device editing.

Stuff it with meeting notes, helpful links to remember, training materials, and embarrassing photos of coworkers for future presentations. You can search through your collection of notes with ease using its search function. Make this your primary repository for all your notes to simplify your life.

Here’s an expert’s tip: use tags instead of folders for more effective organization. Folders require a lot of dragging, dropping, and clicking to organize. How stifling. Use tags and begin them with punctuations, like periods, dashes, or asterisks. Evernote’s autofill function when tagging notes will save you time. I have only two folders: inbox and cabinet. Inbox is for processing, and cabinet is for storing.

evernote tagging

4.    Wunderlist

“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them”
– David Allen, Author of Getting Things Done (GTD)

When you’re juggling hundreds of tasks, you need a place to store and hold all the balls in the air. Wunderlist is my go-to task manager to help me juggle. When I’m in a meeting and someone sends a task my way, I throw it into Wunderlist and process it later when I can. If I’m digging deep into analysis and a random thought pops into my head that I should do, then I store it in Wunderlist with a reminder to circle back to it. Wunderlist is a simple, well-designed, and uncrowded task manager without excess bells and whistles that helps me get things done. Did I mention it looks great?



5.    Ditto

CTRL+C and CTRL+V are the dynamic duo we cannot live without. But they aren’t the smartest pair; they have a brain that can only hold one item at a time. Enter Ditto, your future clipboard manager. I’m surprised it doesn’t come default with Windows. If you’re sick of having to copy and paste the same piece of text multiple times from one Excel sheet or web page to another, then this will cure your ailment. It remembers your entire copy-and-paste history so you don’t have to. Bam – your copy and pasting skills just got upgraded. Alt+Tabs will decrease by 20% with this. (I made that number up.)



6.    Pomodoro

Pomodoro is a tool and a methodology. It emphasizes sprints and breaks. Sprints are 25 minutes of work and breaks are 5 minutes. After 4 sprint sessions, take a long break of 30 minutes. I use the free tool called Tomighty, but there are several alternatives out there.

We should pace ourselves like we do for our campaigns. We don’t have a monetary budget like campaigns, but we do have limited cognitive and physical stamina allotted to us daily. Pomodoro helps you manage that daily pacing. Nothing gets you focused like a clock counting down right in front of you too.



7.    Toggl

“You cannot improve what you don’t measure.” Toggl measures your time so you can optimize your work. Like a campaign, if you don’t measure your own performance, then you don’t have a baseline for reference. How do you know if you completed the task more efficiently compared to last time? Start measuring everything.

The team is always passing me torches, new tasks to master and own. On my first attempt, I always establish benchmarks. Only then can I optimize to lower the task’s CPA (cost per action, in this case). Can you say “More ROI”?

As digital marketers, if we’re not data-driven with every element of our lives, then we’re playing checkers when we should be playing chess. C’mon.



8.    Keyrocket

KeyRocket helps both novices and veterans learn new shortcuts while you work. As you maneuver through Excel, KeyRocket will provide you suggestions for new hotkeys. Once you’ve mastered the available shortcuts, use KeyRocket to create your own hotkey combos. You just leveled up as a deadly Excel ninja.

Bonus: There’s a chrome extension designed for gmail to help you discover and master new shortcuts to dominate your inbox too.



9.    Skype

Skype is like the veins and arteries that flow through our company. We can’t live without it. In spite of its importance, it can be a real distracting son of a gun. Here are some general tips for you to test:

-Turn off notifications when people sign on. These are unnecessary.

-Enter into do-not-disturb mode more often than not, especially if you’re in a meeting or digging deep in analysis or high-risk, high-concentration work.

-Send long messages in one piece effectively using shift+enter. Sending multiple, fragmented messages can be annoying and detrimental to your recipient’s productivity. Use shift+enter to consolidate your several pieces of into one message. Biz 3.0 covers more on this with illustrations.

-Add your teammates or most frequently messaged people as your favorite contacts so they become more accessible by being at the top of your list. I’m sure they’ll enjoy that.

-Edit your last message quickly with ease by hitting the “up” arrow and then proceeding with writing your edited message. Your last message will appear in the edit box for you to make corrections.


IFTTT (if this, then that) is a conditional-recipe tool with a bunch of cool features to help you optimize your time. Dive in and keep an open mind for the shortcuts you can set up.

For instance: I set my phone to automatically go into wifi and do-not-disturb mode when I arrive at my office. When I it’s meeting time, my phone knows to go into silence mode because IFTTT is synced with Google Calendar. IFTTT tracks the time I spend at the office and automatically logs that information into Google Drive (in case you’re curious/neurotic on how long you stay at the office). I’ve also set IFTTT to notify me at 6am of the weather and if it will rain.

One of the most important recipe I have is for IFTTT to notify me when the president signs a new bill into law. You never know when a newly enacted law will affect PPC. Insane? I call it foresight. (Joking. Sort of.)


Do you have any favorite time-saving tools? Leave a comment!

1 Comment

  1. Niraj November 4th, 2015

    Excellent article, Evan. Great list. Do check out hiverhq.com, really good for sharing emails (by just adding labels – no need to forward), and for delegating emails to your team-mates. It also lets you write notes on emails.

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Evan Pham
Evan joined 3Q Digital in November 2014. He spends part of his days wondering how to combine his many loves--traveling, writing, and almond butter. The rest of his time he spends obsessing how to create killer campaign performance.