Productivity Tools We’re Using This Year
By Ian Kar
This year, Stevie and I are all about #productivity (I use hashtags extremely ironically, please never use hashtags earnestly.) We have a lot on our plate with Vol. 1 Ventures, raising a fund, portfolio support and helping founders, and creating content.
(Sidenote: if you haven’t seen Stevie’s new newsletter, Highly Regulated, be sure to check it out! She’s going to be writing a lot on the intersection of regulation and tech, and has the knowledge to back it up—she was the youngest partner in Skadden’s history and has a ton of crypto lobbying experience. Be sure to sign up here! Very proud husband over here.)
So, we’ve been spending the last few weeks of 2022 testing out some new tools—here are the ones her and I settled on!
Digital mind mapping is probably really beneficial: it helps you stay organized but also provides a lot of searchability and structure around your thoughts. I prefer to use a good ol’ pen and paper because I’m mentally 45 years old, but our good friend Henry Ault of Eco suggested that we check out Scintal. Stevie’s gotten hooked on it, I’m still warming up to the idea, but will probably play around with it a bit more.
To me it looks like a much more visual version of Roam Research, where you can take notes and structure your internal knowledge base but connect things visually as opposed to syntax and text. I’m more of a visual learner/connector so it seems like a great alternative. Best part is that you can export stuff from Scrintal into standard formats as well.
You can subscribe to Scrintal for $5/month here—this is a beta program pricing that’s locked in forever, and it’s cheaper than the cost of an Oat Milk Latte from Alfred, soo def recommend taking advantage of it if visual mind mapping sounds up your alley. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page.)
I hate project management. Full stop. It was my least favorite part of being a product manager and I don’t have the patience nor excitement for it. Something about it reminds me of my first job in finance where I had to move around different data sets in Excel (something I’m excited about inside of Notion’s AI product that I’ve been testing out is the ability to extract action items from meeting notes…think there’s a lot of potential to use AI to create engineering tickets from product requirement documents…but I digress.)
So a tool that makes project management easier is something definitely up my alley. Part of the issue for me is just purely organizational and what’s due that day.
Sunsama might be a great solution around figuring out your daily tasks and moving them into project management tools. It syncs up with almost everything—emails from Gmail, meetings, Asana and Trello tasks— and lets you create a unified view of everything you have to do today. It’s kinda crazy how powerful it is—it comes with a ton of different integrations and is ideal for folks have a lot on their plate and need to figure out how to get it all done.
Sleep is probably the most important thing one needs to be productive – it’s not just a pillar of health, but the foundation that health rests on. I’m not sure what happened but my sleep regiment has gone out with window of the past year. (I also didn’t work out much in 2022, which I’m trying to change too. I didn’t do shit this week so…not off to a great start. But I can only go up from here!)
Portal is an all natural sleeping supplement that tastes amazing and has incredible effects – I’m naturally skeptical of most supplements, but this one just works.
Portal was created by a homie of mine, Justin Liao from Praxis, and I’ve been using it for a few months now. The first night I used it I woke up feeling hella refreshed and awake, instead of the usual grogginess that comes in the early AM. Plus, it genuinely makes 6.5 hours of sleep feel closer to 8. It comes in this drink mix powder format, so its been so easy to make it part of my nightly wind-down routine.
Ingredients-wise its pretty straightforward too: Magnesium Glycinate, Glycine, L-theanine, and Apigenin (the 🐐 Dr. Huberman’s Formul…I just started getting into his stuff) all of which are natural. Like I mentioned, I’m generally pretty skeptical of supplements, but this one just checks out. Talk to your doctor if you want before taking it because I’m not a medical professional and don’t know your health situation, but it’s been dope for me.
If you have trouble sleeping or wake up groggy I highly recommend checking out Portal. Check out their awesome Sleep Guide here as well. As an FTT subscriber, use the code “Ian” for a 10% discount here. Learn more about Portal on their site here.
When I first heard of The Browser Company, I thought it was a bit pretentious, not gonna lie. Who needs a new browser? Safari and Chrome work fine. I weirdly use both and interchange between the two of them, for absolutely no reason, like an insane person. Stevie started using it before me and I think I said “babe…why tf do you need another browser lol.”
After I started using Arc, I realized how wrong I was. The web browsing experience on both Safari and Chrome are archaic. Given the progress in productivity and how people spend more time on their computers than ever before, the web browser needed a refresh for the modern age.
So, thank god for Arc—which has become my new default browser and I don’t have any plans on switching back. Like any early product, there are some tweaks and edits I’d make (I can’t figure out how to easily switch tabs) but there are so many features I like that I don’t really care.
You can set up Spaces, based on different situations and types of tasks you’re working on, and can pin tabs based on those spaces. So for me, I have a Space for writing, where I pin my writing tools like Lex; reading, where I keep a list of tabs that I want to read when I have time; Vol. 1 Ventures, where I keep fund related tabs pinned; and a Personal space. It also prevents tab overload by archiving tabs on a daily basis (or weekly, depends on your settings.) It also has a cool library feature to look through all your downloads, and a great scrapbook feature that feels like Pinterest baked into my web browser. They’re also ultra privacy focused, which makes me feel way more comfortable than Chrome.
I can’t wait for the mobile version, which should be coming out this year, and more progress in general from The Browser Company. It’s probably one of the most delightful tech products I used in 2022—it changed the way I interacted with the web in ways I didn’t even realize should change. There’s nothing more delightful than that.
Last but certainly not least is Cron, my new favorite calendar app (which was recently acquired by Notion.) From a UI perspective, it’s gorgeous and elegant. From a functionality perspective, it’s extremely powerful. My favorite feature is the easy-to-use time zone tool baked into the main UI; for folks that travel a lot across different time zones like myself, it makes conversion super easy.
They also dropped an iOS app at the end of 2022, which is a little lightweight but better than most others, and I’m sure will be iterated upon too.
Cron has a lot of great features, like a Calendly-like scheduling tool baked in, and a Superhuman-like Command-K feature that allows you to easily do whatever across the app. Honestly it feels a lot like Superhuman for Calendars, it’s very keyboard heavy and has a lot of features for calendar power users.
Cron is free! Check it out here. They’re still in beta and don’t have many invites, but suggest signing up on the website.