Using Deprivation Testing as Hurdle for Tools to Make Your Work-Flows

Much talk of productivity podcasts center on tools. I try out more than my share of tools. While my productivity is at its core mainly down to a system like GTD implemented by Omnifocus, I find that some tools become integral to a smooth flow of getting my work done. How do I know if the tool makes the grade? After an initial spurt of putting a bunch of tools on my home and work machine, I settled on putting the tools first go on my home Mac. How do the they make it to the big time of installation on the work machine? The concept is deprivation. Here is a [article] ( in the Harvard Business review by Scott Anthony that should give you the flavor. Basically, if I don't "reach" for the tool on my work machine after knowing what it does, I don't need it. That's the core and I know others have similar ways of trying out new tools.

With that said, I have most of the geek standards on my home machine and many have made it to the show, notably, Hazel, nvALT , and Text Expander . These tools tend to fall into a niche in my work. There is a secondary point to my use of tools, I need the tool to fill a critical niche not usually to solve all my needs in a one stop shop. I don't need to really be a power user in all of these programs. I need to shave off time and stress out of my work life. The biggest reason that tools get installed on the work machine is that I find my self using the short cuts without the tool installed and then recognizing the time or break in my routine that causes a bit of an iusse. I'm missing something in being deprived of the tool.

So what tools made the Show?

  • A surprise tool that is in constant use is PopClip . I use the Paste and Match Style constantly in addition to simple cut and paste.
  • Text Expander is in constant use with dates being common and a big times savings in adding my conference call-in information to emails, calendar entries, and IMs. Its not really the direct time I save typing, its finding/copying/pasting that is the big time savings.
  • DragonDrop is also there to get documents into emails smoothly.
  • Of course, 1Password makes the list.

There are a few others that I use sparingly. Notably, I'm fine with spotlight as an applauncher as I haven't yet got the hang of launching multiple types of items via launch bar and I use relatively few scripts.

So for those of you looking for a way to streamline your tool use, I suggest trying out some sort of deprivation testing to find the indispensable tools.