There’s a lot of GTD and productivity talk in the startupsphere. All fine and dandy, but for most us there’s a laundry list of productivity hacks much simpler than GTD. Things so simple, David Allen would be laughed off the bookshelves if he wrote about them! But since I don’t have any books to sell, let me share my little secret with you…

Gmail shortcuts cheat sheet in front of my computer

I’ve been using Gmail and Google apps for years, probably like most other startups.

But for a long time I never bothered to learn the shortcuts. Big mistake.

I was always rushing to get things done, and with a never-empty inbox, I didn’t feel like I’d be gaining much by taking additional time out to memorize them.

But one day I learned that I could simply press the “y” key to archive a message I was viewing.  And as it turned out, this actually saved me a bit of time. Nothing astounding, but it did the trick.

Finally, this year – three years later – determined to master anything that could save me time in the long run, I printed out a Gmail shortcuts sheet and taped it to the bottom of my computer monitor.

While I still haven’t learned all the shortcuts, I’ve found that even just knowing one combination helps me clear out hundreds of junk messages in minutes– which previously took me an hour.  (The secret: while in your inbox, press “x” to select a message, and “y” to archive it. Keep repeating as fast as you can pressing “x” and “y” and “x” and “y” and watch your inbox melt away!)

I found this was the answer to the “everything else” section of my inbox that I didn’t really need to read, and I bet you will too.

So yeah, I’m encouraging you to shake your fears of conquering Gmail’s shortcuts, but beyond that, take some time to reflect upon your daily activities to see if there are additional ways you can be crunching out extra time. If I would have done this three years ago, I would probably have saved DAYS of my life time that could have been put to better use. But I understand, old habits like using the mouse die hard!