Automation and efficiency: We take these things seriously at Betterment, not only as core product and investing values, but also as a way to get our work done during the day and live happier lives.

By being more efficient, we allow more time for the good stuff: ideating new products, creative brainstorming, lunches together as a team. We asked around the office for people’s best tips for improving productivity, and here’s what they said. (Note: While we use several different types of software mentioned below, this is not an endorsement.)

productivity hacks

Inbox Zero

I use Inbox Pause to block, batch, and deliver my email four times daily. That way, I can focus on my highest priority tasks, rather than the most recent requests. I work toward inbox zero—but I am okay with getting away from zero for weeks or months at a time. My task list serves as my guide, rather than my inbox. Sometimes a task is to get to inbox 75 or inbox 40, rather than inbox zero.” – Jon Stein, Founder and CEO

I keep a zero-unread inbox. Everything is read and then archived, deleted, or starred in order of priority: red (top priority), yellow (medium priority), and green (low priority). If I want to work on a yellow email, I’ve got to clear my reds. Them’s the rules.”  – Dan Egan, Director of Behavioral Finance and Investing

“Inbox zero. I look at emails when they come in to make sure they’re not things I need to answer right away (if they are, I answer them). I then set aside time specifically to reread and answer as necessary.” – Sarah Kaufman, Growth Manager

“I’m all about striving for inbox zero. I aggressively use Gmail keyboard shortcuts to help keep my inbox below 20 (ideally zero). I move any longer-term follow-up items into Evernote or my calendar so I can deal with them later.” – Andrew Glenn, VP of Core Systems

“I use the Mailbox app and practice inbox zero.” – Dan Chan, Software Engineer

“I use the Trello plugin, my Evernote account’s email address, and Sunrise calendar to achieve inbox zero. When I get an email, I try (and sometimes succeed) to immediately do one of four things:

  • Deal with it right away (respond, save in a folder, etc.)
  • Create a Trello card to put it on my to-do list
  • Create a note in Evernote to save info for later reference
  • Create a calendar event

– Alix FitzGerald, Operations Manager

More Email Tips

“Use Rapportive, a Gmail plugin, to learn more about whoever’s emailing you. Great for pre-screening applicants, introductions, investors, business development partners, and salespeople.” – Jon Stein, Founder and CEO

“I have a few templates stored in Google Drive for things like creative briefs so that I don’t have to rewrite them every time.” – Isabelle Berner, Product Marketing Manager

“I use Boomerang for Gmail to help me manage my inbox. It allows me to send emails back to myself when I need to remember to respond, or check to see if someone else has responded, without having to keep them in my inbox.” – Samantha Ceppos, Acquisition Marketing Manager

“I put everything in folders. And I don’t take anything out of my inbox until it’s completed.” – Chelsea Nenni, Team and Office Associate

Search Engine Shortcuts

“I use Chrome search engine shortcuts. I assigned ‘maps’ to searching in Google Maps, ‘conf’ for Confluence, and most importantly ‘ud’ for urban dictionary. I also have two separate Chrome accounts—one for work and one for personal. That way, work bookmarks and logins stay in one window and personal can stay in the other.” – Andrew Glenn, VP of Core Systems

General Productivity Hacks

“I do everything the night before. In the morning, I am ready and out the door in 20 minutes or less. I also love The Skimm and the CNN mobile app—I can quickly read news during my commute.” – Sarah Kaufman, Growth Manager

“I use FileThis to pull all my credit card and bank statements, insurance bills, utility bills, Betterment statements, etc. It’s an incredible add-on to my Dropbox account and really helps keep me paperless.” – Alix FitzGerald, Operations Manager

“I use my iPhone to take pictures of everything I want to remember or that I need to refer to in the future—forms, addresses, business cards, insurance cards, receipts, screenshots. In a perfect world, I have each photo tagged and filed in Evernote.” – Catherine New, Content Manager

What are your productivity tips? Share them in the comments below.

More from Betterment:

Determination of largest automated investment service reflects Betterment LLC’s distinction of having the most accounts, based on Betterment’s review of account numbers self-reported in the SEC’s Form ADV, across Betterment’s survey of RIA automated investment services. Determination of fastest-growing automated investment service reflects Betterment LLC’s distinction of obtaining the largest number of new accounts since January 1, 2014, based on Betterment’s review of account numbers self-reported in the SEC’s Form ADV, across Betterment’s survey of automated investing services.