Essential Tips to Being More Productive
In this episode of Motley Fool Answers, Alison Southwick and Robert Brokamp welcome Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner to the show as the trio share their secrets to productivity. One of their favorite gurus on the subject is David Allen, author of the popular book Getting Things Done, but David has his own approach to clearing a to-do list.
And reaching into the mailbag, the team responds to a Foolish listener in Japan who has concerns about a single stock position that has grown into an outsized portion of his portfolio.
A full transcript follows the video.
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This podcast was recorded on January 24, 2017.
Alison Southwick: This is Motley Fool Answers. I'm Alison Southwick and I'm joined, as always, by Robert Brokamp, personal finance expert here at The Motley Fool. He's also the advisor on Motley Fool's Rule Your Retirement newsletter and also [part of a new service] coming soon.
Robert Brokamp: Oh, yeah. You'll just have to wait on that one.
Southwick: Just going to tease that one a little bit. We also have a very, very special guest today. It's David Gardner. He's the co-founder and chief rule breaker of The Motley Fool!
David Gardner: I am excited to be back on Answers.
Southwick: We love having you.
Gardner: There's one or two reasons a year that I'll make it on and I'm really excited about our reason today. So thank you. Yeah!
Southwick: I think it's going to be great.
Gardner: Yeah, I'm totally psyched.
Southwick: I am, too, because today you're going to talk about productivity and the tools that you use to focus on what matters to stay on task. I've written down on my notes that you're a productive juggernaut? I don't know. Is that fair?
Gardner: I will absolutely accept that. Guilty as charged.
Brokamp: I will second it.
Gardner: That's the best compliment that I've received in the last 10 years, and that includes things that my family would have said about me.
Southwick: Yeah. I don't know. I don't even know ...
Gardner: That's awesome.
Southwick:...if that's a thing, but I'm saying it.
Brokamp: It is now.
Gardner: That's great.
Southwick: So productive juggernaut, David Gardner. Also he founded a little company called The Motley Fool. Maybe you've heard of it. We'll also answer your question about how much of your portfolio should be in one stock and we're going to, of course, close out "There's an App for That" with reviews for a few productivity apps. All that and more on this week's episode of Motley Fool Answers.
Southwick: It's time for Answers, Answers and today it comes from Tony in Japan.
Brokamp: Hi, Tony.
Southwick: People in Japan listen to this show. It's so cool. Konnichiwa! Uh, also you should know how to say "good morning" in ... oh, oh, ohayo gozaimasu. I think that's how you say "good morning."
Brokamp: I'll take your word for it.
Gardner: You are a language juggernaut.
Southwick: Thanks! Thank you! Beer is also biru. So if that's fun, remember that one. That one's important. All right, whatever. Let me move on. Let's get to Tony. Are you still there, Tony? All right. Tony writes: "I hit a home run by buying Amazon back in 2001. I sold a bunch of shares over the years as it continued to rise, but still have a fair number left. I'm reluctant to sell more as I believe the future is still bright, but as a single holding, it's now about 10% of my total individual stock portfolio and 3% of my net worth. Do you normally hang on to big winners even when they become a larger position than you intended?"
Brokamp: Well, Tony, your email reminded me of a conversation I had with a member a few years ago because not only did he also live in Japan, but he had more than 50% of his portfolio in Amazon stock because he actually worked for Amazon.
Southwick: Oh, wow, yeah.
Brokamp: So I gave the typical financial planner speech about how you shouldn't have too much [of one stock] in your portfolio, and to remember what happened to people at Enron and WorldCom. And he said, "Yeah, I know about that, because I did this with my previous employer. Had more than 50% of my stock. Lost everything." And here he was doing it again. So I totally understand how it's very difficult to let go...
Gardner: Investors who love too much...
Brokamp: Exactly. Exactly. So I understand how that's difficult. If you look at standard financial planning advice, people will tell you, you should limit the amount you have in one stock to about 5% to 10% of your portfolio.
So Tony, you're kind of pushing that. There are different factors to consider. First of all, if you work for the company, I would pare it back even more because then you have your investment capital and your human capital all in the same company.
It also depends on what the rest of your portfolio looks like. If the other 90% of your portfolio are companies similar to Amazon, then you're not very diversified. If it's very different, then maybe you can have a more concentrated holding in one stock.
Now, how much you should have in one stock, as well as how many stocks you should own, is one of those things that among Motley Fool investors is kind of debatable. We all have very different opinions, so I'm going to turn to David Gardner for his opinion, because it might be a little different and he is someone who has done this Amazon journey as well as someone who's owned the stock since 1997.
Gardner: And I, at different points over the course of my 30 years of investing (which is a lot, but not nearly as many as many others who are listening to us right now) [am] always conscious that there's a lot more to learn for each of us, even at the age of 50, whatever we are (Robert and not Alison).
The way that I've actually lived my life, I've been comfortable with 10%+ positions, but I know myself pretty well and I also know that a lot of my own net worth is tied up in the Motley Fool. So that's enabled me to allow my stock market positions to grow outsized, and it's happened not just from Amazon. Back in the 1990s, it was AOL. It became more than 50% at one point of my portfolio. That's what happens if a stock is up 200x in value on six years ...
Gardner:... and you let it go. Or more recently -- and this is a great day for Netflix investors -- Netflix is an outsized position in my portfolio. So I think that it comes down to how much you need the money, what your own risk tolerance is, what your backup plan is. One thing I really like Tony mentioned is I like that he said that it's 3% of his net worth. So yes, you should actually not just think of it in terms of your portfolio, but what you have, overall, in this world.
As long as everything keeps going well at the Motley Fool, I could probably, literally afford to lose my entire investment portfolio and still be a pretty happy guy, so this is why it's all contextual. Each of us is in a different place -- not just where we are in terms of our age, and not just in terms of our own mentality -- but really I think it comes down to a weird combination of time, who you are, and who's dependent on you.
So I think that's a good answer, what you gave, Robert. It's how mutual funds run for the most part. Mutual funds can't usually hold a position more than 5%, so that's why the thinking that you have is aligned, and why it's good. Standard. It's the rules of bridge.
I know we need to move on, so I'll just close my answer by saying that if you've ever played the card game bridge, which I have (not that well, but I've played it extensively over the course of a long period of time), you need to learn all the rules to bid. To know how to bid. One spade -- pass. Two hearts. What does that mean?
And so once you learn all those rules, now you're ready to really play bridge and the best players know when to break the rules. And so there's a little bit of rule breaker vibe here in my answer, but the best players know when to break the rules, but they're taking a risk to do so, and they know the downside of being burnt. In the case of cards, it's a bad hand. In the case of your wallet or your net worth, it's much, much more important.
So I think we each have to get to know ourselves, our time, and proceed accordingly. But I personally have broken a lot of the rules when it comes down to asset allocation by letting big stocks, like Amazon, grow and not selling them. If you're looking at the company, and you believe that Amazon's going to be relevant five, 10 years from now (or Netflix) ... the list goes on ... then I feel comfortable with that.
Final, final, final answer from me, then I kick it back to the stars, is that one thing you can do, Tony, [is] systematically sell off portions. So you could just say for any position that I have, if it's outsized ... let's say it's 18% of your portfolio. How about this? How about over the course of the next eight years, sell off 1% of that stock? Of your 18%, I should say, every year, so that you're down to 10% over the course of the next eight years.
And it doesn't matter where the stock is at that point. It might be down. It might be up. You just systematically (and I'm picking arbitrary numbers and time line here) but sell down a portion over time, because you're going to be able to redeploy the funds.
Southwick: All right. As a reminder, David Gardner, co-founder and chief rule breaker of The Motley Fool is joining us in-studio today. David also has his own podcast, Rule Breaker Investing, so if you haven't listened to it, you should check it out. And he's here to talk about how to be more productive. This is the last in our series of how to be more blank in 2017. So we did wealthier, healthier, happier and we're going to close it out with more productive.
Southwick: So David, thank you for joining us.
Gardner: I am honored.
Brokamp: Your honor is all right.
Gardner: Maybe I'll add some value.
Southwick: Every time we ask David to be [on the show], I'm always like, "Hey, do you think David...?" You know, "Oh David, will you be on the show?" And he's always like so open helping us out. And I'm always like, "Wow! David said yes! He's got so many other more important things to do."
Gardner: I love your podcast. I'm very pleased to be here.
Southwick: Oh, thank you!
Gardner: And I'm going to try to give shorter answers than I gave with my Amazon answer.
Southwick: No, you can talk ...
Brokamp: That was an outstanding answer.
Southwick:... you can talk as long as you want.
Brokamp: So I'll kick this off just a little bit about why we're talking about productivity with money. In my experience talking to clients -- when I was a financial advisor and when I talk to either members or even Fool employees, which I do as part of my job -- one thing I often hear people say is, "Yeah, I've been meaning to do that, but I haven't gotten around to it." It might be increasing your contributions to a 401(k), opening your college savings account, getting the life insurance, getting an estate plan. There's all these things we know we need to do to get our finances on firmer footing, but we haven't gotten around to it.
So as for my own productivity journey, I am biologically, physiologically made to be unproductive. I am distractible, I am scatterbrained, [and] I am a slow reader and writer which is a problem, because it's like 70% of my job.
So I did a lot of reading about productivity about a decade about, and I stumbled across a book called Getting Things Done by a guy named David Allen. And that was when I found out that David Gardner, here, also has a mutual admiration for David Allen and actually has had David Allen come to the company a couple of times. So that is why we asked David Gardner to be a part of this show. So welcome, David.
Gardner: Thank you, Robert.
Brokamp: Would you consider yourself a naturally productive person?
Gardner: No, I would not. In fact, it wasn't until probably my early 30s when I first read Getting Things Done, David Allen's book. A lot of people use the acronym GTD. If you're part of the cult, then you already instantly recognize what GTD stands for. It stands for Getting Things Done, David Allen's (I think it was early 2000s) book.
Gardner: So I was desperate to be more productive at that stage. We had three young kids. I was in my early 30s. The Motley Fool was humming. I was doing things like book tours, needing to pick stocks, needing to help run the company, and lots of other things besides. Plus I wanted to have fun. That's a big part of being productive is getting the stuff done that you don't want to do, that you have to do, in order so that you can do what you actually want to do.
And in fact, one of the things I try to do these days is free up as much time as possible for myself, so part of being productive is a completely selfish aim to just be able to do the stuff that I want to do in life.
Southwick: I actually have not read the book, Getting Things Done, so now I'm feeling like I am not getting enough things done. Can you explain kind of the gist of what he's proposing I do to get things done?
Brokamp: Philosophically, the main point is that you need a trusted system to capture all your commitments and responsibilities so that you can free up your brain to be more productive [and] to be more creative, because if you rely on your brain to keep track of everything; first of all, it's not very good at that and second of all, it's going to cause you a lot of angst.
Gardner: So there are five steps, really quickly. The first is to capture all the things. Collect what has your attention. Collect. So he even just suggests you sit down with a piece of paper in the morning and for five minutes just anything that pops into your head. Need to pick up Charmin. Also need to let my boss know I'm quitting my job. And by the way, I need to also get to my kid's kindergarten assembly to speak there. Whatever it is. And you just fill that piece of paper.
And then you start having collected. Step two is you clarify and process what that means. So you start saying, "OK, well, the following two are when I'm in my car, so I'm going to put that in my When I'm in My Car list. And then my At Work list. And maybe Talk to My Spouse list." And so you start to process those.
And then third, you then organize it. OK, I've got Car, Talk to Spouse, and Stuff at Work. And so if you have an extra hour, what are you going to do? The classic GTD answer is the first thing you note is what your context is. Because you can't actually go pick up Charmin at Safeway if you're sitting here in Fool HQ in the studio. So all that really matters, right now, is Fool HQ things for us, or At Work for you, whoever you are if you're at work. And so you would just look at that context.
And then the question is how do you pull up that context? I like to use the computer or apps, so I use OmniFocus as a Mac person, myself. OmniFocus is a pretty comprehensive app for doing this. It's not specifically a GTD app. In other words, it's not David Allen's product, but it's people who love what David Allen does and have created a product. There are other "listy" kinds of apps that you can find.
You can also use a journal or a yellow legal pad, I guess, but the key is that what I love to do is just immediately filter (drop down list, filter, At Work,) and then see, "OK. Oh, that's right. I need to go talk to Alison and Robert and do the podcast. Or talk to them ahead of time about what we're going to do on the podcast." So you know your context and then you're ready to act within that context.
By the way, I don't want to be too comprehensive, here, but just to finish out the five steps, I guess, since I put it out there. So fourth is that you reflect and you review frequently. If you have stuff you need to do, or things you need to say to your partner, make sure you're checking back in with that list. Don't just write it down and then forget to go back to that list -- otherwise you faked yourself out. You externalized it, got it out of your head, but you didn't actually do anything with it. So fifth and final, of course, is just that you do. You engage. You simply do.
So to the extent there's a system, here, that's the foundation of the system. But there's a lot more to it. There are tropes and things. Maybe we'll touch on a few of them. There's enough, here, that it fills a really good book. Getting Things Done was a life changer for me. A life improver for me. But we'll do our best to give a few more examples to inspire people.
To circle back, Robert, you were saying, you know, that thing. Like I need to do this thing. I need to finally do my finances. You kind of opened with that. My reaction to that is anytime you feel like there's something you need to be getting to and you're not getting to it, the classic David Allen reflection that I've learned is probably you have not determined what your single next action is toward that goal.
So you might think, "I've got to get on top of my money to start 2017." Well, that sounds like about 100 different actions probably. What's the actual next action? What's the single next physical action watching the movie of what you need to do to get on top of your finances in 2017? And all that really matters is that next action. That first step up the mountain is the only step that matters when you're at zero steps. So I think determining your next action is like a profound, key productivity enhancer.
Brokamp: Right. Another one that I know that you're a big fan of is the Two-Minute Rule. Can you explain that one a little bit?
Gardner: It's a great one and this is, again, straight David Allen and you know it, too, Robert. So the Two-Minute Rule is as simple as this. Anytime there's something that you need to do, or somebody asks you to do something, if you can do it literally in 120 seconds or less, do it right then. It might be a quick text. Might be a really quick phone call. Might just be take the garbage out. If it's two minutes literally, or less, just do it.
Because a lot of times we don't, and so we add that to a list and then you end up with lists upon lists, and you're not getting stuff done, and you just feel stressed. So it's a great productivity enhancer -- the Two-Minute Rule.
And the one caveat to that is it has to be two minutes or less. If it's actually five minutes, then you start to distrust yourself when you think about the Two-Minute Rule. You start saying, "Well, you know, I'm going to do that," and if it takes five minutes, then the next time you think about doing something that will take two minutes or less, you'll start to not do it because you'll be like, "Well, it's more of a pain than I think," because sometimes it's five minutes or six minutes. So literally you have to be kind of hardcore on this, in my experience. Two-Minute Rule -- two minutes or less -- just do it.
Brokamp: Got it. There have been times when I've actually tracked my time on a spreadsheet -- how I spend my day in 15-minute increments -- and have been shocked at how much time I spend on email. And here at Motley Fool we use Slack, and even looking at my computer now, I see I have 38 direct messages on Slack.
Gardner: You are a popular guy.
Brokamp: Well ...
Gardner: I've never gotten to 38. Alison?
Southwick: Me, neither. No!
Brokamp: It's part of this, I think, this new thing that's coming out. But anyways...
Gardner: Groupies. Groupies!
Southwick: Yeah, I know. Is it? You're kind of bragging a little bit.
Gardner: Robert gets stalked around Fool HQ a little bit.
Brokamp: Look at the pictures they send me.
Southwick: Let me just interrupt you really quick. For those who don't know, Slack is like email. It's kind of replacing email. I always think of it as being like AOL Instant Messenger, where you're kind of like in different chat rooms and direct messaging people.
Brokamp: That's exactly what it's like.
Southwick: Well, there we go. That's exactly what it's like. OK.
Brokamp: So I've tried a couple of things. One is -- and Alison, I think you even saw this on my desk. I have like a piece of paper, and I have Slack, personal email, work email and I can only check it three times a day. And when I've checked it, I have to cross it off and keep track of it. I've also tried to time-block it so that I don't really look at things until noon. But it's very hard to resist looking at your email and Slack, or whatever else you use for messaging, so how do you handle all that?
Gardner: I don't think of myself as particularly disciplined, so I'm definitely the shiny thing that moves. And I follow it and do it often. Now, I love that you've mapped your time. That's something that each of us would benefit from. You don't have to do it for a whole week. How about just a single day? How about tomorrow? And just notice, and have insights like that.
So for some people, Robert, the equivalent of Slack in their lives is their job. They need to be responsive. They need to be ready. If a quick note comes in from the boss, they need to act. So it kind of comes down to who you are and what you're doing. I guess the way that I've set it up is when things come in to me, generally if I have time, I'll look at them, and if not ...
Like here's one thing I did a long time ago, thanks again to David Allen. I turn off the notification that I got an email, whether it's on my computer, like Windows, or something flashes in "an email's come in." Turn those off. The same thing on your phone. Turn off notifications for things that really don't matter. Facebook updates that really don't matter. Emails -- if you're getting spammed all the time -- just turn off all of those kinds of notifications. Make sure you're filtering so that when things come in to you, and you're looking at it, it matters.
Brokamp: You brought up time-blocking, and when I look at some of the things that I've tried, one of the most successful things (at least the most helpful things) is when I start the day (and even the week) scheduling certain things. And there are a couple of good books about this. One is Take Back Your Life. Another one is Eat That Frog. Basically a to-do list is unlimited, but your calendar is limited, and if you calendarize your day and work from your calendar and not a to-do list or your inbox, you have a better idea of what you can actually accomplish and what you can actually focus on.
Do you ever have something -- maybe you have a project you're working on, something you have to write, something you have to do for someone -- that you put on your calendar as, "I am going to work on this thing for an hour or two hours?"
Gardner: So more chapter and verse orthodoxy, David Allen. If you put something on your calendar, you have to. You must respect that and do it. Because again, if you don't, then you'll start faking yourself out. You'll start putting future stuff on your calendar and then you'll also blow those things off.
So in the end, how much do you trust yourself? That's fundamentally what this comes down to. You need to create a trusted system and you need to be a figure of trust within that system. So the suggestion from David Allen is if you do put something on your calendar -- which is a formal step -- it's an extra bit of time you just spent to actually put something on your calendar, hardcore stay to that. And if you're not going to, then don't put it on your calendar. Keep it on a to-do list, but don't fake yourself out.
Brokamp: Got you. Very good. I've noticed a lot of people who are into, I guess I will say, lifestyle types of books. It could be productivity. It could be all kinds of other things. They often don't have kids. David Allen is one of them. Have you found that you've had to expand your system to include your wife? To include your kids? How have you been able to coordinate everyone else's to-do lists and everyone else's schedules?
Gardner: So really important for me is that I have shared calendars with my wife, so that's very helpful so we can see what each other's doing. And if you want to have a little private calendar because you don't want your wife to know that you're setting up a surprise for her birthday ...
Southwick: Yes, that is exactly what you're doing.
Brokamp: That is the reason you would be doing that.
Gardner:... then you can, but having a shared calendar with the people that matter to you is a real productivity enhancer. Another thing that I think is important is to have ... David Allen talks in terms of 50,000-foot views, 40,000-foot views, etc. So really quickly, down there at zero feet we're on the runway. It's whatever our next action [is] wherever we are right now. We're on the runway. What are we doing?
Ten-thousand feet up is actually -- and I'm maybe fudging this a little bit, but you'll get the metaphor -- 10,000-feet up is the projects. Your commitments. So down there on the runway it's just what my next task [is], but Allen defines a project as anything that's more than one task. So just think of all the different projects.
In fact, if you ever have kind of a GTD person hired in to coach you (a GTD coach), one of the first things they'll do is get you to list all of your projects. And there's no division between your work life and your family life or any other life. It's all you. And so making sure you understand every single project that you (even if you didn't think of it as a project) [are] committed to mentally. Something you think you're going to do in 2017 -- that's a project -- and so you need to have a full view of that at 10,000 feet.
Twenty-thousand feet -- 30, 40, 50 -- these are like, "OK, what's my 2017 goals?" Or, "What are my three-to-five-year goals?" Or at the top, 50,000 feet, why am I here? What is my purpose? What am I actually trying to achieve?
And so making sure you spend some time at each of those altitudes -- most of your time you're on the runway -- but making sure you get above that at different points with people that matter [like] your family, spouse or partner. Conversations like that are what keep you, ironically, maybe grounded.
Brokamp: Any other particular challenges you have with being productive? Anything that you still struggle with on a regular basis?
Gardner: Well, a key feature to, again, orthodox Getting Things Done is that you do a weekly review. And this is probably where most people fall off the wagon. And I have, in a way, fallen off the wagon, but in a way just kind of made it my own. So I guess I've just rationalized falling off the wagon.
Brokamp: I didn't like that wagon anyhow.
Gardner: And I don't know about you, Robert, because I know you're a GTDer yourself, but the weekly review ... the idea is to block off an hour or so and look over all your projects. So if you have 117 projects, which is probably about how many projects you have, whoever you are, if you actually are honest with yourself and list [them]; then it seems daunting to go over 117 things every week.
Now, the truth is you don't need to look over all of the projects. What you do is you look over the next actions for each of the projects. And maybe some of the projects aren't relevant right now, so you could skip that. But the idea is to look back and reengage, recommit, and review all of the commitments that you've made to yourself and others on this weekly basis. And I don't, admittedly. If you watch the movie of me in a given month, I'm not doing weekly reviews.
For me, the way that I've made it my own, a little bit, is I think a lot of the time we need to do weekly reviews is because we don't want to deal with stuff. So we're like, "Oh, that's right. I do have to -- taxes are coming. Quarterlies. OK, so I will make sure I'm reviewing that and doing that."
But what I've ended up doing to make it my own (and this is a weird, idiosyncratic, geeky admission on my part), and I don't often talk about this, but this is why I come on Motley Fool Answers ...
Southwick: To save face.
Gardner:... to save face with Alison and Robert is I randomize a lot. So randomizing, for me, is gamifying life, and I do that a lot. In fact, I read that Tolstoy used to randomize his life decisions. Just cast a die and go off and do it.
Brokamp: You're coming back to write a book. I don't know.
Gardner: I'm not quite that hardcore, but one of my favorite things to do is have my list of things to do in the day ahead. Start with that in the morning. And instead of being the really disciplined person who tackles the hardest things first (which is, indeed, what we all should be doing), I tend to randomize.
So if I have 10 things, I will, with my die app, roll a 10-sided die and it will be like number seven. Great. And there's a weird commitment that I've made that if I roll number seven and number seven is the worst thing (the most wet, prickly thing I don't want to have to do) I literally will do it right then. And so seven, four, one. And by the end of the day I'll try to have all 10 done, but I never [know] what [is] going to come next. Surprises are fun for us...
Southwick: Yeah ...
Gardner:... even sometimes if they're bad, so that's how I've made it my own, is I've taken out weekly reviews and I've added in gamification and I get enough stuff done that I feel like it works, but just for me. I'm not putting that out for anybody else to do.
Brokamp: That's so funny.
Gardner: It's Leo Tolstoy and I, but nobody else.
Brokamp: Now I was trying to come up with a definition of productivity, and it basically is focusing on the most important things and getting them done as efficiently as possible. One little mantra I say to myself, sometimes, is "priorities before frivolities."
Gardner: I say hard/easy, not easy/hard. I say it to the kids all the time. The same thing.
Brokamp: And I thought about it during a little talk you gave to our company in which you told the tale that involved a very big number (86,400) so I thought it would be good if we closed out with that, because it talks about using a limited resource (time) to get important things done.
Gardner: So I have a very short passage I'm going to read, and this is not mine. This, like David Allen's system, it's not mine. It's something that I've learned and it's something that I love. So this is from a book called Tie-Ins for Life by Joe Shusko. He is a Marine martial arts instructor. Every U.S. Marine learns martial arts, and those who go through Quantico have learned for the last few decades from Joe Shusko.
And one thing he does is he tells the Marines stories that he ties into the lessons that he's giving as he teaches karate chops, or all the different forms of martial arts that they learn. He ties a story in because, of course, that's the best way to learn. So this is a tie-in and it's entitled "86,400 Seconds" and here's how it goes. It starts this way.
Imagine there's a bank that credits your account $86,400 every day. It carries no balance and every evening it deletes what you don't use. What would you do with it?
Each of us has that bank account. It's called time. Every morning it credits you with 86,400 seconds and every evening it writes off what you don't use. It has no balance.
Each day you have a new account. If you fail to use those deposits, you can't go back. Live in the present. Live for today. The clock is running.
Make the best of everything you have. Take responsibility for your life. Make a difference. Write down at the end of the day how you've made a difference. Don't watch the world go by. You would spend every penny of the $86,400. Spend the seconds just as well.
Brokamp: That's great. Thank you, David, for coming on.
Southwick: Yeah. Thank you for putting Motley Fool Answers on your to-do list. We really appreciate it.
Gardner: I can't wait for my next appearance, whatever the excuse is to pull me back. Maybe sometime late this summer I'd love that you have me back. Let's talk something else.
Southwick: We'll have you back whenever you want. Thank you.
Gardner: Thank you for your wonderful podcast. I'm so grateful for you both, and I know you've got a lot of fans and deservedly so. And thank you for Motley Fool Answers.
Southwick: Aw! Thank you!
Gardner: By the way, the average human heart beats 100,000 times a day. Make every beat count.
Southwick: Oh, it's our final episode of There's an App for That. I'm so sad. I've been enjoying you guys coming in and talking about apps. And today we have Mohna Shah, again. She's back. Yay!
Mohna Shah: Yay! Thank you. It's nice to be back.
Southwick: Yes, it's nice to have you. And, of course she works for Motley Fool, oh, Wealth Management, a sister company of The Motley Fool. And we also have Kara Chambers. She is ... have you been on the show before?
Kara Chambers: No, I haven't.
Southwick: All right. Kara Chambers works on our people team and she is ... I basically went right to her and I was like, "Kara, can you be on this because you are like a person famous for using apps and productivity tools." So you didn't volunteer. You were volun-told.
Chambers: My favorite thing.
Southwick: Same for Mohna. So we are going to talk about probably four apps, today, and just to get it out of the way, these are all four apps that we love. So not necessarily some reviews, but here's some recommendations. All right, Mohna. What apps have you brought us today?
Shah: So today I wanted to recommend Dropbox and 1Password. It is a way for families to be productive together. One of the inefficiencies about being married or trying to coordinate with your parents is that you want to share documents with them, or be able to give somebody a password in case something happens to you. And those are always the troubling things. Who do you trust? How should we maintain it and then my password changes? And how do I tell them?
So for Dropbox, which is a document storage solution in the cloud, my husband and I share an account and you can have separate folders that the other person doesn't see, but you can also share folders ...
Southwick: Mohna, what are you putting in that folder that your husband can't see?
Shah: It's my birthday gift to him.
Brokamp: There you go. There you go.
Southwick: We are all so concerned about our spouses' birthdays on this show today.
Shah: But one of the things is when you get married and you're sharing insurance, and a mortgage document, etc., it's really hard to have both people keep referencing a paper document in your home. It's much easier to have that available on your phone and both people can share that and access it when they happen to need it, which makes things a lot easier. It's also encrypted, so for people who are concerned about security, there's definitely safety in using the app.
The other thing is for people who have aging parents, they might want to be able to have access to their will or other documents that would help them help manage their parents' lives a little bit better, and I think that that's a good way to go, as well, so that you can make sure if something does happen, chaos is reduced and you're able to proceed as you need to.
With 1Password, I know that immediately when I got married and we combined our finances, we started using his checking and savings account, which meant that when I called the bank, they wanted me to tell them what my husband's first pet was in order to get by the security clearances and I just thought, "That's really silly. I have no idea."
So 1Password is a way in which you can store your passwords for each thing that you have a log in for, as well as put in the notes of what your answers to the security questions are. That way if I have to change a password for our insurance, I can go in, change it in the app. It changes it on his phone and the next time he logs in, he's aware of it.
Also it does generate passwords, so we all know we need to keep complex passwords. Not reuse passwords from one thing to the next. And so this is another great way in which you don't have to remember it. Keep it on your phone. Anytime you need to log into something, it's right there at your fingertips.
Southwick: Cool! OK, and then so for Dropbox and 1Password, there are both free and paid versions if you want like more bells and whistles and more storage space.
Southwick: All right, cool. All right, Kara. You have brought us a couple of apps today. Pocket? I've never heard of Pocket.
Chambers: Pocket is my helpful way of managing all the things to read on the internet.
Chambers: One of my favorite bad habits is to just endlessly get lost in reading article after article and Twitter, and you barely read like three sentences and you skip through. Or someone forwards you an interesting article. So Pocket will clean up the interface and save it for you for you to read offline. So what you've got is kind of a nice magazine.
And sometimes I'll deliberately put my iPad in airplane mode so I'm not endlessly down that rabbit hole of the internet at the end of the day, and just have got some nice magazine-linked articles. Long reads to read. And you can tag them and hold onto them. They're formatted nicely, so you're not just clicking through a big, long interface. It basically cleans up and organizes the internet for you. So things like The New York Times Sunday magazine always has great articles that I always just miss.
So if you're saving something you found on Twitter, or someone at work forwarded you something interesting, just saving it all during the day to Pocket and then having that to read at the end of the day is just a nice compromise between paper books, which are no longer satisfying my attention span. So if you find yourself not with the patience to sit down with a book to read, this is a good interface to just settle down at the end of the day.
Southwick: Sure. Own no magazines, yes. Use Pocket. And is this one free, or do you pay for it?
Chambers: I believe there's a free and a paid version. Also you can forward emails into Pocket, so if someone sends you an email with an article, you just forward it to Pocket to read later and then find it in your queue at the end of the day.
Southwick: Cool. And the next one we're going to talk about is one that we are all fans of...
Chambers: Trello pretty much runs the Fool, by now, and most of our lives.
Southwick: Between Slack and Trello, that's the only way things get done around here.
Chambers: Absolutely. In fact, the new thing is now instead of someone saying to you, "I haven't gotten around to that," say, "it's on my Trello board. It's on my Trello board." So Trello is a to-do list, but it's really beautifully designed based on Agile methodology, which is basically to-do, doing, done and then maybe a waiting column. We've talked about David Allen here, Getting Things Done. Just a simplified look at what I have to do next. But it organizes it in terms of visual cards, and for a lot of people they just find the interface helpful.
What I love about a good app is one that adds features time over time. It continues to make it better. And Trello does that. There's a lot of filtering and tagging. You can play around with it to make it beautifully visual. That's also a habit of mine, to just say, "OK, I have this boring meeting, but I'm going to hold up this beautiful organized Trello board and it looks like I've got something done."
So you can use it on your own. You can use it in collaboration with others. I was in a team meeting, and I have some teams that people say, "I don't really use Trello. I have my own system." But I can still use Trello to run the meeting, so you can use it at work, but if your workplace doesn't use Trello, it's really helpful to use on your own. You can snap pictures of things and upload them. You can save bookmarks like from Pinterest or something else. You could put your Pocket articles on there and save them, and you can physically move them around. There's an iPad, an iPhone, and a desktop app, and I think what we love about it is it's just so beautifully designed.
Southwick: Yeah, it's really rewarding to move like cards to the "Done" column. Or you can have the column be whatever you want, but this show runs on Trello, too.
Brokamp: It does, yeah.
Southwick: So there we go. 1Password and Dropbox to help you collaborate, get organized, and be more productive with your loved ones. And then Trello to get organized with your projects in a very GTD kind of way. See, I'm using the lingo.
Brokamp: That's very impressive.
Southwick: Thank you. And then Pocket to help organize all those things you want to read and just save for the end of the day. Yay! Thank you guys for joining us for the final, final version... Oh, for the final. What do I call it? For the final...
Brokamp: Installment of our series.
Southwick: The final installment of our series, There's an App for That. Which is also your Motley, isn't it Kara?
Chambers: Yes, it is. Every Fool has a Motley. We have our own little phrase or saying and I picked that one because I like to look at new technology for the Fool all the time.
Southwick: And that's why I dragged you in here.
Chambers: Anytime. I could talk about apps all day.
Southwick: Thank you, guys.
Chambers: All right, thank you.
Shah: Thank you.
Southwick: All right, that's the show. I want to thank David Gardner for joining us, as well as Mohna Shah and Kara Chambers. We really couldn't do this show without the whole village.
Brokamp: We could not.
Southwick: We've received a ton of postcards over the holidays from exotic places.
Southwick: I know. We got one from Cody, who works for UNICEF in the Sudan. Bruno in Rio, Patrick from the Grand Canyon, Brent who is stationed in Kuwait, and Dan and Beth who went to Caneel Bay. And I am peanut butter and jealous over that one. It's gorgeous. Ugh! Well, you guys all live such exciting lives.
Brokamp: And if we haven't said this already, we hang all those up. They don't go into a pile. Everyone can see these postcards.
Southwick: Because we're very proud of them -- that our listeners are so cool. Yee! All right, so our email is Answers@Fool.com. Remember how we set up that phone number for people to leave a question and a message? And then I forgot to go and check the box?
Brokamp: There's like a hundred.
Southwick: No, there's not a hundred, but I feel bad because people left some questions over our voice mail and I forgot to circle back. But not anymore, because it's going on my GTD list ...
Brokamp: There you go.
Southwick: So yes. Please send us your questions to Answers@Fool.com or you can call and leave a voice mail at 1-800-MRSFOOL. All right. The show is edited productively by Rick Engdahl. For Robert Brokamp, I'm Alison Southwick. Stay Foolish, everybody.
Alison Southwick has no position in any stocks mentioned. David Gardner owns shares of Amazon and Netflix. Robert Brokamp, CFP has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Netflix, and Twitter. The Motley Fool recommends The New York Times. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.