The Productivity Giants Series with Noah Kagan, Founder of AppSumo


Noah Kagan is a pretty busy guy – he runs two successful web companies at the same time. Residing in Austin, Texas, Noah is the Chief Sumo at and Both startups are dedicated to helping entrepreneurs kick more ass by providing them with deals on productivity products and the best web traffic tools out there. Before becoming a founder, Noah worked at Intel, and was employee #30 at Facebook and #4 at Mint.


We’re especially big fans of Noah because of his interest in personal/career development and productivity. On his personal site,, Noah tells his stories about his successes and failures over the years, and shares actionable business advice for entrepreneurs.

Since Noah wears so many hats, he constantly finds himself answering the question, “How do you stay organized?” In a post on his site, he lays out some of his top productivity practices:


  • His whole life is based on Google Calendar – Everything he does or plans to do is scheduled and planned in advance.
  • He executes weekly check-ins – He does this with anyone crucial to the Sumo team, and also does this with an personal accountability partner
  • He uses Remember the Milk and a whiteboard on his wall – He jots down basic checklists to help him remember to get things done
  • He creates a yearly bucket list – He types out any major, long-term goals he wants to achieve by the end of the year on a stickie that lives on his desktop, so he sees it every day
  • He uses Evernote – Some of his favorite ways to use this app are for “brain dumps” and jotting down non-critical information such as workouts, random contacts, and bank/passport information


On OkDork, Noah talks a lot about the importance of having one goal – and prioritizing around that goal as a key to marketing. He highly recommends a book called  Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. He enjoyed it so much that he bought a copy for everyone on his team at AppSumo!


Here’s Noah explaining how Steve Jobs and In-N-Out champion entrepreneurial essentialism. Watch for some simple things they’ve implemented to be successful that you can learn from to boost your productivity and focus on what’s most important.


Now read on for our own interview with Noah:


What does the first 90 minutes of your day look like?

Brush my teeth, take a cold shower, meditate for 10 to 20 minutes, make a cup of coffee mixed with protein powder, and start working on my task list I set the night before.


What’s your number one productivity/time-saving tip?

Have only ONE social media app on your mobile, and turn off all notifications for your apps.


Any favorite tools?

Alfred app for MacBook and Slack for team communication.


Do you have a pre-bed/nightly routine?

I make a checklist of tasks I need to get done the next morning, so it’s easier for me to tackle once I get up.


How often do you check your inbox?

Once a day.


What’s your #1 Email tip?

Only check and read emails when you’re ready to act upon them (reply, add tasks to your to-do list, or delete).


What bad advice do you hear often?

“Think less, do more.” We can spend so much time executing and not getting the desired results if we do the wrong thing. Thinking is equally as important because it prevents us from making bad decisions, especially when they’re important.


What book has changed your life and why?

Essentialism. I love entrepreneurship and marketing. I have so many half-baked projects that I’m doing okay on, but not great. This book taught me the importance of doing less and inspired me to cultivate the habit of focusing on the essential things in both business and life.


What’s your definition of productivity?

For me, productivity = efficiency + effectiveness. That basically means it’s not just how much you do, it’s how useful the tasks are. You can do something efficiently but if it doesn’t align with your goals, at the end of the day, you’re not getting anything done.



Follow Noah on Twitter.