Benny Lewis is living a life that many dream of: travelling the world. And he’s learning many different languages as he goes. In fact, that’s his “job”: learning languages as quickly as possible and helping others to do the same. He’s become so well known that he had a TEDx talk.

What’s his secret? It’s no secret: it’s “speak from day 1“.

But the reason I’m writing this blog about Benny today is not about his language-learning skills but about his productivity and a recent blog post of his that caught my eye:

I get over four hundred emails a day, and another hundred or so comments on my blog posts, Youtube channel, Facebook page, twitter @s. Some of the emails may be for interview requests (here’s a recent one I did entirely in Irish on for instance), which in themselves will take up a lot of time, and others are sometimes really long emails in various languages that take time just to read.

via 21 ways to work, socialise & sleep well, maintain inbox 0 with 400+ emails, AND intensively learn a language all in a day! Time hacking 2.0 — Fluent in 3 months – Language Hacking and Travel Tips.

Click the link to read the whole thing.  I was particularly interested in his ideas for dealing with email by using Rapportive:

Now, the one major catch about using email compared to social media platforms like twitter, Facebook, Youtube and so on, is you don’t know anything about that person apart from their name – not even what they look like!

When dealing with languages where even saying “you” requires that you know if you are writing to a boy or a girl and I can’t really tell that from their name, and just in general to make my email experience much more personal so I feel like I’m writing to real human beings, it’s nice to see a nice photo and any other info about that person.

With this in mind, I have the plugin Rapportive installed. This searches social media platforms for their email address and returns what it can – usually a Facebook photo, and sometimes even a few status updates. I find this helps me get some context for who I’m writing to.

And Boomerang:

My favourite plugin by far for Gmail is boomerang. This allows me to 1. Send an email later 2. Have emails returned to me later and 3. Bring an email back to me if the recipient doesn’t reply by a certain time.

This has been such a huge help to me! ..

Another way is that I see the email is not something that I can handle right now, but don’t want it sitting in my inbox nagging me. So I set it to “boomerang” back to my inbox at a time when I can handle it. For example, if someone sends me a monstrously long email, I’m definitely not going to read it as soon as I see it. I’ll boomerang it back to Tuesday, when I set aside time specifically to read long emails.

My workplace just switched their email system to Gmail. I was so excited about Boomerang, I logged into to my work account and installed it… only to discover that my work administrator does not permit the use of Boomerang or of Google Labs. Booooooo!!!

There’s lots more productivity tips in that post. And if you’re interested in learning a foreign language quickly, check out Benny’s site. It’s full of very useful information.


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