Productivity

How We Work: Luke Hopewell's Favourite Gear And Productivity Tricks

Every week, we share the shortcuts, workspaces and productivity tips of our favourite experts and internet personalities in our How I Work series. Throughout this week, we’re giving readers a glimpse into how we work. Today, Gizmodo Australia editor Luke Hopewell (a regular contributor round Lifehacker way) lifts the lid on a life loaded with gadgets.

Location: Sydney, Australia

Current gig: Editor, Gizmodo Australia

One word that best describes how you work: Quickly

Current mobile device: iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920, BlackBerry Z10

Current computer: MacBook Air 11-inch

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

I decided when I started this gig almost a year ago now that I would move to a more cloud-centric life. I bounce between so many different devices that I don’t have time to waste when setting them up.


More and more these days I find myself a slave to the world of Google. Chrome is the cornerstone of my cloud-centric life, with tab and profile syncing being my favourite two features. The stuff that I left open on my desk, bookmarked earlier or visited yesterday is all there if I have to switch to my phone or tablet when I dash out of the office. Dropbox, Evernote and Spotify are also saving me from storing anything on my MacBook’s tiny SSD drive.

As far as physical tools are concerned, I can’t live without my Vanguard Uprise satchel bag, my STM cable roll or my smartphone.

What’s your workspace setup like?

Messy, if I’m honest. I try to be as tidy as possible and put everything where it goes, but every so often the mess piles up because of how busy I get and I don’t get a chance to put everything where it goes. That goes for both my work desk and my home desk.

I think if my desk gets any messier, Chris Jager will be on my case about my stuff creeping over to where he sits. I do hate the mess, but I have to find a second to clean it up.

Essentials for any desk include a laptop charger, wireless peripherals, a second monitor and a desk fan. That way I can just bring my laptop in, fire it up and I’m away.

Geeky toys I think are also important to keeping me interested in where I sit. I’m very strange like that, but I quite like having a bit of Doctor Who silliness on my desk to keep me entertained.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?

Get an application on your laptop that keeps track of the time for you. Not a clock per sé, just something that will tell you the time as it crosses each hour. I know that OS X Mountain Lion can announce the time on the hour, for example.

By doing this, I keep track of where I am in the day. If a certain story is taking me too long or I’m too slow in reporting it, hearing the time will drag me back into the present and make me refocus my attention.

What’s your favourite to-do list manager?

I don’t really respond well to fancy to-do list managers. If I have to go through a particular process to actually get a task on there, I’m not going to use it. It’s much easier to just open a new Notepad/Text Edit window and type what you need to get done in there. It’s the equivalent of having a pen and paper next to you, only in digital form. That way I can Alt+Tab between windows to see what’s next.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

It’s a tie between either my quaint little desk fan or my wireless hotspot.

Since I was a kid I have always found I get really warm, and working in a warm office means that I can sometimes feel like I’m boiling in my seat. A desk fan keeps a quiet little breeze on my all day so I can work more effectively.

Out and about, I love my Telstra 4G Hotspot. Sure I could just tether my phone to the various gadgets I have, but I need the battery life it has for calls later on. Better to use a bespoke device I can fire up and use when I’m in a pinch. Getting a great story first is what Gizmodo is all about these days, and I need the tech that can help me with that.

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?

Getting things done quickly. It sounds like a pretty obnoxious humble-brag, but Gizmodo is going from strength to strength at the moment because — much like Lifehacker — we can put good content out quickly. We’re not bound by a traditional editorial structure here which is a massive blessing, because if you need to get a breaking story out, the last thing you want to have to do is fight with 15 different people to get news to the front page. I pride myself on speed and accuracy.

What do you listen to while you work?

I rotate between a few playlists depending on the time of year. It’s coming to the end of summer right now so I’m still listening to pop chart hits — something I always do when the warmer months take hold. For other times I have a playlist that I listen to at work that’s filled with funky beats and great dance music to keep me energised throughout the day.

What’s your sleep routine like?

Pretty terrible to be honest. Work-life balance is still something I’m working on. I have always found it difficult to switch off from the job at hand, but I’m trying to teach myself that sometimes you need to stop feeding the beast (so-to-speak), or else the beast will eat you too. I find myself going to bed later and later these days. Going to sleep at 1am after belting out features and/or catching up on shows isn’t out of the ordinary. I’m up by 6am the next day, and I’m quickly learning that it’s a process with diminishing returns, so I’m trying to work harder on that before the black under my eyes gets and darker.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

I’d say I am an extrovert on the outside but on the inside I’m still quite guarded and introverted. It’s almost like a split personality thing. I love to laugh and make people laugh, I don’t have a problem standing up in front of people or addressing an audience and I find it easy to voice my opinion in conversation or argument. On the other hand, though, I can be quiet as a mouse and quite introverted if I’m around someone I don’t feel comfortable with. It’s very strange.

Is there anyone you’d kill to see answer these same questions?

First of all, who do I have to kill? If it’s Hitler I’m cool with itm just show me to the TARDIS.

I think I’d like to see a leader like Obama or Julia Gillard answer these questions. So many things would come into your brainspace every day, I want to know how they prioritise and deal with those issues. Teach me your kung-fu, world leaders…

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

You can’t please everyone. Not everyone is going to like you all of the time, and that’s OK. As long as you’re comfortable in yourself with what you’re doing, that’s all that matters.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers?

If you ever find yourself stuck for ideas, find a mundane task to occupy your hands with to help you think. I have a ball that I toss around when I’m thinking. It keeps my mind on one thing — the thing I need to be thinking about — and helps me get the answers I need.

Also, I’d love a few tips on how to read books again. It sounds strange, but because my job is reading and writing, I have once again given up reading for leisure. There are still so many books I need to read but as soon as I pick one up I go into work mode. Anyone who has mastered the art of reading for work and reading for leisure, I’d love to hear from you.


Have you subscribed to Lifehacker Australia's email newsletter? You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.