How We Work 2014: Chris Jager’s Favourite Gear And Productivity Tricks

How We Work 2014: Chris Jager’s Favourite Gear And Productivity Tricks

We share our favourite tips, tricks and gear every day here at Lifehacker, but this week, it’s time for us to show off the ones we actually use. Here’s how Lifehacker journalist Chris Jager gets things done.

When we ran last year’s How We Work series, I was a newly-minted Lifehacker employee with a new baby daughter on the way. Since then, a lot about how I work has changed with the main differences being hardware and workspace-based.

Location: Circular Quay, Sydney
Current Gig: Lifehacker journalist
One word that best describes how you work: Standing
Current mobile device: Samsung Galaxy Note II
Current computer: Asus Pro45V laptop doggedly running Windows 7.

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

The humble word processor is the main tool of my trade. While some journalists like to wax lyrical about Google Docs and other open source software, I tend to stick with Microsoft Word simply because it’s what I’ve been using since high school. (Poor Clippy, we hardly knew ye.)

Another essential tool of my job is the blogging platform WordPress. Much to Angus’ horror, I have been known to write directly into WordPress’ content management system (CMS) which is kind of like playing Russian roulette by yourself for no reason. One of these days I’m going to get the loaded chamber and Angus will never let me live it down.

I still do a fair bit of travelling for my job, so Google Maps is probably the most important app on my smartphone. I have an appallingly rubbish sense of direction — I once misplaced my car in a parking lot and become convinced it had been stolen. Subsequently, anything that helps to point me in the right direction is much appreciated.

Other important apps I use for work include Dropbox/SkyDrive, Image Batch Resizer, Photoshop, Gimp and the Microsoft Windows snipping tool.

What’s your workspace setup like?

We recently adopted a standing desk in the Lifehacker office which has made for an interesting working environment. Meetings tend to be more productive (mainly because our non-standing colleagues want to get back to their seats) and I feel more involved with whatever’s going on in the office due to our elevated, sentinel-like positioning.

There’s also far less superfluous desktop clutter due to the fact that I share the same standing desk with Angus. An unintended side-effect of this new workspace is that I relish going to the toilet with unseemly eagerness – it’s the only chance I get to sit down.

The only real downside (apart from the toilet fetish and having slightly sore feet at the end of the day) is that my office phone is no longer within arm’s reach. That said, the fact I’m already standing makes it relatively easy to walk over and grab it within a few rings.

Currently, I also work one day a week from home to look after my one-year old daughter. I usually commandeer the living room table as my workspace, along with any surface that’s not covered in baby food and/or building blocks. These are in short supply.

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

Turn off your smartphone alerts during deadlines or intensive work periods. You’d be surprised how much time you save when you aren’t being constantly distracted by Facebook/Twitter/Instagram messages. Just remember, all those ‘likes’ and comments will still be there at the end of the day. Taking the time to get your fingers used to the touchscreen typing tool Swype is also worthwhile.

What’s your favourite to-do list manager?

I used to be a fan of the recently departed Astrid. I’ve yet to fully migrate to a new service. That said, the immediacy of a pen and a notepad has always served me well. I actually prefer it when it comes to mapping out important projects or itinerary lists — writing things down just seems to make it sink in better.

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

I recently got my hands on a Nintendo 3DS after years of clinging onto the original brick-shaped model. The difference in size was a revelation. It’s currently my go-to device when I need a quick gaming fix.

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret?

I have an unusually high tolerance for spicy foods. The secret is to gradually build up a tolerance while adopting the mindset of Jean-Claude Van Damme in the Kickboxer movies. No surrender!

What do you listen to while you work?

We run Spotify in the office which serves as good background hubbub that can either be listened to or zoned out of depending on workload. At home, my soundtrack is baby warbling and whatever crap is on ABC 2. If I had my way I’d probably prefer to work in silence for the most part — while I enjoy music as much as the next guy, I also find it distracting.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished reading Peter Biskind’s Down and Dirty Pictures; an expose of independent cinema that focuses on the careers of the Weinstein brothers and their controversial handling of various movies under the Miramax Films umbrella. If you’re interested in the mechanics behind modern filmmaking, it’s well worth a read.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

To paraphrase Spinal Tap’s Derek Smalls, I’m somewhere in the middle, like lukewarm water.

What’s your sleep routine like?

I’m usually in bed by 12am on weekdays although sleep doesn’t always come easily. I’m not sure whether that’s due to the stowaways who regularly crawl into our bed (AKA my four- and six-year old daughters) or my addiction of V energy drinks. In any event, I’m frequently still wide awake at 2am. Tch.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _________ answer these same questions.

James Cameron.

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

“Don’t sweat the small stuff!” I can’t recall who originally offered this kernel of advice but it has served me well in all aspects of life. Whether it’s a work issue, a relationship hurdle or a parenting problem, it pays to put things into perspective and treat them with the gravity they deserve. In other words, keep the storm out of the teacup.

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

Here’s a concrete rationalisation that will eradicate your fear of the supernatural — if ghosts exist, why hasn’t there been an explosion of evidence via phone cameras? Eh? EH? Because ghosts are bollocks. That’s why.


  • Regarding the ‘What’s your favourite to-do list manager?’, a number of responses so far have indicated the trusty pen and paper is still in high use.

    Is there any particular method the Lifehacker team use when recording To Do items? I’ve seen a few (draw a check box/have a circled ‘A’ next to action items etc), but I’d be interested to hear what you guys find most effective.

    • I rarely bother to check off completed items — it’s not like I’m going to forget if a story has been written. I do order items in terms of chronology and/or importance though. This either involves circling the stuff that’s high priority or re-writing the list to fine-tune the order.

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