It’s time for our annual How We Work roundup, where Lifehacker staffers and contributors share their favourite gear, software and life hacks for getting things done more efficiently. Up today: Kotaku Australia editor and frequent Lifehacker contributor Mark Serrels.
Location: Sydney, Australia
Current Gig: Editor of Kotaku Australia
One word that best describes how you work: Carb-free
Current mobile device: iPhone 4S
Current computer: 11″ MacBook Air
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Why?
Google Chrome. That’s it. I just don’t really need anything else. I’m a Luddite.
What’s your workspace setup like?
My workplace is a poorly-lit cave of porridge, protein powder and green tea. It’s also surrounded by the tools I need to consume those things: bowls, mugs, spoons. I realise this makes me sound like a slob, but my desk is actually relatively clean. In fact, I reckon I have the cleanest desk in the office (second to Angus of course). I’m very minimalist in the work style and my workplace reflects that. A lot of games journalists tend to surround themselves with plushies and video games, but I’ve never been a fan of that. I come to the office to work and eat porridge. That’s it.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?
This is going to sound crazy but… working on the train. I have a 30-35 minute train journey and I use that time to really blitz through some of the more mundane everyday tasks. There are very few distractions on the train and I find it easy to focus with the ticking clock of the next stop to contend with. Give yourself a set of tasks to do in that specific time that is achievable (but challenging). You will kick arse at said task. Guaranteed.
What’s your favourite to-do list manager?
I hate to-do lists and very rarely use them. If I have to create a to-do list I just write it on a Post-It note and stick next to my mouse on my desk.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?
Headphones. That’s it. I don’t tend to bloat myself with gadgets.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret?
I like writing very, very much. I think about it all the time. I write in my head when I’m walking, when I’m exercising, when I’m trying to pat my son to sleep. Unique, weird sentences that communicate meaning in subliminal strange ways are like magic to me. Words are really strange things when you think about it and I am sincerely in love with them. I think about the rhythm of language a lot: when certain things should be said, how it should be written, where certain words should go. I like to think that when I hunker down and really focus on writing something good, that I’m the best.
I’m arrogant like that. I want to be the best, I want to compete. A lot of writers don’t think that way, and that’s probably healthy, but I think of writing the way an athlete does about sport. I want to beat you. I want to win. If you write something I think is good, you just set a new record and I want to obliterate it.
I’m very polite to my fellow writers. I’m very friendly and nice. I love my fellow writers and I hope they achieve great things, but it is truly and honestly my goal to write something so good that you simply cannot compete. I’m not saying I can do it, I’m not saying I am the best but I believe I am the best in the way fighters believe they are the best. It is my goal to try and prove that I am unbeatable at what I do, even if I’m not.
Underneath it all, I really am a terrible, shallow, baseless human being!
What do you listen to while you work?
I hate listening to music when I write. Hate it hate it hate it. If someone puts music on in the office I literally put on my headphones and listen to white noise.
What are you currently reading?
Training for Climbing by Eric J. Horst.
I haven’t read fiction in a long, long, long time. My life goes: work, fatherhood, climbing, Dark Souls. I like to read history, and I love autobiographies.
Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
I’m definitely an introvert, especially in terms of the proper usage of that word. I enjoy social interactions, but I don’t draw energy from them, I find it very draining. Alone time to recharge my batteries is an absolute necessity.
What’s your sleep routine like?
I have a one-year-old who still wakes up three to four times a night. He also likes to wake up properly at 5.30am with a shit-eating grin on his gob. Sometimes he wakes me up with the power of ‘headbutt’.
Yeah, I don’t sleep so good nowadays!
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _________ answer these same questions.
I like sport. I like the mentality of high level athletes, so maybe someone like Andy Murray (I’m Scottish) or Anderson Silva.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I like the quote “an honest man has nothing to fear”. We’ve all felt the anxiety that comes from dishonesty. I hate it so much. I feel it right in the base of my gullet and I’d rather not feel it as long as I live.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers/fans?
Exercise changed my life. I think it’s important. I also think putting the right things in your body is important. Exercise and eating healthy has made me a happier, more content person and I think that might be the most important thing you can do with your life.
I think that, in order to live a full life, you must commit to happiness. Make happiness and contentment your goal. That comes easy to some people, for some it takes work, but I don’t think there’s anything more important than that general feeling of contentedness.