We regularly share the tips, tricks and tools of our favourite experts and internet personalities. This week we’re giving you guys a glimpse into how we work. Today, Lifehacker US writer Thorin Klosowski shares how he gets stuff done.
Location: Seattle, Washington
Current Gig: Writer, Lifehacker
Current Computer: 11″ Macbook Air, super old iMac
Current mobile device: iPhone 5s
I work: Sporadically
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Why?
Not too much has changed since last year, but I have mixed up my software use a little bit. Mainly, after the release on Mac and a fantastic redesign, Simplenote has once again become my chosen app for notes, to-dos and writing. For longer form writing, I’ve been using Writer Pro for writing and Phraseology for editing. For journalling I’ve been using Day One. All of which is to say: I can’t live without a solid suite of writing apps, and once I’m invested in one system, I tend to stick with it for a while. After moving to Seattle earlier this year, I’ve also found that Dark Sky is incredibly useful for keeping me dry.
What’s your workspace setup like?
Like I said, I moved this year, so my workspace is a lot different than it used to be. Namely, it’s no longer in an office of its own and I don’t have the space for a massive whiteboard (I can’t begin to tell you how long it’s taken me to get used to not having one). My coworker, pal and frequent photobomber pup Sif passed away last year, so I don’t have her keeping an eye on my productivity.
On my desk is my iMac, a pair of Audyssey Lower East Side Media Speakers, a cheap pair of Audio Technica noise cancelling headphones (mounted to my iMac with a 3M Command Hook, a Blue Yeti USB mic, a 3DS, a Vita and my tiny not-dead-yet plant named Tetsuo. Behind my iMac I have a TwelveSouth BackPack that holds my MacBook, iPad and the Logitech iPad keyboard I use when I need a distraction-free place to write. There are a stack of Moleskine notebooks hidden under the desk too.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?
This is kind of obnoxious-sounding, but it’s having the self-awareness to realise when I suck at something and then automating that thing. For example, it took me forever to realise that what I hated about cooking meals at home wasn’t the cooking process, it was finding meals. So, I delegated that problem away so I could get to the heart of it and actually learn to enjoy cooking.
What’s your favourite to-do list manager?
I use Simplenote for random things that don’t really have due dates, Fantastical for items that need to get done on a particular day, my brain as often as I can, and pen and paper for pretty much everything else. Which is to say, I don’t really use a to-do list manager, at least not how I’m supposed to.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?
Does a backpack and a pair of shoes count? I spend so much time on the computer, with my phone, or unwinding with another screen in my face that the most indispensable gadget I can think of is the time I spend with no gadgets at all, just walking around and exploring my city.
What do you listen to while you work?
I listen to this mix on Spotify pretty much every day. It includes mostly instrumental music, but ranges from metal to avant-garde classical — basically anything and everything I find that allows me to write while still cranking up music loudly. I update it throughout the year.
That said, if I’m not writing, I usually listen to the stupidest, poppiest music I can find. I tend to get easily frustrated when I’m cooking, or building things, so having a pop song in the background keeps my mood high.
What are you currently reading?
After a recent spurt of Russian dystopian fiction like Roadside Picnic, We and Metro 2033, I decided to slow things down and bit and I’ve been rereading Haruki Murakami’s A Wild Sheep Chase. For some reason, Murakami’s books always make me want a cat. I’m also reading Jacques Lob’s Snowpiercer.
Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
I’m either a surprisingly social introvert or an incredibly shy extrovert. In the majority of cases, I’d really rather spend my time at home, by myself, or just with close friends, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love getting out into big public parties. I’ve been told I take a bit to warm up and get comfortable, but once I do (or I’ve had a couple glasses of whiskey) I’m usually as obnoxiously chatty as anyone else out there.
What’s your sleep routine like?
I’m not sure my sleep routine has really corrected itself since moving to the west coast, so it’s still a little random these days. That certainly isn’t helped by the fact that I live about 200 yards away from some docks, across the street from a metal recycler, and above a bar. Anyway, I’m usually in bed by about midnight and awake at 6:30 or 7:00 the next morning.
I’m sickeningly routine with my routine though, to the point where I can’t fall asleep unless I do all my usual pre-bed rituals. Likewise, I can’t really get my day started until I shower, eat some breakfast, drink some coffee, and zone out for a good 10 minutes.
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _________ answer these same questions.
Well, now that I said I was reading one of his books earlier this feels disingenuous, but Haruki Murakami would be great. Anytime someone asks me why I started running I always point them to What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Now that I think about it, Takashi Murakami would be great too.
What are some of your favourite Lifehacker posts?
Ugh, there are so many to chose from, but here are a few I feel like I come back to year round:
- Getting Started is Everything
- Everything From Raspberry Pi Week
- Confessions Of A Recovering Lifehacker
- The Pomodoro Technique Fights Deadline Anxiety With A Timer
- Everyone’s Trying to Track What You Do On the Web: Here’s How To Stop Them
I’m probably missing a bunch still, but there you have it.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I appreciate the same basic advice from different people or places pretty much yearly, but that doesn’t make it any less useful: keep it simple, stupid. Whether that’s Bruce Lee’s “hack away the unessential” or the “rule of clarity“m I am the type of person who tends to accidentally over-complicate things, and I need that yearly reminder to keep things as simple as possible.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers?
I’m irrationally and unhealthily obsessed with video game leaderboards. The best days of my life include when I had a few top 10 times in Super Hexagon. OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Maybe.