How We Work 2014: Whitson Gordon’s Favourite Gear And Productivity Tricks

How We Work 2014: Whitson Gordon’s Favourite Gear And Productivity Tricks
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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 US editor-in-chief Whitson Gordon gets things done.

Many of my tricks are the same as they were last year, but I’ve also got some new ones up my sleeve, so I’ll try to stick to the fresh stuff this year. (Last year’s entry still has lots of good stuff.)

Location: Los Angeles, California
Current gig: Editor-In-Chief of Lifehacker US
Current computer: Jotunn, my trusty custom-built, overclocked, water-cooled gaming and video editing PC. My arsenal also includes Loki, my home theatre PC; Heimdall, my NAS4Free server; and Valkyrie, my 13″ MacBook Air.
Current mobile device: Moto X
I work: Loudly

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

These days, my essential tools include Evernote (since I finally figured out how to use it), Firefox (yes, I’m still a Firefox user), and Pocket for recreational reading. I could probably list a billion apps here but you already know about them.

I recently upgraded my phone to the Moto X and it is, hands down, the best smartphone I’ve ever used. The active notifications are awesome, always-on voice is cool (but I haven’t used it much), and battery life isn’t embarrassing. GravityBox gives me all the tweaks I could want without flashing a custom ROM, and it’s smooth as butter. Plus it’s blue. I’ve also upgraded my iPad (finally) to the iPad Air, which is amazing, and I’m still using my rooted Nook religiously for reading at night or at the beach.

What’s your workspace like?

My workspace is as geeky and decked out as they come…almost embarrassingly so. But it’s where I spend the vast majority of my time, so I’ve put together a place I really enjoy being.

Since last year, I’ve made a few upgrades. After my old speakers blew out, I upgraded to a pair of Yamaha HS50M studio monitors (with a Dayton subwoofer) and they are awesome. I have a pair of modded AKG Q701 headphones that are unlike anything I’ve ever heard, and Alan finally convinced me to get a mechanical keyboard. Otherwise, it’s the same as always — more little upgrades here and there every year. I’m probably getting to the point of diminishing returns on all this stuff.

What’s your best time-saving trick?

I’m still in love with text expansion and AutoHotkey, but I’ve talked about all that before. So this year I’ll share my other favourite time-saving trick that’s a little less work-oriented:

Every Saturday, my girlfriend and I plan our meals for the next week using our meal planner app (which contains all of our favourite recipes). It creates a shopping list based on the recipes we chose, we shop, and then we cook those meals throughout the week. I know I’ve talked about this before, but I cannot stress how much this has changed my life. Not only do we eat out a lot less and save money, but we cook food I’m actually excited to eat — it’s amazing how easily you can learn a basic skill like cooking with a little practising and planning.

What’s your favourite to-do list manager?

I’m still using Wunderlist for its simplicity. The app you use isn’t important, it’s all about how you use it — and if you use it. By forcing myself to actually use my to-do list every day, I have a much better handle on my productivity.

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

I caved and bought a food processor this year, and it is seriously great. No longer must I waste precious time mincing garlic and onions the old fashioned way. Just throw ’em in, pulse a few times, and you’re good to go.

Melanie also mailed me the onion goggles she used for her onion-cutting experiment, and I’m not embarrassed to say I use them pretty much every day. I figure if my girlfriend hasn’t dumped me after seeing me wear my Gunnars every day, the onion goggles probably won’t tip the scales.

What do you listen to while you work?

Heavy metal, all day, every day. Through MediaMonkey, no less.

What are you currently reading?

I don’t really read a lot of books. I prefer nonfiction, so I read mostly articles, blogs, or other things like that. Anything I come across that looks interesting gets sent to Pocket, and I’ll read it later on my iPad or Nook. I also subscribe to The Economist, Maximum PC, PC Gamer, and The Week, which is a fantastic magazine for keeping up on news (especially if you don’t have a lot of time). I read them all via Newsstand on my iPad.

Of the books I’ve read in the past couple years, I really loved Kevin Roose’s The Unlikely Disciple. If you’re at all interested in religion (whether you’re religious or not), it’s a really fascinating, humanising look at modern evangelical Christians.

I also read comic books. I’m loving Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man, and I’m totally depressed that Chris Yost’s Scarlet Spider was cancelled. I recently started reading Saga and so far it’s very good.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

As I’ve said before, I don’t really like labels like this. Technically I’m probably an extrovert — I tend to gain energy by being with people and drain energy when I’m alone — but I’m an extrovert with a lot of very solitary hobbies. So my alone time is still really important to me, because that’s when I get to play video games, tinker with my computers, and so on.

What’s your sleep schedule like?

Early to bed, early to rise. I go to bed between 9 and 10 usually, and I’m up at 6:30 sharp working. I’m one of those “morning people” you hear about.

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

Why won’t Alton Brown answer our emails?!

What are some of your favourite Lifehacker posts?

I’ve been here for four years, and there is no way in hell I’ll be able to list all my favourites here. But, off the top of my head, here are some of my favourite posts and guides (by me and others) that are really memorable for one reason or another:

Is there anything you want to add?

These videos are what get me through the workday.