How We Work 2015: Angus Kidman's Favourite Productivity Tips And Gear

Once more it’s time for our annual How We Work roundup, where Lifehacker staffers and contributors share their favourite tips and tools for better productivity. Up first: Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman.

Location: Sydney (sometimes) Current Gig: Lifehacker Australia Editor Your favourite word: Helpful Current mobile device: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Current computer: Lenovo Carbon X1

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

My basic workplace requirements are the same as they have been for many years: a laptop running Windows, Office, Chrome and Dropbox. I'm still using the Lenovo Carbon X1, and I'm very happy with it. I don't want to use a laptop without a trackpoint on it at any time in the foreseeable future. (You're welcome to your trackpad gestures; they're just not for me.)

The big change for me in workplace tools over the past year has been finally giving up using a BlackBerry as my day-to-day device. I still love the physical keyboard, and I still think the email client is better than any other mobile email app I've used. But I had to face facts: I was travelling around carrying a BlackBerry and an Android device, and the only thing I was doing on the BlackBerry was making calls and checking my mail. Every other app I wanted wasn't available on BlackBerry. It was time to cut the cord.

I adopted the Galaxy Note 4 for a challenge late last year, and I've stuck with it ever since. You habituate so quickly to the super-large screen. I had to test an app on an iPhone 5S recently, and the screen size made it feel as if I was trying to work on a digital watch.

Beyond the browser, the other app I'm completely dependent on is Feedly. RSS feeds are my lifeblood.

What's your workspace setup like?

I'm still a big fan of the standing desk we set up at Lifehacker HQ 15 months ago. My only complaint is that my colleagues still tend to use it as a dumping ground for everything and anything that passes through the portals of Allure HQ.

But really, I'm not fussy. I regularly work on planes, on trains, in airport lounges and in shopping centres. Give me a keyboard and I'll ignore everything around me.

What's your best time-saving or efficiency shortcut?

Three classics:

  • Sort your email by sender to process it rapidly
  • Learn every single keyboard shortcut you can
  • Take time to cross items off your to-do list. The satisfaction is totally worth it.

What do you eat for breakfast?

A bowl of muesli with skim milk at around 0745 every morning. I get up much earlier (0430), but I just don't fancy eating until then.

The one exception is if I'm staying in a hotel and someone has paid for the buffet breakfast. Then it's an orgy of baked beans, bacon, sausages and tomatoes.

What skill are you better at this year than last year?

I am terrible at sticking to vaguely regular work hours and achieving anything resembling work/life balance. This year, I vowed to myself that I would be out of the office by 3pm unless I had an evening booking -- and even then, I'd go for a walk before night duties. So far, I have stuck to that. But it is only February. Ask me again in July.

What do you listen to while you work?

I totally get that some people can't write without an entirely quiet environment, or one where a carefully-chosen playlist can be heard softly in the background, but that's not me. When I'm in the office, I prefer to listen to office conversations. At home, if I'm writing for pleasure, I'll dive into my stupidly extensive music collection. There's an inescapable 1980s bias there, which is (obviously) no bad thing.

What's your favourite part of your job?

That brief, pleasurable moment when something happens and I instantly know how Lifehacker will approach it as a story. You'd hope that would be frequent after seven years in this job, but it still brings a small smile to my face. Then I start bashing at the keyboard again.

What's your sleep routine like?

Very regular. In bed by 2200, up at 0430. On weekends, I'll sleep in until 0730 and it feels like a massive indulgence.

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

I'm going to say this here so I've made a public declaration and it has to happen: this year, I'm finally going to publish some ebook fiction. I have multiple manuscripts I have been tweaking for years; it's time to let go and face judgement.


    How did you learn to get up early Angus? Or is it a more natural inclination anyway?

      It is natural inclination, fundamentally. If I didn't find mornings productive, I suspect I'd set my hours quite differently.

        Ah thanks. I find myself quite productive in the mornings but unless there is something I need (go to work early, catch a flight etc) to do then it's incredibly difficult to get up. Now to go home an channel my inner Angus...

    "I totally get that some people can’t write without an entirely quiet environment"

    As a (former) working journalist (now back at uni doing honours), this makes me laugh when other journalists say they need this. I don't remember more than a handful of times where this was the "working environment" I was in...

    Last edited 11/02/15 10:42 am

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