How We Work 2015: Chris Jager'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. Today: Lifehacker Australia online journalist Chris Jager.

Location: Circular Quay, Sydney Current Gig: Lifehacker journalist Your favourite word: Sizzling Current mobile device: Samsung Galaxy S5 Current computer: Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Series

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

As an online journalist, I couldn't get by without a word processor and content management system; there would be no Lifehacker without them. For writing copy, I chiefly use Microsoft Word and Google Docs. Our blogging platform is still WordPress which makes everything look pretty with a few mouse clicks.

I’m somewhat directionally challenged, so Google Maps is essential to me; especially with all the travelling I do. While we’re on the subject of travel, I’m also a big fan of Globalgig's roaming SIM card service: it’s a cheap, convenient and reliable way to ensure I always have data while travelling abroad. I do a fair amount of work on the train and away from Wi-Fi signals, so the ability to use my phone as a mobile hotspot is highly valued.

While it’s become hip to despise Facebook, I remain an unabashed fan; both for work and pleasure. Until the world at large migrates to a new social networking platform, it remains the best way to share content and stay in touch with friends and family.

What's your workspace setup like?

I used to spend about 50 per cent of each day using the same standing desk as Angus, which is wide enough to comfortably fit both our equipment. However, in recent months I’ve begun to slowly revert to a conventional desk setup. Initially this was due to a minor back injury, but now it’s purely down to laziness. I’m going to make a concerted effort to get back into the habit of standing. Starting next week. Maybe.

Kids: not particularly conductive to an optimal working environment.

I also spend one day a week working from home while juggling daddy daycare duties. On these days I’ll usually sit at the back of the room which gives me a commanding view of my three mischievous daughters. (Curiously, there are far more Nerf gun battles in the Allure Media office than in my sprog-filled home. Go figure.)

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

I’ll stick to last year’s answer, which is to curb your use of social networks during the work day, especially the time sink known as Twitter. The creativity and wit you put into those 140-character missives could be better used elsewhere. The same goes for Instagram: if you’re sharing multiple selfies per day, you really shouldn't complain about being too busy at work.

What do you eat for breakfast?

My morning "meal" is about as far removed from a full breakfast as it’s possible to get. On a good day, I might indulge in half a muesli bar and a coffee. Usually though, I'll settle for a bottle of V which contains all the sustenance I need. (Sugar and caffeine contain sustenance, right?)

At least once a week, my first meal of the day doesn't come until well into the afternoon; much to Angus’ disapproval. It’s probably frightfully unhealthy, but it does help to keep my waistline down -- which is something a Takeaway Truth reporter is in sore need of.

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

This year, I finally unfettered myself from my computer mouse and recognised it for the superfluous and outmoded peripheral it is. Until recently, I had always treated my workplace laptop like a desktop PC; complete with mouse and mouse mat. Trackpads seemed like a poor navigational substitute – they just felt too cramped and unresponsive.

However, this meant I kept having to lug my mouse around whenever I changed desks. After some prompting from Angus, I decided to go cable-free for a day and haven’t looked back since. I'm now pinching and swiping like a pro. When used in conjunction with keyboard shortcuts, there's very little a mouse can do that a laptop trackpad can't. I still occasionally mess around with mice (when doing intricate photo editing, say), but for the most part I now live a rodent-free existence.

What do you listen to while you work?

Unlike Kotaku’s Mark Serrels and the Gizmodo boys, I rarely don headphones in the office. This is partly because I find music distracting to the writing process, but mainly I just like to be connected to what’s going on around me. Like Gus, I prefer listening to office conversations and industry gossip than working in isolation.

On the rare occasions that I’m in a musical mood, I usually just key up some music videos on YouTube and play them in a separate browser tab. (This is probably terrible for the company's bandwidth.)

What's your favourite part of your job?

Gosh, do I have to pick just one? At the risk of sounding like a massive suck-up, working for Lifehacker is the best job that I've ever had. My co-workers are all amazing people; there are literally no vindictive assholes or annoying slackers letting the team down. (Hell, even the intercom guy who announces fire drills is awesome.) I've interviewed some fascinating people, traveled to luxurious destinations and driven/flown in exotic vehicles; all in the name of work. Oh, and I get to eat disgustingly yummy takeaway food FOR FREE.

But my absolute favourite part of the job is probably the variety – Lifehacker is a very broad church, which means we get to write about nearly any topic that takes our fancy. This is indispensable brain fuel for a writer which ensures you're always energised, refreshed and excited about what the new week will bring.

What's your sleep routine like?

My sleep routine is pretty uneven. On weeknights I try to get into bed before 1am but it usually takes me at least an hour to fall asleep (doubtlessly all that V is to blame). I also have three kids between the ages of seven and two, which can make uninterrupted shuteye a challenge; particularly in the early mornings. On average I probably get around six hours sleep per night.

If I was remotely sensible, I would catch up on sleep during the weekend. Instead, these nights are usually spent gaming and watching movies until my brain batteries fizz out at 4am or so.

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

I own a ridiculously extensive collection of '80s and '90s computer and video game magazines, including the very first issue of Edge, Official PlayStation Magazine and Amiga Power. Watch out for a video about it on Kotaku in the future.


    Love your work, Chris! Very interesting to hear how you go about your job. Goddam, it DOES sound like a great job!

    my sprog-filled home
    I'll admit, I did a bit of a double take reading this before i realised that the common meaning for this term isn't the same as the way I used it throughout secondary school....
    I cant be the only one right?

    Oh, and I enjoyed the article also

    Last edited 11/02/15 10:01 am

    80s and 90s Computer mags? Now there is an article I'm waiting to read (or video to watch). The ones that came out of the UK in the 80s and 90s were brilliant - C&VG, Zzap64 and Cu Amiga for starters. And the butchers paper they were printed on!

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