How We Work 2015: Elly Hart’s Favourite Productivity Tips

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: night editor Elly Hart.

Location: Vancouver, Canada (but home will always be Sydney, Australia)
Current Gig: Night Editor, Technology
Your favourite word: DIY!
Current mobile device: Nexus 5
Current computer: MacBook Pro

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

Google Calendar: My whole day is scheduled through it. If it’s not on my calendar or in my immediate line of sight, it’s not going to get done. I love that it syncs up on any device, and I can use third-party apps to use it (instead of Google’s dreadful web interface).

Pushbullet: Answering text messages from my laptop? Hell yes.

Headspace: I have this idea in my head that I can only be the best person I can be if I meditate. I just need someone to hold my hand through the process. This app does it.

Measuring tape: I like to make stuff out of wood, so I’m always carrying around a measuring tape just in case I see something that I want to try making for myself. The one I have now is super-lightweight and measures in both centimetres and inches.

What’s your workspace setup like?

I built a standing desk that fits under the stairs, but it’s sort of become a storage area rather than a workspace. These days, I have the laptop set up on the dining table during the day, and then I put it back on the standing desk when I’m finished for the day. The problem with working at the dining table is that I end up hunched over the computer, so I have to keep reminding myself to sit up straight.

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

Have a plan: I’m really bad at this, but I’m working on it. Often, I just want to get on with something that I end up skipping the measuring or the planning, only to find that I spend extraordinary amounts of time later fixing my mistakes. If I’m making something with wood, I know now that I should measure twice and know what the end result is meant to be before I start. If I’m knitting, I make a gauge swatch so that I get the size right. If I’m cooking, I read through the entire recipe first to make sure I’m not running out to find a spice mill or cacao beans.

What do you eat for breakfast?

Cereal and full-cream milk. I switched back to full-cream milk not long ago, and I find that I can last longer between meals, my skin is less dry, and everything I pour it on tastes better.

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

Not giving a s**t about things outside of my control. And knowing the difference between what I can control and what I can’t. This has been a great source of anxiety for me in the past, but I think I’m improving.

What do you listen to while you work?

I usually have the TV on in the background. If I’m writing, I need silence or music with no lyrics.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

No two days are the same. The motions might be the same, but I literally learn something new every day.

What’s your sleep routine like?

It’s actually not too bad. I sleep eight hours most nights. On the nights I don’t get at least eight hours, I usually make it up by going to bed early the next night. I miss the days when I could pull all-nighters. I just can’t do it anymore.

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

Living and working overseas has really made me appreciate the life I had in Australia. I took for granted the weather, the nature, the people, the culture. If you get an opportunity to travel, do it. Even if it’s only to learn how to appreciate what you already have.

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