Our annual How We Work roundup, where Lifehacker staffers and contributors share their favourite tips and tools for better productivity, continues. Today: Kristin Wong.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Current Gig: Writer, blogger, video-maker.
One word that best describes how you work: Caffeinated
Current mobile device: iPhone 4S
Current computer: 21″ iMac and a 13″ MacBook Air
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
For work, I rely on Evernote, Feedly and my Google calendars. I created an IFTTT recipe to automatically add posts to Evernote when I schedule them in my calendar. So I’d be a little lost without that, too. I keep a physical notebook in every room to jot down fleeting thoughts and ideas. This is important, because I have a terrible memory. What were we talking about again?
What’s your workspace setup like?
Boring and minimalist. I can’t fully concentrate when my environment is untidy. I’ve always been slightly obsessed with neatness and organisation, even as a kid. My thoughts are usually muddled and all over the place. Tidying up my environment makes me feel a little less scatter-brained.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?
Get up early. I’m talking, like, five in the morning. Before the day’s emails and comments and pings start to roll in, I’m relaxed, calm and lucid. I work better and faster this way. I don’t always get up early, but when I do, I work much more efficiently. That last sentence made me sound like the Dos Equis guy.
What’s your favourite to-do list manager?
Google Tasks. I’ve tried a lot of to-do list managers, and Google Tasks just works best for me. But I also use a handwritten to-do list for sub-tasks. I like crossing things off lists.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?
Does my Chemex count as a gadget? It makes tasty coffee.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret?
I’ve been told I’m pretty organised. For me, it helps to keep things simple. I don’t use a lot of tools and apps to get stuff done. I find a few that work well for me overall, and I stick with those.
What do you listen to while you work?
Lately, I can’t stop listening to De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising. I’m listening to it right now, actually. It’s a great work soundtrack! It’s hard not to be in a good mood with that going in the background. I do think it’s starting to annoy my neighbours, though.
What are you currently reading?
Asshole. “Woah, calm down, Kristin. Just asking!” No, silly, that’s the name of the book: Asshole: How I Got Rich and Happy by Not Giving a Damn About Anyone, and How You Can, Too. Don’t be appalled; it’s satire. And it’s laugh-out-loud funny.
Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
I like being around people, and some describe me as an extrovert, but I think I’m secretly an introvert. A friend says introverts get their energy from being alone, and extroverts get energy from being around other people. By that definition, I’d say I’m an introvert.
What’s your sleep routine like?
I’m usually in bed before 11, and I wake up before 7. I’m very exciting.
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _____ answer these same questions.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My past career as a tech writer helped me get over the fear of asking dumb questions. My first job was at an engineering firm. I wrote how-to manuals for complex gas sampling tools. It was intimidating, and I was afraid to speak up when I didn’t understand the fundamentals. My co-worker helped me get over this. “You might look dumb asking questions,” he said. “But you look dumber when you don’t get it because you failed to ask.” Simple, but it stuck with me. I think about it all the time.
Another piece of advice I live by: never be so sure you have all the answers. I’m opinionated, but I’m always open to the idea that I could be wrong about everything.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers/fans?
Start working at home with Google. My friend’s aunt’s daughter’s cat makes $300000 a — OK, that’s enough.