How We Work 2015: Rae Johnston’s Favourite Productivity Tips

How We Work 2015: Rae Johnston’s Favourite Productivity Tips

Our annual How We Work roundup, where Lifehacker staffers and contributors share their favourite tips and tools for better productivity, continues. Today: Allure Media’s commercial editor Rae Johnston.

Location: Sydney, Social Media Current Gig: Commercial Editor, Allure Media Your favourite word: Cheese is my favourite thing in general. Current mobile device: iPhone 6 Current computer: Dell Inspirion 15 at work, Macbook Pro on the go, Custom gaming PC at home.

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

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. These are my go-to’s on an almost constant basis to keep up with everything that’s happening. I track my food using My Fitness Pal, and use the Home Routine app twice a day to keep on top of housework.

I also use a real life pen and paper diary every day, and have done since I was five years old. I use it for my to-write list, appointments, mood tracking and planning. Work-wise it’s Word, Photoshop and Spotify.

What’s your workspace setup like?

Having worked mostly from home for the last four years, I’m adjusting to working in an office with people to interact with again. I’m discovering how productive I can be in this environment.

I’m running dual monitors from my main Dell laptop, as well as having my Macbook Pro, iPad Air and iPhone 6 at the ready for testing/running iOS applications. I use BOSE freestyle earbuds and Spotify when I’m in hardcore work mode. I use Astro A40 headphones, a Logitech G9x mouse and a Razer BlackWidow keyboard for gaming.

I have a few items on my desk -– a cactus I’ll likely kill, a few comic character figurines, and my Dean Rankine drawing of myself as Wonder Woman to brighten the space up a bit. My desk has to be completely neat at all times or I get distracted and have to tidy it. I’m incredibly lucky to have a window with a view of the park — it really helps when I have a touch of writer’s block!

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

Set an alarm once an hour for checking social media and turn notifications off. It’s sometimes the only way I don’t get distracted. I also make sure I get out of the office for lunch. When I get back my head is clear, and I’m able to focus a lot better.

What do you eat for breakfast?

At the moment I’m doing a 12 Diets In 12 Months challenge for Lifehacker, so whatever is on the menu. Last month was miso soup with baby spinach and green tea. This month it is porridge.

When I’m not on some weird diet I’ll usually have fruit. On weekends it’s all about the bacon. Or pancakes. Or bacon pancakes.

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

Staying motivated. I write for all of the Allure Media sites — Lifehacker, Kotaku, Gizmodo, POPSUGAR and Business Insider — and I love the variety. That little burst of adrenalin I get from finishing a story really keeps me going.

What do you listen to while you work?

I get far too distracted by conversation in the office, so music is a must. If I’m coding, I listen to a playlist of 90’s grunge — Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, The Pixies. If I’m writing I can’t listen to lyrics at the same time, so I have a classical music playlist that keeps me focused. Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 Op. 27, No. 2 (Moonlight Sonata) is my favourite for getting creative concepts from my head to the screen.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

Never knowing what I’ll be writing next. It could be an advertorial or an opinion piece – about fashion, beauty, fitness tech, games or business. I love the variety.

What’s your sleep routine like?

I wake up as soon as there is daylight, so the mornings is when I get a lot of my to-do list done. I’m usually ready to pass out at 11pm, and fall asleep listening to stand-up comedy, like Dimitri Martin. I used to have terrible insomnia, but working out of the home has helped me establish a better routine. It’s easier to do when you can’t have a sneaky afternoon nap!

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

I live by the mantra “Never hope harder than you work”. There’s no point in sitting there wishing you had a better job, or were doing a better job – you have to take steps to get what you want. Be proactive, and be multi-skilled. You never know when it will all come in handy.


  • I’m confused…. The header image shows the real Rae but the author bio pic is a guy? Something your not telling us Rae? 😀

    Nice music choice. I usually listen to Trance which keeps me pumping so I can fly through my work. Other times I fire up digital radio plus and listen to old school classics on Stardust radio.

    • I’m confused…. The header image shows the real Rae but the author bio pic is a guy?

      That was a CMS error. (The thumbnail. Not Rae.)

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