How We Work 2015: Timothy Dahl's Favourite Productivity Tips And Gear

How We Work, 2015: Timothy Dahl's DIY Gear and Productivity Tips

Our annual How We Work roundup, where Lifehacker staffers and contributors share their favourite tips and tools for better productivity, continues. Today: DIY guru Timothy Dahl.

Location: Los Angeles, CA Current Gig: When I'm not writing for Workshop, I'm running Charles & Hudson, Built by Kids and Tool Crave. One word that best describes how you work: Relentless Current mobile device: iPhone 6 (Just upgraded from the iPhone 4S -- I tend to skip one or two generations. I upgraded mostly for the slow-mo video and battery that lasted longer than two hours.) Current computer: 2009 27" iMac & 2006 Macbook (It still runs, but I can't upgrade past Snow Leopard so I'm limited with apps and programs)

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

Google owns me. As much as I hate to say it and as much as I try to diversify, I always go back to Google tools. Between Google Maps (essential for navigating LA), Calendar, Analytics, AdSense, YouTube and Docs, I can't get away. At least I don't own any Google hardware.

I'm currently digging the Sunrise calendar app for iOS. It combines all of my Google calendars, Asana and Facebook events into one calendar that loads quickly and is easy to add and edit on my iPhone.

For hands-on tools, I love my Milwaukee Sawzall and look for any excuse to use it. I also use my Bosch laser measuring tool as often as I can, because it's fun and super informative.

What's your workspace setup like?

How We Work, 2015: Timothy Dahl's DIY Gear and Productivity Tips

I spend 80-90% of my work day at a desk. It's a hand-me-down mid-century modern wood desk that fits perfectly in my 10x10 backyard studio space.

How We Work, 2015: Timothy Dahl's DIY Gear and Productivity Tips

My workshop is outdoors, where I've got two work tables a pair of sawhorses and a Jawhorse. One work table is a solid wood door sitting on 4x4 legs and is for hacking away on general woodworking projects and painting. I've got a Rockwell lumber storage rack to keep all my scraps in one place and off the floor.

How We Work, 2015: Timothy Dahl's DIY Gear and Productivity Tips

The other is an old steel restaurant kitchen table I picked up on Craigslist and I use it for all other DIY projects and tinkering.

How We Work, 2015: Timothy Dahl's DIY Gear and Productivity Tips

In my garage I have a Craftsman rolling stainless steel tool chest that I won in a mailbox build-off against Mike Senese. I'm still not sure how I pulled off the upset but I love the chest. It's solid and sturdy and the drawers glide like butter.

What's your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?

Since becoming a parent, time has become that much more valuable, but instead of trying to check email during breakfast or taking phone calls during playtime, I've gone in the opposite direction.

I find myself saying "no" more. Not in a negative way, just in a priority type of way. My circle of friends has tightened, and my business and work has come into greater focus. It's addition by subtraction.

What's your favourite to-do list manager?

Right now, Post-its. But I'm trying to learn how to make better use of Evernote.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can't you live without and why?

I have an Olympus Pen E-P5 that is rad. I keep a pancake 17mm lense on it and carry it everywhere. I'm having fun with a new GoPro Hero 4 Silver. Great for getting low angles of my son and shooting random tool videos. I still carry a Flip Cam as it's the most convenient video camera I've ever owned.

I also love my Leatherman Wave multi-tool and SOG Flash II folding knife. I've got a thing for knives and have way more than I need.

Instead of using a tool box to carry tools from my garage to my work table or from my work table to my truck, I always use a nylon tote that I picked up from an Army/Navy surplus store.

How We Work, 2015: Timothy Dahl's DIY Gear and Productivity Tips

It's intended to be used as a medical field bag but it's perfect for carrying tools and gear. It won't tear and has plenty of interior and exterior pockets. So many treasures to find at surplus stores.

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What's your secret?

I'm a damn fine parallel parker. I lived in New York for 8 years and didn't have a car and then when I moved to LA I got a 2001 F-150 SuperCrew. I had to learn quickly how to squeeze that truck into tight spaces. Parallel parking on PCH is a must to access the good surf spots, and the added pressure of oncoming traffic behind me helped hone my skills. Rear-view parking cameras throw me off. There's no secret, it's just practice.

What do you listen to while you work?

I'll tune into a WSL event if it's on or listen to This Week in Startups. Otherwise I enjoy silence.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished Empire of the Summer Moon which was brilliant but brutal.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

10 years ago I would be firmly in the introvert camp, but lately I've shifted more to the extrovert side. It's weird.

What's your sleep routine like?

Fortunately I can run on less sleep, but I love a good nap. I'm up late working after putting our son to sleep and I'm up early with him. I keep all screens out of the bedroom, so what little sleep I get is deep and usually remains uninterrupted.

Fill in the blank: I'd love to see _________ answer these same questions.

Elon Musk. He gets stuff done like no one else.

What's the best advice you've ever received?

Try not to become a man of success, but a man of values. ~ My high school wrestling coach


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