How We Work, 2015: Alan Henry’s Gear and Productivity Tricks | Wifi Walker, J B Chaparal Properties

How We Work, 2015: Alan Henry’s Gear and Productivity Tricks

Every week, we share a shortcuts, workspaces, and capability tips of a favorite experts and personalities. This week, we’re articulate ourselves, and today, it’s my turn. Here’s my favorite gear, apps, and collection to stay prolific when I’m on, and to have fun when I’m off.

The last time we did this series we was rocking Android and iOS, Windows and OS X, switching on a fly flattering many each day. No change there, yet there have been some additions to my mobile family, and I’ve finished some tweaks to my workspace. I’ll try to pronounce about what’s altered between afterwards and now.

Location: Washington, DC
Current Gig: Writer for Lifehacker
One word that best describes how we work: Tactically
Current mobile device: Moto X (2013 model, regulating Android 4.4 Kit Kat). Also in a drawer: a OnePlus One (running Android 5.0 Lollipop), a Nexus 5 (running Android 5.0 Lollipop), an iPad 3 (iOS 7), a Motorola Droid Bionic, an OG Motorola Droid, and a secure Nook Simple Touch.
Current computer: Ganymede, my 15″ MacBook Pro (2010), Deneb, my custom-built Windows PC (Win 7), and when I’m unequivocally bored, Europa, my 15″ MacBook Pro (2008) regulating Ubuntu.

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

My day tends to open and tighten with Google Drive, yet while final year we was a Sparrow holdout, this year I’ve altered on to Airmail, that we suffer unequivocally many (still regulating Postbox on my Windows machine) to keep my multiple Google accounts underneath control. we still use Asana to keep lane of my essay ideas and pet projects, yet I’ve altered to Todoist for day-to-day to-dos. More on that later.

On a mobile front, a biggest change is that we customarily have so many phones now. Of course, not all of them are activated with a wireless provider, some of them we customarily use on Wi-Fi. we picked adult a Nexus 5 before an general outing final summer given my reliable Moto X is a Verizon Wireless phone, and found we unequivocally desired regulating it, generally abroad. we kept it, used it for Lollipop contrast before it came out, and still use it as a delegate device. Then, when we did a Hive Five for a best Android phone during a finish of 2014, we had a possibility to collect adult a 64GB OnePlus One, so we did, and we don’t bewail that one bit either. It’s a good device-a tiny large for my tastes, yet it’s ideal for use as a kind of unstable mini-tablet. That doesn’t meant my X is archaic though-touchless controls are amazing, and it’s still a phone that wakes me adult in a morning and a final thing we block in to assign during night.

What’s your workspace setup like?

So there have been a integrate of large changes to my workspace given final year! If we remember, final year we had my Macbook Pro sitting on a laptop mount to a right of a span of 24″ Dell 2407WFP displays, that we still love, yet we split with them (don’t worry, they’re in good association customarily opposite a room from me) in preference of a 30″ Monoprice IPS display in a center, and a pair of 27″ Monoprice monitors on presumably sides. (I know, we expected this final year.) we tighten a lid on Ganymede, my 2010 Macbook Pro, (for some reason Yosemite is ruin on a GPU, so perplexing to run dual displays slows a thing to a crawl) and put it underneath one of my Spacebar organizers, and have it bending adult to one of a 27″ panels. we desired them so many when we reviewed them that we motionless to collect adult a few and make them permanent fixtures on my desk.

I’m still (yes, still) unapproachable of my lamp-plus-camera mount: It pulls double avocation as a light source and a webcam stand-my Loigtech HD C920 (which we bought on a Hive’s recommendation) is mounted there regulating a Joby Gorillapod, so when we do Google Hangouts or Skype calls a camera is tighten to my face instead of on tip of my guard and distant away.

My primary Windows machine, Deneb, is much a same as it was a few years back, yet with a few critical upgrades: She’s gotten a span of SSDs, one OCZ Vertex 4 256GB SSD that serves as a feet drive, and a 512GB Crucial MX100 SSD that’s flattering many customarily for games. There’s still a 1TB 7200RPM Western Digital in there for other files, downloads, and storage as well.

As many of we know, we have a few semi-addictions in my life: headphones, automatic keyboards, and mice. Right now, on a automatic keyboard route, we picked adult a Corsair K70 RGB over during Massdrop not too prolonged ago for my Windows PC, and I’ve been wiling divided hours building and downloading profiles for a RGB backlighting. Over on my Mac, I’ve been regulating a Cooler Master CM Storm Novatouch TKL, and while I’m not routinely a outrageous fan of tenkeyless keyboards (I indeed adore a numpad, yet we know many people don’t) I’ve unequivocally enjoyed regulating it. Something about a feel of Cooler Master’s “Hybrid” switches creates it unequivocally still and easy to form on for prolonged periods, that is ideal for writing.

On a rodent side of things, I’m still regulating a Logitech Performance MX on my Mac (it’s a ideal operative mouse) and over on my Windows PC, I’ve been a Logitech G602 Wireless Gaming Mouse recently. we indeed have a Hyperion Fury in a box subsequent to me, and I’ve listened good things about a Proteus Core, yet right now a G602 is a plain rodent with good performance, even wirelessly. It’ll take some tantalizing to get me to furnish another wire opposite my table again.

Of course, we contend this each year, yet a shots here are a hold cleaner than we routinely keep my desk-I customarily have a few toys and puzzles on my table to fiddle with while I’m thinking. Oh, and we might as good come purify – we have a whole drawer full of mice in a filing cupboard subsequent to my desk, and a feet locker full of keyboards right by my feet, so…yeah, we have a lot of them.

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

As my duties around group Lifehacker have altered (I’m doing many some-more modifying than essay these days) I’ve found that it’s turn even some-more critical to tackle your to-dos and your possess projects as fiercely as we presumably can, whenever we have a time. You will, we repeat, will, get some-more work to do. You’re never “done.” There’ll always be something else, and if there isn’t something else, something’s wrong and we need to find something else. When we have time, use it.

For some people, myself included, this is given interference can kill. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be a initial chairman to tell we that being idle is a absolute arms in your capability arsenal, yet don’t let it explode on you. Use your time now so we can laze about later.

Finally, one thing I’m going to indicate out again that we know I’ve pronounced before, yet time is precious. We pronounce a ton about capability around here, yet here’s something you’ve expected listened in a series of my capability pieces, and I’ll blockquote it so we see it clearly:

Productivity isn’t about customarily removing some-more shit done. It’s about removing a shit we have to get finished finished so we can spend some-more time doing a shit we wish to do.

Whether that’s spending time with your family, operative on your passion projects, articulate to your spouse, personification with your kids, personification video games, reading a book, saying a world, eating excellent food and celebration good wine, whatever it is – your time is precious. Spend it doing things that enrich, inspire, challenge, and commission you. Don’t settle for anything less. Be intrepid with your time and energy. It’s all we unequivocally have.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

Remember that curse of me regulating services unfailing to tighten down? Still going. we still use Asana as my suspicion bank, with opposite play for essay and underline ideas, Hive Five ideas, pet projects, and a few other tip initiatives I’m not articulate about customarily yet.

For day-to-day to-dos and reminders, I’ve switched to Todoist. It’s customarily a best during doing repeated events, reminders, tradition recurrances (every month on a 15th, each Monday/Tuesday/Friday, etc), and while a pattern is unequivocally a bit plain compared to a likes of Any.DO and Wunderlist, it’s got adhering power, and that’s important.

For all else, like selling lists, long-term checklists, make-up lists, records (like X reps/weight during a gym), and other discerning records and reminders to myself, I’m all about Google Keep, that I’ve pronounced before and will contend again: It’s impossibly underrated.

Besides your phone and computer, what tool can’t we live yet and why?

In a past year, I’ve indeed invested a good bit into my kitchen. we mean, we have three delayed cookers now, and it’s not horribly odd for all of them to be going during once (which is terrible if you’re perplexing to get work finished in a room customarily over a kitchen, let me tell you) with meal cooking in one, batch simmering in another, and oatmeal or congee going in another (even yet honestly, we have a rice cooker for that.) we picked adult a Kitchen Aid mount mixer interjection to a a flitting KInja Deal during a finish of final year, so that’s upped my baking diversion a good bit, and we was means a new burr grinder to reinstate my aged primer one. I’ve been tweaking my coffee diversion a bit too lately-more on that in a destiny post.

Tech-wise, we could pronounce about my reliable iPad 3, that is a guard that we use each day, or we could go on about how I’ve depressed behind in adore with my Nintendo 3DS in a past year or so. Last year we sang a praises of my Bodum Tea Press and my InginuiTEA, and we mentioned them both in my post about personal rituals. The year before we mentioned Xbox 360 (which still serves as both a media core and radically an arcade device, interjection to all a giveaway games we get with XBox Live Gold) and my Sony NEX-5N.

I also mentioned my 18000mAh Limefuel battery pack, that we reviewed here during Lifehacker, yet some-more recently I’ve depressed in adore with some other outmost battery packs from their lineup, like their 15000mAh imperishable battery pack, that we also reviewed here during Lifehacker. I’ve been by a lot of battery packs, yet these dual models consistently save a day and keep my rigging happily powered.

What bland thing are we improved during than everybody else?

When we demeanour behind on all a twists and turns my career and my hobbies (both annoying and not-so-much) have taken, and I’d contend I’m substantially one of a many variable people we know. From scholarship to tech to business to essay and editing, my friends and family tell me my career has been a drum coaster, yet we haven’t suspicion of it that way-each pierce has been calculated, and while some of them have been risky, we wouldn’t have it any other way. After all, if you’re not pushing a bounds of your comfort zone, you’re not unequivocally going anywhere, are you?

I know I’ve mentioned my finely tuned BS sensors in a past-the kinds of things that have finished me wish to write about how to tell possibly argumentative statements are true, how to do your possess investigate on a internet, given there’s confusion over health and nourishment topics, and of course, things like our possess discipline for scholarship reporting. If we suspicion they were tuned final year, this past year-what with all that’s happened in a tech village and with some-more pitches, crowdfunding fantasies, and startups with tons of ideas and debt in collateral yet no products or services value mentioning-has given me even some-more BS detecting practice.

What do we listen to while we work?

I frequency work yet some form of strain these days. we mean, that’s always been true, yet it’s even some-more so now. we still listen to Pandora frequently (and it’s still a customarily strain subscription use we compensate for), and even common some of my favorite Pandora stations for strain while we work. When I’m not listening to Pandora (or infrequently instead of Pandora) we stone out with Noon Pacific, another use I positively love, and Upbeat, from a folks behind Noon Pacific. I’ve also kind of depressed behind in adore with Relaux, that I mentioned a while ago. When we hear a strain that we unequivocally like, we save it over during Whyd (you can check out my form here), so infrequently we can customarily play a collection of songs that we know I’ll enjoy. we also adore all of a heterogeneous tastes we find over during This Is My Jam (you can check out my form here.)

Beyond that, each week we demeanour brazen to Freefall Radio, a weekly podcast by a ever-talented David Bassin. we know I’ve mentioned Freefall before, yet seriously, go subscribe. You won’t be disappointed.

Sadly, we have to news that a lot of my podcast adore has declined in a past year. I’m still on a hunt for good ones, and we do still have some-more than a few we enjoy, so if anyone has any suggestions for a good, lightweight desktop podcatcher (that isn’t iTunes) I’d adore to hear it.

What are we now reading?

I’ve been solemnly yet certainly inching my approach behind into reading some-more offline. we got a duplicate of Dust and Grooves as a present this past Christmas, and I’ve been glued to it given we got it. Maybe, given we too still adore my turntables and a vinyl I’ve collected, we customarily brand with a people in it so many that it’s been something we flip by on a reg anytime we wish to review something.

Beyond that though, we don’t have a time or a slight for many reading outward of long-form articles on a web that we find by my networks and news feeds. Even yet we don’t twist adult with books that often, we do still review systematic papers and journals when we can. Hey, some people like fiction. we like….non-fiction?

Are we some-more of an introvert or an extrovert?

You know, I’ve pronounced this, yet I’m going to open with it: we don’t consider “introvert” and “extrovert” are useful labels. we know, we know, everybody wants to be in a camp, or have a tag to convene under, yet it’s something that people put way too many importance on as a approach to conclude or reject themselves and others.

To answer a doubt though, I’m an introvert in that we need alone time or time with desired ones to recharge. At a same time, we live downtown for a reason. we adore a atmosphere, and we adore being out among people. we hatred being pushed out of my comfort zone, yet I’m always blissful for carrying finished it. Remember that, by a approach – when you’re out assembly a garland of new people, they’re all customarily as ungainly and fumbly and uncanny and shaken as we are. It’s fine to be all of those things. Go from there.

What’s your snooze slight like?

While a schedules during Lifehacker have altered a good bit, and I’m not indispensably “the early person” anymore, we still tend to be adult progressing than a lot of a group customarily by trait of being on a easterly coast. we do get a tiny some-more snooze now than we used to though-I’m customarily adult and operative around 7/8am ET (4/5am PT), celebration my initial coffee of a day, checking a feeds to see if anything engaging happened overnight, or throwing adult on anything a west coasters might have sent in after I’d sealed off a day before.

I try to get to bed around 11pm-ish during night, and if we can hide divided during a day for a discerning caffeine nap, we do, yet customarily like we pronounced final year, while we can unequivocally holder out a work progressing in a day, we tend to feel some-more artistic after in a afternoon and evening, so we try to make certain we have time to brainstorm or work on my personal projects then.

Fill in a blank: I’d adore to see _________ answer these same questions.

This answer will demeanour informed to readers from final year. For several years now, I’ve wanted to see how Maya Angelou works, and we still wish we could have asked her. She’s some-more than missed. I’d still like to know how Nikki Giovanni works (I’ve listened her pronounce and she’s incredible), or NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, or LeVar Burton (especially given he’s brought behind Reading Rainbow) given they were all purpose models for me as a child.

For a second year in a row, I’ll also bewail a fact that Alton Brown hasn’t finished one of these, yet we’re still channel a fingers. Related: If Alton Brown Live is, during any point, nearby you, go see him. The uncover is hilarious, amazing, and value twice a cost of entry. I’m still holding out wish that one day Xeni Jardin will share her discernment with us. I’ve mentioned before that she’s one of my heroes, and nothing’s altered on that front.

What’s a best recommendation you’ve ever received?

Every year we have to answer this question, and we smile given a answer hasn’t changed. Honestly-if a best recommendation you’ve ever get changes each year, presumably you’re putting too many batch in some unequivocally crappy advice, or you’re being too variable about what a “best” is, or maybe both. Anyway, for those who’s missed it:

Back in 2006, we was struggling with vital a kind of double life. On a one hand, we was operative in tech and going to grad school, perplexing to confirm if we wanted to work in an bureau with craving record for a living. On a other hand, we was already essay on my own, and unequivocally wanted to that into a career. we reached out to Xeni Jardin, first partner and co-editor of Boing Boing (still one of my favorite sites), on a humour for recommendation as a fledgling author looking for tips from someone some-more experienced. She replied:

Find infinite stories, things that intruigued you, and do your best to tell them honestly. There’s so tiny law in a universe these days, any tiny taste of it is a altered thing that will be appreciated, and find a beholden audience.

Don’t demeanour for “big” stories, customarily demeanour for ones that matter to you. The some-more we work during it, a improved your work will be, and a some-more people will see it.

I’m still operative on it, yet each day we conclude her words.

I’d also share a quote from a 8th century father of Zen, Shitou Xiqian: “The immeasurable sky is not hindered by a floating clouds.” Something else we try to remember, generally in this line of work.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Never blink a energy of listening. Seriously. I’ve schooled that so many of us right now are in a precipitate to make a possess voices listened and opinions famous that it helps a lot to delayed down and listen to people who have something to say, or customarily wish to be listened yet being silenced, refuted, or tighten down.

Don’t bonus a energy of your voice, yet don’t ignore-or under-appreciate-the energy of others’, their lived experiences, their knowledge, and what they have to offer you. Sometimes it’s inestimable to customarily listen instead of react. Absorb, understand, and then speak. we consider this is something we forget all too simply on a internet, and we fear it seeps into all aspects of a lives as a result.


The How we Work series asks heroes, experts, and flat-out prolific people to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more. Every other Wednesday we’ll underline a new guest and a gadgets, apps, tips, and tricks that keep them going. Have someone we wish to see featured, or questions we consider we should ask? Email Andy.



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