The Way We Work 2016: Andy Orin’s Gear and Productivity Tips

Time flies by when you crack the fun, doesn’t it? It’s that special time of the year again when Lifehacker employees tell you about our work habits and the favorite tools we use to get things done. I’m Andy and that’s how I work.

Last year I told you my secret: I’m a mess. I was exaggerating. But I maintain a rather improvisational style of work, because I don’t like making plans and prefer to just react to everything that happens. Most of the hardware and software I use is the same as last year as I try to keep everything to a minimum. And by the way, some of you have asked if our usual seats in the ” How I Work” section will return. They will be back! I just spent some time doing research and development.

Location: New York. Current Workplace: Editing Assistance on Lifehacker. One word that best describes the way you work : Reactive Current mobile device: iPhone 5s. Ideally I’m trying to make it to the iPhone 7, but the battery starts to run out. And I’m not crazy about phone embiggification in general. Current PC: Lenovo Yoga Pro 2 (Intel Core i7-4500U, 8GB RAM, with a really great QHD + touchscreen) running Windows 10 at home and a MacBook Air at work (also i7, 8GB RAM). I’m in awe of the Air, not just because of its portability, but because I’ve been using a 2011 iMac for the past couple of years – compared to an old battered rental car.

What apps, software or tools can’t you live without?

Gmail is a lot of work. In addition to answering emails, I take notes in drafts, a current to-do list for the day, and the like. I don’t use any add-ons or any fancy lab stuff other than Undo Send! I have a twenty second message cancellation window that I use all the time.

We use Google Docs internally. Fine! When I write something myself (rather than editing other people’s work), I often start with Evernote. It’s not as scary as a blank Google doc page – more like a sandbox for ideas.

Although I usually use Adium or Pidgin in the background for the exchange of instant messages, many of them have been replaced by Slack . We write stories and headlines in Slack and of course, we just tremble throughout the day. All Gawker Media use Slack, and each site has its own rooms, and as you can imagine, hosting all of the neurotic and witty personalities of a media company on one chat platform can encourage silly conversations. “Foolish” can be a lavish euphemism.

TweetDeck is a must-have appendage that I look at all day. I’m a bit obsessed with information (handy it’s my job, yes) – I have columns of tech news, journalists, and colleagues. The tech news cascade is very useful to work with, and the other columns foster widespread awareness. Some of them help to improve the relevance of news on the site, not limited to technology, but I also like, as you know, have fun on Twitter. I tweet a little less than I used to – for me, the service has always been primarily a consumer – but you can still find me there every day.

I also spend a ton of time reading with Instapaper . I don’t know if you know this about New York, but living here means you are either waiting on the subway or on the subway 90 percent of your day, it seems. Subway time is reading time.

How is your workplace arranged?

I prefer to keep things pretty simple. Just Lenovo with a cheap external monitor at home and pretty much the same setup in the office with the Air. I am using Apple’s thin aluminum keyboard. I got so used to it at work that I got it for personal use as well. (There are some minor quirks when using an Apple keyboard on a Windows computer, but no hurdles.) I’m not a fan of mechanical keyboards – I prefer to type on laptop-style Chiclets. And the Logitech M705 mouse .

What’s your best time-saver or life hack?

I try to think as little as possible. About reality itself! Almost all life and work is stressful if you think about something, because you really have nothing to control. I try not to think about it. You know, broad strokes. I do not know how not to think, but I try.

(I was joking, of course, but in a different way, I try to let background processing handle most of the workload.)

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

Just Gmail! When I see a lot of unsent drafts, it bothers me, so that’s my motivation. Dealing with anxiety could describe most of my life. That’s why I try not to think about it!

What device, besides a phone and a computer, can you not live without and why?

Man, I have to tell you, I really don’t use any gadgets other than my computers and my phone. I already mentioned AeroPress , which I still use every day. I drink a decent amount of coffee. By the way, I don’t really like gourmet coffee of the same origin. Feel the subtle notes of the soil from which the beans were carefully grown? No thanks buddy!

From the headphones, I really like the Koss Porta Pros . I’m very stingy, so $ 40 for headphones is the maximum I’m willing to spend, but they’re great. I love the Walkman aesthetic too.

Oh, you know what, lately I have been very fond of Blackwing Palomino pencils . I can’t recommend that you buy a bunch of pencils if you’re not a big fan of pencils yet, a real nut , but I love them. They are mainly for entertainment; I draw sometimes:

What are some of the things you do best in everyday life?

I think I have a unique sense of humor. Did you see that we shot some videos? I have the on-screen charisma of potatoes, but I think they’re pretty funny. (Many thanks to Devin Clarke and the video crew who really did this while Madeleine and I were just fooling around in front of the camera. This show happens during editing.)

Perhaps I am good at humility, if you consider it a skill.

What do you listen to while you work?

Lately I’ve been listening to John Coltrane’s Giant Footsteps over and over again. A couple of weeks ago, I never really listened to Coltrane, but I can’t forget about it. It’s crazy to me that a person can be so good at understanding things. It helps me to type without thinking about it. When the countdown begins, you can’t help but knead the keyboard like you’re trying to keep up with its crazy horn.

Not that I’m a big jazz guy. I was also deeply passionate about the church this year. The first four tracks of Yeezus are also good for work.Blackstar Bowie. Beach house . Carrie and Lowell from Sufyan (is it weird to hear something so sad while I work?). Hop Along is great. Have I ever told you about my Gregorian Christmas music ? Ouch! It’s also good for relaxing when work is slow.

What are you reading now?

I don’t read a lot of books if you want me to be honest with you buddy and I think you need a real deal here. I recently read Craig Thompson ‘s graphic novel Blankets, a beautiful touching story with beautiful illustrations.

How do you replenish?

Gosh, I watch TV a lot. I watch all the big HBO shows and all the big Netflix shows. All of them. What else was on the air last year? Better call Saul, the end of Mad Men, Mr. Robot. Bourdain. I love Mythbusters (RIP) and Dumb Top Gear (RIP). Survivor is a good show too! I loved the police squad-style show with Rashida Jones that premiered recently — I watched the entire season over the weekend. Honestly? I have never left my apartment.

My other main hobby is listening to jazz while trolling Slack.

What is your sleep pattern?

I often go to bed later than I should, because I really do not like to save money on sleep. But I’m a big fan of Stephen Colbert, and I often watch the Late Show snippet that pushes bedtime past midnight.

Fill in the blank: I would like _________ to answer these same questions.

Well, Colbert. I also love Conan. I am fascinated by late night talk shows. I’m watching Johnny Carson’s DVD. Good life hack: watch the current humor of forty years ago, and you too will have a sense of old man’s humor.

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

I have repeatedlyreferred to Conan’s quote that you have to work hard and be kind, and this is really the only mantra you need to follow. I still think about it, especially how poisonous cynicism can be. Working in an always-on media loop, it’s very easy to get jaded and cynical, and I try not to roll my eyes. How to avoid cynicism? Not sure, but watching Pixar movies helps.

What else would you like to add that might be of interest to readers and fans?

Just try to be kind, buddy.


Leave a Reply