The Way We Work 2016: Patrick Allan’s Equipment and Productivity Tips

Every week, we share shortcuts, workspaces, and productivity tips from our favorite experts. Today you will come backstage with me. I’m Patrick and this is how I pretend to work.

Location: Los Angeles Current job: writer who works full-time consultant on food and beverages, working part-time (for a small fee I will come to eat all your food and drink whatever you drink) One word that best just describes how you work: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Current mobile device: iPhone 5s (still not updated since last time) Current computer: 2015 Dell XPS 13 with Windows 10 (no touchscreen)

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

Feedly , Spotify , Square Cash , Twitter ( @mr_patrickallan ), GIMP , Celtx , Google Docs Suite, Post-It Notes, Notepad and Nice Pen.

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

Two things:

First, if I feel like I can do something while I think about it, I do it. It’s nice to make to-do lists, but at some point you have to stop planning and just do it. If I don’t want to do this, I tell myself: Stop being a whiny little bitch and do it. And maybe promise yourself that if I get this job done, I can take a break to read Kotaku or pick a candy from a candy bowl.

Secondly, I make “lists for tomorrow.” You cannot do everything in one day. Well, you can, but you will be miserable – and damn it. I write on a sticker what I need to do the next day so that I can unload it from my brain and not think about it all night in my free time.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

Sticky Notes! All day.

Also my handy notebook Mead, 3 Subject, College Ruled, Spiral Notebook, which always comes with Pilot G2 . Always with a pen. The pencil is intended for mathematics, drawing, and for those who are not sure of what they are writing.

How is your workplace arranged?

Lately, I’ve been trying to avoid home fever by going to the nearest coffee shop and working there. Yes, sometimes I am one of those people. It simulates commuting, gives me some physical activity, and keeps me from all my wonderful home entertainment.

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

To be honest, I could live fine without most of my gadgets. That said, I really love my iPad (although it’s pretty old now), my $ 9 French IKEA press and my Fitbit Charge HR actually helped me a little with my exercise goals (at least it got me excited.shoots more ). I stopped using my Kindle for books because I lacked the way the books feel in my hands. I find that I actually read more when I see a physical book lying on my shelf or nightstand.

What are some of your best everyday activities? What’s your secret?

Communication and connection with people. I am good at keeping a conversation going, making people feel heard, and expressing myself clearly. I know how to be polite and, dare I say, charismatic with anyone, even if I don’t really like them. My secret? A little compassion and acceptance. Imagine what makes everyone move, how they feel and what the day is in their place. Then immediately accept them as another person who is just trying to do their best and do what they think is right. Ask them about yourself, make them experts and don’t care what they say.

What do you listen to while you work? Have a favorite playlist?

I would be lost without Spotify. Indie pop for driving / walking. Hip hop or EDM while I run / train. 80s classic and pop while I do household chores / busy work. Folk and soft indie for a relaxing time. Cool electronics (usually no words) while I write, or good oldies. Here is my current working playlist:

I’m also a big fan of working with ambient sounds. At Noysley, I love bubbling streams and thunderstorms .

What are you reading now?

I’ve been haunted by serial killers ever since I heard of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio teaming up to tell the story of His Holiness Holmes , so now I’m reading The Devil in the White City by Eric Larson and Why Us by Scott Bonn. I love serial killers .

On a more working level, I read How to Write Short by Roy Peter Clark and recently completed On Writing by Stephen King.

I also read 14 by Peter Kline and go through all the Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPG books because I will soon be making a game for my friends.

How do you replenish?

Long walk. It’s hard for me to sit still, so I practice walking meditation to clear my head , do some exercise, and think my way through whatever existential crisis I’m struggling with that day.

What is your sleep routine?

I am a night owl and I practically force myself to sleep every night. By strength, I mean some combination of exhausting myself during the day with exercise, reading, listening to soothing sounds from the environment (for some reason I like the sounds of trains and frogs) and perhaps even taking melatonin.

I usually get up by 7:00, but this requires an alarm in the room and a backup alarm on my phone. Also coffee. I learned to jump out of bed, turn off the alarm, and crawl back under the covers with my eyes closed. I’m very interested in trying the sunrise alarm to see if that helps.

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

Martin Scorsese, David Bowie, Vince Gilligan, Harrison Ford, Ray Bradbury, Chief Winnemucca, Mark Twain and Marcus Aurelius.

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

Stoic philosophy is my favorite source of advice and life lessons, especially Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I especially like anything that suggests that life’s adversities can be overcome with a little mind over matter. Here’s a quick taste:

You have power over your mind, not beyond events. Realize this and you will gain strength.


If something external bothers you, the pain is not caused by the thing itself, but by your assessment of it; and you have the right to revoke this at any time.

I believe that meditation must be read in schools. If you haven’t read it yet, grab yourself a free copy .

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

I help create and play on a YouTube series based on Dungeons & Dragons called THRESHOLD. Check it out if you like board RPG games. Also, many thanks to everyone who watched my friends and I pretend to be gnomes, elves and sometimes birds.


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