How We Work (Out), 2016: Stephanie Lee’s Equipment and Productivity Tips
We usually share shortcuts, workspaces, and productivity tips from our favorite experts, but this week we’re handing over the microphone to Lifehacker staff. I’m Stephanie and this is how I work (and train!).
Location: Typically Los Angeles, California, but currently roaming Asia and working remotely. Current Job: Blogger , Writer, Amateur Video Maker (I even have a YouTube channel! ), Professional Asshole. One word that best describes how you work: Tetris Current mobile device: iPhone 6 Current computer: 2011 13 ”MacBook Air
What apps, software or tools can’t you live without?
Fun fact: I used to write video game strategy guides to make a living at IGN . This has resulted from literally hundreds and hundreds of pages of plain text written in Courier on GameFAQs.com since 2001. Since old habits die very slowly, I like to write really minimalistic things like OmmWriter or Notes on the Mac. So, I switch between the two, Microsoft Word and Google Docs, depending on what I’m writing and who it’s for.
There seems to be no shortage of love for Evernote among my colleagues, but this is not surprising. His. File. Best.
On the mobile side, I’m tied to Spotify and the Cron-o-meter food tracking app. I wrote about Cron-o-meter at least twice.
How is your workplace arranged?
These days, I’m only happy with my laptop and at least my desk and chair.
Months of temporary housing allowed me to appreciate the wonders of a comfortable sitting position for focused work. (Not to mention about how much underestimated the impact of the environment on a stable performance .) For a time in Japan, I had no other furniture except a futon and a cardboard box. It was a city of leg cramps.
So coffee shops, mostly Starbucks, are my top pick. I love the occasional mommy-pop coffee shops because they tend to be more low-key and quiet, but sometimes they have trouble staying around for a while.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?
Take food. Food.
More precisely, knowing what to eat, at least a day (and sometimes several days) in advance. You will be surprised at how much time and energy you can spend each day figuring out what to eat based on what you “want to eat”, calculating the convenience and timing of acquiring names , weighing food for pleasure versus its usefulness, and such things … I’ve already talked about mass cooking and pre-scheduling weekly dinners , and my modified system is based on those concepts.
I plan my dinners in advance (including restaurant ideas) usually the night before. When it’s meal time, my meal is about 90% cooked (an additional 10% due to heat and a splash of Sriracha sauce). The exception, of course, is when I eat with others. With time and practice, things have become much easier.
As someone who used to be overweight and too preoccupied with food during the day, it helped me regain more time and energy for what I needed to do. It also helped me realize that when I start thinking about food, even when I’m not hungry, I’m probably bored or procrastinating.
What’s your favorite to-do list manager?
Evernote . The great thing is that it syncs across all of my Mac devices, so I can easily add and modify my to-do list. It also has those checkboxes that I can check each time I complete an assignment. It makes my brain happy.
To-do lists are black holes in themselves, so I always remember to be realistic about my tasks and know when to leave. It helps that I go through Evernote at the end of each day to reevaluate and figure out one or two things that will make me happy if I make their progress.
What device, besides a phone and a computer, can you not live without and why?
Seriously though, the travel-friendly AeroPress really does make a quick to medium cup of coffee. In the meantime, I use my digital kitchen scale to weigh my coffee in grams (yes, I’m serious about that) and also occasionally weigh portions of food that I know are super-calorie, like peanut butter. It makes me “honest”.
What are some of your best everyday activities? What’s your secret?
I think I’ve developed radically good self-control to combat impulsive overeating (and thus unnecessary shopping). I use what I call “Damn it!” a mentality that borrows Mark Manson’s perspective and the ideas I’ve written here about risk and reward . It acts like a buffer allowing me to take a step back so I don’t get completely lost with some random cupcakes or something.
I am also pretty sure that I am a hipster coffee shop stronger than anyone I know.
What do you listen to while you work?
I usually work better in silence, mainly because I forget to put on something or jump into something and everything clicks.
I turn on music to inspire a new thought or to look from a new angle. To be honest, I haven’t found a specific genre that I think I work better with, but I really prefer electronic dance music, jazz, indie rock and Korean pop music if I’m feeling high-spirited.
What are you reading now?
How do you replenish?
I think work-life balance is a unicorn for most of us, but I realized before that I was acting like a real jerk for friends and family because I can’t get away from work. I now devote one full day a week to taking a full break, agreeing to anything I usually say no, like doing something with friends and family or eating a decadent lunch plus dessert without feeling guilty about it. that I do not work.
If I am working on something, then it will be exclusively for myself or for myself. This is my day to say, “Damn it!” basically everything is within reason.
Otherwise, my long days of slouching over my laptop are usually interrupted by eating and exercising. When I eat, I try not to do multiple tasks at the same time, like I used to when trying to get news on Feedly or watch Netflix. I have found that focusing completely on food helps a lot during breaks.
What is your training program?
I train 5-6 days a week. Intense weightlifting training almost always lifts my spirits (heh), especially if I’m taking a training break when I’m really hard at work.
I don’t always have access to the gym, so I have a fake TRX trainer that I have had for several years. It was really effective in helping me keep fit, and it’s a nice intermittent break from the gym. It also made me stronger in some ways .
Right now I have regular access to the gym (after paying off my debt for temporary membership as a foreigner in Hong Kong) and am following this training pattern from JC Deen :
Monday: Legs (Power Day)
- Squats: 3 sets of 5-8 reps
- Single Leg Hip Row: 3 sets of 15-20
- Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
- Weighted hyperextension: 3 sets of 8-10 (1 second overhead hold)
- Planks: 3 sets of 60 seconds
Tuesday: chest / back (strength day)
- Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 sets of 5-8 reps
- Pull-ups: 3 sets of 5-8 (if I can’t complete the rep range, I switch to negative)
- Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
- Bent over barbell row: 3 sets of 8-10
- Face Pulls: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
- Ascent to the rear deltas: 3 sets of 12-15
Thursday: chest / triceps (intensity day with short rest periods)
- Incline Dumbbell Press: 35 reps (as many sets as needed to do 35 reps with 30 seconds rest)
- Lifting dumbbells later: 3 sets of 10-12
- Push-ups with raising the foot followed by pull-ups of the face: 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
- Bench press followed by rope push-ups: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
Friday: Back (intense day with short rest periods)
- Barbell Row: 3 sets of 5-8 reps.
- Dumbbell Row: 35 reps (as many sets as needed to do 35 reps with 30 seconds rest)
- Power shrugs followed by curls for biceps: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- One-handed cable pull: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
Saturday: legs (intense day with short rest periods)
- Front Squat: 3 sets of 10-12 (short rest)
- Squats followed by leg curls: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
- Cable pull followed by reverse hyperextension: 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
- Hanging Leg Raises: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
On days when I am not exercising, I walk a lot to get to the place. Otherwise, I walk, run, or cycle when I feel good.
What is your sleep routine?
I always have trouble sleeping if I care about something, so I made it a rule to stop all work by 10 o’clock in the evening. Around this time, I have a snack before bed. I keep it light and focus on carbs – and no, nightly carbs don’t make you fat. I will then read nonfiction on my Kindle in bed for about 20-30 minutes or until I pass out.
Fill in the blank: I would like _________ to answer these same questions.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Previously, every article, podcast or video I released was accompanied by a feeling of fear that I somehow screwed up, that people would just laugh at me. Then, point number one in this Cracked article:
It’s very nice to know that as long as you don’t create anything in your life, no one will be able to attack what you have created .
… it was like a hand reaching across my computer monitor and hitting me in the face ( as Batman does to Robin ). Kudos to everyone who spends time, energy and courage creating and implementing things. I’m still wrong (and people are probably still laughing at me), but I’ve just learned to accept this as part of growth and move with it.
Another piece of advice that I took to heart: “You are probably doing something right if you are afraid to do it.”
What else would you like to add that might be of interest to readers and fans?
Once in a group camp …