I’m Michelle Wu, Parenting Editor of Lifehacker, and This Is How I Work

Every week, we share shortcuts, workspaces, and productivity tips from our favorite experts. This week we take a look behind the scenes at Lifehacker. I’m Michelle Wu and this is how I work.

Location: I work remotely from my home in Southern California. Current position: Children’s Editor, Lifehacker Current Mobile Device: iPhone X Current Computer: MacBook Pro One word that best describes how you work: fragmentary

First of all, tell us a little about your past and how you got where you are now.

I started my career as a newspaper reporter, covering schools and then fashion. I went on to work as a staff journalist for a variety of media outlets including the Asian American lifestyle magazine, OC Weekly, and the former news site Reddit. Now I work as a parenting editor at Lifehacker, and this position fits perfectly with this stage of my life, because since I became the mother of my 5-year-old daughter Maggie, the question has constantly arisen in my head: ‚ÄúParenting is hard. How can I make it easier? “

Tell us about a recent work day.

Wake up at 5:30 and write before 7. Help my daughter get ready for school (and dress herself) from 7 to 8 in the morning. Beginning at 8 a.m., look for story ideas, chat with my team on Slack. , interview sources, chat with our parenting writers, write, hold meetings, and reply to emails. Snooze from 4 pm to 4:30 pm Pick up my child from her extracurricular program. Spend time with your family. Go to bed at 9pm

What apps, gadgets or tools, besides your phone, can’t you live without?

I don’t use a lot of productivity tools – mostly Stickies for lists, OneTab for removing tabs and group links together, and Brain.fm for really good background noise.

How is your workplace arranged?

I walk around the house with my laptop during the day, especially now that I’m 7.5 months pregnant and it’s hard for me to sit in one position for too long. Sometimes I work at the dining table, on the couch, or at the kitchen counter. It gets lonely to work remotely from time to time, so about once a week I work in a cafe because I need to be at the center of human chatter.

What’s your best shortcut or life hack?

I say “I love you” in my head before I communicate with someone. Not always, but pretty stable. I learned this from comedian Whitney Cummings, who talked about technique in The Tim Ferris Show . It just makes you feel more intimate with whoever you’re talking to, be it a close friend or a Starbucks barista. Sometimes I say this before I write. It reminds me that I’m not just typing in an empty abyss, but sharing with other people, which is pretty cool.

Tell us about an interesting, unusual, or challenging process you have at work.

I write a lot with pen and paper. It’s much more reassuring than looking at 37 open tabs. I buy a bunch of cheap mini laptops and keep them at home. Whenever I feel like I need extra clarity, I step away from my laptop, grab it, and then either sit in my rocking chair or walk around the house writing down thoughts. Movement, along with distance from digital, somehow unlocks my brain.

Also, after writing something, I sometimes read it out loud in a voice that is different from my own (for example, I can pretend to be a British news announcer) so that I can hear what it sounds like. My writing process is quite awkward, but luckily I work from home alone so no one sees it.

Who are the people who help you achieve results, and how do you rely on them?

First: my colleagues. I work with a lot of smart, witty, dedicated people who are just doing it , and their energy fuels me through our conversations about Slack.

Two: people in the childcare industry. Figuring out my daughter’s daytime conditions has been a long series of trial and error over the past five years – before giving birth, I never thought about the logistics mums and dads go through just to go to work.

Third: my husband. He supported me a lot as a writer, which, as you probably know, is not the safest profession in the world.

How do you keep track of what you need to do?

I put big events on this beautiful wall calendar that’s a pleasure to look at. I am also using Google Calendar. While researching stories, I take many photographs and screenshots of excerpts from books and articles that I like and keep them in a folder.

How to recharge or relax?

I take short hikes without a phone. I also get a lot of energy from hanging out with friends one-on-one, so I try to schedule lunch and phone dates throughout the week.

What’s your favorite side project?

I have no side project. Gosh, does anyone have a side project?

What are you reading now or what do you recommend?

The last book that made a big impression on me was Tell Me More: Tales of the 12 Hardest Things I Learn to Say by Kelly Corrigan. I love memoirs, and this one is so warm, honest and funny.

Who else would you like to see to answer these questions?

Beth Skorecki is Lifehacker Health Editor. She has three small children and exercises a lot. How does she do all this?

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

When it comes to parenting, I’ve heard that when young children melt – say, lash out at them and generally become ugly – that means they are eager to connect. Therefore, even if it goes against your instincts, you can kneel down and hug them tightly. Hold them and just breathe. It works so well. I try to apply this advice to others in my life (at least in my head – I won’t hug you at random), and it also helps me take care of myself. If I feel moody, depressed, or angry, I need to stop what I am doing, think about what I need, and sometimes ask for help.

What problem are you still trying to solve?

How to stop thinking everything. Sometimes I want to be half robot.

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