How I Work

One of the most important skills in survival is being able to work. For example, you would need to be able to build a shelter or find food sources when there are no other people around. Having knowledge and skill can also help you out with different types of situations such as finding water sources during drought periods or going on an adventure with your family without any worry of getting into trouble.

The “how i work document” is a document that has been created by the author of this blog. The document includes an introduction, how I work, and some advice on how to be productive.

Brett Mackay at computer in home office Tulsa ok.

Note from the editor: This article was modified on July 14, 2017.

On Lifehacker, there’s a series called “How I Work” that I particularly appreciate. Writers, programmers, CEOs, and other creative people are interviewed by LH about the applications, gear, and routines they use to remain productive and get things done. One of the most popular questions I receive from readers is, “How do you work and remain productive?” What is my writing routine, workflow, and process like? Instead of repeatedly responding to the same email, I decided to make a blog article about it for the benefit of email inquirers and regular readers who are inquisitive about my routine. I make no claims that any of my ways will work for others; I just believe it’s fascinating to see how other people approach problems.

This is how I work today, without further ado.

What is your typical workday like?

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Kate and I used to work a later shift, but now that both of our children are in school, we’ve switched to an earlier shift to coincide with his school day. For the most part, we stick to that plan even in the summer.

I used to be a morning person. I’d get up at 5:3o or 6 a.m. These days, I get up at 7 a.m., the same time as the kids. I devote about a half-hour to prayer, scripture study, and meditation. Before I send the kids to school, I do a few little job duties. The kids spend the summer at their grandparents’ home, where their grandma looks after them until Kate and I go to work.

I aim to do the most of my creative work first thing in the morning. Kate and I have a meeting later in the day, approximately an hour before it’s time to drop off and pick up the kids. We go through the editorial schedule, talk about the emails in our inboxes, and talk about any open loops. Then I’ll respond to email and take care of “doodads,” as we call them around here.

I get up around 3:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and work out in the garage. 

I read for forthcoming articles and podcasts after the kids go to bed each night, and then I fall asleep at 11 p.m.

Saturdays and Sundays: I wish I could say I entirely disconnect from work on weekends, but that’s not the reality; it’s difficult to have a fixed “quittin’ time” when you write for a career, and there’s always more to accomplish. I’ll answer the mail we get and take care of administrative matters when the kids are sleeping during the day and/or after they’ve gone to bed, especially on Saturdays.

The remainder of the weekend will be spent working out, doing housework, socializing with friends and family, and attending church on Sunday.


Do you have a routine for writing?

I used to have a really complicated writing routine. It worked for me and was beneficial, but I no longer use it. There’s no reason to do it any longer. If I feel compelled to write, I do so. 

What is an AoM Article’s Typical Workflow?

At any given moment, I’m working on blog pieces and podcasts, both for the following week and some that won’t be published for many months. With the Art of Manliness, I like to play the long game; there are some topics I’ve been pondering for years. I’ll collect information for it, but if it doesn’t seem ready yet, I’ll leave it to incubate for as long as it takes. I don’t like to publish anything unless I’m certain that I’ve explored all of its facets. I’ll eventually find the last piece of the jigsaw, and the article will be ready to publish. If I told you or mentioned it in a prior blog post that I will cover X subject in the future, but you haven’t seen it yet, don’t worry; I haven’t forgotten about it; I’m just letting it grow.

A single post might take anything from 1-2 days to 2-3 weeks or even many months to research, write, and edit, depending on the topic matter. What is the topic of this article? It was written in a single day. Isn’t it always Virilis? The research, outlining, rough writing, and editing took almost a month (and a few all-nighters) to finish. I’m now reading, taking notes, and thinking about a series of pieces that won’t be published for a few months. Basically, something is constantly in the works.

We plan out our editorial calendar each month before the beginning of the month. It seldom happens as planned, but it provides us a decent notion of what we should be focusing on each week.

As you’ve certainly seen, Kate and I share a byline on a lot of blogs, and some people aren’t sure what it means or how it works. What occurs is that whomever is most interested in a subject and has spent the most time thinking about/researching it is the one that starts it and writes the most of the material. After that, the document is handed on to the other person, who modifies and adds to it before returning it. This back-and-forth continues until I’m satisfied that the post is quite complete. Kate then goes over it with a fine-toothed comb. The piece is then given to our managing editor, Jeremy Anderberg, for final polishing. After that, the content is ready to be published on WordPress. The last step is to find the ideal antique photograph(s) to go with the artwork. We may spend many hours looking for exactly the perfect photographs.

How Do You Get So Much Reading Done?

I’ve written a whole piece on how I manage to read so much. Check out How to Read More Books for more information.


Where do you get your post ideas?

People often ask me two questions about the material we publish: “Where do you acquire ideas for posts?” and “How do you obtain ideas for posts?” “Are you concerned that you’ll run out of ideas?” and “Are you concerned that you’ll run out of ideas?”

Concerning the first question, we obtain our inspiration from a variety of sources, including books, publications, films, and chats with friends and family. “That would make a wonderful blog article!” we’ll think after reading or hearing something. In fact, the odd thing about having a blog that covers so many subjects is that, no matter how hard I try to leave “business” behind at times, everything I do always leads to a blog post idea.

The bulk of my ideas come from reading — I’ll be reading a book on one topic and stumble across something completely different that leads me down a rabbit hole looking for something else.

When it comes to running out of ideas, the issue is just the opposite! We have a large notepad full of ideas, and when we cross off a few, more are added. The irritating part is that there are so many essential and intriguing issues to address, and I can’t possibly cover them all at once. For the first several years of the blog, we focused on “low-hanging fruit” — subjects that we were already familiar with and had studied for other purposes, and so could discuss quickly. As time has passed, the issues that remain are ones that need a great deal of study to thoroughly cover (while also increasing the pressure on ourselves to provide extensive, quality content), so what’s left on the to-do list will take months, if not years, to complete. I feel impatient about everything and want to dive right in, but I remind myself to be patient and take the long view — I’ll get to everything eventually.

To summarize, we’ll be here for a long time, even if no one reads us any more! Is the internet as we know it going to be around in a decade?

Setup of the Work Area

My home office is where I spend the majority of my time. Here are some images:

Art of manliness home office Tulsa ok.

Welcome to the headquarters of AoM.

A cup is placed at Table with laptop and Mouse.

I placed my Macbook on a rain design mStand while I’m seated at the main desk so I’m not straining my neck gazing down at a laptop screen. I also use a Macbook bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

The Shelf Of Books in the Library and a Standing desk.

I try to stand as much as possible. When I’m working at the standing desk, Teddy Roosevelt looks down at me. We also have a treadmill with a walking desk that I use for doodads since I can’t do tougher things while walking.

The Shelf Of Books in the Library.

In the workplace, one wall is devoted entirely to bookcases. There’s a lot of good study stuff here. I’ll most likely need to build additional bookcases in the near future. I should definitely start some kind of organization system as well, since locating a certain book is becoming more difficult.


Shelf of inspiration in the library.

The Inspirational Mantle There are busts of Alexander the Great and Teddy Roosevelt, as well as a statue of Jesus Christ and a reproduction of the “What e’er thou art, perform rightly thy part” stone that we discussed before. One of these days, I’d want to replace Alexander with a bust of Dwight D. Eisenhower, as he occupies a considerably more significant position in my “cabinet of unseen advisers.”

What kind of tools and technology do you use to get the job done?

Macbook Pro – I like Macs since I can obtain certain software that I can’t get on PCs. I still believe they’re outrageously priced.

Samsung Galaxy S10 – I just updated and am quite pleased with it.

Notebooks and Pens — When I’m stuck on anything, I start jotting down my thoughts and ideas. I’ll even do some doodling. That seems to have re-ignited my creative energies. Zequenz notebook is the notebook of choice. Pilot G2 and Pilot Metropolitan fountain pens are the pens of choice.

Other Work Clothes

For hard disk backup, use My Passport for Mac. There must be redundancies in one’s life!

Sonos PLAY 1 is a wireless speaker that I have in my workplace. It’s little, yet it delivers a powerful punch. I can use the speaker to play music from Pandora, Spotify, Amazon, and other services. I have a couple of them laying around the home.

Podcast and Laptop at the Table.

Podcast Answerman’s Setup – For recording podcasts, I use this setup from Podcast Answerman. My podcast studio is tucked away in a corner of my closet. It’s the house’s quietest room. Around here, I’m a bit of a snob.

Apps I Use to Stay Productive on the Computer

The applications I use to be productive during the day are as follows:

Google Docs is a writing tool.

Grammarly — for the first round of editing and proofreading on a piece.

ClearCast is a tool for recording podcast interviews.

Use Skype for phone conversations and podcast interviews.

Fantastical is the greatest calendaring app on the market. It’s really simple to record new appointments and add them to your calendar.

On the AoM Team, we use Todoist to keep track of our to-dos and projects. I use this cross-platform to-do list organizer on both my Macbook and my Samsung Galaxy S6. The finest feature is the omnipresent capturing. When a new task appears, I just press a few hotkeys, a little box appears, and I enter the task. It’s that simple. I may delegate work to our various team members.

Use Adium to communicate with members of the AoM Team.

FindFocus. It’s a Mac software that disables distracting websites and applications for predetermined amounts of time. I use it anytime I need to concentrate. It’s an improved version of the Focus app. It appeals to me much.

Dropbox – I use it to share files and dump data from my hard disk.

With the following plugins, you may use Brave Browser:

  • Evernote is a service that allows you to save (for saving articles and posts for future blog post research)
  • Pushbutton (allows me to answer text messages via my computer)
  • LastPass is a password manager that allows you to (for managing passwords)
  • Nanny (it enables me to disable Twitter after 30 minutes on the site)

Photoshop is a picture editing program.


When I’m listening to music with my headphones on, I use Spotify.

Sonos – I use the Sonos app to control the music coming from the numerous speakers I have throughout the home when I’m not using headphones.

f.lux – this is an excellent app. The bluelight from your screen dims as you come closer to bedtime. Bluelight interferes with the generation of melatonin, which is required for sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, I strongly advise you to install this. It’s not a panacea, but it does assist.

RescueTime. It keeps track of how much time I spend on my computer using different applications and websites. It’s a great method to see whether I’m productive or not.

Apps I Use to Stay Productive on My Smartphone

SwiftKey is a must-have program for everyone who uses a keyboard. Has significantly sped up email and text writing.

AppBlock – The most effective app for overcoming smartphone addiction. Tell AppBlock which applications you’d want to have banned on your phone at different times of the day. From 6 a.m. until 8 a.m., I disable email, Instagram, and Chrome. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Instagram. From 7 p.m. until 11 p.m., check your email, Instagram, and Chrome. Allows me to concentrate on getting ready for the day first thing in the morning, staying focused while working, and then unwinding before going to bed.

AppDetox— While AppBlock fails, I use this to guarantee that I don’t waste too much time on distracting applications when they are accessible. AppDetox enables you to establish a daily limit for how much time you may spend on a certain app. Instagram and Gmail have proven to be the most addictive apps for me, so I’ve programmed AppDetox to prevent me from accessing them after 30 minutes.

TrendMicro Mobile Security – This software has a number of useful security and performance features that will keep your phone virus-free and working at top speed. But the major reason I have it is so that I can prevent some distracting websites from appearing on my phone, including Twitter and Mobile Security’s parental controls function allows you to ban websites.

Todoist – for keeping track of my tasks on the fly.

RescueTime – keeps track of how much time I spend on my phone.

Google Calendar is a free service that allows you to


Kindle – for reading when you’re bored.

Pocket Casts is a podcast management and listening app. When I’m driving or jogging, I usually listen to podcasts.

Lookout Security – for tracking down my phone if I misplace it. It comes with some excellent backup and security options. Lookout Security takes a picture using the front-facing camera and sends it to you if someone attempts to enter your passcode three times without success. I have a bunch of photos of a naughty Gus toddler.

Instagram isn’t great for productivity, but it’s a necessary aspect of the job. On the AoM Instagram account, I post photos. Are you keeping up with us?

For keeping track of my macros, I use MyFitnessPal.

IFTTT – I’ve just recently found this app. Allows you to develop “recipes” that will conduct particular operations when a certain event happens. I haven’t fully used this opportunity yet.


So there you have it. That is the kind of job I perform on a daily basis. As the children get older, their routines will most likely vary. We’ll make adjustments. I hope you had fun with the voyeurism!



Lifehacker is a site that focuses on technology, design, and entertainment. The meaning of lifehacker is to be able to do things with ease. Reference: lifehacker meaning.

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