One of my favorite sites, Lifehacker, has an ongoing series called “How I Work”. These are my favorite posts as they give me an insight into how others, mostly creatives, work. I love the creative process and learning about the many different methods and tools that people use. I have always toyed with the idea of posting something similar but, until now, never actually sat down to write it. I think this would be a fun thing to do each year, to see if anything changes over time.
And so, with a hat tip to Lifehacker, this is how I work…
Location: Long Beach, CA
Current Gig: Sr. Mgr Program Technologies at SOI, college student
One word that best describes how you work: Dedicated
Current mobile device: iPhone 6, iPad Air
Current computer: 13” Macbook Pro Retina, 14” Dell Latitude E7440
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Like a lot of people (I assume), there are a lot of apps that sit on my devices that are rarely, if ever, used. I keep them because there’s that one time where I’ll need them and that will make it completely worth taking up space on my hard drive. My most used apps are Evernote, Instapaper, Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. I like using Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Onedrive. I prefer using Safari and Firefox over Chrome and others. For photo organizing and editing I use Aperture but, I suppose I’ll need to find an alternative soon. I am working on a few projects that will turn Camtasia into my best friend. GoToMeeting/Webinar and I have already become quite close.
What is your workspace setup like? I’m fortunate in that I work from home. I’m always 100x more productive when I work from home. It’s the lack of disruptions that really frees me up to churn out more work. It’s something that i try not to take for granted, though. When coworkers ask for meetings, conference calls, etc., I make it a point to always attend on their timeframe. Especially those working in other time zones. I think that flexibility is what helps keep me connected to my colleagues and their projects. I also travel about once a month (recently it’s been more frequent).
As you see, from the picture, I try to keep it simple. Depending on the nature of the work, I’ll switch between the two laptops, connecting them to the Dell 24” monitor when I need the screen real estate. I keep my priority and focus on the big monitor, usually working with the apps in full screen mode. On occasion, I’ll open a laptop to give me a dual monitor setup (on the same machine). I mostly do this when I’m working in a shared screen session with someone.
Not shown in the picture but on the desk is another lamp (I like a well-lit workspace), a VoIP phone, a coffee mug with pens, and my coffee mug for coffee (or water).
What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack? Delegate the task to someone else… Kidding aside, it’s not a time-saving shortcut but I find myself using a basic writing method as my overall approach to work. I’ll work from a brainstorm>outline>rough draft>x number drafts>final. I find ways to apply this to anything (not just writing). It’s the first step, the brainstorm, that I really enjoy. Just getting the initial idea written/sketched/drawn/typed is quite the accomplishment for me. Once that happens, the rest comes easy.
What’s your favorite to-do list manager? I keep my to-do list with Evernote. Each week I start a new note with one column each for home, work, and school. Then one row for each day of the week. In each cell I add the checkboxes with to-do items for each day, in each of the three aspects (home, work, school). This works for me for many reasons but mainly because 1) it’s easy to move tasks between days during the week, if needed and, 2) I like planning a week at a time. I also rely on the Reminders and Notes apps (iOS).
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why? I can never limit this to just one gadget. My Kindle Paperwhite has become very important. I’m fueled by anything (coffee, tea) that comes from my Zojirushi coffee maker and Zojirushi water boiler (both from the Zutto line). I also rely heavily on my Mophie Powerstation Plus and Jackery Giant+ while traveling. I currently photograph with a Fujifilm X20 and a XT1.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret? I’m still working to figure this out. I pride myself in being a very quick learner. I really enjoy learning from others but, my impatience has a tendency to get in the way of that. Something I continually work on.
What do you listen to while you work? Podcasts. A lot of them. A lot. So many that I’m always behind. If I’m not in the mood for podcasts, I’ll listen to a pop, alternative, or classic rock internet radio station. If I really need to focus, I find that I work best in complete silence. On occasion I’ll wear noise-canceling headphones while I work.
What are you currently reading? I’m one of those who has a lot of books going at once, which is why I love my Kindle. Instead of having physical books scattered around the house I now have them all on one place. And, it’s much easier for me to jump between books. I always have at least one fiction and one non-fiction book going at all times. Currently, I’m working through Xiaolu Guo’s I Am China and Andrew Solomon’s The Noonday Demon. I have a long list of “to read” books that I will never, ever get through (which is good). There are so many great books out there! I’m also reading a few technical manuals and white papers (work) and my textbook (school). I read (recreationally) in spurts so, depending on what’s going on in my life, I can finish books in just a few days or take as long as a few months.
Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert? Introvert to the core. I’m a living, breathing introvert cliché.
What is your sleep routine like? While home, I average between 6-7 hours. While traveling, it’s more like 4-6 hours. I’ve actually been paying more attention to sleeping well, lately. The hardest part is not reading on a bright screen right before I go to sleep. I would also love to begin incorporating naps into my day but, yeah… not going to happen.
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _____ answer these same questions. Elon Musk, Haruki Murakami, any creative/artist, any teacher (at any level).
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? To keep things in constant perspective. I’ve always loved Joe Rogan’s quote, “If you ever start taking things too seriously, just remember that we are talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers/fans? Only recently, I’ve realized that I’ve become a much happier person by simply being and accepting myself for who and what I am. It’s brought me to a level of inner peace that I never expected. Be yourself, live free.