Here at WordCamp Northeast Ohio, we are pretty big fans of the Lifehacker series “How I Work”. We asked our speakers to do a WordPress take on that idea, and thus was born “How I WordPress”- a series where some of the best minds in WordPress share a bit about their process with our readers/attendees.
Partner at 3.7 DESIGNS, Owner of SnapOrbital Plugins
I often find myself involved in one too many things. I started 3.7 DESIGNS in 2005, SnapOrbital in 2014, have taught at Washtenaw Community College, currently teach at Michigan State University and have founded at least a few other companies as well.
One word that best describes how you work?
Current Mobile Device/Why
iPhone 6, because the 6+ was too big and my first android experience was not a good one.
Apple Macbook Pro 15″. I had an older 17″ mackbook pro for eight years and I loved it. I would get another 17″ if they offered it, but alas they don’t… I love technology that gets out of my way and currently, that’s what Apple provides.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Photoshop, Atom, Git.
What’s your workspace setup like?
I’ve got two locations. I work from home a few times a week so I can see my daughter while she’s been watched by grandparents and then I work from the 3.7 DESIGNS office the remainder of the time.
Both offices are furnished with pretty standard Ikea furniture. Once I get focused the world could burn down around me and I wouldn’t notice, so beyond ergonomics I have very little need from my office setup.
That said I realize this is fairly specific to me, so I have put some effort into making the 3.7 DESIGNS office nicer for everyone else. My business partner and wife keeps both offices very clean and tidy, because I could work in a dumpster and not notice.
What’s your best time/effort-saving life hack?
Two thoughts, first high level the second more practical.
First, work on the right things and ignore the rest. It’s easy to get bogged down in tasks you feel that you’re expected to do that don’t help accomplish your goals.
For example, etiquette says you *should* respond to every e-mail that comes in, but if those e-mail responses get in the way of a bigger, more important task and you answer them anyways… then you’ve lost.
It’s simple, boring and cliche but defining weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly goals helps you keep on track. For year’s I’d only tackle the quick, easy tasks because the dopamine hit of chopping my todo list in half made me feel like I was making progress when in reality I was just spinning my wheels.
Knowing I have thirty days to accomplish something makes it very easy to ignore the tasks that are urgent but not important for those that are important but not urgent.
Second on a more practical level, use the pomodoro technique. It’s a simple focusing method where you setup short “sprints” of work followed by short breaks. I’ll do 25 minutes on a task and then take a five minute break. This helps on multiple levels.
First, the timer is a pretty strong kick in the pants to “get going.” Second, the incentive of a guilt free break typically leads to more engaged work. Finally, for most people the hardest part of a task is getting started… the start of the countdown makes it very easy to get started. Then you’re focused and flying before you realize it.
What’s your favorite to-do list method?
We use Wunderlist and Basecamp, nothing fancy here… I don’t think there is a silver bullet of task management. Provided you have a way of prioritizing your tasks one method is just as good as another.
After your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without? Why?
My mechanical watches… because they’re beautiful and I love them.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?
Not saying things. Seriously, I’m amazing and keeping my thoughts to myself.
What do you listen to while working?
Anything and nothing. Sometimes I work in silence, other times I listen to a wide range of music.
What do you do to stay inspired?
I often try and find other people I respect in the business, web, WordPress community and use their accomplishments as inspiration.
What are you currently reading?
Lots of books. I’m horrible at starting a book and never finishing it. The last book I started was the power of habit.
What sort of work are you up to now?
Working on premium add-ons for popular WordPress plugins, advancing the Project Panorama core, creating Panorama add-ons, planning a new curriculum for class, client work, lost of stuff…
What’s your sleep routine like?
Go to bed at 10:30, fall asleep at 11:00, wake up at 7:00, exercise for 20 minutes.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Be intentional with every aspect of your life. There is a gravity to social norms that will always try and pull you towards the popular way of doing things, but that way might not be the best way for you.
Maybe you work better at night? Maybe you don’t learn well in a classroom? Maybe owning a house and waking up in the same place every day bores you?
Take the time to reflect on what the ideal day, week, month and year would look like for you and take action to move towards it.