Inspired by the Lifehacker column, I’ve decided to write up how I work… since I think Lifehacker will probably never call and ask me directly.
Location: Dacula, GA
Current Gig: User Experience Lead, Microsoft
One word that best describes how you work: Restless.
Current mobile device: Nokia 920 Windows Phone
Current computer: Two – a first-generation wall-mounted 27″ iMac, and a newish ASUS ZenBook Touch laptop.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Why?
I use Microsoft Office all the time, and I can’t see using any other office tools – I tried, but when it comes to the depth and breadth of functionality, MS Office has everyone beat.
I also can’t live without Instapaper, OneNote, and Notational Velocity.
What’s your workspace setup like?
I have a big metal desk that has seen better days located in my man cave next to my wall-mounted 27″ iMac (which has also seen better days). On my desk is an inbox, a nice set of speakers connected to said iMac, and two tablets (a second-gen iPad and a Dell Venue 8 Pro). next to my desk is a wall with stickies and a whiteboard I can write notes on.
When I’m on the road I sometimes bring a USB-powered external monitor that I can connect to my laptop.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?
Scheduling time to do things so that I can “time-box” the work. If I know I need to spend time building out user personas or an information architecture, I set that time up in my calendar and try and focus on doing just that work in that time. There’s a project management saying that “the level of work required will explained to fill the time allocated to it” and I have definitely found that to be true.
What’s your favorite to-do list manager?
I used to be a big Omnifocus guy, but now it’s in OneNote and an app called To Do Prime (though this app is a little buggy).
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?
My Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet. I use it to catch up on reading news, magazine and article on planes (I travel a lot) and it’s easier to use than a full laptop – especially when my 6 foot 4 frame is crammed into a coach seat.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret?
Meeting management and interviewing stakeholders. I try and keep things focused and also light – I try to have fun with every conversation while I get the information I need to design the most effective solution.
What do you listen to while you work?
I have SO much music – I used to be a radio DJ when I was in college and I got into every genre because of it. I listen to Pandora when I’m working in a hotel room, but when I’m at home or driving I listen to a little bit of everything – I have jazz, classic rock… My tastes go from Louie Armstrong to Laurie Anderson, and everyone in-between.
What are you currently reading?
This really great book called Ratio, which is about the core ratios used in cooking. If you learn these half-dozen ratios, you can do almost anything in the kitchen without any recipes. I’m an amateur cook, so I dig reading the science and the chemistry behind cooking. I blame Alton Brown.
Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
I’m an “omnivert” – I am very outgoing and friendly most of the time, but when I am preoccupied with a work project or problem I am very withdrawn. I don’t want to take any potential frustrations out on anyone else, so I withdraw a bit from society.
What’s your sleep routine like?
I sleep on a bed. I try to go to bed early if I have a big day ahead of me – I’m not as young as I used to be, and I need my rest. And where’s my medicine?!
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _____ answer these same questions.
Isaac Asimov, but he’s dead so I doubt that will happen.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
You are not the work. Do your best, but finish and move on. Don’t take criticism personally – take the legitimate points made, then respond to them and make it better next time.
The best advice I GIVE people is three things: Show up on time, pay attention, and listen. Those are foundational things and will lead to success when consistently applied.