Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Work Process

I just wrote out my process to explain to a friend how I do what I do. It was a great chance for me to think objectively about how I do what I do, and I thought you guys on the blog might like it too. So here's the post, with some additional formatting.

OTE: Assume everything starts at about 9am EST or as close to it as possible. 
NOTE: I work faster than most people. I know this. This isn't me bragging or inspiring competition, it's just sort of a given as to how I work. Accepting that was a huge step forward in going even faster and thinking even more creatively when facing problems. 

Step 1. Look over the notes I've left for myself from the night before. They are handwritten, usually on a notecard or pad to the left of the keyboard. I try to leave them in the same spot every night. 

Step 2. If I haven't left the PC running a diagnostic or something overnight, I boot it up. In that minute, I go fill up a pint glass of water. 

Step 3. While I'm filling the glass and while I get back to the desk, I'm prioritizing the notes (sometimes it's a to-do list, sometimes it's a reminder about a meeting or an appointment) 

Step 4. In order, I turn on Spotify, Janetter (Twitter), and Chrome.  I look for any emails or notes on Facebook/Twitter that would derail anything from last night's notes. Usually, it doesn't, but sometimes when new things come up I insert them into the priority list for the morning. 

Step 5. I find a good playlist on Spotify. This is NOT code for "I troll Spotify to find the "perfect" list", this is more like I take a mental snapshot of my mood and know which music I want to hear. NOTE - if I need to build a new playlist, I make a note to do it after work. 

Step 6. I check in on all the critical social media - Google+ groups, Twitter, etc. This can take anywhere from ten to twenty minutes, and if I feel this is taking "too long" (like if I'm antsy because I know there's a ton of work ahead), I'll break this into chunks and skip what I don't need and do other parts later. 

Step 7. I minimize Chrome and pull open the first item of work. I get out of the chair one more time to make sure the dog has food and water and a toy. Unless she's asleep next to me already, at which point I just get to work. 

Step 8. I work. In twenty to thirty minute chunks. My phone and tablet are on the desk, but both are face down, covered and on silent. I won't check either of them until lunch. 

Step 9. I work in bursts (I can't easily describe HOW I work - imagine a tagcloud of constantly swirling concepts and ideas that rotates and flashes while I build a document in my head and then copy it onto the screen).

Step 10. When I need to refill the pint glass, I check the phone. If there's no missed calls, it goes back down. If there are any, I make a note (mentally) to call them back either at lunch or later in the day.

Step 11. I'm pretty good at mentally tracking time, so either 1 project for the day gets done or it's been about an hour or so. I take the dog for a walk and lay out in my head the next two or three things I have to do when i get back to the desk. This is also my first chance to eat something since breakfast. I pick small things that won't leave my fingers sticky and that I can eat from a plate or dish to the left of the monitor, that I don't have to really look at to chew. Usually that's carrots, cherry tomatoes, celery with peanut butter. Yesterday it was cold roast beef with horseradish on toast bits. (I had it in the fridge). I practice mindful eating while I sit at the desk. Or as mindful as you can be while thinking about the next two or three things to do.

Step 12. I repeat the bursts until lunch time. I check the phone again, cross items off my notes and make sure I'm fully away from the desk while I have lunch. If I go out (like I will today, to pick up a salad), I make sure that when I get home, I DO NOT EAT in front of the PC. I realized that when I do that, I tend to overeat and get anxious. What I've been doing lately is reading a book while eating. I spend about 45 minutes eating and reading. This is also when I figure out what video I want to record next, and if possible, talk my way through it a time or two to see if it doesn't suck. 

Step 13. I return to the desk and note the time. I don't work past 3pm unless we're near a convention or if I'm doing a workshop that night. I work until 3, then wrap things up.

Step 14. My wrap up process involves starting notes for the next day, invoicing what I need to and making whatever phone calls I need to. Once all that is done (I'll finish the notes for tomorrow before I go to bed, so the list isn't set in stone), I walk the dog again, usually longer, then come home and either do some housework or something creative to stretch my brain but that I'm not getting paid for -- I think of new games, I explore an idea in my Idea Folder in Dropbox, I watch something stimulating or play a video game (lately this has been Tiger Woods golf). 

Step 15. Before I go to bed (about an hour before), I sit back down and go over the day. I weigh my successes out, celebrate them, and note the negatives, but don't kick my own ass about them. They're awesome things I just haven't gotten to yet, but I will. I finish the notes for the next morning, then go read a book for an hour. 

By this point I've lined up the next day's work pretty clearly and balanced all the other demands on my time. I sleep well because of it. 

The new camera equipment arrives at some point today, so I think the video I record either later tonight or tomorrow will explore these ideas more completely.

Rock on.