Thursday, 13 September 2012

How I Work

Because nobody would come to ask me, and because I think it might be interesting to sort out my own thoughts, I'm posting my own version of some interviews that have been on Lifehacker lately, called "How I Work".
Well, I'm Mokalus and this is how I work.
Name: John/Mokalus
Occupation: Software Engineer, aspiring author
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
I work: when it's interesting
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I have Dropbox on all my PCs and my phone, because it's the best, most unobtrusive way to keep my files in sync and accessible everywhere. It's the core of my PC setup, the first thing I install. I'm also a bit in love with my phone, a Samsung Nexus S running Android 4.1. I like Astrid for my action lists, and I do a lot of stream-of-consciousness writing in a self-made app I call WorkDiary. Microsoft Visual Studio is essential to let me code my own tools.
What’s your workspace setup like?
At work I have a long, straight desk with 2x 21" monitors, a Microsoft Comfort Curve keyboard and a pair of TDK headphones, all on a monster of a new HP desktop. It's generally tidy apart from pens and paper.
At home, I'm on a cramped old desk with a single monitor and a filing cabinet with everything in it. My inbox has to perch on top of my computer tower. It works, but I'd like more space there.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?
I opt to use Thunderbird at work for email instead of Outlook, just because I can teach it what is irrelevant email and from then on it gets sorted into the junk folder where I can deal with it later (usually by deleting). I sort my junk mail by subject, because it's easier to select a lot of related irrelevant things at once and delete them. My email inbox is constantly emptied, because it's only for things I haven't dealt with yet.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
I have a small tool case of occasionally-useful items that I keep in my work bag. Despite being a software guy, the one that comes out most often is probably the Phillips-head screwdriver. I also like my Kindle for reading.
What do you listen to while you work?
Generally I don't listen to music at all when I'm focusing on work, because lyrics are too distracting. If I want it, I have my whole library kept in sync to my work computer via Windows Live Mesh (it's too big for Dropbox). I favour Green Day when I need to pick up my energy.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?
I've been fortunate to meet and work with enough brilliant people that I don't think I'm the best at anything, though I do have a copious library of movie and TV quotes in my brain, especially The Simpsons. I have occasionally surprised people with obscure knowledge of Shakespeare.
What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Approach tasks with the aim of getting better at them, not with being awesome this time. I struggle to live up to that one, but I think it's a valuable way to keep learning. Also, the good old Golden Rule: treat everyone as you would have them treat you.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I have yet to figure out exactly how my brain works.
PPS - Half the time, the answer is "badly".

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