How I Work…

Photo May 24, 6 49 00 PMLifehacker has a series called “How I Work. Every Wednesday they feature a new guest and the gadgets, apps, tips, and tricks that keep them going. It’s a very interesting series that gives you a glimpse into how different people work and solve problems.

After recently seeing Daniel Pink’s interview some colleagues and I thought it would be interesting to answer these questions as well as a fun way to share and get to know each other better. I invite you to participate as well – I’ll link other people’s postings at the bottom of this post.

Let’s get started…

Long Island, NY

Current Gig
Program Director, The eLearning Guild

Current mobile device
iPhone 5

Current computer
Lenovo ThinkPad and HP Pavilion Laptop

One word that best describes how you work

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Dropbox, Google Docs, Evernote, Twitter, Instagram, Post-It Notes
Dropbox has fundamentally changed the way I work. Just about everything I work on is saved there. Between PCs, tablets, and phones, I probably have 6 or 7 different places where I can be working at any point. With Dropbox, my files are always with me, regardless of the device I’m using. I like Google Docs (or Google Drive) as well for similar reasons, but while DropBox is my primary tool for cloud storage, Google Docs is my go-to source for collaboration. I find it especially useful for those with limited tech skills, as the learning curve is pretty small. Evernote is my primary note-taking tool, and I love that I can now use the Evernote Moleskine to digitize my hand-written notes. Twitter is learning tool. More often than not it is also my search engine, often before Google. My network there is strong, and can usually deliver better answers to my industry questions. Twitter also helps me stay ‘plugged in” to my industry. Instagram is new to my “can’t live without” list, and as much as I love the personal connections I have there, it’s not why I’ve added it to the list. I follow some talented people on Instagram that take great pictures that I often use for design inspiration. Lastly, Post-it Notes which really should be at the top of the list. I almost always have post-it notes with me, either at my desk or in the back of my moleskine. More than any other tool, Post-It Notes help keep me on track, capturing ideas that could be a distraction for later reference, and reminding me of tasks I have to do.

Photo May 29, 3 06 10 PM

The temporary and all-too-small workspace

What’s your workspace like?
The best word to describe my workspace is ‘temporary’. I recently switched to a work-from-home role, which is excellent except for the fact that my home is still recovering from it’s visit from a little storm named Sandy last year. The space for my office still has no walls or electric, so I’m working from a temporary desk in another part of the house. It works, but isn’t the ideal setup that matches my work style.

What’s your best time-saving trick?
It sounds like a cliche, but my best time-saving technique is spending 10 or 15 minutes at the start and end of each day to plan. It’s amazing how much more I get done in a day when I prioritize and schedule my activities when compared to the days I do not.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?
I have yet to find the ‘perfect’ to-do list manager for my style. My current favorite is Toodledo, which I like because it’s FREE, and it syncs across my devices.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
I feel like saying my iPad would be cheating, though it’s definitely the primary device I use for content consumption and creation. After my phone, computer, and iPad though, the gadget I can’t live without is my NewTrent charger, which enables me to travel with my iPhone and iPad without ever worrying about being without power.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Solving Wheel of Fortune puzzles. My family can be divided into two groups: those that regularly ask if I’ve applied to be on the show, and those that refuse to watch the show with me any more.

Photo May 29, 3 11 19 PM

Low-tech work tool storage

What do you listen to while you work?
Usually something on Spotify, likely a Classic Rock playlist. Unless I’m reading, in which case it’s silence or white noise. Of course I have young kids, so it’s usually the latter since the former isn’t really a possibility.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?
My default is to be an introvert, but the roles I play rarely allow for that, so I’ve learned to adapt.

What’s your sleep routine like?
Fairly unreasonable. I usually sleep around 4-6 hours a night. I’m a night owl, and often find my most productive time is after the family goes to bed and I start working at 9 or 10 pm. I get in the ‘flow zone’ of work, and suddenly it’s 2 or 3am. Case it point: I just noticed it’s after 2am as I type this.

Fill in the blank. I’d love to see ______ answer these same questions.
David Allen, Bill Gates, or John Lasseter

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
To focus on the things I have control over and accept the things I do not. It’s provided calm during many a storm.

Want to read more “How I Work” posts. First, be sure to check out the How I Work posts at Lifehacker. I’ll also list other people in our industry that have taken time to share their answers to the questions here:

Tracy Parish
Helen Blunden
Bianca Woods
Mark Britz
Clark Quinn
Tom Spiglanin
William Chinda
Dawn Mahoney
Marisa Davis
Shannon Tipton
Bruno Winck

8 Responses to How I Work…

  1. Tracy Parish May 29, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    Great insight. I just recently started with the 15 min at end of the day to plan tomorrow’s tasks. Amazing way to clear my head and not worry/think about work all evening.

    • MichaelKeathley May 30, 2013 at 10:28 am #

      I do this, too, but I also start my day by getting one main project out of the way before I dig into email, etc.


  1. How I Work | Activate Learning Solutions - May 29, 2013

    […] morning I read the two posts from Tracy Parish and David Kelly on how they work and thought it was a brilliant […]

  2. Learnlets » How I Work - May 31, 2013

    […] Kelly posted the […]

  3. How I Work | william chinda - June 1, 2013

    […] elearning community’s Curator-in-Chief David Kelly recently created his own version of Lifehacker’s How I Work series and challenged others to do the same. Great idea, Dave! […]

  4. I am Shannon Tipton and this is “How I Work” | Rebels In Learning - June 3, 2013

    […] David Kelly, inspired by a Lifehacker series, is promoting the “How I Work” series. I find it fascinating to read about how other people are going through their days and the tools they use to make themselves successful.  I have already jotted down several ideas and potential tools to research for myself.  Which is what I would encourage everyone else to do as well. […]

  5. How I work | Personal Knowledge Management with Kneaver - July 29, 2013

    […] […]

  6. How I Work | Activate Learning Solutions - November 16, 2013

    […] morning I read the two posts from Tracy Parish and David Kelly on how they work and thought it was a brilliant […]

Leave a Reply