Here’s How I Work

My colleagues at Praxis and I found this exercise to be fun and useful, so now it’s my turn to answer.

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Location: Mount Pleasant, SC
Current gig: CEO of Praxis
Current mobile device: iPhone 6
Current computer: ASUS Zenbook. It’s gorgeous and wonderful.
One word that best describes how you work: Fast.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Voxer, WordPress, the Scrabble app, fantasy football apps, and Momentum.

What’s your workspace like?

Tiny.  I purposely have a ridiculously small, clear desk.  I don’t want space for anything on it.  It contains my beautiful sleek laptop, and usually a giant stein of water, and sometimes a few books I’m reading.  I move around and work from different places in the house sometimes too.  My office is actually just a small section of the bedroom, since I got kicked out of my designated office room.  I work from home and as my kids grow they take up more space.  Since I travel a lot and don’t really care where I work, I moved.  I could work in a broom closet as long as it wasn’t cluttered and I got to take walks outside.

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Delete, shred, destroy.  I get rid of absolutely everything nonessential.  Immediately.  I am ruthless with throwing away paper mail, physical notes, business cards, receipts, and other odds and ends.  I am also a strict zero inbox guy, keeping on top of my emails frees my time, but more importantly my mind, to create.

Also saying no.  Often.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

I’ve tried Asana, Google Tasks, Slack, and several others.  None of them end up being that valuable.  I use Google Calendar and the native Sticky Notes app on Windows, or if I’m not at my computer the native Notes app on the iPhone.  I leave myself Voxer messages in the My Notes thread sometimes too.  Everything else gets too complicated.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

Since I just bought a Kindle Paperwhite so I don’t overflow my room with more books, I’m hoping it will become indispensable.  I’m still a lover of physical books, so we’ll see.  Otherwise no particular gadgets really matter much.  I did just get a waterproof mp3 player from a friend that lets me listen to podcasts while swimming, so that might become a necessity too.  Until the weather gets too cold to swim.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

Mornings.  I’m awesome when I wake up.  I’m happy, eager, productive, and full of energy and optimism…even before coffee.

I’m also pretty solid at writing good, concise emails.

What are you currently reading?

Siddartha by Herman Hesse, Mimesis by Erich Auerbach, The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, Outwitting the Devil by Napolean Hill (rereading), and Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse (rereading).

What do you listen to while you work?

While writing I either listen to a playlist on Spotify of Moby songs, or a station on Pandora called “Yoga music”.  While doing less creative stuff I might listen to some Led Zeppelin, or ’90’s era hip hop, or 80’s New Wave, or anything sappy with vocals I can belt out.  If I’m not writing, I mix it up quite a bit.  When I’m writing, it’s only ethereal mood music.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

I’m definitely an extrovert based on any personality test or technical definition.  However, in the last 5 years my ratio of time I need to be with people and time I need to be alone has reversed.  Now for every one hour I spend “on” and around people I need four hours alone.  It used to be the opposite.  I can go mix it up or give a talk or be at an event and enjoy it, but I really, desperately need to get out and be alone for long periods of time afterwards, and I am (no longer) ever the last one at the party, but more likely one of the first to leave.  I’d rather be alone writing or reading or watching a Sci-Fi with my wife than anything else.

What’s your sleep routine like?

It’s not always like this, especially with travel, but my ideal routine is: go to sleep when my mind wants to, wake up when my body wants to.

My mind is typically very active in the late evening until around midnight or 1 AM.  I often feel physically ill if I get up earlier than 7:30 or so, and I much prefer getting up at around 8 or 8:30.  I used to feel guilty for that and make myself get up earlier no matter what, but I found my mornings far less productive because I felt too out of whack physically.  I now try not to schedule anything before 9 or 10 so I can wake up, lay in bed gathering my thoughts for a bit, get some food and coffee, and write a blog post before the hustle and bustle begins.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see ______ answer these same questions.

My good friend and colleague TK Coleman.  I’ve known him for over 15 years, and I still find his work and life habits a total mystery.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“If it doesn’t affect bowel movements or erections, don’t worry about it.”  True story.  A wise man actually gave me this advice once.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

If you’re not having fun (even if sometimes intense or stressful fun) you’re doing it wrong.

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