What’s your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life? It’s one of our favorite questions to ask as part of our regular Geek of the Week feature.
Periodically, we collect all of those tips and tricks in one concentrated dose of helpful advice. With New Year’s resolutions prompting many of us to take a fresh look our daily habits, it’s a perfect time to do it again.
Continue reading for insights from some of the Pacific Northwest’s top geeks, and click on any person’s name to read their full Geek of the Week profile.
BJ Lackland, CEO of LighterCapital: “Arriving at work early, before everyone else, and after my kids are asleep is when I can take care of my direct work.”
Yarelly Gomez, Software Engineering Student at the University of Washington: “Balance is key, find what makes you happy and make sure to give yourself time to do that no matter how hectic your schedule may be.”
Joshua Blake, Co-founder of Orbbec: “Sleep. Anytime I’m stuck on a problem, I’m always tempted to stay up late until I solve it, but that never works if it requires any amount of creativity. If I put it aside and sleep on it, my subconscious will work on it while my consciousness is defragging itself. More often than not, I’ll wake up with the solution.”
Vikram Jandhyala, Innovation Ambassador at the University of Washington: “Focus. When it’s time to do X, do X. When it’s not, don’t. Don’t multitask, it’s not effective. If you can’t focus, that’s OK. Don’t penalize yourself for it. Know when you can focus, when you are in a ‘scanning’ mode, and when you are able to think really innovative thoughts. All three times are valuable. A good calendar system and good access to the material you need are also critical.”
Bryce Blum, eSports lawyer, Director of eSports and in-house counsel for Unikrn: Work out in the morning. Getting exercise out of the way will give you more energy and it frees up evenings for fun — or more work. Plus it makes you feel like you’ve started off the day on a productive foot.
Mina Yoo, Founder of Lulabop LLC: “Try not dwell on the negative. We all get bad news or have negative interactions on occasion related to work and life, and it is easy to get into a negative spiral that can be paralyzing. I try to make mental notes to prevent these things from happening again (if they are in my control) and move on.”
Mike Christensen, Senior Software Engineer at BoldIQ: “Find hobbies that balance out the technical aspects of your job. My love of hiking helps prevent my life from becoming too one sided. Getting in touch with nature allows me to see the earth as a whole.”
Brian Fioca, serial entrepreneur, Partner at Madrona Venture Labs: “RescueTime! I have three alerts set: one for when I’m too distracted, one for when I’ve hit my daily work goal, and one to tell me to stop working so I don’t burn out.”
Forest Key, CEO and co-founder of Pixvana, former CEO of Buuteeq: “Make sure you are as passionate about your work as you are about your family/personal time. If it is a natural equilibrium, then it is effortless and you can focus on the work and play and not on the challenge of having one win over the other.”
Akash Badshah, Product Architect for Socedo: “Keep work out of the bedroom! By this I mean to find a dedicated time or space and prioritize it over work. For me, this was taking the time to read the news and eat breakfast in the morning before jumping online or responding to emails. I used to start working from bed as soon as daylight hit my face, and I burned out pretty quickly because I was essentially always-on. By forcing myself to wait before getting involved I was able to regain some mental sanity, and honestly become more productive because I spent half as much time worrying. Of course, there are still fire-alarms that need to take precedence, but those are few and far between.”
S. “Soma” Somasegar, Partner at Madrona Venture Group, former Microsoft exec: “Remember that you’re in a marathon. Only you know how best to pace yourself for the long haul. Work and life are both integral parts of what each of us need to do and focus on. Having the right balance is important and it varies from individual to individual. Each person needs to understand what it means to them, personally, and then put a plan in place to make that their reality.”
Brett Greene, co-founder of New Tech Seattle: “#1 – have a supportive spouse. #2 – have a hot tub to de-stress in and/or exercise regularly. Remember that family and friends come first. This is what all the work is for. Outside of that, find tools to help with productivity. Trello and Nimble have been amazing for me for productivity.”
Rahul Singh, Founder and CEO at Distelli Inc.: “Be 100 percent focused on what you’re doing. Whether you’re in a meeting, writing code or at home with family, pouring all of your focus to your present task is how you get stuff done and be successful. When you have that consistency, you can tackle any task.”
Austin Dale Wheat, Senior Manager, OpenMarket: “Start the day with a list of things that you will not do for the day. This really helps to reduce distractions, so you can focus on only the most important things.”
Joe Beda, Entrepreneur in Residence at Accel Partners, Google vet: “It is all about prioritization. Early on in my career I realized that there wasn’t enough time for everything. You have to get the most important stuff done first (work or life) and let the rest land where it lands. Beyond that, I’ve found it useful to record where you are spending your time. Taking a dispassionate look can really help you find where you are spending time on unimportant things.”
Priya Cloutier, Founder and Patent Attorney at Cloutier Global Intellectual Property: “I’ve been doing this since my older son was born — 20 years ago. Time for yourself has to happen before anyone else wakes up, otherwise life gets in the way. I wake up at 4 a.m. to pursue my passion — I’m a marathoner turning triathlete. Work at work, and go home to have dinner with the kids. Work starts again when they go to bed.”