A Day in the Life

This post is part of a series describing what Automatticians do on a daily basis. You can read more posts like this by following the tag #a8cday on WordPress.com and Twitter.

Here’s a look in at my “typical” day, even though every day changes, due to my wife’s work schedule and/or three year old daughter’s schedule.

Today is a bit different as I have to take my daughter to her Spanish Immersion preshool.

04:25 – Alarm goes off and I’ve got to get ready for the gym. Due to today’s schedule, the only time I’ll be able to get to Bomber’s Crossfit is at the 5am class.

05:55 – Workout over and I recorded two Personal Records (PRs) for the day, score!

06:10a – I’m back at home and have got to head to my office to record my WordPress podcast, Your Website Engineer. I normally record these shows on Tuesday morning, but I was out of town on Monday, so I’m a bit behind this week 🙂

06:45 – Podcast is recorded and published, time for a shower and get ready for the day.

07:30 – Shouts from our daughter come from an upstairs bedroom, she’s awake and ready to get up. For the next hour, she has breakfast and I unload dishwasher / pack her lunch and pack my computer up to head out of the house.

08:35 – We’re on the road towards school. It’s 22 minutes away and we are set for an on-time arrival.

09:10 – Set up shop at Whole Foods. It’s just minutes away from her school, has decent wifi, so it saves me an hour of driving home and back. I spend the first hour of work in “catch up mode.”

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My portable office at Whole Foods

A majority of my colleagues live in different states / countries and there is a lot that has happened since I was done with work yesterday afternoon.

I share my comments on a few internal discussion threads and reply to any outstanding messages in Slack. I read a few colleague’s #a8cday posts and remember I want to write one too.

Some days during this three hour window, I’ll work on tickets to our customers. Today, I’m focusing on everything that isn’t ticket work.

This includes picking items form my todo list that are critical to be finished today and following up on some bug requests.

11:50 – I’m packed up and heading back to pick my daughter up from school.

13:00 – Back in my home office ready to go. Our nanny was at our house when we arrived, so my daughter began playing with her.

My legs are sore from yesterday’s / this morning’s workout, so I opted for my standing desk. I open up our ticket queue, hit the play button, started my music with Brain.FM and begin to help our customers one random request at a time.

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Custom built standing desk, complete with LED lights and 27″ iMac Server

The first few are about configurating their shipping modules, then a few about products like Cart Add Ons and coupons not working right.

My usual goal is to get thru 10 tickets in an hour, which is super challenging since some of them can take 30 minutes to debug. My first hour I got thru 3.

Hour #2 was much more fruitful, as I made it thru 11 tickets. The topics ranged from setting up taxes, to verify my theme is working properly, to asking customers to deactivate all plugins except for WooCommerce to check for plugin conflicts.

Every ticket is a new challenge. Most of time, it’s for one of the 400 extensions I’ve never installed, so I have to install the plugin, read the documentation, then try to configure it. Then I have to determine whether or not the behavior is intended, or if it’s a bug.

15:30 – Got a ping from my team lead. Time for my weekly chat. We chat for about 30 minutes on Slack about things of the week, including my regular feedback to HR. Communication is super important to us as a company, so I’ll read everything that he writes before heading off to HR (It’s pretty much a bunch of “Dustin is Awesome” anyways, so it’s fun to read ;P )

16:10 – Almost a wrap for the day. Scan thru and delete files from my desktop (screenshots) and downloads folder (misc work files). Close down Slack, Brain.FM, move any action items from open browser tabs to OmniFocus, then close both Chrome and Safari.

16:30 – Done with work for the day.

Monday’s and Wednesday’s are normally a bit lighter on ticket work as I try really hard to get all the rest of my tasks done for the week on these days. Then I spend the rest of my working week heads down working on tickets.

My goal is to have 150 interactions with customers a week. Some weeks I can hit my goal in during the work week. Other weeks, like this one, I’ll spend less tickets each day, but then spend a few hours on Saturday morning responding to tickets before my family wakes up.

Does this sound like a work day would be perfect for you? Work with us!

Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?

Our nearly 3 year old daughter has been coming up with some effect bedtime stall tactics lately.

And tonight was no exception.

She really wanted her puppy, named LuLu in her room while she slept.

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K and her puppy about 2 years ago

We spent approximately 30 minutes tearing the house apart and still couldn’t find her precious puppy.

Maybe tomorrow she’ll share her puppy’s hiding spot with us 😂

2016 Taxes Completed

Well, my part of them anyways.

I sent everything off to our tax professionals this morning. Such a great feeling knowing that item is off my to do list before our baby comes.

And now we wait.

To see how much we owe.

Fingers crossed it’s less than $5000 🙂

Grow Your Email List

I’ve been using ConvertKit to deliver email messages for my podcast listeners for about 13 months now. It’s way more powerful than MailChimp or Aweber, and much less expensive than Infusionsoft.
I wanted to share with you a 72-Hour List Building Challenge hosted by ConvertKit that starts tomorrow!
This is a FREE, three-day challenge that includes daily emails from ConvertKit with strategies and lessons on how to grow your email list and engage with your readership.
Once a day for three days you’ll get an email from ConvertKit with specific instructions to grow your list.
If you complete the challenge, you’ll be entered to win a year’s subscription to ConvertKit!
You can participate in the challenge, even if you don’t have a business, blog or have an email list.
You won’t be required to pay for anything! If you’ve never tried ConvertKit before, you’ll get FREE access for 30-days if you need it!
Are you in?

I’m going to try it too and see if I can grow my list too!

Happy Valentine’s Day 2017

Melody and I typically don’t get each other things for holidays like Valentine’s Day.

A few years ago, we got each other a note book and hand write cards to each other.

This is great because:

  • It’s easy to look back at old cards
  • No need to go buy a $3 card with lame text in it
  • And we can be as creative as we want

Usually, I write silly poems. Here’s mine from this year:

Rose are red,
Violets are blue,
Elizabeth wrote a poem,
And now I must too!

This is the last year
from just Kenley and me
As in a few short weeks,
We’ll no longer be a family of three.

Will he come early
Or will he be late?
Oh please oh please
Let him come on his date!

Our lives have changed
so much since 2004
when we first met
and I swept you off the floor

We might be exhausted
and in bed before ten,
and sometimes I’m asleep
before we say Amen!

I honestly can’t imagine
life any other way,
And I’m glad you’re my Valentine
each and every day.

2017 will be
our most challenging year yet
wrangling our two kiddos
will surely make us sweat.

I’m guessing they will both cry some
for no reason at all
or maybe because
I took their ball 🙂

Now I want to say
From Kenley, me and baby to be
We are so proud of you
Taking care of us three.

This is the only thing
I got you this year
As we need no more chocolate
Or a stuffed Teddy Bear

And I didn’t go to the store
to buy some fancy card
since they cannot make you
smile and laugh this hard

I could go on and on
and even change the poem’s tune,
but be sure to know that
Kenley and I LOVE YOU TO THE MOON!

Tax Time Sunday

Spent time today entering all of our expenses from Spain into a spreadsheet so we can deduct them from our taxes. 

Next time, I’m going to spend a few minutes each day documenting rather than several hours at time. 

CrossFit Open

I signed up to compete in this year’s CrossFit open.

Last year I had a ton of fun, even though I had only been CrossFitting for about 5 months, I joined the world-wide competition.

Our gym does all of the workouts on Fridays and then we log our score with the official app and can see where we rank against all the other people in the world.

Here’s my ranking from last year:

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There were 178,538 worldwide men, so I scored in the top 42% and top 44% in the Central Regional.

My goal is to be in the top 35-40% after adding a year’s worth of experience.

Home Screen Feb 2017

I like to keep my iPhone apps to a minimum so the apps that I use daily, get real estate on the home page. 

Everything else is in a folder on the second page and if I need one of those apps, I pull down from the top and search. 

Notice the phone app isn’t anywhere on the home page, because, well, I never make phone calls. I have one hour of talk time on the phone since November when I got this new phone. 

Franz

I enjoy finding Mac apps that help me stay more organized and Franz is the perfect app for that.

A friend of mine pointed out this app at WordCamp Cincinnati and I’ve been using ever since (mid October).

Essentially Franz is a website wrapper where you can run multiple messaging apps like Slack, Facebook Messenger, GroupMe, Skype and more all from one window.

I’ve been using it for web applications that I use daily but don’t want to keep tabs open for them in my browser. Here are the four things I am currently using Franz for:

  • Slack at Automattic. This is our main method of communication at our company
  • Dustin’s Daily Task List. This is a P2 where I track all the things I accomplish in a day
  • Brain.FM. This is a custom integration I built to play the Brain.FM music while I work
  • Slack for Dayton WordPress. Easy access to talk with the other organizers for WordCamp Dayton

Franz.png

Detroit Hackathon

Today and tomorrow  I’m in Detroit for a hackathan project where nine of us are going to be building websites for nine small businesses in the city. 

Today, we split into small teams and visited the shops to get a feel for the businesses and see what they are looking for in a website. 

And tomorrow the plan is to build the websites with a goal of completing them by the end of the day. 

I’ll post a link to LaDonna’s salon site tomorrow. 

Oh, and here’s my view from the hotel and I can see the bridge to Canada. 

Project Simplify

In January, I set out on an initiative to get rid of excess stuff in my life.

I think I heard this on the Minimalist podcast, but the premise is to remove items that have no use or bring you no joy from your life.

So on January 1st, I found a useless trinket in my office and pitched it. Then, the next day, I found two things and the day after three things. Each day, I found items to remove from my life. I was successful except for the last two days.

I ran out of time to find 30 and 31 items to get rid of for those last two days in January.

All in all I removed 435 books, clothes, useless swag, misc items from around my house and I’m pretty sure that:

  1. I won’t miss any of them
  2. No one noticed (since there is still a lot of stuff in our house)

My plan is to continue simplifying my life in February and see if I can eliminate another 400+ items.

January Recap

Hard to believe January has come and gone and we are one month into 2017. This year sure is flying.

January has been a really productive month for me and I continue to rely on OmniFocus to let me know what I should be doing each day.

Since I’ve added my habits and rituals, I’m pleased to say, that everything I started to do on January 1st, I’ve kept up (well mostly).

The one challenge that I’ve fell a bit short on is the #100DaysOfCode challenge. Last weekend, I was a single parent since my wife was traveling and had to wrangle my daughter. Each day I spent some time programming, but definitely no a full hour.

Here’s a screenshot from a program called Vibe that shows you the break down of all tasks completed in OmniFocus:

Vibe.png

Looks like I’ve got a few more things to do 🙂

4 Weeks of Paleo

Over the last few years, I’ve been a pretty clean eater.

We’ve typically eaten gluten-free, with little sugar, and the occasional dairy.

And in November, I challenged myself to eat gluten and sugar free and was successful for the entire month.

Starting today, our CrossFit gym is doing a Paleo challenge for four weeks leading up to the CrossFit Open.

Each week, we start with 35 points and for every “cheat” meal we have, we have to deduct 5 points.

We get 10 points for coming to the gym (max 30 points per week).

The winner will be based on the number of points, amount of improvement in the benchmark workout, and changes in body measurements.

A fun little challenge to hopefully make the cold Ohio winter go faster 🙂

A Day with Dad

Mom is out of town, so I had fun with my favorite daughter today.

Blueberry pancakes for breakfast, followed by Minnie Mouse on TV, then errands in town including her favorite grocery store Fresh Thyme and some projects around the house. We had fun!

 

Things a Two Year Old Says

Here’s a few funny things our daughter has said to me over the last couple of days.

When going to Kroger to get paper:
Me: I wonder why there are so many people here on a Friday night
K: I think alotta people need paper

When telling her Mommy is in Texas for a few days:
K: I don’t think I’ve ever been to Texas

When asking her what “friend” she wanted to bring to breakfast (stuffed animal):
K: I want to bring Reese (baby doll) because I want to bring someone who doesn’t have a tail

When we said we are going to Trader Joe’s:
K: I think I want to go to Fresh Thyme (a grocery store in a different part of town)

After waking up and rushing into the bathroom:
K: I want to see what color my tongue is (to be fair, it was blackish the night before from eating too many blackberries)

I’m sure there will be more. We laugh out loud daily at the things she says 😂

OmniFocus Dashboard

My main perspective in OmniFocus is called the Dashboard and this is where I spend 95% of my time in the app.

It’s a list view of everything that is available and flagged or due soon. It also contains my daily GTD tasks and daily routine things (like publishing a blog post).

I could bore you with the details on how to set it up, but I took it from Joe Buhlig’s site, so I’ll give hime all the credit 🙂

The system works well for me and I try to keep the number items on my dashboard to one page without scrolling, or about 25 items.

Entering Tasks into OmniFocus

There’s four ways that I get tasks into OmniFocus.

Email

The Omni Group gives each OmniFocus account a private email address that you can send messages to get a task in your Inbox. I’ll do this by forwarding to the OmniFocus task I created in Gmail.

The great thing about this that the body of the email appears in the notes section of the task and it provides me a link back to the email message.

Quick Entry

From anywhere on my computer, I can hit control-option-space (which is a keyboard combination I defined) and a small window appears and I can enter just the task, or I can enter the task, assign it to a project, set a due date and more.

Typically, I just enter the task and move to the correct project later.

quick entry.png

Clippings Sortcut

This is another defined keyboard shortcut, and this one will take any highlighted text and turn it into a task.

It’s really useful when you want to save a URL for use later.

Reminders / Siri

The last way to add items to OmniFocus is with a combination of Siri / Reminders. If I tell Siri to “Remind me to…” it will add to my built in Reminders app, but also push it into OmniFocus. It’s extremely useful when driving or if I want to set a reminde on my watch.

OmniFocus Perspectives

Yesterday I mentioned the one of the main reasons I like OmniFocus is because of the custom Perspectives. Think of these as filters to see the available tasks.

Here are my perspectives in the sidebar of OmniFocus:

Inbox

This is where all of my task go when I enter them into OmniFocus. I’m bad at assigning details as I enter the project, so at least once per day I clear out the inbox and make sure all projects fit into a project and are assigned a context.

Dashboard

Here’s where I spend most of my time. This is a perspective that shows all of my Due or Flagged tasks. I decide on these the night before by going through my contexts and flagging the items that need to get done the next day. Later in the week, I’ll explain how I have this set up.

Neutralize

There are some tasks that need to be done repeatedly in order to keep your world stable. It can be little things like check tire presser, change furance air filter, update budget, etc… I have these in a Single Actions list and use a custom perspective to make them easy to find. I try to clear this list every week.

Projects

Here I can quickly see a list of all of my projects. I use this view regularly when I am looking for tasks to work on.

Contexts

I rarely use this perspective. I probably wouldn’t miss it if I removed it, but a handful of times per month I’ll look for something to work on based on the assigned context.

Forecast

This is a combination view that combines Due / Due Soon / Calendar items. I typically check this once a day to see what is upcoming and due soon.

Review

My goal is to review all projects once per week (typcially Fridays). Each week I look at all of my outstanding projects and tasks and see what’s still relevent and what I should delete.

Why OmniFocus?

I’ve been an OmniFocus user since 2014. I frequently refer to it as my brain as it remembers all the things I have to do.

I use OmniFocus to break my life down into four broad categories:

  • Team Hartzler Headquarters (things to do around here, personal growth)
  • Automattic
  • Your Website Engineer
  • Someday / Maybe (includes links to products / software I might want to buy in the future)

I like using OmniFocus for these reasons:

It Just Works

Right out of the box, it’s easy to add your tasks to OmniFocus. You don’t need to know the ins and outs of David Allen’s Getting Things Done book, you can simply create a list of items to work on and check the boxes when they are complete.

Perspectives

One of the features that sets OmniFocus apart from all other todo list app is the Perspective features. It’s my favorite feature and I haven’t seen any other app have anything close to this.

If you’re unfamiliar with Perspectives – think of them as shortcuts to specific projects, lists and particular pieces of information. Think of Perspectives as your personal assistant. You simply ask “what do I need to do today” or “what should I be working on?” and Perspectives will show you exactly that.

I’ll share my custom Perspectives in another post this week.

Seamless Syncing

In today’s multiple device world, it’s best to always have your list with you. You want to have access to your todos, lists and projects anywhere, anytime and you need cloud sync for that.

I routinely find myself using spare pockets of time in my day to check what other things I need to do and evaluate my day.

Forecast View

Another feature of OmniFocus is the Forecast view. This is where your todos and calendar items are shown on one screen, so you know right away how busy you are today and the rest of the week.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Any app that has lots of built in keyboard shortcuts is a good application for me. I try my best not to use the mouse whenever possible and with OmniFocus I can quickly add tasks to my inbox by hitting control-option-space. And inside of OmniFocus I can navigate around my different views with shortcuts as well.

There’s a hefty price tag to get into the OmniFocus ecosphere as both apps (MacOS and iOS) have premium prices, but well worth it in my opinion.

Productivity Week

This week I’m going to be sharing how I use my to do list app OmniFocus.

It’s basically my brain as I put everything that I need to do in this little app. I love how it syncs with all my devices and I can even tell Siri to remind me to do something and it will end up in OmniFocus.

I think OmniFocus is a great tool to stay organized and it’s just that, a tool. There are hundreds of other applications out there that do the same basic thing: capture ideas / tasks that need to be done in the future.

Some of the things that I’ll share are specific to OmniFocus, but others can be use in any to do list application.

Stay tuned for tomorrow for a week of productivity on Dustin.Blog.

A Bit of Planning

I haven’t set many goals for this year, as I know life will turn all kinds of crazy in about 60 days with a newborn and three year old, but I have spent a bit of time adding new rituals/habits to my daily life. 

They are as follows:

  • Train my brain daily with an iOS app called Elevate
  • Practice my Spanish with iOS app DuoLingo
  • Read daily devotional by Tony Dungy and journal thoughts / prayers
  • Spend ten minutes a day working on typing drills to improve my typing speed 
  • Work on my programming skills for at least an hour
  • Post daily to this blog
  • Read daily
  • Stretch by following an online class called RomWOD

So far, I’ve finished all of these all 20 days of the year. 

I can’t say for certain I’m getting much better in any one of them, but come December 31st, I’m sure I’ll see huge progress. 

The image shows a few books coming up on my reading list. 

New 404 Page

During my #100DaysOfCode challenge, I’ve been looking around my websites to see what’s broken / needs fixed and I stumbled upon my 404 page was broken.

Kinda of funny that the page that displays when you land on a broken link was broken.

I added an opt-in form to the page to see if I can capture any email addresses from the broken page.

After a few hours of tinkering, here’s what I came up with:

404 Page.gif

Working on Baby Brother’s Room

Tomorrow the baby’s is going to be painted, so I spent some time this evening prepping the room: taking down blinds, removing electrical covers, and moving furniture to the center of the room. 


I also spent some time working in the garage building a valence for the room. 

Three cuts and a handful of nail gun nails and the job was done. Now I’ve got to wrap in with some padding and cloth that matches the other items in the room. 

Once installed, along with blackout curtains, it will make the room extremely dark; perfect for multiple naps for a newborn. 

100 Days of Code Update

It’s been 18 days since I’ve started the #100DaysOfCode Challenge and I’m really enjoying it.

It’s been bit of a challenge to find an hour each day to work on code, but as soon as I start, I get lost in what I’m doing and the hour (or more) flys by.

I’ve spent the majority of the time working on my free WordPress plugin called As Heard On. For the first 10 days, I’ve reworked how the plugin stores options in the database and wrote a test routine so current website will have their options automatically moved to the new format and won’t need to reconfigure.

In the last couple of days, I’ve been working on punch list items that need to be updated on Your Website Engineer.

Elon Musk’s Biography

I heard about the book on a podcast recently and since I’m a fan of the Tesla brand, I decided to get the book from the library.

It’s a fascinating look into the mind of one of the most powerful brains in the world.

I think he’s changed the world with his thinking about electric cars and solar energy.

My goal is to have a Tesla parked in the garage 🙂

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Switching to Dvorak

In September 2015, at our Grand Meetup, I started to teach myself how to type with an alternative keyboard layout called Dvorak.

Our CEO Matt is a huge advocate of the alternative layouts and here’s the main reason why, per Wikipedia:

Dvorak proponents claim the Dvorak layout uses less finger motion and reduces errors compared to the standard QWERTY keyboard. This reduction in finger distance traveled is claimed to permit faster rates of typing while reducing repetitive strain injuries, though this has been called into question and their criticism has in turn also been called into question.[5]

Making the switch was no trivial task. Look how many keys are in new locations (all except for A and M):

dvorak.png

I started with a few weeks of typing drills to help me understand where all the letters were located. During this time, I’d immediately switch back to QWERTY once my drills were done so I could function on the computer.

After about two weeks of this, I started to do my regular work (which involves a lot of typing) in Dvorak. It was really slow going at an average of 17 words per minute. I’d start the day using Dvorak and then after lunch switch back to the familiar layout so I could actually get some work done.

Eventually, I bit the bullet and started using Dvorak full time.

When I finally got up to 40 WPM (after at least a month), I felt like I was really flying.

I used this typing speed site, to practice and gauge if I was getting any faster.

Now, about 18 months later, I’m a bit faster than I was a QWERTY, averaging between 60-70 WPM and work on drills each week to become more efficient.

A few notes:

  • I feel much more efficient when typing. My fingers really move less. And since I type nearly all day, my hands are never sore
  • I cannot touch type on a normal keyboard. Luckily 98% of my computer work is done on my work computer, so I rarely use a keyboard with the standard layout. And thankfully, when I do use a different machine, there are letters on the keys I can use 🙂
  • I still use the standard layout on my phone. I can still touch type with my thumbs rather quickly
  • The hardest part that I found is the muscle memory for short words and keyboard shortcuts for copying/pasting/saving/etc.

Speed Up Videos

I can typically consume content much faster than real-times speed, so I have a Chrome extension that allows me to speed up all videos. It’s called Video Speed Controller.

I have it set on 1.5 speed by default, but normally bump it up to 2 or 2.5 depending on the type of video.

And if the plugin doesn’t work for a certain type of player, I normally download it to my computer and watch it with Elmedia Player, as that also has controls to speed up playback.

New MacBook Pro

I got the newest MacBook pro late in December as my new work machine and after a few weeks of using it here are my thoughts:

  • I’m a fan of the keyboard. The buttons feel solid and they don’t travel too much. It took a few days to get used to it. Now I don’t like the feel of my external keyboard 🙂
  • TouchBar is eh. It works really well and it’s smooth to scroll up and down to change the volume. Most applications don’t have any extra functionality built in, but it’s starting to grow on me.
  • TouchID is amazing. It unlocks my computer and 1Password instantly and I’m typing in passwords much less often. This needs to come to a new Apple external keyboard.
  • It’s small. The height of the whole computer is less than the base of my last computer.
  • USB C is great. I like being able to plug into either side to charge and since the plug can be inserted either way, that’s a bonus too.
  • I do miss the orange / green light that lets me know whether or not the battery is charging.
  • I haven’t missed the ports too much in the three weeks. I’ve got an adapter that I bought on Kickstarter coming that will give me a USB-A connection and SD card slot.
  • The slate gray color is super pretty.

 

Next mini project

Some supplies for my next project (and some salt for our water softener), building a valence for around the window in baby brother’s room. 


Definitely didn’t want to go out to Lowe’s in the sub 10 degree weather, but everyone else stayed home so I was in and out in no time. 

New Obsession 

There is a website called bitfta.com, that is an online auction site where you can score some significant deals.

It’s a huge warehouse filled with hundreds of items.

We’ve bought wine fridges as Christmas gifts, bathtubs (yes plural, as I thought I was going to be outbid, so I got two tubs for a total of $14), a new rocking chair for the baby’s room and quite a few other miscellaneous thing.

Today’s haul include a rain barrel to collect water for our garden and a Gladiator cabinet to go with the other ones I recently installed.

As you can see, the boxes of some things are a bit ragged and some items are open box, so you have to read the auction post carefully.