Who are you :
I’m Luciana Serrano, Argentinian photographer, editor and Anthropology student and researcher.
Your current job :
I’m currently freelancing in a number of areas, as a product photographer, editor in a print and online magazine, writer, and so on.
In which city are you located?
Buenos Aires (Argentina).
A word to define what kind of worker you are :
What tools are essential to your life (app, software, etc..):
Given the different areas in which I work and my particular incline for the analog world, I depend on all kind of tools. Amongst the analog I’d say my books, notes, post its! -can’t live without them-, notebooks -mind the s-, highlighters, colored pens, my white board, analog cameras and film, my huge desk! (does that count?); amongst the digital: my Galaxy SII phone, my computer, my external hard drive, my Kindle fire, Lightroom and Photoshop, all Gmail related lab apps (the “undo send” button is amazing), Any.do (life saver), VSCO, Snapseed app, Dropbox, OneTab (god-sent-Chrome extension), and many syncing apps for my devices. Ok, so, many essentials.
What does your office space look like?
As a freelancer my office space is pretty much where I am. Sometimes I answer emails or correct texts on my phone while in the subway, but I’m trying to avoid that. Wherever I put my computer down, that’s where I work. I try it to be in calm places, where there is some degree of circulating people and noise (it helps me to stay focused, quiet and static spaces worsen my daydreaming), but not to much. I always need good lighting, and preferably beautiful environments. Cafes are big office substitutes in my life.
What kind of music do you listen when you are working ?
It actually depends on what kind of work I’m doing. For writing/reading-related-stuff I try to stick to classical music (Chopin, Debussy), or instrumental ethnic recordings (I’m a big fan of Vincent Moon’s Petites Planètes recordings). When I’m editing pictures I go with something that relates to the mood of the pics I’m working with; for example: product photography goes great with cool/chill/electronic sort of things (James Blake, Radiohead, The XX), but documentary work usually goes with music that has to do with the general atmosphere and identity of the subject.
Do you have a way to organize your day to maximize your work ?
I start by checking emails and replying the urgent ones. Since I’m a sort of vampire (kind of a night person really) I do most of my work in the nighttime when “normal” people aren’t working, so I have to be organized with deadlines and replies so that nothing gets delayed. I really rely on Any.do for keeping track of pending stuff, but my core prosthetics for organization and maximization of time are my to-do hand made lists; there are categories, subtasks, color coding, and highlight systems involved.
What tips would you give to improve productivity ?
I’d say honesty is your best friend regarding productivity. Everyone knows their own strengths and weaknesses, and if you can afford the luxury of deciding on your own rules for working, there is no excuse for not getting the best out of your time. You like to work at 4 am? Do it. You like to take 10’ breaks for each 20’ that you work? Do it. You tend to get distracted? Find someone that’s gonna be strict and sit next to them, or allow yourself to only focus on, say… 4 things at a time, not more, so you have a controlled distraction. And so on. I think that most unproductiveness comes from trying to adapt to generalized norms and standards of behaviour regarding work. Social standards of what “normal” and “serious” is can really mess with your sense of self worth. If you like to work in your PJs go for it, if you need to dress up and be somewhere-that’s-not-home to not feel like a slacker and/or fraud, suit up and get your ass to some kind of rented workplace or fancy cafe. If people hire you because you have something unique, you have to have peace of mind with the fact that your quirks, obsessions and illogical tics are part of your uniqueness. Getting rid of prejudice towards yourself and your work habits will also be a great way of quitting with all the judgement towards others. After all what matters is delivery, and trying to avoid tortuous socially-imposed working habits helps with delivery, I’m positively convinced about this.
You’re better than your colleagues at :
having a broad catch-all conceptualization of what I’m doing. I usually do tons of research for whatever I have to do (academic custom I guess), so I have tons of references, historical data, a pretty good overview of current works/trends, etc. That gives me a pretty solid framework to further elaborate and base my work on.
What is the best advice anyone has given you ?
I think that the best advice I ever got wasn’t in the classic form of advice. I was making a few critical decisions related to what I was studying and taking a job offer, and it went something like “This- just isn’t you. It doesn’t sound or look like you. Would you like to tell people ‘I work here, I’m studying this in that place bla bla’, or do you feel you’d have to give a lot of explanations so people get why you’re doing that?”. So, the advice was sort of “do what feels natural and organic with who you are, where you come from and what you seek”, and I’d add: if you’re doing something that isn’t, just do it for a good reason, as a means to an end, and then get out.
What is your best tip for saving time ?
Hmmm..definitely put your cell phone on silence for a while (and if you can’t, just log off your social media accounts). People around me are increasingly channeling their anxiety through social media refresh buttons (not only FB, but Twitter and Instagram too, it depends on the kind of professional we’re talking about), and I think it’s a great escape when you have to face bigger, more important issues and decisions. Plus, it breaks down your concentration periods into tiny 10-15 minute blocks. If you log off you have an extra 5 to 10 seconds to really go through with the decision of logging back in. Do not fall into temptation, log off!
What is your routine start and end of the day ?
I start by having some tea and checking emails + twitter for news on my phone or kindle, while I watch the news on the tv. Then I start my actual activity according to what my to-do lists say. I finish my day by checking my Any.do list, reorganizing, and trying to avoid screens for at least one hour before going to sleep (sleep hygiene, it’s critically important!).
Aside from your computer and your phone, what gadget can you not go without?
I don’t really have a strong relationship to any other gadgets. I love my kindle, but I’d say I really can’t function without my notepad. Yes, my old-fashioned hand-written life-beaten pen-scribbled postit-jammed notepad. Without it I pretty much am clueless about my life and projects.