Who are you:
A professional geek. Graphic designer and amateur photographer by day. By night, a learning opportunist; I’ve taught myself electric guitar, origami (the way of the fold), and hand-lettering, to name a few. I’m also an adrenaline junkie who lives for riding my motorcycle when I can.
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Your current job:
I work in a Communications department as Graphic Designer and resident Federal Identity Program coordinator for the Canadian Privy Council Office.
In which city are you located?
Ottawa! Home of the world’s largest skating rink, yummy beaver tails, and Parliament Hill.
A word to define what kind of worker you are:
What tools are essential to your life (app, software, etc..)
Coffee, lots and lots of coffee. I rely heavily on the Adobe suite and often have InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop open simultaneously. I always keep a notebook and pen or pencil within arms reach.
What does your office space look like?
Organized chaos. You’ll find strategically placed Post-it notes, a pen at every corner of my desk. It’s a really exciting environment most times and I’m often inspired by the people or conversations happening around me.
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What kind of music do you listen when you are working?
I find that it varies based on my workload. Is it a get-sh*t-done kind of day? Crank that heavy metal/ industrial/ dubstep playlist – artists like Audioslave, Nine Inch Nails, and Datsik.
Brainstorming session? Downtempo/old-school hip-hop/ instrumental helps keep me focused – artists like Flume, A Tribe Called Quest, and Gramatik.
Mostly writing? Classical/ Jazz – composers like Erik Satie, and artists like Glen Miller. I have about 10 different playlists I cycle through any given week.
Do you have a way to organize your day to maximize your work?
I work in a very fast-paced environment, where my priorities can change within the hour. In the morning I use a corner of my whiteboard to list everything that has a deadline and then assign them a number. One is the highest priority (Aka: due ASAP), two might be by the end of the day, and three by the end of the week. This way, if multiple tasks change in priority, I don’t feel overwhelmed. Plus, it’s satisfying to cross them out when completed.
What tips would you give to improve productivity?
Lists! They go such a long way to minimizing that feeling of being overwhelmed when you have so much to do. I’m guilty of procrastinating but I like to use lists so I’m a productive procrastinator. I get to pick which task I want to accomplish and avoid the ones I’m dreading. At the end of the day, I’ve usually crossed everything off.
You’re better than your colleagues for:
Design. Because I’m the only designer in my department, people from many different teams come to visit me for design advice, feedback, and requests for help on side projects. Variety is the spice of life. I really enjoy the role of mentor and it gives me the opportunity to provide input, share considerations and work on a variety of different products.
What is the best advice anyone has given you?
When I first started working: “There is never nothing to do”. It taught me initiative and encouraged ambition.
When I was in school stressing out over deadlines and feeling that nothing I produced was good enough: “Did anyone die as a result?” It taught me humility and to just take a minute to physically step away so I could come back to the task with fresh eyes.
When I felt like I had no idea what I was doing: “It’s okay to screw up. That’s how we learn – just fix it before a deadline.” It taught me to fail fast and fail early. I’m learning quickly.
What is your best tip for saving time?
Work smarter not harder.
Customize all your Adobe application workspaces for optimal workflow. Get the most out of your presets by setting up templates and export presets for recurring deliverables (like images for social media, video profiles, etc), and my personal favorite – keyboard shortcuts!
What is your routine start and end of the day?
Wake up, a shot of espresso. Get to the office, brew coffee – black. Whiteboard my tasks for the day and prioritize them. I Brief myself on all the media analysis emails distributed and then a scrum with my team for 10-15 minutes. We share what our priorities are for the day, which products we’d like feedback on, and share with the team any challenges we’re facing.
When the end of the day arrives, if nothing is on fire I’ll put my work phone out of arm’s reach. I need an hour to just decompress and get out of ‘work mode’. I’ll either lace up my running shoes and go run/ work out, or use the hour to just decompress in sweatpants. I’ll doodle, play video games, practice guitar, read, or just slug on the couch with a glass of wine or scotch.
Aside from your computer and your phone, what gadget can you not you go without?
A USB drive. You know, just in case. I like how we’ve had the internet for decades, yet sending files to each other is something we still struggle with.