Tagged: working

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What I learnt today: dealing with email

Last week I took a few days off. I spent a generous long weekend hiking through the Palatinate Forest and celebrating my birthday. When I started working again this morning, I had to deal with some email that had piled up during my absence.

For most people, handling email is a very unpleasant task. But ever since I adopted the inbox zero principle, I’m rarely stressed about it. After sorting out the important ones, I move the rest into a separate archive folder or even delete them. Then I assign a task to the remaining items requiring action and move them into the same archive folder.

And that’s all there is to it for me. Over the years I’ve developed a very strict routine and today I realised again, how important such a set of rules can be. That’s what I learnt today.

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What I learnt today: time tracking

I’m really not the worst person when it comes to tracking my time at work. In fact, I consider it a vital factor in keeping my business profitable and tracking the time on clients’ projects has become an everyday habit.

What I’m not that good at—or what I often just forget for that matter—is tracking the time I spend on administrative tasks such as doing finances, dealing with tax returns, chasing invoices and so on. Everyday there’s time I can bill a client for and then there’s time that I have to factor into my rates because there’s no client paying for it. Therefore, it’s key to know how much time I actually spend on those non-client work tasks.

Today I reminded myself again to track the time on everything, including my “internal projects”. In addition to recording a lot more working hours today (which was quite satisfying), I hope to gain valuable insights on how my working hours are split between client and non-client work. That’s what I learnt today.

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What I learnt today: working on saturdays

Some might consider working on saturdays as something workaholics would do. But although I agree that one should maintain a healthy life–work balance, I really do like the soothing silence of an empty office on saturdays.

No phone calls, no email and barely a soul that comes into my office to speak to me. I don’t know, maybe it’s an introvert thing, but I often feel a lot more comfortable in the office on weekends.

Being in the office on a saturday like today also seems to have a positive impact on my work. I get things done a lot quicker and especially when I’m doing design work, I’m much more focused. Ultimately it’s really rewarding, at least for me. That’s what I learnt today.

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What I learnt today: taking a break

I’m sure everyone knows the feeling of getting stuck when doing or thinking about something. Be it a design problem I’m trying to solve or a bit of code that I’m tinkering with, I sometimes get to a point where going any further is just a waste of time and will lead to no outcome whatsoever.

Today I was in such a situation and I decided to take a long break. At first I felt a littly bit guilty about it, after all I should be working, right?. But I went to the gym to clear my head for a bit and then went back to finish what I had started in the morning.

Not only did I finish the piece of design I was working on quicker than I thought, I also found the time to write and to play around with some ideas concerning the rebranding of the small webdesign business that I run. Taking a break is worthwhile even when it doesn’t seem like it. That’s what I learnt today.

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What I learnt today: legacy code

Today I needed to add functionality to a website I built five years ago. As we all know, five years on the web feel like centuries.

I worked through some of the code I’d written, both head-shaking and amusedly smiling. Boy, did I write some silly stuff back in the day! But it’s in situations like this that I realise how far I’ve come since then and how much I’ve learned along the way. That’s what I love about working on the web. And that’s what I learnt today.

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What I learnt today: work-work balance

I’ve been doing a lot of front end development work lately. That’s not overly surprising, after all I do consider myself a front end developer. Besides that, I regularly do some design work as well which faded into the background a little bit over the past few months.

Today I finally started a new project where I am not only involved in front end development but also in the design process. And it felt good to open up Sketch again and to switch over to the browser to try things out. I guess besides having a healthy life-work balance, it’s also important to have a healthy work-work balance. At least that’s what I learnt today.

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What I learnt today: film music

If anyone would walk into my office during the day, chances are they would find me wearing headphones. Unless I’m walking around in the office sticking Post-it’s on walls, I wear them pretty much all the time. I love listening to music while I’m working.

What kind of music I listen to depends on the task in front of me. If it’s designing something it might be Jazz or electronic music. If I’m writing code it’s electronic or classic music.

Today I discovered the soundtrack of Interstellar. I really liked the film so I gave it a shot while doing some coding. It was absolutely brilliant! It’s that kind of music that immediately takes hold of the subconscious. You barely notice it’s there until you take a moment to really listen to it, which works really well for me. That’s what I learn’t today.