Inspired by Benjamin Franklin‘s dedication to productivity I sat out to detail what an ideal productive day is for me. I rarely achieve the ideal day, but it does give me a target to try for rather than wandering aimlessly. It also gave me a chance to review the tools I actually use in a days work. I also paid attention to the fact the life in the 21st century does not differentiate between personal time, work time, and family time. It is all one big bowl of “wibbley-wobbley timey-wimey stuff” to quote a favorite Doctor of mine.
- 0700 – Arise.
- 0715 – Breakfast while reading my email, Feedly and social media streams for STEAM related news. Bookmark interesting ones using Pocket, using tags to differentiate different purposes. Insert anything that might be interesting for the podcast into a shared Google Spreadsheet. Lisa does the same and that’s how we coordinate which stories we will discuss.
- 0730 – Ensure family is up and running.
- 0800 – Send the kid to school. Then do any chores around the house. Husband/wife time, talk about our day, make plans. Use shared iMessage, Reminders and Calendar on our iPhone to stay synced as things change.
- 0830 – Shower and/or tub. Yes, I admit it, I like a soak especially in the fall and winter. The advantage of the soak is a chance to catch up on favorite podcasts and read industry magazines like Electrical Contractor and Make: Magazine. In my opinion, the saving grace of the dead paper industry is I don’t mind reading it in the bathtub. In short, real men bathe!
- 0900 – The work day begins. My series of steps includes
- Check Todoist for tasks that are due today.
- Fire up IRC chat in Colloquy and connect to my favorite DIY and maker channels. A social and technical network, even virtual, is a lifesaver. I also fire up my ham radio for the same reason. Listen on the local 2m repeaters during the day and move to 20m band as the day progresses.
- Fire up podcasts to run in the background. I use the built-in iOS podcast app because it just works. Sometimes I also use Stitcher. Pump the audio through my Logitech UE Mini Bluetooth speaker. Uness I really need to concentrate then I silence all audio.
- I keep each project in its own bin. Pull out the bin for that day and get it setup. Fire up Notability and Write for my project notebook and project documentation, respectively.
- Hookup any test gear such as my DMM, SeeedStudio function generator, Saleae logic analyzer or BitScope mini oscilloscope. Fire up Sublime Text and iTerm for coding or any IDE as necessary.
- 1000 – Standup and walk break.
- 1015 – Back to work.
- 1115 – Lunch break. Either fix a sandwich here or take a ride to get some human interaction and/or a parts run to my local Radio Shack. Also, if I need to 3D print anything I take my lunch and head to my local makerspace. If I am eating at home I take the time to indulge guilting pleasures like playing a video game or watching YouTube. I keep all this in one room so that I don’t forget what I should be working on. Some people may find it too much of a distraction, but I find that I have the discipline necessary and the convenience of an all-in-one hub space is necessary for my work behavior.
- 12:45 – Back to work.
- 14:00 – Stand/up break.
- 14:15 – Back to work. Sometimes it is during this time I transition from the fun work to the “business” side of running a business. Take care of invoices in Freshbooks, place product orders, pay bills, file receipts, etc. Also being an East Coaster it is a great time to reach out to clients where it tends to be evening in Europe and morning on the US West Coast. I wait until evening to reach out to Asian clients when it is their morning.
- 15:30 – Greet the bambino home from school. Get the homework started.
- 16:00 – Off to take the kid to her extracurriculars, dinner at home or on the road as the day dictates. While I am on the road I always have my iPhone and iPad Mini running the mobile versions of Notability and Write to get some work in between dance routines. I also use Pixelator and Paper along with my Pencil to do product sketches and storyboards for use cases that I use to discuss product requirements with clients.
- On weekends this is the time when things like the podcast get recorded. I use my MacBook Pro, Google Hangouts, and Webcam Settings app on the software side. On the hardware side I use a Logitech C920 webcam, a Behringer Xenyx-802 mixer board, and two Audio Technica ATR2100-USB/XLR microphones. We also invested in lighting and black/green screen setup.
- I record audio Audacity and use it for post editing. I initially dump it into an AIFF file and run that through Levelator then reimport to Audacity and finally dump into an MP3 file that is uploaded to our website via Forklift.
- 19:00 – Homework review, fun time, call friends and family. Some nights I sneak over to our makerspace for Microcontroller Mondays of Late Night @ PaxSpace. Also use this time to do image editing using Pixelator and my Wacom Bamboo tablet. Also do some movie editing in iMovie cause I am cheap.
- 20:30 – Bambino in bed. Wife and I have some down time. Sometimes I continue to work and she sits in at her craft table to work on her projects. Other times we throw up Twitch.tv to our Chromecast and watch that while we play Magic: The Gathering.
- 21:30 – Bring the laptop into the bed to get an last minute work done. Check email. Review my Todoist tasks and check off what I got done. Plan what I need to do tomorrow. Usually we have something streaming to our TV during this such as Doctor Who or whatever else we find on Netflix. Reach out to Asian clients if necessary. Post any blog posts if necessary, currently using WordPress.
- 22:30 – The day is done. All tech is off! Again, some more husband/wife time. If all goes well we are asleep by 2300, that’s 11pm for the non-military types. I am someone who needs that 8-hours to be at my creative peak.
Now again, the best thing about having a schedule is sometimes you can throw the whole thing away. Some days when I am in a real creative groove I will work through the night and then sleep in until noon. Some days I am in a creative rut and just have to grab my Sony NEX camera or GPS and go do something fun and physical. I enjoy hiking and doing photography and geocaching. So long schedule!
So that’s a day in the life of an independent Open Hardware engineer. If you are interested I threw some pictures of the Green Shoe Garage / S.T.E.A.M. Power Podcast studio up on Flickr.