As humans, we have a limited number of hours each day to get our work done. No way around that. While we have no power over time, we do have control over how efficient we are. At ElementIQ, we work with a variety of clients in different industries, so making sure we put our best foot forward every hour is something we have to get right every time.
I sat down with our in-house Web Developer Kevin Hashimoto to discuss how he likes to tackle the challenge of maximizing your effort in a given time-frame. Take a look below.
Stivian: Hey Kevin, thanks for joining me today. You’ve had a pretty extensive post-secondary background so far, mind sharing what you've studied?
Kevin: I went to film school, business school and then I went into programming. I’m currently dabbling in design, so it’s been quite the range of experience.
Stivian: What do you like about development? Is it scratching that creative itch or getting to think strategically?
Kevin: A bit of both, actually. With development, it’s not so visual, but I love creating things from scratch. I’m a very do-it-yourself kind of person. If I need something and it doesn’t exist, I’ll just make it.
Stivian: Have you always had an interest in work efficiency?
Kevin: I think so. I’ve always wanted to work as efficiently as possible. It bothers me when things aren’t going as smoothly as they can be.
Stivian: Have you seen things at ElementIQ that could be more efficient?
Kevin: With ElementIQ, it’s more that everything’s always in the process of change. We’re continuously improving processes as we find them. There’s a lot to improve on, and there’s a lot that we do well.
Stivian: What’s something you’ve seen implemented at ElementIQ that’s made a big difference in how we work?
Kevin: Me joining is one. *laughs*
I think how we structure our project management with Teamwork. Since we don’t have a dedicated project manager, getting organized with that tool has been keeping projects in order. If we misuse it, our communication gets disorganized and projects get chaotic.
On the design side, Invision has been really good. There’s a lot of tools inside of it that help with development workflows.
Stivian: How do you get ready for the day? Does your routine start in the morning or at night before work?
Kevin: I’m a night person, to be honest. I just work so much better at night. Somewhere from 10 PM to 2 AM is my sweet spot. My morning routine is pretty relaxed. I wake up and hang out for a bit until I get in the mood. I’ll eat some granola bars, drink a protein shake, check out Instagram and get to work. I’m not a morning person but I’ll get up and do what I need to do to prepare.
Stivian: There you go. I know you freelance on the side, do you find working at an agency 9 to 5 and working on the side to be difficult?
Kevin: Oh yeah, totally. Even if I were to be just freelancing full-time, it’d be really difficult because it’s so volatile and unpredictable. Juggling a full-time job at an agency and then freelancing right after that is pretty tough but I’ve got goals I want to get to, so they keep me going.
Stivian: Nice, what are some of these goals?
Kevin: I’m launching my own branding agency, and my other goal is working fully remote, preferably on a beach somewhere.
Stivian: That's the dream. What’s the Pomodoro technique? I’ve heard you mention it before.
Kevin: It’s a technique where you work for 25 minutes at a time and take a 5-minute break, and so on. The urgency of the timer keeps you focused because you know you don’t have a lot of time. I find I’m more focused throughout the day with the 5-minute break in there. It’s a good power-hour.
Stivian: I guess you could call it a power-25. How do you like to spend your 5-minute breaks?
Kevin: I like to get up, get a glass of water and walk around a little bit. I don’t want to be in front of my computer waiting for the 5 minutes to expire, as I need to refresh my brain for the next session.
Stivian: Have you been using this technique for a while?
Kevin: A little while, yeah. I’ve been experimenting with different times blocks, just because development has a different workflow. I tend to work for longer than 25 minutes at a time.
Stivian: What are some of the challenges with being a web developer compared to previous jobs you’ve had?
Kevin: Thinking ahead is a big one. You need to structure how you develop things ahead of time. You need to make things scalable and maintainable so you’re always considering the future when building.
Stivian: That makes sense. What does the ideal workflow set-up look like to you?
Kevin: In terms of development, I like to have the design finalized before I touch development, just in case things change because I have to go back and re-do my work. Getting everything finalized before actually building anything is ideal, and it’s what we’re in the process of standardizing here. On the design side, you want the scope of the project before you get to work. Having clear steps detailed before getting to work makes for smooth projects.
Stivian: At ElementIQ, we work two days of the week from home. How do you find remote work? Do you find yourself more productive or focused with the extra time to rest?
Kevin: Honestly, it’s a mix. Some days I feel more productive, some less. Some, I’m more focused, others not so much. I find the flexibility to work at my own pace and catch up after 5 PM a bonus. It’s also a little more relaxing working from home. Some days I go to a café, grab a warm drink and some pastries and work from there.
Stivian: That sounds pleasant. What do you think are your best habits that have resulted in professional success?
Kevin: Being straight to the point, and not too humble about things. When you sugarcoat some things, your points might not get across at times. I used to be pretty humble and sugarcoat everything, just because I wanted everyone to like me. The way this comes back to efficiency is if you want things to change, you can’t sugarcoat them.
Stivian: I agree. I think it’s important to acknowledge the difference between dishonest harmony and being truthful for the sake of productivity. Were you a disorganized person before? Did you have to work hard to develop good habits?
Kevin: I think I was pretty disorganized. In terms of school, I never liked it so I was disorganized from the beginning, but my accumulation of experience and experimenting with different methods has brought me to where I am today.
Stivian: Do you have any advice for people who might be disorganized and are trying to build good habits?
Kevin: Every person is different. I’d suggest exploring different methods of working and finding that zone that you’re comfortable in.
Kevin has recommended this video series from InvisionApp that goes over workflows for design teams, a must watch for anyone involved in design projects!