Author Archives: Bryan Villarin

About Bryan Villarin

Bryan is a Happiness Engineer at Automattic. He's also a photographer and card magician. He loves reading — especially with Instapaper — and watching Seinfeld reruns.

My desk and inbox zero

Physical inbox zero!

Last week, I attempted a weekly review, but failed to get past clearing my inbox. I probably got into a few rabbit holes, because it seemed like I barely made a dent.

I woke up around yesterday 5:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep. I decided to work through my towering physical inbox one item at a time. It started off slightly taller than my iPhone 5S (4.87 inches), and hasn’t been empty in years.

This time, I kept the GTD workflow diagram by David Allen in front of me. The diagram kept me grounded, rather than taking action on items that would take longer than two minutes.

Two hours later: empty.1

I feel amazing, and look forward to progress in my next weekly review.

  1. I zero my email inboxes daily, too. 
About these ads

Quick capture with Drafts 4

I heard Merlin Mann and Mike Vardy mention Drafts for iOS on a few podcasts, and Drafts 4 was released a few days ago. It’s an endless notepad with the ability to “move” the text into other apps with ease.

Drafts swiftly gets my thoughts out of my head. It’s in my dock, so I’m more likely to write.1 I’ve also added it to my Today menu. (e.g. Swipe down from the top.)

Start in Drafts and decide where to save (publish) later.

  • Workflows are magical. If I start writing a (rare) tweet, morphing that into a full blog post is easy. Drafts can turn a few words into a task in Things, or save a random observation to Day One.
  • Cool feature: When you open an existing note, the cursor is set at its previous location.
  • I love Markdown Preview for longer posts when I’m away from my laptop. I want to quickly confirm any linked text is correct, and I copy my draft from Simplenote.

The app is $4.99, and totally worth it! :)

Here are some workflows I use:

Do you have any Draft 4 workflows or tips to share?

  1. I type faster than I write. 

A Day in the Life of a Happiness Engineer: October 10, 2014

I considered today as self–imposed crunch time because I’m back to “normal” next week.

Unresolved posts summary

  • October 6, 2014: 69 unresolved, oldest at 1y 5w.
  • October 10, 2014: 5 unresolved, oldest at 29w 1d1.
  • Resolved posts: 64!

Here are a few other things I did:

  • Spent about 45 minutes reviewing my options and booking flights for an upcoming team meetup (offsite work trip).
  • Move one unresolved threads forward.
  • Spent about 90 minutes publishing my daily workflow on an internal site. I’m really proud of it.
  • I spent 30 minutes recording a couple screencasts to demonstrate Things for the Field Guide page I published earlier in the week. (I’m sort of a perfectionist, and it was lingering on my projects page.)
  • Updated several more internal support pages.
  • Suspend a bunch of spam blogs.
  • Cleared some trash in my office. (I need to schedule a weekly review. See “How to do a Weekly Review in Under an Hour” for some tips.)

Going forward, I will aim to schedule at least 1–2 hours per week (or maybe 30 minutes per day) to go through stale tasks in Things.

Thanks for following along! If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment or send me a private message through my contact form. :)

This week, I’m documenting each day along with many other Automatticians. If you’d like to follow along, we’re using the #a8cday tag. If you’re intrigued, we’re hiring!

  1. The next oldest is 23d, then 9d after that. w00t! 

A Day in the Life of a Happiness Engineer: October 8, 2014

Having a headache for most of the afternoon, I powered through as best I could.

One of my goals for this week is to process unresolved posts, which means:

  • Determine the next action(s), and do them (if possible).
  • If I can’t move it forward, ping the appropriate people.
  • If there’s nothing else to be done, mark the thread as resolved. I leave a comment in case a commenter wants to reopen.

I don’t think we’ll get to zero this week, but we’ll have a clearer vision if we tend to the oldest items and develop a routine of processing unresolved posts regularly.

06:45 — Leg cramp woke me up, and I couldn’t go back to sleep. I reconcile YNAB with our bank accounts, and…watch the series finale of Burn Notice. I might’ve watched a few random videos on YouTube after that.

09:15 — Breakfast. Glad I bought coffee last night, the previous bag was stale.

09:35 — Read Twitter1 scroll back.

10:25 — Read Slack scroll back and 38 P2 notifications.

11:12 — Noted how a colleague processed an internal question regarding a series of sites violating our policies. Will post a reminder to cross–reference a decision with a link to the originating thread.

11:15 — Unresolved posts count: 12.

11:40 — Scheduled items appeared in Things for today, so I switch to work through the five tasks. Rad, some were already resolved from yesterday.

13:03 — Unresolved posts count: 7. I clear the newest P2 email notifications, then take lunch. (Me want food.)

15:53 — Returned from an extended lunch, after a few errands.

17:01 — Unresolved posts count: 6. We gained one today, and a few are still pretty new and awaiting further feedback. I updated several support pages.

18:00 — I pinged a colleague to check my draft of a Trac ticket related to an unresolved thread. Fortunately, I could skip that massive thread; it wouldn’t be relevant in a few months.

18:11 — In preparation for tomorrow’s team chat, I write my proposal for about documenting all the things we do on our team.

18:40 — Sign off for dinner with Amy, and watch a couple episodes of Lost.

20:59 — Grab my laptop to write this post.

This week, I’m documenting each day along with many other Automatticians. If you’d like to follow along, we’re using the #a8cday tag. If you’re intrigued, we’re hiring!