This is Technical.ly’s How I Work series, where we take a look at the tools and tips the region’s founders and technologists use to get through the day. If you’d like to be a part of this series, email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lauren Maffeo starts her day with two cups of French press coffee and three goals she wants to accomplish for the day.
No matter where she’s working, those are a couple of the things that remain constant for the associate principal analyst at GetApp.
Working out of Arlington, Virginia for the global software recommendation company over the last three and a half years and for a Silicon Valley-based SaaS company before that, Maffeo has experience working with dispersed teams. Now, with social distancing in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, the setting has shifted to her home.
We asked Maffeo about how she balances work and personal life, and the transition to remote work. Here’s what she told us:
You’re the associate principal analyst at GetApp, which evaluates and compares small business software. What are your main responsibilities in the role?
My job involves a lot of market research to evaluate various types of technology and write content advising small businesses on which tools they should invest in. I mostly lead coverage of the cloud business intelligence software market, which involves researching tech like data mining, predictive analytics, augmented writing, etc. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve shifted to help small businesses set up remote work programs, make sure their IT infrastructure’s ready, and find software that integrates with their current tech stacks.
What’s the first thing you do every day before doing any company-related work?
I make two cups of coffee in my French press. This is a small ritual that I’ve done for years and brings me a silly amount of joy. I get excited some nights to wake up the next morning so I can have coffee! That’s healthy, right … ?
How often do you check your email, and do you use any program to get to Inbox Zero?
I spend about an hour each morning reviewing and organizing email. It’s an ideal task for me to finish first thing in the morning since I tend to be most productive at heads-down work in the late afternoon/early evening. I aim to read and either categorize or answer all new messages each morning, but I don’t believe in Inbox Zero for myself. I save many messages and reference them later as needed.
When you need to take a break, what are you turning to?
I’ve taken several virtual lunch/coffee breaks with friends, colleagues, parents, etc. this week. It’s a great way to bridge the gap between morning and afternoon. I’m also trying to hit “5K a day” with a run, jog, or walk around my neighborhood. All the time quarantined indoors means that I appreciate the fresh air more than ever.
What’s your gear?
I use a MacBook Pro for work and a MacBook Air for fun. All of our work software is cloud-based, so I can access the tools I need no matter which device I’m on. That said, I think it’s best to separate your work laptop from your personal laptop. It helps with work/life balance, which can blur when you work from home.
About how much time per week do you devote to professional work that isn’t your full-time job?
In a normal month, I tend to either speak at or attend one tech meetup and co-host one or two alumni events as the chair of my grad school’s D.C. alumni chapter. Now that I’m housebound due to COVID-19, I’ve started taking Harvard’s famous CS50 (Intro to Computer Programming) course. I aim to spend an hour on that every one to two days; I wrote my first “for loop” in C earlier this week!
What’s one time-saving tip you have?
At the end of each workday, write down three things you need to achieve the following day. You can do more than three things as time allows, but this helps you start each day focused on your priorities.
Many of us are shifting to remote work these days. What are your tips for staying productive at home?
- Take note of when your energy rises and falls throughout the day. A big benefit of working from home is the ability to make your own schedule. If you notice that you get your best heads-down work done between 6 and 9 a.m., block out those times on your calendar and schedule meetings after 10 a.m.
- Get a change of scenery. I normally work from my desk or breakfast table. But when the sun comes out, I’ll go work from the backyard. Even an hour or two of fresh air is a huge mood boost that makes a big difference.
- Take breaks when you need them. I worked from home for a fully remote, Silicon Valley-based SaaS company for 18 months. At GetApp, I’ve worked with a globally dispersed team for 3.5 years. As someone who thought I knew how to work from home, I’ve never done so during a pandemic. No one has. The pressure to feel productive is real, especially with so many companies forced to lay people off. If you feel scared or unfocused, put up an “Away” message, log off, and take a break for 30 to 60 minutes. No one has all the answers, and we all need to give each other more grace than ever.