Today we’re giving you a chance to look behind the scenes here at Envato Tuts+ and meet the editors who bring you all these tutorials and courses.
We’re a very 21st-century workforce: spread across the world, working from home, doing completely different hours, and communicating via web apps like Trello, Basecamp and Slack.
In this article, you’ll get to see photos of our workspaces—from attics in Canada to basements in Spain, and from a cafe in the Montenegrin mountains to a soft play area in Leamington Spa. You’ll hear how we work, how we balance work and family life, and how we stay productive and organised.
My office space is a room at the bottom of the house (it’s tall and skinny) which looks out onto the garden. I wouldn’t say I’m a minimalist, but I definitely like things to be tidy—my head’s enough of a mess without my workspace adding to the confusion!
The working hours I keep are fairly regimented too, possibly due to having two daughters. At 8:00 my wife, on her way to work, takes them to school, so I usually start at that point. They’re back by 17:00, so I like to be done and dusted by then. That said, working for Envato is a round the clock thing, and hugely flexible, so it’s not unusual for me to disappear on my bike for a couple of hours during the day—staring at a screen for eight or nine hours in a row isn’t great for productivity or creativity.
In terms of equipment, my setup is pretty standard. I used to be a Mac Pro fan, but have since realised that a 13” MBP can be just as powerful, and infinitely more portable (though you’ll never find me working in a coffee shop, or on the steps of a museum). Hooked up to a 24” Dell monitor, it’s a great working setup and really all I need. You’ll notice a pile of Ikea bits and pieces, and earlier this year I bought a refurbished Aeron chair; well worth the bucks because I’m pretty tall and can quickly get back problems by sitting down all day.
I love working from home and I also love routines. Living in Vancouver, Canada puts me in the latest timezone so I try to start work at 7am to give me the most overlap with my coworkers. My work schedule is broken up into 2 hour blocks, with a short break in between. These shorter concentrated slots help me stay focused and productive while not feeling tied to my computer.
I have a few different possible places to work. I can work at my desk in the front room, in the office, or in the summer I’ll occasionally work on the back deck. I love sunshine so I’ll often move to whichever space is the sunniest!
I work remotely from my home office in Manchester, UK. On days without early meetings (darn those Australians…) I tend to start my working day around 9am, take a healthy lunch break away from my computer, and finish up at 6pm. My wife also works from home, so we’ve put a lot of thought into the office environment to make sure that it’s peaceful and conducive to work.
Staying healthy and maintaining a good level of energy and focus is vital for successful and satisfying remote work. To that end I tend to go for a run a few times a week, drink only water during the day, and try to work somewhere other than my office one day a week.
I enjoy experimenting with improving my productivity and rely heavily on Omnifocus to keep me on track. Recently I’ve been trying out the “Pomodoro Technique”, where you break down work into 25 minute intervals, separated by short breaks, and I’ve found it useful for maintaining better focus throughout the day.
I’m also extremely aggressive with my email, hovering around “Inbox Zero” by the time I clock off. I try to prioritise well and split my focus effectively between important and urgent tasks, but I almost always overestimate how much I can get done in a given day.
I used to work very unusual hours, as my then-editor Ian will attest—he was often puzzled by the 2am emails he’d receive. But these days I’ve settled on 10 to 6, Monday to Friday, give or take an hour (and the odd late-night meeting). I do value being able to pop to the shops or meet a friend or see a movie on a weekday afternoon, and then make up the time in the evening or on the weekend.
I generally work from home on my desktop computer, but when I’m not doing data analysis and don’t need the extra power, it’s a nice change of scenery to take my laptop to a coffee shop, a park, or a friend’s house and work through my inbox. In this picture, I’m working from a local soft play area, with Leon (3) “assisting” me.
We use Trello at Envato Tuts+ to keep track of what needs to be done and who needs to do it by when, and I’m a big fan of this approach, but when it comes to managing my personal workday, I find the best tool is a simple notebook: tasks I need to do today go in the top half, tasks I need to do soon go in the bottom half, and I rewrite it every morning. I’ve tried many different apps and techniques, and this is what sticks.
For actually getting things done, I find the Pomodoro technique works best. Since I work from home (mostly!), I’m surrounded by distractions (including, of course, the entire Internet), and there’s no-one to stop me slacking off except myself. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that I can’t fool myself into believing that I can resist all these distractions all day long, but I do at least have enough willpower to resist for 25 minutes at a time!
My family and I just moved and so my workspace is more or a less a makeshift office at the moment. The final setup is something I’m still planning, but right now I have everything I need in order to get my work done.
In this photo, you see my desk, a large jar of water, my Jambox for listening to tunes during the day, and my dogs that usually spend the day asleep right under my desk.
This next photo shows my setup a bit more. It includes all of the things that I need to sort through off on the left hand side of the desk. I hate clutter on the desk, but I usually leave it in a stack on my desk as a reminder that I need to take some sort of action on it.
The rest is my keyboard, trackpad, and monitor. In the background, you see my wife’s computer.
I’ve worked from home for years, and love having my own commute-free space to work. I tend to wake up around 5am, make a cup of tea, then catch up on emails and admin for the day. I’ll have breakfast with my wife before she goes to work, then work on bigger and more in-depth projects for the rest of the day. I’ll usually stop work around 2-3pm, and read, cook dinner, go for a run, work on something creative, or do jobs around the house.
We have a baby on the way around the end of the year, so I’ll get some first-hand experience of the challenges of home-working with kids (something many of the rest of our team already know all too well!).
My day is broken up into work sessions—each a half hour to two hours. Length of work sessions are based on the task at hand. I take breaks as needed.
My mornings are really important. I try to shut out all distractions and get my most important projects done before lunch. My main focus in the first two hours is to do any work that requires a lot of creative thought, so I do my heavy lifting first. This could be planning business content, doing research, or writing. Then I take a break, head over to Starbucks, grab an Americano, then continue to work on similar material.
After lunch, my energy dips a bit, so I work on more repetitive tasks, or work that needs to get done but isn’t as complicated. Here’s a helpful tutorial on managing your creative energy levels. After an hour or so of banging out simple tasks, I get back to working on more complicated projects. I then wrap the day with the last half hour pushing out any last minute emails, summarizing ideas, and planning for tomorrow.
The morning is when I get most of my work done so I usually get up pretty early. I love it when the world is still asleep and I can focus on writing or editing. To avoid that my inbox messes with my planning, I tend to read email only after I’ve put in a few hours of work.
For Envato, I usually work from my home office, but it happens that I pull out my computer on the train. The train is actually a great place to get work done if it isn’t too crowded. I avoid working late at night to make sure my brain can get some time off. At the end of the day, I plan the next morning, take a look at the publication schedule for the next day, and end with a quick peek in my inbox to avoid surprises the next morning.
Immediately before starting work at Envato Tuts+, I had a brief stint as a handyman and woodworker. To ease the transition to office life, I spent the weekend before starting my new role at the woodshop, building myself a new desk and filing cabinet. I use the desk every day and it’s the nicest I’ve ever had—just the right size!
The best part of my job is working with my talented colleagues in the Envato Tuts+ editorial team and the fantastic instructors. As of today, I’m working with 18 instructors across 35 active course projects. The information flow is intense! To manage it all, I have a Rube Goldbergian spreadsheet I call “mission control”, with lots of colours and lots of pivot. Some day I’ll have to write an app.
Every day is different. I Skype, Tweet, post, edit, comment and send many many emails. Also, naturally, I watch a lot of video courses about coding. In the last eight months I’ve learned an almost dizzying amount about cutting-edge web and mobile development. It’s a real treat to be able to learn from and grow this amazing resource.
Essentially, my workspace is in my loft room on the second floor of the house. This is a quieter working environment than the rest of the house. I work quite flexible hours, due to childcare commitments, and I tend to be more of a night-owl, preferring to work in the evenings.
The Mac is a 27″ Core 2 Duo, late-2009 model that has given exemplary service. It’s due to be replaced, this month, with a brand new 27″ Core i7 model. The speakers are from AudioEngine USA and are connected to an Apple Airport Express.
To get the infinite loop effect of Mac within a Mac within a Mac, I took a photos with a Canon EOS 650D and out the SD card in the Mac, repeated a number of times, to get the effect.
I drink many, many tiny cups of tea every day, made with a gaiwan and sipped from teacup of unknown origin and rather so-so design. I used to have another one, but I have no idea where it’s gone. This one has a crack. I have the habit of getting wrapped up in things and forgetting to stop working, but my little one-at-a-time tea ritual pulls me away from the desk long enough to stop and think and catch my breath every once in a while. Always drink good tea!
I’m from London originally, but when I started working for Envato Tuts+ last year I was living in Crete, and now my wife and I are doing some long-term travelling around Europe for a couple of years.
One of the great things about working for Envato Tuts+ is the flexibility. There’s no office to commute to, and no regular hours to keep. As long as I have good WiFi, I can work from anywhere. And as long as I get all my work done, I can work the craziest hours I want.
This photo was taken in a small cafe in the mountains of Montenegro. We had left the coastal town of Kotor that morning and were driving to the capital, Podgorica. On the way, we stopped off and I caught up with work for a couple of hours. Then we drove on, and that evening I stayed up late into the night doing more work.
When I’m in one place for a while, I generally settle into a pattern of working roughly 12pm to 8pm, five days a week. But while I’m travelling, those same 40 hours a week can get scattered around all over the place.