Friday in the Life of a Happiness Engineer

This post is part of a series of posts describing what we do on a daily basis at Automattic. If you’re interested in reading more you can follow the tag #a8cday

This week, while writing these day in a life posts I realized that my favorite day of the work week is Monday. Upside down, isn’t it? I know! But seriously. It is.

I had this draft up all day Friday to log what I was working on and the pace of the day was just so slow. Maybe it was just this particular Friday, and to be fair to Friday, I did start my day at 5:30 am. But when I looked at the clock and saw it was 1 o’clock I thought, surely not, it must be more like 4 in the afternoon.

Mondays on the other hand fly by, my energy is high, there’s a list of tasks to run through, I’m refreshed from a Sunday off.

For a month or two I experimented with a new schedule idea that I borrowed from one of my coworkers. I worked 2 days and was off 1 day, rinse and repeat. It was fun, but the pace of 2 day on and 1 off got kind of hectic. Especially working with the hiring team, we have so many trials, applications, and other tasks to work through. This week of scrutinizing my workflow made me realize it’s time to do that again.

I have the freedom to organize my own work schedule, I do not have the traditional kids-go-to-school/spouse-goes-to-work thing going on every day, so it’s time. Based on this week, I will be doing 3 days on and 1 off. Quite possibly I will report back to let you know how it went.

So here’s a quick view of my day:

  • Coffee, duh.
  • Egg and quinoa, sorry no pics, but super yum.
  • Check hiring team scrollback in Slack, the tool we use for much of our internal communication, from overnight and earlier. I was waiting on a reply to a question from my teammate from Budapest. It’s still funny to me to think of someone working through their day while I am sleeping through my night. I know. it’s the simple things that amuse me.
  • Hour long feedback chat with a trial.
  • Quick chat with a coworker to sort out some accounts that need to be created for a trial.
  • Checked in on a couple other trials to see how things are going.
  • Posted congrats to 2 coworkers celebrating their 3rd anniversary at a8c. This is one of my favorite things to do.
  • Read internal news and updates.
  • Moar coffee break.
  • Had an impromptu checkin with the buddy of on of our HE trials.
  • Took another break to work on my personal blog. We took a long road trip a couple of weeks ago and I’m still catching up.
  • Had lunch and took time to work on travel prep for an upcoming trip.
  • Chatted with coworkers about organizational details re: travel plans for an upcoming conference in Buenos Aires.
  • Supervised lunch plans, I have 10 kids in my house today. Thank goodness for big kids who can wrangle littler siblings
  • Read through correspondence with trials, made notes for future feedback sessions.
  • Another break to boot kids out of our house into the arms of their mother :)
  • Played a little more with application tracking software options, we’re trying to find a tool that we like
  • Gave feedback to a coworker who was writing up workflow tips for the Happiness teams

Sometimes I have moments where work is just not happening. I might be distracted or just can’t really get in the mode for getting anything done. What’s great is I can take the time to do other things. Today I packed for a trip, caught up on some reading, blogging, etc. When I can be productive again then I can look at work again.

Here is one of my favorite things to do when I’m not working:

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The Judge and 900 Movies

Four years ago around this time of year my husband and I started our movie-a-night project. Almost every evening and all from the public library. 

Last night was our 900th and we celebrated by going out to a theater to watch “The Judge” with Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Duvall is one of our faves. In over 4 years we’ve seen about 28 movies he’s appeared in. Funny thing about him is that he’s not always the star and it’s every bit as fun to see him in a bit part as it is to see him in a lead role.

The movie last night got me trying to think of my favorite Duvall movie. It’s tough to choose, but I think I have to go with “To Kill Mockingbird” and “Secondhand Lions”. I asked Al his opinion and he reminded me that Duvall was really funny in “Jack Reacher”. Then that reminded me that really the thing I like the best about Robert Duvall is that he can pop into a movie in a small role and shine like crazy.

Anyway, if you haven’t seen this latest movie, it’s really enjoyable and super touching. So there you have it: a movie review Karen style :)

Another Day in the Life of a Happiness Engineer

This post is part of a series of posts describing what we do on a daily basis at Automattic. If you’re interested in reading more you can follow the tag #a8cday

I am often asked what a typical day at Automattic looks like. My answer? Usually that there is no such thing as typical. Every day is different. And that’s what I love about it.

In many ways today was just like yesterday with a few edits here and there.

I was up at 6am today and made the mistake of turning on my laptop and opening our internal communication apps before I got my coffee. Before I knew it I found myself in a conversation with the hiring team about team assignments and wrangling schedules for leading a new Happiness Engineer trial.

Then I chatted with a coworker about her day in a life blog post.

I was getting a bit shaky by the time I realized it was just about time for an interview with a potential HE. No worries, quick cup of coffee later and I was all set and ready to go.

After the interview was done, I read up on news and updates on our internal blogs, replied to a few things, and it was time for a break.

Kids weren’t up yet so I took the rare opportunity to chat with my husband in the relative silence.

When I got back to work I worked through a few tasks:

  • a conversation about our training program to gather feedback on our first run through
  • an anniversary greeting for a coworker
  • a preliminary email to a trial with info on weekly checkin times

Around noon a friend of mine stopped by with her kids. Which obviously meant it was time for more coffee and some lunch.

My afternoon looked like this:

  • ticket reviews for trials
  • scheduling appointments for checkins and interviews
  • quick break to look at a spider in a plant in front of our house. Said spider caught an ant and was wrapping it up. The kids were fascinated and insisted I come out to see it. Impromptu science class ;-)
  • checked in with a Happiness Engineer I haven’t chatted with for a while.

And with that I called it a day. Another day in the life of a Happiness Engineer.

A Day in the Life of a Happiness Engineer

This post is part of a series of posts describing what we do on a daily basis at Automattic. If you’re interested in reading more you can follow the tag #a8cday. I am a Happiness Engineer and lead of the Happiness Hiring Team.

I work at a distributed company and, with the exception of the one coworker who happens to live in the same town as me, I don’t see the people I work with on a day-to-day basis. But that doesn’t mean I don’t interact with people all day long :)

Today was an interesting day for me. We had guests staying with us from out-of-town so of course I wanted to spend time with them, but since I make my schedule for the most part, I was able to re-organize things so I could both get my tasks done and spend time chatting with my friends.

Today 6am was wake up call.

First order of business is always a cup of coffee for myself. This morning I also prepped coffee for my guests since I wasn’t sure what time they’d be up and about.

I typically make a quick bowl of scrambled eggs while the coffee is brewing and with that in hand, I then stand at my dishwasher in the kitchen where I drink my coffee, eat my eggs, and figure out what I’ll need to do for the day. Yes, I stand in the kitchen, my laptop on my washing machine. It works for me :)

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Here is a run down:

  • got accounts set up and communicated the details to 2 trial Happiness Engineers* and 2 support rotations** trainees.
  • said a quick hello to my teammates.
  • checked in with the group doing the training sessions, we’re working on a new training process so I wanted to make sure all was well.
  • looked at my email inbox, fortunately just a few questions about hiring to follow-up on and a couple of items to chat with the hiring team about (the perks of a company that uses minimal email).
  • spent some time going over news and updates from the weekend on our internal blogs (we call them p2s or o2s, depending on who you ask and their the reason for little to no email)

At this point I took a break. One of our guests and her little girl came into the kitchen. The little one wanted to swing on our hammock so while she did that, my friend and I chatted about their plans for the day and she decided to take her daughter out for an early morning car ride to see the balloons in the air. It’s Balloon Fiesta time in Albuquerque and every morning there are hundreds of hot air balloons flying over the city.

By 8am, my family was stirring so I sat down at my desk. I had a meeting with two coworkers, one in Budapest, Hungary and the other in California, to discuss a project that’s near and dear to me so I needed to focus a bit more and with me out of the way they can get their day started.

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Our chat started a bit later than I expected, but no matter what there’s always something to do. For the next hour, in addition to my meeting, I:

  • talked over some training program details.
  • discussed the progress of trials with the hiring team.

Time for another break, our guests were all up and about and breakfast was on. And it was time for a little web project. Our guests run a non-profit in El Paso and their website is a WordPress site, of course. We get together from time to time to work on things, today we worked on setting up a multisite. We also fought with domains a bit which wasn’t as fun as enabling the multisite.

After lunch, we said goodbye to our friends and it was back to my desk for a few hours. In the afternoon I worked on some loose ends:

  • notes for a summary of the project discussed this morning
  • final touches on a proposal for the Happiness team leads
  • prep for a team meeting tomorrow
  • a couple of non-work related chats with coworkers (yeah, we do that)
  • checkin with our events coordinator re: an upcoming trip to Buenos Aires.

To round out my day, I volunteer time to the local WordPress community and tonight was our monthly Women Working with WordPress meetup. Since I was pretty much in my pjs all day ( the joys of working from home) I knocked off work and showered up to be ready to go meet my local WordPress friends. All in all a great way to end a workday.

* A trial is part of our interview process for the HE role and it typically lasts 3-6 weeks.

** All new Automatticians do a 3 week support rotation, working alongside HE, helping users before they join the team they were hired into

Time for the Balloon Fiesta

On our way to the Balloon Fiesta 2014 edition. Totally thanks to my amazing friend Tam and her company Tour New Mexico.

The Marriott Pyramid is all decked out.

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The kids are excited to be on a bus.

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