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Ways We Work

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Erin Martin

Principle designer & co-owner of Him and Her

What do you do?

I’m the principle designer and co-owner of HIM & HER. We’re the dynamic duo of design and development.

How do you stay up to date with trends in your industry/field?

In terms of design trends, I look to sites like Bèhance, siteinspire and even Dribbble for inspiration. On the “biz” side of things it’s definitely a combo of listening to podcasts/watching videos while I work and checking out upcoming tech events to see what others are doing.

What are your top five applications/programs?

Adobe Creative Suite. All. Day. Long. Photoshop or Illustrator is always open.

Trello: for managing the team. This is our living document that houses our sprints.

Harvest: for estimates, invoices and time tracking. I hate doing this stuff, so I like that the program isn’t overloaded with features – it’s easy to use.

Google Hangouts: for keeping in touch with the team and screen sharing.

Buffer: our lifesaver for social media . . . it was made for lazy social media people (me).

Best way to stay on top of email?

Gahh, is there really a best way? Unless it’s pressing, I save emails until after lunch (the my-lunch-is- digesting-and-I-need-something-monotonous time). That way my most productive time is spent designing and working with the team. Once I’ve responded to my emails, everything gets filed under client labels.

What is your best time-saving trick?

Knowing when to stop and step away from a project to take a break. I often work on multiple projects at one time to keep myself fresh and engaged. Being conscious of when you’re feeling stuck on one project, or even when you’ve just had a mini-win, is important. When I pause, reflect and maybe even forget about things for a moment, I always end up spending fewer hours on the project. This creates a stronger, better result.

Favourite productivity tool?

The “Working in public or at clients’ offices” tool is my fav. There is something about being around others that makes you even more accountable and more productive. Maybe it’s just me thinking that people can tell if I’m actually working or not . . . haha.

One non-tech thing you can't live without?

I cannot live without beer (okay, well of course I could if I had too . . .). First of all it’s delicious – but if you dive deeper into the meaning it has for me, you’ll see that beer often represents celebrating a win in the biz. It’s often a reason to connect with friends or family, and in all honesty it sometimes brings out the best creative thinking.

Structure of your typical day, how do you divide your time?

I’d say it’s a 70/30 divide – 70% business management and client management, 30% design.

It starts with “the pump-up”

This is in the early morning when I enjoy a coffee, catch up on some reading or even scour the Internet for all things awesome – usually an amp-inducing TED Talk or Pencil vs Pixel video. I sometimes even use this time to write our blog . . .

Then the “let’s do this”

I plan my days the night before, putting the hardest tasks first, whether they be design challenges or management challenges. Our team touches base really quickly to ensure that everyone is still on point for the sprint, and then I get to my own work – the toughies – and I move my way down the funnel.

“The brick wall”

After a good design session, in the mid-afternoon, I look to do some more straightforward work: connecting with clients, following up with the team and researching.

“The second wind”

Coffee gives me a lift, and I revisit any outstanding design work. This is also when my comedy routines begin and my most creative work happens. We also use this time to review and critique our work as a team, collaborate, etc.

“The Miss Independent”

Sometimes it only lasts an hour or two, but there is always a hard stop for dinner with my other half and something personal like going to the gym or playing one of my rec sports (like baseball!).

“The night owl”

These are the last hours of reflecting on the day and planning for the next. I write everything out, list any new tasks for the team and decide on their “importantness” for tomorrow.

What does your workspace look like?

Who would you like to see featured on Ways We Work?

Local talent like Joel Gingrich, owner of DVLB here in Waterloo (He was an Art Director at one time!). I would love an interview with Geoff Teehan or even Guy Kawaski (haha – go big or go home, right?).