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Ways We Work

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Lindsay Ellerby

Design Director at Normative

Lindsay Ellerby is a Design Director at Normative, a software design firm in Toronto, Ontario. Read more about her role at Normative and the tools she uses.

What do you do?

I’m a Design Director at Normative, a software design firm. I lead teams through complex strategic and product design projects. We call what we do design for the network because we believe that the world is becoming a network of people and objects connected through software. And since every business is a software business in this connected world, we have a lot of work ahead of us!

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

By talking with people. Coffee dates with people in the design and tech industry. Regular chats with my co-workers. Attending talks and conferences when I can.

What are your top five applications or programs?

Slack, Twitter, Google Docs, Keynote, Trello, Basecamp

Best way to stay on top of email?

I can’t stand having unread emails in my inbox, so I immediately triage messages as they come in. I either answer them right away, leave them to answer later if not high priority, or file them into project folders.

What is your best time-saving trick?

I rely on a constantly evolving (written) to-do list. I look at that list every morning and update it or sometimes throw it out and start a new one. Then I time-block my day based on that list of things I need to accomplish.

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

My kids. They help me stay in the present moment and keep it real!

What does your workspace look like?

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

Mornings are busy at our house. I try to help my husband get the kids ready as much as possible before I leave for work. I read on my commute because it’s a rare window of tranquility. Once I get to the office I check emails and respond to high-priority messages first. Then my to- do list usually dictates the day. I time-block my day based on what I need to accomplish on that list. That might include writing a proposal, sketching, critiquing work, researching, taking a walk, etc. My days are varied. It’s really important for me to be home before 6pm so I can spend time with my kids and husband.

What is the greatest piece of career advice/wisdom you've ever received?

Geek-out on something for a year. Go very deep on one focused topic or practice and see where it takes you. Read everything about it. Talk to lots of people about it. Write about it. Practice it. This is how you develop expertise and mastery over a long period of time.

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

Sam Ladner. She’s a brilliant sociologist and researcher.