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Tom Creighton

Product Designer with Heist

What do you do?

I’m a Product Designer with Heist, which chiefly means that I figure out how to make great stuff on the web – both on a strategic/macro level, and a pixel-pushing/micro level. I’ve been lucky to work with some great clients (like Telus) where improving processes and customer experiences through design can have a huge real-world impact.

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

I honestly get a lot of industry news through diligent Twitter follows and a handful of newsletters – it’s a nice mix of up-to-date, as-it-happens stuff and more thoughtful, longer-form content. I also try to catch up on recent design books and publications pretty often, both in the context of “web things” and in branches of design and creative thinking outside of my usual contexts.

What are your top five applications or programs?

Creative Suite is still far and away where I spend most of my time. It’s been my go-to for years, so I can just dive in and get things done without thinking about the UI. We recently started using Slack here at Heist and I’m enjoying that quite a lot too – great for having focused discussions around different projects (or animated gif showdowns). I use Postbox to wrangle multiple mailboxes, and I’ve typically got a handful of communication apps open at any given time – Skype, Adium, etc. Recreationally, I’m secretly a huge Pinterest junkie.

Best way to stay on top of email?

No joke, I have 43 e-mail filter rules to sort incoming e-mail. Routing new mail to subfolders as soon as it arrives gives me a good idea of whether it needs to be acted on immediately, or if it can hang out for a bit.

What is your best time-saving trick?

Quit any app with notifications or counters. For me, removing the possibility of distractions means I won’t “accidentally” end up reading tweets for half an hour.

Favourite productivity tool?

I actually use plain text files to track daily to-dos. I might have a couple text files on my desktop at any time with a list of things I need to do – it’s super satisfying to delete tasks as I get them done, until I’m left with an empty file. On a business level, we use and abuse Trello to track nearly everything.

One non-tech thing you can't live without? I want to say that having a quality chair really helps me to work better, but the real answer is coffee.

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

I spend the early morning answering e-mails, having a bit of a peruse through ‘community’ stuff – Twitter, Dribbble, etc. – then launch into whatever I need to get done that day. If I have any meetings, I’d rather have them towards the end of the day so I have an uninterrupted chunk of productive time during the day to really crank through my tasks.

What does your workspace look like?

I work in an converted older building in downtown Toronto – high ceilings, exposed brick, wooden pillars, the whole package. We’ve sectioned off some of that space into breakout rooms with glass walls – keeps the office feeling light and airy, and they’re great for collaborative whiteboard sessions. We all generally work in a large common area, but it’s nice to be able to duck into a quieter spot for a call or just some heads-down time.

I try to keep my desk at work pretty tidy: just the tools I need to get things done.

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

I’m interested to know what a day looks like for creative people doing different sorts of work – someone like Jacqui Oakley or Darren Booth.