At Work: Joel Runyon (Impossible HQ)

Joel RunyonAs announced last week, here’s the first post in a new TFA series: The At Work interviews! Today, we’ll meet my blogging friend Joel Runyon of Boing Boing and Oprah fame.

In this At Work interview, Joel talks about his different focuses and his daily schedule. Let’s jump right into it!

Hey Joel! Overall, what is the kind of work that you do? How many areas of focus do you have?

I have a few different focuses. I write quite a bit for my Blog of Impossible Things, Impossible HQ, and a niche adrenaline site called Nerve Rush. I also run a focused online marketing agency where I handle SEO and PPC for a select few clients.

Do you have any specific time at which you normally get up? Do you use an alarm clock or do you just sleep until you’re well-rested?

I sleep until I’m well rested. I usually try to be up around 8, although that changes as I’ll stay up late working on interesting projects. I try to stay away from alarm clocks unless it’s a really early morning start.

Do you have any routines? (Do you get right to work after getting up or do you first dedicate time to some other things – breakfast, shower, get into your office dress, take a run, have a glass of red wine…?)

I work out first thing in the morning, shower and have breakfast while checking email. I check my schedule for the day and get to work, which varies based on the day.

Any rituals to find focus? (For example, author Steven Pressfield always takes a moment to say a prayer, the “Invocation of the Muse” from Homer’s Odyssey, before starting to work.)

If I’m particularly distracted one day, I’ll simply take a break and go take a walk or do something completely non-related to what I’m doing. I find, instead of having little distractions all over the place for the entire day – I’ll completely unfocus, do something ridiculous and get it all out of my system at once. Then, when I come back to my work – I can really settle in and focus on things.

Where do you work? Any important things in your work environment?

Usually a simple clean desk and some good background music are enough to get me into my rhythm. I travel a lot so I don’t have a designated work station.

What tools do you use to help you get things done? (Lists, apps, agendas…)

I probably spend most of my time in the following apps:

  • Excel
  • WordPress
  • Word
  • Adwords Editor
  • Gmail
  • Shopify
  • Evernote
  • Dropbox
  • Buffer app
  • Skype
  • Google voice
  • Google docs

(Side note – I’m actually working on something like this coming up soon that pulls all the apps together – probably 2 months out, but could be really interesting…)

How many hours do you work on a normal day? Do you take pauses as they come or at specific and fixed times?

I work 8-10 hours a day. I’m still in the startup phase of my work so I try to work as efficiently as I can during that timeframe. I usually take break sporadically as they find natural places throughout my workday.

Also, handstand breaks are great ways to break up the day.

Do you use any timeboxing techniques (like a fixed agenda or the pomodoro technique)? Or do you prefer to work more impulsively, depending on the current state of things, taks from your email inbox, and so on?

I naturally work more impulsively – gravitating towards the things I’m most interested in. I do work to keep specific things like client calls relegated to one or two specific days out of the week. Also, when I get started writing, I usually go into a “writing mode” where I write for a few hours at a time and really focus in on things. I’ve tried the pomodoro technique, but I tend to find better results with a 50/10 work/break split than a 25/5 as it gives me more uninterrupted thought time.

Thanks a lot for your time, Joel!