LifeHacker has an interesting feature where various people (mostly entrepreneurs) are asked to answer a few questions that give an insight as to how they might work.  Correlation does not imply causation, and I'm not sure you'd want my mediocre "success" anyway, so you should take this post with a pinch of salt!

Name:  Bryan Ross

Location:  Edinburgh, Scotland

Occupation:  Infrastructure Solutions Architect

Current Computers:  At the office, I have an HP mid-range laptop running Windows 7, connected to two HP 22" displays.  At home, I've got an aged homebrew tower PC and a Lenovo IdeaPad U410 that are both running Windows 8.  I also have an HP <tbc> MicroServer that provides NAS, Remote Access, etc and a Dell PowerEdge 840 running ESXi for any lab work that I might be working on.  I'd love to replace it all with Apple hardware, but I can't justify the cost right now!

Current Mobile Devices:  iPhone 4GS and an iPad 2.

I Work:  Balanced

What's your best time-saving trick/life hack?

I've always had a (possibly unhealthy) interest in productivity systems.  I'm not sure its a trick, but I've got to say that David Allen's Getting Things Done has had a lasting impact in how I manage my life.  Over the years, I've gently flexed around the key principles to keep my own system as light-weight as possible whilst keeping my life in balance.  Whilst I'm here, I should also tip the hat to Franklin Covey's Compass, which taught me the importance of identifying the importance of balancing my roles as a worker, innovator, husband and father (and not necessarily in that order!).

What's your favourite to-do list manager?

I have a Toodledo Pro subscription that I use primarily from my iPhone using 2Do.  I've tried various task manager services and apps in the past, but they've lacked features, or suffered from confusing interfaces, or both!  Toodledo isn't pretty, but it has all the underlying features I want and has let me easily migrate to other apps in the past and gives me a backup option if I'm ever stuck without my iPhone.  2Do is an excellent app and regularly scores highly in any reviews.  The folks at Guided Ways have managed to strike just the balance between functionality and ease of use, all wrapped up in some eye candy that isn't too in your face.

What apps/software/tools can't you live without?

I use the usual office type software on a daily basis, as you might expect; spending most of my time in Word, Excel and Visio.  Work email and calendar is all in my corporate Exchange setup, with Outlook being the client of choice.  My contacts, personal email/calendar is courtesy of Google Apps.

I regularly use the SnippingTool included with Windows 7 to provide screenshots of things in emails to reduce the amount I need to type in explanation (and my recipients need to read).  In my role, I've found a good knowledge of SSH and a general purpose scripting language to be invaluable.  Bash is currently my language of choice, but I've been dabbling with Ruby more recently.

I also use Spotify for music;  Notepad++ for quick notes;  and Console2 as a replacement Command Prompt for cmd.exe, PowerShell, and my default, Bash (via Cygwin naturally).

Above all, I can't recommend CrashPlan enough.  Like most people, I wasn't great at keeping good backups because of the effort it took to manage and monitor it all.  Since installing CrashPlan, all my work, photos and documents are quietly backed up and I get regular emails letting me know of any problems.  If you don't have a solid backup regime in place, go install CrashPlan and feel much better about life!

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can't you live without?

I know you said besides my phone, but really, my iPhone is the only gadget I couldn't live without!  It wakes me in the morning;  it tells me what I'm today today;  it guides me to where I need to go;  it keeps me in touch with my family, friends and colleagues;  it keeps up to date with what's going on in the world;  it remembers stuff;  it reminds me to watch what I eat;  and it records precious on-the-fly photos of my life.

What's your workspace like?

My job requires quite a lot of interaction with people, so I do most of my work in the office, where my I keep my desk tidy, much to the amusement of my work colleagues.  It's an open plan space, so if I'm busy, I'll usually have my headphones in, or I'll head home where I have a very comfy study.  I really like working at home and in many respects, its much more conducive to getting work done!  My desk (and other storage) is from EatSleepLive and is handmade to size from reclaimed wood.  I picked up my Aeron Chair for an absolute steal from eBay and is remarkably better for my back than my chair at work.  Other than that, things are kept pretty minimal.  If I have documents to read, I'll usually kick back on the sofa or my other leather chair and do my reading on either the iPad or Kindle.

What do you listen to while you work?


As my Spotify Top tracks can attest to, my musical tastes are pretty varied - although, I'd like to point out that this post was written just after Christmas, where my laptop played Christmas tunes in the house for 4 days solid!  When I'm working, its usually Hip-hop, Dubstep or a random selection from my Starred playlist.

What's your sleep routine like?

I tend to go to bed around 11pm and get up around 7.30am.  If I'm fired up about something or there's just a lot going on, I sometimes take a long time to get to sleep.  It's not uncommon for me to only get 3 or 4 hours sleep, which isn't ideal.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

I'd like to think I keep a fairly good balance between working hard and still having time and energy to spend with my family.

What's the best advice you've ever received?

I think everyone needs something to believe in when times are hard.  I don't consider myself religious or even spiritual and instead just try to remember two things:

"What's meant for you won't pass you by."

"Everything happens for a good reason, but sometimes it just takes a long time to play out."

Any other interesting tidbits you'd like to share with readers?

I've been a coastal/offshore sailor for 10 years and have completed a variety of trips to Orkney, Shetland, St Kilda, Iceland, Ireland, Wales, and the Channel Isles. I keep a log of my bigger trips here.