Amandah Wood wants to know what makes people tick. Specifically, she wants to know how they organize their days at work.

That’s the basis of her blog, Ways We Work, a weekly peek into an individual’s working life.

The blog asks people in different industries 10 questions about how they manage their careers. It’s an intriguing look into human nature and patterns.

Wood is a new-media culturalist with the Charcoal Group of Restaurants. She spends her nights as co-lead of the Waterloo Ladies Learning Code chapter.

Ways We Work came of her need for a framework to help plan and focus her days at work.

“There’s not a lot of expertise and history in (the new-media) industry,” Wood said. “There’s a ton of articles on blogs about productivity.”

But as Wood started reading, she realized many of the articles were generic and not helpful to her specific situation. Wood wanted to learn about the workflow people created for themselves, and how they applied it to their jobs. All Wood really wanted to do was talk to people doing the same kind of work in her field.

And then she had a seemingly simple idea: why not just ask people what they did?

She launched Ways We Work on March 19, 2014. She posts a new profile every Wednesday.

The blog started with a narrow focus on designers and creators in Waterloo Region. It has since expanded to highlight the careers of community-relations managers, illustrators, journalists, developers and bartenders and other professionals.

Ways We Work is also starting to go international, with recent profiles on such people as NYC-based singer-songwriter Kat Edmonson and Orange County-based entrepreneur Marc Hemeon.

Wood finds people to interview mainly through word-of-mouth, but says the easiest way to get someone she’s interested in featuring is just to ask.

“I emailed [Hemeon] randomly to see if he was interested in being on Ways We Work,” Wood said. “I’ve been a fan of his work and was just really interested in him. I thought he would ignore me, but he responded back really quickly.”

The curiosity factor is part the reader appeal of the blog, much like the What’s In Your Handbag column popular with fashion magazine. The featured workers, meanwhile, enjoy showing off the best part of their days.

“I want people to become comfortable sharing it all,” Woods said. “I learn so much when [interviewees] are honest about challenges they face.”

Wood is approximately 40 interviews into her blog now.

“It’s been an insane learning experience,” Wood said. “First of all, I have a bit of dev-and-design background, but I did challenge myself to create a custom site. And then it was just making sure ,there was an interview every week.”

Wood is now focused on building traffic to the site and reaching out to people around the world to be featured on the site.

She’s never answered the questions herself, so I challenged her to work her way through some of them herself:

Q – What do you find most rewarding about your role? Most challenging?

A – Starting and running Ways We Work has been the most rewarding thing I’ve done so far. There is no better feeling than seeing a concept that developed in your head become something that thousands of other people read and share on aregular basis. I’ve learned so much in such a short period of time, and continue to learn more through the project every day. I’ve been introduced to people all over the world doing incredible work and that has been the best part.

The most challenging  (thing) has to be the logistics of running a site like Ways We Work all by myself. Finding and researching people to interview, co-ordinating the interviews, getting them drafted and edited, making sure it’s posted to various social networks, emailing the newsletter and then doing that all over again. I also designed and developed the site, so I’m always making tweaks to make it better. On top of this, I’m doing email outreach to let other blogs and publications know about the project. Right now I’m looking to get more writers involved in content for the blog as well. The Internet is a sea of content and making sure people know about yours is a full-time job.

Q – What are your top five applications or programs?

A – Buffer (Web & iPhone) – I’ve used almost every social-media scheduling tool there is and nothing comes close to Buffer. It’s not necessarily that it has more features than others, but it’s how easy it makes it to make sure you content calendar is always full.

Gmail (Web & iPhone) – My obsession with tools and productivity has led me to try every new email management app that comes out. I’ve used Mailbox, Triage, Apple Mail, the list goes on. I always come back to Gmail. I just keep the tab open, I have the app on my phone and all of my email addresses come through my Gmail account. It has yet to fail me. It becomes crazy powerful with plug-ins like Streak, too.

Analytiks (iPhone) – Google Analytics is insanely powerful and complex, and they did a great job with their somewhat-new iPhone app; but when I’m on the go and want a quick look at how the site is doing that day, the Analytiks app shows me everything I need to know right away (visitors, page views, where they came from and if the stats are better or worse than yesterday and last month).

Sublime Text (Mac) – Where I write and edit all the code for the site.

Statamic (Web) – I just have to include this. It’s the CMS that runs Ways We Work, it was built by Jack McDade (and his team) who I actually interviewed on the site a couple weeks ago. I was blown away by how quickly I was able to build a custom theme and how robust it is. It just works, and it’s easy and fast.

Q – Structure of your typical day: how do you divide your time?

A – Like every one,  each day is different, but during the week my days usually end up like this:

7 a.m., (OK maybe 7:30 a.m. OK maybe 8 a.m.) – Wake up, get dressed. Generally make myself presentable.

9 a.m. – At the Charcoal Group office, usually checking email and making a list of priorities for the day. Chat with my team and get coffee.

9:30 a.m. – lunch – Scheduling content, responding to reviews, creating content, fixing/updating websites. Usually get distracted by at least one Buzzfeed article or video. Sometimes drift over to Medium to fill my head with inspiration.

Lunch – 5 p.m. – Sometimes meeting and planning for upcoming promotions, focuses etc. Usually just working through the to-do list and managing new projects that often pop up.

5 p.m. – 8 p.m. – One or two days a week I have a meeting with someone after work usually related to Ways We Work or Ladies Learning Code. Other than that, I’m at home working on Ways We Work, I alternate between my desk or my couch as a workspace. The beginning of the week is getting the interview ready, and the end of the week is getting the interview read. Sometimes I eat food during these hours.

8pm-Sleep – Hanging out with my boyfriend, sometimes eating dinner together, working side-by-side or going out for beers to unwind.

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Feeling inspired to try something new? You may run into a few of the Ways We Work Waterloo Region-based people at a few events this weekend. I see and hear that… First up, this Saturday, Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m., head down to THEMUSEUM at 10 King St. W., Kitchener, for Stone Soup WR, a benefit concert in support of Doctors Without Borders. A brainchild of Communitech executive-in-residence Alan Quarry, the event features door prizes, a silent auction, live music, an art show and great local food and drink. Tickets are $45, but you can get $10 off with the code STONESOUPC… Boltmade is hosting Intersections K∩W where Thiel Fellow Christopher Olah will discuss his research in neural networks. The meet-up starts at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 10, at the Boltmade office, 187 King St. S., Waterloo… And finally, you can head back to THEMUSEUM on Wednesday, Feb. 11 for another one of its Beer+ workshop events in partnership with Imbibe (in THEMUSEUM building). This months’ event, Beer + Blooms, features local beers and a floral-arrangement lesson from Living Fresh Flower Studio & School. Hint: you get to drink beer and take home a flower arrangement — and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. and costs $30.

 

 

About The Author

Kayleigh Platz

Kayleigh Platz is a storyteller and community relations manager for Communitech. Born, raised and schooled in Waterloo Region, she holds two degrees from the University of Waterloo and is interested in new media, social networks and making connections.