Adam Conrad
Software Consultant
August 15, 2018

Interview with Adam, a UX engineer building his own consulting company

Learn how Adam started working remotely from a cold-email on Hacker News, to how he's using a local co-working space to grow his business.

How did you get started with remote work?

I was approached via cold email regarding my posts on Hacker News.

They saw the answers I had posted and saw the links to my GitHub/portfolio in my profile and that intrigued them.

We exchanged information and I provided my rate and that's how I began to work with that company on a contract basis. Because of that, the transition was seamless!

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What are you working on?

I'm currently helping a mid-sized client build out a React project from its very early stages. Since I specialize in UX engineering, this is a great match between client and consultant.

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What's your typical work routine?

My day starts off with a team sync via a Slack standup. I use Station to manage my workflow so I have all apps (Slack, Jira, Zeplin, Google Apps, etc) all located in one application. So I simply go through all of the unread messages, sync up my code, and tackle the next item.

It's very streamlined, so my ramp up time each morning takes less than 5 minutes and I'm back at software development.

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Do you have a dedicated space to work?

Yes, I work from home in a dedicated office space we have in our house. I also have a desk at a co-working space downtown where I hold office hours for the shared startups.

For the office hours I simply work out of the space and if any portfolio companies have short questions I help them out.

This is a great way to not only connect with the local community, but has helped me source some deals to keep my business going strong.

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What tools do you use to stay productive?

Station has been a great tool to collect all of the applications I had to check separately. Now I have one interface to check tasks, email, Slack, billing/accounting, hour tracking, and more.

Besides that, I think it's important to master the tools of your craft, so I continue to invest time into my terminal and my code editor to stay sharp and productive.

For terminal I use Oh My Zsh (with autosuggestion) and Solarized and Powerlevel9k.

Powerlevel9k, an awesome Powerline theme for ZSH

Powerlevel9k, an awesome Powerline theme for ZSH

For my IDE I Use Sublime Text with a huge host of plugins: color highlighter, syntax for Ruby, JavaScript, Elixir, GitGutter, JsPrettier, SideBarEnhancements, SublimeLinter, ...basically all the things to make my main programming languages easier to read and use.

Sublime Text 3.0 — a powerful code editor for programmers

Sublime Text 3.0 — a powerful code editor for programmers

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How do you stay on task?

I know people use tools like pomodoro or RescueTime but I've never found that cadence-based routine to be particularly useful.

My mind doesn't work in perfectly segmented tasks, and I find the times I am hyper-focused and in a state of flow that I don't want to take time off.

The ramp up time is simply too large to risk breaking my focus simply because a timer on my browser told me to stop.

Instead, I just work very organically in terms of rest vs work time. I've never had a problem with reaching my deliverables so I feel like the old saying of "do what works" applies here.

On top of that, just being healthy: eat right, exercise, get enough sleep. That ensures I am performing at my best each and every day.

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What do you like about remote work?

I love the freedom.

Because my clients cannot see me day-in and day-out, they judge me based on my output and value, and not based on my time in a seat.

Because of that, I don't have a problem taking a long lunch or running errands, because I can always slot in my work time earlier/later in my day.

I'd rather have that flexibility with the shared understanding of high output than simply exist in an office for 8 straight hours just because it "feels" more productive to a manager or executive.

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What do you not like about remote work?

I am extroverted so I definitely find the isolation to be difficult at times.

Luckily, having a dedicated office space in a co-working office helps alleviate that loneliness.

Because I have that flexibility (and membership also includes perks like free coffee), that takes care of any of the downsides I would normally have with remote work. It's actually pretty great!

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Biography

Adam Conrad

Adam Conrad is a UX engineering consultant based out of Boston, MA. He is the founder of a boutique firm Anon Consulting. You can find him on Twitter at @theadamconrad and can read more about his work over at User Interfacing.

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