Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get the job done?

Ellen Chisa
Photo by Sarah Lovrien.

Ellen Chisa

Product manager (Kickstarter)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Ellen Chisa. Right now, I'm living in Brooklyn, but I'm moving back to Cambridge (the one near Boston, not in England) soon.

I work for Kickstarter where I'm a Product Manager, and work on the backer experience. I try to make everyone else's job easier.

I'm also a trustee of the Awesome Foundation, where we give away money, no strings attached!

What hardware do you use?

I use a 13" MacBook Air. My main laptop is always 13" - the size just feels right for me. I prefer MacBooks for a ridiculous reason: I prefer the way the keyboard feels. I never use an external monitor because the amount of screen space overwhelms me.

I've never been much of a tablet person. If I'm on a computer, I want to be productive. If I'm not, I want to do something else (go outside!) I have a Microsoft Surface RT in the kitchen that I use to pull up recipes while I'm cooking.

Right now I use an iPhone 5S. For a couple years, I worked on Windows Phone and carried an HTC 8X. After dropping and shattering two within a year, I decided it was time for something else.

I love to fall asleep while reading. I hate either needing to decide when to turn off the lights, or waking up with all the lights on at 2am, so now I use a Kindle Paperwhite.

When I'm meeting with someone, I try not to have my technology out. I've experimented with a bunch of notebooks, and lately I've been using an A:LOG, and some Moleskines (squared). I carry an entire pack of Pilot G2 pens in various colors so I can color code my notes. When I need a pencil I use Rainbow pencils, and sharpen them using a Sharpener Jar.

I also have a Fitbit One, but I lost it for a few months and haven't gotten back into the swing of it.

And what software?

My favorite software is FuzzyClock. My clock only has a few options: "morning, lunch, afternoon, go to bed." It tells the real time of day between 7 and 10pm, and 10pm - 10am. So far, I haven't missed too many meetings. I also use f.lux, which helps prevent me from staying up all night.

Most of what I do is on the Internet. Chrome is my primary browser. I also use a Chrome extension called Web Timer.

Webtimer informs me that I spend most of my time online in Gmail - nearly two hours per day. That doesn't surprise me at all. I never understand why email gets such a bad wrap - I love using it for long form communication. My second most used website is Twitter, which is also unsurprising. It's the best way to meet new people, because it removes all the awkward "so what do you do...?" I love already having an idea of someone's work and personality.

For Product Management work, I use Trello to keep track of everything. I also use Google Docs to a make notes, and Balsamiq to make mockups. Sometimes I'll use Photoshop to modify something more detailed. I use Sublime Text if I'm editing code, and Github for Mac or Terminal to check things in. We use Campfire to keep up with each other during the day (my FuzzyClock says "join the campfire!" from 10-10:10 each morning, because I forget otherwise).

I use Trello to keep myself organized, too. I have one board that has columns for each type of thing I do - web stuff, writing, art. When I need some inspiration I go read through all my ideas to pick something to do.

My writing process uses the most different things. I draft everything in Day One because I like that it feels like a journal - plus then I can read the notes in the iOS app while I'm out. Once I have a draft I'm happy with, I copy paste everything into Hemingway to edit. Then I either move it into my blog, which uses Wordpress, or to Medium (or sometimes both). I also use TinyLetter to power the "Subscribe to my Blog" link, but I have yet to send a single issue. Someday.

A few of my favorite things are: Pinterest for procrastinating, Spotify for listening to music, Pocket for saving articles that I'll probably never read, Goodreads for documenting books that I do read, and Product Hunt for doing research on cool new stuff. I still miss Google Reader.

What would be your dream setup?

This will sound funny, but If I could have anything, I'd want another laptop. I just wish I had a PC to run PowerPoint on. Office for Mac isn't the same.

I also miss having a desk in my apartment, so I'm going to try to get one of those next time I move.