Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get the job done?

Roo Reynolds

Roo Reynolds

Product manager (GOV.UK)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Roo Reynolds and I'm a product manager at the Government Digital Service. I lead a multi-disciplinary agile team delivering the information and services on GOV.UK used by over six million people every week.

What hardware do you use?

My MacBook Air 13" comes with me everywhere, to the extent that I wish I'd gone for the 11". My iPhone (4S, though I'm probably due an upgrade by now) means I've always got easy access to my inbox, calendar and a fairly reasonable camera.

My laptop is nearly always open, but sometimes a paper notebook just feels better. I carry a large Moleskine notebook fitted with a lovely double pen Quiver holding a couple of Rotring pens (a Rapidograph 0.35mm and a Tikky Graphic 0.3mm). I also get through a lot of index cards and Post-it notes when shuffling ideas around at work, but most of all I like to have a big stack of these blank playing cards handy, and I always have a couple of black Sharpies on me.

I absolutely love my ageing Olympus PEN E-P1 with a Panasonic F1.7 pancake lens but it's too heavy to carry everywhere.

I've been wearing my Pebble a bit more recently, and even spent a week experimenting with getting email delivered to my wrist. I mostly learned that the battery life is ok but I absolutely hate reading email if I can't immediately delete/archive/star it. Knowing I'll have to process it again in a minute is frustrating, and looking at your wrist doesn't seem that much less rude than looking at your phone.

I ripped my entire DVD collection on to a USB hard disk this year. Not only did it free up a few shelves of DVD cases from the living room, but the one terabyte disk (plus the Raspberry Pi it's plugged in to, acting as a home media server) was probably cheaper than the shelves anyway. The future is great.

And what software?

Commuting between Southampton and London each day means I treat the train as a portable (and unfortunately only intermittently online) office, so having systems which can work both online and offline really helps.

I use Things for tracking projects and next actions. As a Getting Things Done convert of many years, Things is the closest I've come to a GTD app that works for me. I've even started experimenting with visualising how many things I'm actually getting done each day using a physical progress meter.

I love nvALT for writing stuff. I have it hooked up to Simplenote so I can get to my notes from anywhere. I'm also increasingly using Evernote for keeping a scrapbook of screenshots, notes, photos-of-whiteboards-at-the-end-of-meetings and other stuff that I need to be able to search through and digest.

Gmail (and Gmail offline on the train) is my email client of choice. Rigorously processing email and maintaining Inbox Zero saves me having to live in my inbox and lets me focus on actually thinking about stuff. With prodigious use of keyboard shortcuts I archive what I can, reply to what I must and add a star to anything I can't do right now. Once I've emptied my inbox (which I do a few times each day) I have to remember to go back and do something about the things I've starred. To encourage that, and in order to tap into some of my 'quick! process new email!' energy for actually handling the important stuff, I have starred emails show up immediately underneath my actual (usually empty) inbox using a simplified version of Nate Obsorne's setup using multiple inboxes.

I'm also a fan of Sublime Text for the odd bit of coding, TotalTerminal (which replaced Visor) for bringing down a terminal console at the press of a button, and f.lux which makes my laptop display bearable in the evening.

What would be your dream setup?

The thing that gets in the way isn't a lack of stuff but rather a lack of time.

That said, I really wouldn't say no to a comfortable sunny room with a sea view, an endless stack of notebooks and a Rotring 800 black 0.5mm mechanical pencil.