Non Sequitur Fridays

Warming up for Work

This post is part of our Non Sequitur Fridays series, which will feature a different Wistian's take on a non-Wistia-related topic each week. It's like our "employee of the month" but less "of the month"-y. Max Schnur is an engineer at Wistia. His last Non Sequitur was about a mental checklist.

I have a good habit that’s also a bad habit. I dive right into work. Sit down, open the laptop, and I’m on my way.

Fast forward two hours: my throat is dry, I have a headache coming on, I’m holding four conversations in HipChat, and whatever I was working on when I started—that’s not what I’m working on now.

Lately, it’s occurred to me how important preparation is. If I take just five minutes to make sure I have what I need, I can be happy and focused for way longer.

Here’s my routine, written down so I don’t forget:

Hot tea and ice water on hand

A steady low dose of caffeine to stay focused. The water to prevent dehydration, which leads to headaches.

Slippers on

They’re comfortable, and they remind me that my mood should be relaxed.

Find a new location

I have my own desk, but the Wistia office is very loosely divided into “pods”. Some pods have couches and coffee tables. Some are standing desks. Some look like newsrooms. I walk around until I find one that’s suitably “different” from my desk. The shift in location helps me look at things from a different perspective.

Headphones on, music on

Headphones for the “hey, I’m working” signal, music because it helps pace my thoughts and gives me energy when I’m doing grunt work.

Close useless tabs

I’m nowhere near James’s Desktop Zero, but for me, the equivalent is clearing all unnecessary tabs in Chrome, iTerm, and MacVim. Clean slate, clean mind.


That’s “do not disturb” mode in HipChat. Headphones say “hey, I’m working” in real life; /dnd does it in chat.

30 seconds of meditation

Before this routine starts, I usually have all the things I could be doing today floating in my head. Before it’s over, I close my eyes and try to clear my mind, to focus on the one thing I’ll be doing next.

Once that’s done, you’ll see me in a corner somewhere, working feverishly, pleasantly oblivious to my coworkers for a few hours at least; my tea can only last so long.

What do you do to get in the zone?

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