Hi, I’m Matt and This is How I Work

Where are you located?

Bristol in the UK

What are your current gigs?

I am a contractor and my current title is something like ‘Infrastructure Consultant’. Basically, I do on-prem and cloud(Azure) sys-admin and automation stuff. And, of course, I am a TechSnips Contributor 😉

What’s one word to describe your work?


What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without?-

  • VSCode – I spend a lot of time writing PowerShell code. I started out on ISE but I’ve become addicted to VSCode in the last few years.
  • OneNote and Google Keep – I tend to dump notes into both of these as much as I can. It looks very disorganized, but I use it as a notepad so there are a lot of random words and IP addresses etc in there, and I know what they mean most of the time. I am using hashtags more and more as a simple way to organize my random notes.
  • PocketCasts – I listen to a lot of PodCast on my commute, and this is the app that I have settled on. It’s not perfect, but it does the job and supports speed ramping which helps me consume stuff quickly.
  • Pocket (on Android) – I LOVE Pocket! If you don’t know already it’s a pretty simple app that saves text web pages (ie blog posts etc) with all the formatting stripped out leaving just the text to read. It’s a great way to save blog posts so that you can read them when waiting for a train etc. The killer feature is the “Listen” button that will read the saved pages out to you. This is the first thing I do when I get in the car, ie just hit the button and it will read everything to me while I drive to work. Google Assistant – I am spending more and more time talking to my phone and house!

What does your workspace look like?

At home, I have a simple desk against a wall in a spare bedroom, which has become my office. I have a single ultra-wide monitor (it’s like having two monitors) with the laptop alongside to give another screen. It’s all connected to a USB DisplayLink docking station. It’s a pretty simple setup which works for me and having it against the wall means I can’t see anything that will distract me.

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For recording TechSnips stuff, I have lined our airing cupboard (that’s no longer used) with sound insulating foam. I got a bit obsessed with this when I first started recording and probably went a bit far, but at least there is no echo in my recordings now 🙂

What’s a typical workweek look like?

My current job means I have to be in the office Monday to Friday. The office is all hot desks, so the situation isn’t that different from my home desk, just with a lot more distractions. I do a mix of support and project work so each day is different, which I like. Basically, I fix/create/design whatever my customer throws at me.

What do you like the best about your role?

Nothing is the same from day to day, and I work with some really smart people. Ok, there’s always something that doesn’t change, but generally, IT is always changing and I love that. With the advent of ‘cloud’, the pace of change just seems to be increasing. It can be a bit much to keep up with, but I love discovering new shiny ways to solve problems.

What’s something about you that no one knows about?

I used to keep bees until I got stung on the eyelid and had a big reaction that could have killed me. I don’t keep Bees any more!

What do you listen to while you work?

This is something I’ve spent a great deal of time experimenting with (honestly I could write a whole blog post on this). I get distracted by background voices and my mind wonders easily. I’ve found that music really helps to block things out and keep me on target, so I try to listen to music that has no lyrics and isn’t too lively (unless I need some screaming music to wake me up).

These are some of the things I have found:

  • There are some great Lo-Fi Hip Hop channels on YouTube (Example: ChilledCow ‘https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSJ4gkVC6NrvII8umztf0Ow’). These are a great continuous flow of music that doesn’t distract too much.
  • I use an App called Coffitivity (https://coffitivity.com/) which plays background sounds like you are in a Cafe. It’s a bit difficult to describe but it’s just like sitting in a Starbucks with all the background burble but you can’t really hear anything of what people are saying. It’s a bit odd but it really seems to work for me. There are loads of other apps that do this and lots of playlist on YouTube as well.
  • Music with no Lyrics works well. ‘Explosions in the Sky’ is one I keep going back to, but sometimes it can be a bit too noisy for full-on concentration.

What do you wish you could change about your work?

I never have enough time to try all the things I want to try out. There is always a burning issue or a deadline to hit when you have found a new method that you want to try out, or a new service in Azure (there seems to be a new one every week). I’d love to just play with the new/shiny all the time but sometimes you’ve got to actually do some work.

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