I’m Laura Brown and This Is How I Work

how i workI picked this up from Bianca Woods at e-Geeking.

David Kelly (@LnDDave) recently did his own fascinating version of the Lifehacker feature “How I Work” and challenged the rest of us in the industry to do the same.

I’m Laura Brown and This Is How I Work


Barrie, Ontario, Canada (The bottom of Northern Ontario).

Current Gig

Self Employed/ freelancing.

Current mobile device

An HP mini laptop which seems to have MS Windows exploding out of it’s little computer brain. I’m going to change it to Linux.

Current computer

HP Desktop (I still love the desktop!) h8 1211 with Windows 7. Will not allow Linux or any other change to the OS. I was really annoyed when I found this out after buying the PC and telling the staff at the store that I wanted a computer I could run on Linux. This proves they don’t know anything you can’t read on the computer box. Don’t trust any advice you get from sales staff.

One word that best describes how you work


What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

My little HP scanner, even though I have not used it much lately. I love that it sits on my desk and has been reliable for more than ten years now. No problem with changing to new PCs or changing from Windows to Linux and back again.

What’s your workspace like?

Cluttered. Too cluttered to photograph and display for the world to see.

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Procrastination. The things you procrastinate on should be reconsidered. If you can put it off maybe it just isn’t that important after all. I save time and energy by letting things fall off the to-do list in my head. It’s not very proactive, but it does keep me from putting time into things I can do without.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

I don’t manage to-do lists. I write one out, long hand and keep it until I’ve got most or all it done. Then I don’t have a list until the next time I write a list.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

I can live without my phone. I don’t have a smart/ super or mobile phone of any kind. I do especially like my camera, I even have two of them. One Canon which fits in my purse and one FujiFilm for urban and rural exploration photography, when the extra zoom is a really good thing.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

Nothing. There are far too many people in the world to assume something like that.

What do you listen to while you work?

Silence usually. I put the TV on but don’t really watch it and sometimes hours go by and I haven’t noticed that I forgot to turn it on – even for the soap opera I like to take a break to watch in the afternoon.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?

Introvert but I can forget myself and become involved enough to seem extroverted. Eventually though I have just had enough of being social.

What’s your sleep routine like?


Fill in the blank. I’d love to see ______ answer these same questions.

Can’t think of anyone. Most people I see day to day are not online this much.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Get to bed, Laura.

Phone Books are for Tourists

It is a sad thing that we seldom use our phone books any more. At least, not for their intended purpose. With the Internet as a quick source for local information (like business addresses and phone numbers) the phone book has become a large recyclable object. Sometimes an effective doorstop, child booster seat or an especially thick phone book can be added to the wood burning in the fireplace (if you have one).

It’s ironic that once the Internet was booming the phone books started dropping out of the sky. We were getting five different phone books each year at one point. The main one still being from the phone company itself. Then four others from various other sources, all companies who sold their service to local business and then promised great results. Well, who needs that many phone books in one place (one small house in my case). I did recycle all of them – without ever having used them at all.

This brings me to this past week when I was travelling to Sudbury, Ontario with my nephew and his Grandmother (my Mom). We were there for him to tour his university. Zack will be living on site and taking psychology this Fall. Anyway, I’ve been to Sudbury before. There were a couple of places I wanted to see again, like MIC (a Canadian themed restaurant). We stayed three days so I wanted to find more to do and see. Thus the phone book. I looked up all the standard things I look for (secondhand bookstores and coffee shops). Zack looked at the games stores and my Mom looked at garden centres. We each found a few places to explore. So the phone book was put to it’s intended use.

I think it is only in such a case that the phone book is still useful. Yes, we could have found the same information online and we each did have the hardware to do it. I just dislike pulling out the computer when I’m travelling. I like being less digitally inclined and having a small digital sabbatical.

Did you know that businesses can opt out of the Yellow Pages phone directory now? I wonder why they would do that. I can understand not placing a large ad but to at least have the small text ad, to at least be mentioned, still seems like a worthwhile idea. Not everyone is as plugged into the Internet that they rely on it fully and completely. If you have a business which helps people in times of crisis (like a personal trauma or the power going out), you really should have a yellow pages listing.

So goes the legendary phone book. When did you last use it in some way? Whether you found a creative use for it, actually looked up a business or just added it to the recycling – I hope you did not do it without a little thought for the old phone book.

How to Express What You’re Thinking When You’re Shy

Often when you are shy you can use the written word to express your feelings. The problem isn’t really being able to write out your thoughts and feelings – it’s the part where you share them.

Sharing your inner most thoughts and feelings is to let them be judged by someone else. It also means you take the chance on sounding weird, odd or just being told how wrong you are. At times, it’s easier to remain quiet. Easier than trying to put yourself forth into the noise of everyone else. It’s easier to fade into the background and not be heard. Except, we do want to be heard, be part of the world around us. Our opinions and ideas are worth hearing too.

Communication needs to be a two way street. Someone listens while someone else speaks. Then there is feedback to confirm the communication. As a shy person, I find the biggest challenge is to be heard. People don’t stop to listen. Instead they interrupt, they don’t listen and they don’t really hear what you say when you do manage to say something.

You try written communication, hoping this is a way to be heard without being interrupted or having to be face-to-face. But, there is still the big drama of waiting for feedback and not knowing what kind of reception your communication will get. Was it wanted? Were you understood, or misunderstood?

Often, writing it down isn’t enough. You need the instant feedback and the first reaction to know you have been heard and understood.

How to Talk to Someone Important When You’re Shy

Practice what you want to say beforehand. You can write it down and then say it out loud, see how it sounds. You might shorten it, change the wording around or choose an entirely different way to say it. Know what you are going to say, but don’t have it so memorized it sounds like a scripted speech.

Talk to the person when they are alone so there are fewer distractions and no one else to jump in and offer their opinion, welcome or not. If you can’t be sure of having time alone, or privately, make an appointment, schedule the time to talk with them.

If you really need to say something important and can’t get yourself to start, bring a friend along to break the ice and then leave or stay out of it when you’re ready to begin.

When it comes time to talk, stop thinking so much. Don’t analyze every word, don’t get obsessed with small details like how you’re standing or sitting, where you put your hands or whether or not your teeth are white enough, etc. Put the little things out of your mind and think about something else, like the coffee you’re going to enough later, or how nice the garden looked, anything simple and pleasant to keep you from getting too focused.

Realize that you are not the centre of the universe – the world is not watching you and waiting for you to fail. Other people in the room, in the area, are more worried about themselves and the possibility that they have spinach in their teeth to be wholly focused on you and what you are doing or thinking or saying. Though, they will wonder what you are thinking if you look at them too long and make them feel a little paranoid.

In the end, take a breath, stop thinking and start talking.

Communicating as an Introvert