Creating a Productive Environment

From Personal Space to Development Environment


Tom Harrigan

Alley Interactive

Hi I'm Tom



Alley Interactive




Sleep is good


Increased memory


Increased attention and focus


Longer life

Spock (1)

Lower stress


Decreased dependence on stimulants like caffeine


Becoming nocturnal




House of Glass

Working on large abstract systems involves fitting the whole thing into your mind – it’s like  constructing a house out of expensive crystal glass

Why Programmers Work at Night – Swizec Teller

The Makers Schedule – Paul Graham


Breaking the rhythm of your daily routine has consequences. – Eat Move Sleep by Tom Rath

“Switching over to daylight saving time, and losing one hour of sleep, raised the risk of having a heart attack the following Monday by 25 percent” – Reuters

Our screens aren't helping

Brightness and Blue light

“reading on a tablet for a couple hours before bed may find that their sleep is delayed by about an hour.”


There's an app for that


Sleep solved, start the day right

8 Things Every Person Should Do Before 8 A.M.

8 Morning Rituals of the Most Successful People

Cold Shower

  • Improve immune, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive systems
  • Boost metabolism, increase weight loss

Drink cold water

“Consume at least 500 milliliters of ice water on an empty stomach immediately upon waking. In at least two studies, this water consumption has been shown to increase resting metabolic rate 24–30%, peaking at 40–60 minutes post-consumption” – Tim Ferriss, 4 Hour Body


“Breakfast is also the ideal time to eat protein, which gives you the energy to make it through the day.” – Tom Rath, Eat Move Sleep

“chicken breast or protein shake will do” – Tim Ferriss, Four Hour Body

Defeat bigger challenges earlier

Take care of bigger, harder items while you have more mental energy

Keep a daily log

Track everything from sleep to caffeine consumption

GTD - Getting Things Done

A notebook is handy for this too.

Main principles:

-Get everything out of your head

-Break everything down into its next actionable task

Bad to-do list item

  • Fix Mailchimp Bug

Good to-do list item

  • Download backup of production data
  • Test known individual users/emails with issue
  • Inspect the user_meta fields and arrays for those users
  • Test function that is formatting the array data and creating API request
  • Check import script for malformed data
  • Check Mailchimp API logs for bad requests
  • Add logging code to capture future issues

Another Bad To-do item

  • Create WordCamp talk

Better item

  • Read 4 Hour Body, Eat Move Sleep, SuperBetter, Getting Things Done
  • Distill notes
  • Settle on main topics
  • Find images
  • Create slides

Apps to help with GTD


Pomodoro Timer

Home Office Environment


Blue light is not always bad


Standing desk

Standing desk tips

  • Don’t stand all day
  • Posture
  • Screen at eye level
  • Mat
  • Bonus: keep free weights next to the desk



Reduce Standing Desk Fatigue


Also, running shoes are great

On Goal Setting


Learn from Elon Musk

Goal: Get man on Mars

Side benefits:

  • Reduce dependence on fossil fuels
  • Best electric car ever made
  • Battery technology is good now
  • Solar power has gotten better
  • Space is becoming more affordable. Smaller satellites can be launched at lower budgets

Make your goal big enough that you'll stay motivated

My bad goals:

  • Get rich
  • Get a promotion
  • Create successful startup
  • Contribute to WordPress core

My better goal: Buy a house

Growing - Don't be in a silo

We grow better together. Find like-minded, or complimentary individuals to bounce ideas off of and learn with. Create or join a roundtable or mastermind group.

Don’t be afraid to ask people for help.

Tip: Post Status has a fantastic Slack community


“No matter how successful you are in your career, you must always remember that we are here to live. If you keep yourself busy working, you will surely regret it.” – Jack Ma

Structure in some free time. Example:

  • Monday: Game night
  • Wednesday: Dinner
  • Saturday: Date night
  • Sunday: Soccer

Tools of the trade

Self Control



Developer focussed tools


Sequel Pro

Sublime Text  3

Dev setup



Vagrant Manager

API interaction

Paw REST API client


Airplane Mode
private debug log
query monitor
transient manager


Eat Move Sleep – Tom Rath
SuperBetter – Jane McGonigal
4-Hour body Tim Ferris
Getting Things Done – David Allen

Interested in working on complex challenges at scale in WordPress?

We’re hiring! Let’s chat.