How to optimize your workday, according to recent designer-turned-developer Lenora Porter

4 min read
Daniel Cowen
  •  Aug 5, 2020
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The nature of how information flows on the web is changing. The days of designing individual web “pages” have given way to infinite scrolling, and Lenora Porter is at the center of this transformation with her work as a front-end developer. Below she details an average workday, including the best pick-up lunch-spot in her Miami neighborhood, and how she winds down in the evening with family—even when they’re apart.

3:00 a.m.: Lenora’s alarm clock goes off early. She starts the day with learning time, as she learns better during the stillness of the night. She’s a remote worker, and many of her team members live near her company’s headquarters in San Francisco, or in Europe. She uses this time to peek into her European coworkers’ world for a bit via Slack—she doesn’t respond to any messages, but just likes to see what’s happening. It’s important for her to get insights into what they’re working on or what they need to finish.

4:00 a.m.: Lenora recently transitioned to a front-end development team from a design team after leading a highly successful pagination project. When others noticed her coding chops she was offered the new role in engineering. Though this transition has been a challenge for Lenora, it has proven to be relevant and rewarding.

“Things are changing when it comes to the web,” says Lenora, “we’re not designing pages anymore, and understanding code can be key to designing a successful progressive app.”

So Lenora lights her calming eucalyptus mint incense, puts on some inspirational music, and spends some quiet time learning more about progressive app development, component libraries, design systems, and making tools usable across the entire team.

6:00 a.m.: Breakfast is “just a little oatmeal, the same every single day.”

6:15 a.m.: Two days a week, Lenora works out with Coco, her personal trainer, via Zoom calls. Coco is tough and Lenora says she cries through the whole thing. After cooling down, she’ll hop in the shower and then take a quick nap. On the other three days, she either does a quick stretch or goes back to bed for an hour or so.

8:00 a.m.: Lenora wakes up again and brews a cup of coffee with her Aeropress, burr grinder, and Trade Coffee subscription. Then, as an accountability measure for her daily learning, Lenora hosts half-hour Twitch episodes in the morning on a new coding language. Right now she’s learning EmberJS, thanks to the design-to-eng switch.

8:30 a.m.: The real work begins: Lenora checks her internal messaging software, Slack, Google Docs, GitHub, and any sync notes to get clear on everything that was completed the day before. She then handwrites out a checklist for the day into a spiral notebook. Anything not completed the day before gets moved into the present day. This analog ritual provides important grounding for hours spent scrutinizing screens.

10:00 a.m.: Daily standup on Zoom with her squad. They spend a little time bonding, then everyone syncs on their work.

10:15 a.m.: Pairing! This is the most intensive and focused part of Lenora’s workday, where she pairs with a lead engineer while working on new components in the company’s design system. This is a massive and highly-complicated task as Lenora’s team seeks to maintain the essence of the company’s brand identity while implementing new features for high-valued customers.

12:00 p.m.: Lenora exits her home office to be outside and enjoy the Florida sunshine. Five days a week she’ll pick up the chef’s special salmon from House of Flavor, a Caribbean restaurant.

1:00 p.m.: Back at her desk, Lenora listens to her company’s daily all-hands for a lunch-and-learn. These sessions touch on many topics, ranging from company culture to accessibility.

2:00 p.m.: Because of her recent job transition, Lenora takes every opportunity she has to jump into her company’s learning modules.

6:00 p.m.: Closing up shop! Lenora moves into another room to completely close out the day and take a quick nap.

7:00 p.m.: Pre-quarantine, Lenora’s three uncles, aunt, and mom would come over for dinner (their favorite meal is fried okra and fried chicken) and a Hallmark movie every night. Nowadays, though, they’ve kept up the ritual through Netflix Party and Discord’s voice feature.

“It’s literally a therapy session for us,” says Lenora.

9:00 p.m.: Lenora’s bedtime, as she’ll be getting up in six hours or so to do it all over again. Even though this is a typical day for her, this isn’t every day. She front loads her day so she doesn’t have to sacrifice family time or self-care time.

Learn more about (and from!) Lenora by visiting her website. Looking for more stories about how design community members like you get it done? Check out our library of designer profiles

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