How I Get Things Done: David Fair

What’s your job title? What title do you think really captures your roles and responsibilities?

Technical writer pretty much captures my role, though I also have a special affinity for quality assurance.

What software tools do you love?

I’m blessed. The tools I love are the ones I use every day: Articulate Storyline, Articulate Studio, and E-Learning Heroes. Frankly, they’re just plain fun!

Microsoft Office, Google Drive, and Dropbox are essential for my everyday tasks.

Snagit is indispensable for quick screen captures and annotations.

Notepad++ is versatile for quick notes, removing rich-text formatting, reviewing code, comparing files, creating batch files, and more.

YouTrack is great for tracking collaborative tasks.

RSS has been my lifeline for consuming data, but its demise in the modern world seems nigh, so I’m evolving. Suggestions welcome!

What's your workspace setup like?

Big, open room. Adjustable sit-stand desk. Dual monitors. Treadmill. TV for ambient noise. Fairly clutter-free, though the web of wires next to my desk refuses to be tamed.

What is your creative or design philosophy?

Find creativity in the world around you and mimic it. Notice color schemes in store displays, typography in printed materials, tones of voice in commercials, navigation techniques in websites—whatever makes the experience compelling. Then incorporate those elements into your designs.

How do you stay fresh and keep building your skills?

E-Learning Heroes is a wellspring of examples, tutorials, and challenges for honing your e-learning chops. In a more general vein, and YouTube are handy for learning new skills.

How do you avoid burnout?

Love what you do. I love testing, learning, and documenting software, so I don’t feel like I’m in danger of burnout. But we all get tired or frustrated. Sometimes you just have to walk away for awhile. Do something fun—or at least something different. I might catch up on current events, visit my favorite restaurant, or watch a show. Some people like to exercise … Ahem, moving on.

How do you save time and boost your efficiency day to day?

Lists. I’ve tried many of the popular to-do apps. They’re great, but I always drift back to my trusty spreadsheets. Excel to the rescue.

I also like to keep an eye on what’s ahead—even months down the road. If I know there’s a big project on the horizon, it helps me plan what I do today so I can be ready.

How do you manage your workflow? Do you have a project management tool you love?

Our team uses Trello, which has its benefits, but I prefer good old-fashioned spreadsheets. Fast. Easy. Flexible.

We use YouTrack for quality assurance, and I love it. It would also work well for other projects and workflows.

What books or blogs have been influential to you?

I’ve read Tom Kuhlmann’s Rapid E-Learning Blog pretty much since its inception. In fact, it’s how I was hired here at Articulate. #HappyDance

Likewise, the community articles are super helpful. (I want to be David Anderson when I grow up.) And I follow the blogs / video channels of some of our active community members, which often yield incredible demonstrations, tutorials, and advice.

What kinds of tasks do you love to do? What gets you excited to sit down at your desk?

I love tinkering with new software and explaining how to use it. Yes, I love my job!

What do you like to do least? How do you keep yourself motivated to do that stuff?

Meetings. Motivation? Well, I do have a weakness for cake.