Victoria Gonda is an Android Engineer at social media management platform, Buffer, where she works remotely on the company’s Android applications.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
After studying dance and computer science in college, I started my career as a software developer. I’ve been passionate about using technology to help others while working on projects using frameworks from Ruby on Rails to Android.
These days, I’m working full time on Android applications and loving it. To help feed my desire to help people, I’m also active in the tech community, giving talks at conferences and creating learning materials.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I work remotely, and I try to follow as much of a routine as possible to keep my work and personal life separate.
After I get ready in the morning and water my plants, I sit down at my desk to get going for the day. Because my team members are across many time zones, I start my day with any more synchronous or blocking communication. This is when I schedule most of my meetings and respond to messages in tools like Slack and GitHub.
Once that’s out of the way and I know I’m not blocking anyone, I work on my heads down tasks, whether that’s coding, documenting, or planning. At some point in the afternoon, I usually close all communication tools for a time so I can be truly uninterrupted.
Right after lunch when my brain slows down for a short time, I do more of my asynchronous communication. This is usually longer-form discussions in Threads or Paper. Sometimes I take advantage of working from home to take a short nap during this slow part of the afternoon before I get back to my heads down work!
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
In my current role, I’m entirely remote, as is the rest of the team. This means a lot of timezone juggling, but also a lot of freedom. However, as many remote workers will tell you, you need to be intentional about keeping work and personal life separate.
I do that mostly through routine, having a clear start and end to my workday. I also make sure to keep anything work-related off of my phone so I can fully unplug at the end of the day.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
My number one tip is to find what works for you. There are so many tips out there, but they don’t work for everyone. I’ve tried so many productivity and life tips from to-do list management to how I organize my work and personal life.
Some I’ve kept. Some I’ve modified. Some I said goodbye to and never looked back. If something isn’t working, try something new. And if that doesn’t work, try the next thing. Everyone works differently.
5) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I try to keep work and life as separate as possible. By doing so, I can leave work thinking at work and fully relax and enjoy life afterward.
To help with this, I try to have a clear ending to my day and not work in the evenings. Sometimes this is signaled by dinner will my partner, or maybe by heading out the door to attend a meetup. In almost all cases, what’s going on at work can wait until the next day.
6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?
One thing I’ve learned, and am continuing to learn, is knowing when to say “yes” and knowing when to slow down. By saying “yes” to opportunities, I’ve had so many doors open for me. I’ve had some amazing experiences, made great connections, and made the best memories.
However, by going and going all of the time, it can start to get taxing. I truly believe in taking care of one’s mental health, and one way to do this is by saying “no” to some things. The decision isn’t always easy or clear, but my being conscious of what things I am committing to, I can make sure I have the energy for the things that really matter.
7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
One of the books that have helped me improved in so many areas is Drop the Pink Elephant by Bill McFarlan. This book has so many tips on communication that can help anyone be better understood. We use communication at work, at home, and while out and about, so being able to communicate effectively is of great importance no matter your goals.
8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
I’ve been experimenting with something I’m calling “task blocking.” It’s very similar to “time blocking,” but I usually don’t have specific times mapped out for each task. As much as I’d like the believe I’m a great multitasker, I know there is no such thing and I can get so much more work done if I dedicate my time to doing one thing at a time, eliminating as many distractions as I can.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Your work doesn’t need to define you. When you assign your worth to your profession, it can easily leak into your home life.
When you define yourself by your work, improvement in that area can start to take over your hobbies and other activities. If what you enjoy doing in your spare time is closely related to your work, that’s great! And if you want to be known instead for what things you do away from the office, real or virtual, that’s great too.
If you found the above conversation helpful and inspiring, be sure to check out Balance the Grind’s guide to achieving a healthy work-life balance.