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Interview with Hristiyan Dodov

3 months ago

This isolation is the perfect time to look inwards, cut the crap, and start fresh once this is over

Shortly, Hristiyan is a Full-Stack Developer. In other words, he is programming, configuring, putting things in order, and annoying people for things they should be annoyed at, but aren't. Or at least that's how he describes it. He works at Oblik Studio with Joro and Vladi - the first two people in his life that he called friends, and about a dozen more cool and interesting people.

Learn more about Oblik Studio.


A few words about yourself?

I'm 22 years old, striving to make a change in something or someone, for some reason. I'm a fan of logic and thinking, which are very underrated. I like dancing with Electric Force Crew and spinning on my head. I like efficiency and improvement. I type with 10 fingers and you should too. I drive a '96 Ford Fiesta that I love, especially when its engine starts during the winter.

Do you usually work remotely or only due to the pandemic?

Only due to the pandemic. I had done remote freelance work in the past and thought that being in an office sucks, but the tables have turned.

When did you start and what challenges did you face in the beginning?

I became interested in web design and development somewhere in 2008 thanks to the aforementioned Joro. In the autumn of 2013, I finally decided to quit fucking around and take it seriously. Along with the aforementioned (x2) Vladi, we went to ELSYS (where Joro went) and graduated, specialized in System Programming. Few years of hustling later (and more to come) and we're here, launching Mode Remote and wearing masks.

The biggest challenge I faced in the beginning was to not dig deep into problems. When something didn't work, I got angry and screeched at the screen like a banshee. I was like... 12, though. With time, I learned that knowledge is your friend and you should strive to gain as much of it as you can. Think rationally, research, inform yourself, and think again. Everything happens for a reason and therefore has a solution.

What are your pros and cons of remote work?

Pros:

  • No traffic and stupid people in subways and buses

Pros and cons:

  • Do whatever, whenever with whomever and wherever you want for whatever reason

Cons:

  • It's easy to get stuck in the same routine and mess yourself up

What is your workspace setup?

  • Dell U2717D, 27 inch montior (I like my 24 inch Dell at the office too)
  • Thinkpad T590 from the office, and my personal T530 for special occasions
  • Logitech G102 mouse
  • Some random headphones from an old phone
  • This teapot from IKEA
Hristiyan's workspace

What is your typical day like?

  1. Get up at around 6-7 a.m.
  2. Dress up in my work clothes
  3. Make tea
  4. Work on a personal project till about 10 a.m.
  5. Work on non-personal projects till about 6-7-8-9 p.m.
  6. Take a 🚢
  7. Go to sleep before 11 p.m. at all costs
  8. Repeat

During the day, I have short periods to snack, stretch, walk around, look out the window, look at random objects around me, but not at my phone or social media.

How do you stay focused and healthy?

Focus

It's like a muscle and you need to make conscious efforts to strengthen and maintain it. Your behaviors and habits determine when you lose and when you regain it, so it's useful to take some time at the end of the day to reflect. When were you productive, when you weren't? What were the causes of both? Simply thinking about something you did allows you to think about it right before doing it again. Use that to your advantage to filter out bad behaviors.

I stay focused by having less distractions. Mind-blowing! I'm one of those people who actually clears his browser tabs and usually has 3-5 of them, none of which are Twitter. That helps.

  • I listen to music when doing something repetitive, rhythm helps
  • I don't listen to music when doing something that requires thinking, lyrics distract

Talk to yourself (but not too much). It helps as much as how someone else talking about random crap is distracting. Turn down the noise and talk yourself into Flow.

Health

It's pretty simple, if you think about it. Pain and tiredness are excellent indicators that you're probably doing something you shouldn't. If you're wise enough to take care of your body, your body will take care of you. It's just the way we are. We need teamwork between each other and within ourselves.

The following changes were the most beneficial for me:

Quit smoking

It's just pointless. If you do it because it "relaxes you," have you tried going out for a walk, taking a deep breath? If you do it as an excuse to take a 5 minute break, then just take a fucking break. What does the cigarette help with? Turn the fresh air you breathe to shit? Make you cough your lungs out? There are quicker and more effective ways to kill yourself. However, if that's what you're after, please seek help instead.

Quit caffeine

I liked drinking my daily cup of coffee, but I disliked being dependent on it. The headache you get from skipping it once ruins your whole day, so you can't stop. Also, you get a boost in energy for a few hours, then you get a decline... unless you drink another cup. I had summarized this in a chart. That's why I switched to tea - it has many more fun flavors, still energizes you, and doesn't punish you for not drinking it.

Sleep well

The single most important thing for health is sleep. If you think that working 37 hours a day is just a part of hustling, then I think you may be wrong. There's a difference between staring at a screen or browsing social media and actually working. Go to sleep ideally at 10 p.m, turn off all alarms, open a window to have fresh air during the night, and let your body relax. Usually, to not be late for work, I have an alarm as a last resort, but I wake up before it rings. That's how your body rewards you for being consistent, which is the other important part. If you don't get up before the alarm - go to sleep earlier. There are one, two good TED talks about sleep.


Bottom line is - it's foolish to think you can outsmart biology. Chugging caffeine or other stimulants won't do you any favors in the long run. If you really care about getting work done - observe yourself, try out different things, see which work out, and most importantly - see through your own bullshit. That'll help you in the short, long, and any other type of run.

What collaboration and communication tools do you use?

  • Slack for quick and dirty, short-term updates
  • Trello for long-term tracking
  • Figma for design collaboration
  • GitHub 😍 for development collaboration

Instant or asynchronous communication?

Asynchronous. In an ideal world, people know what they want, they write it to you, you can organize your work, and then do it efficiently. Instant communication is good for urgent tasks, if people don't broaden the meaning of "urgent" too much.

Would you change anything in your regular working routine once the pandemic is over?

Nothing much. It'll be pretty much the same, except I'll be in the office. I like getting up early in the morning to go to work while the city is empty. After work, I like to sit in my car at the parking lot for who-knows-how-long to recap the day. I would enjoy having those things back.

What is the funniest place where you've had to get your laptop open?

Starbucks. I'm not a huge fan of that coffee shop nomad thing. Go to office, focus, get shit done, then go wherever you want and have fun. That's more my thing.

No-pants, pajamas or regular clothing?

Work clothes. If you want to work, you've got to have working clothes, right?

Would you like to add anything else?

I want to encourage people to reduce the noise, pay attention, take things slowly, and think. This isolation is the perfect time to look inwards, cut the crap, and start fresh once this is over.


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