What do you do?

When meeting people for the first time, I often ask the question “What do you do?” I think it started out as an icebreaker to reduce the awkwardness of that first conversation. However it has become a great revealer of character. With this simple question, you can learn a lot about how someone thinks about their life.

All too often, the answer is something like “I drive trucks for a shipping company” or “I’m a student” or some other description of their work or studying status. This is probably because this is the expected answer and maybe also because of how people identify with their occupation. Sometimes though, I’ll get a surprising answer like “I scrapbook” or “I like to sculpt with clay” and later find out what they do to make money. Obviously, there are enough musicians in the circles I move in that the answer will coincide, the paid time-consumer is also the passion.

I’m certain that this is an identifier for quickly finding creative passionate people – the answer should be about what’s in the forefront of their mind – not about the daily grind or about possessions.

How do you answer this question – “What do you do?”


Automate Your Life

Edited by Peter Muldoon – Original article appeared in Mouthzoff Magazine

Wouldn’t it be great if you did not have to deal with the minutia of everyday life and instead could delegate repetitive tasks to technology? Well, you can! While there is not one all encompassing application or website that can take over your whole digital life, I have been using a number of services that may be useful for promoting your music and trying to make a name for yourself.

Here is a quick introduction to the essentials:

http://www.ifttt.comis a web service that connects other web applications to each other. There are 68 different ‘channels’ (such as the weather, email, Facebook, Dropbox, YouTube etc.) that may be used in each ‘recipe’ as ‘triggers’ and ‘actions’.

While everyone is probably familiar with Google’s Calendar web application and its capabilities with reminders and scheduling of conflicting events, I find it an effective hub for all of my events and related information.

Google’s Gmail is another staple for completing tasks. Two of the most useful features are canned responses and filters. The best uses of these are in combination. For example, any email that contains (or does not contain) certain words can trigger a pre-written email in response.

http://www.dropbox.comis a synchronising application in the form of a shared folder that you install on your computer. It automatically synchronises any chosen folder or file with the cloud and it very simple to use. The Dropbox folder will appear on your computer and all you need to do it drag and drop files or folders into the Dropbox folder. Another user or computer that has Dropbox has the ability to view or share these files once access has been granted by the folder administrator. Any changes made to these shared files is then applied across everyone’s Dropbox.

If you have ever wanted to schedule an email for later or recurring multiple times, http://www.lettermelater.comis for you. In addition, you can use this service from your email account.

While http://www.mailchimp.comis commonly used, the advantage of http://www.campayn.comis that its free plan has autoresponders, allowing you to automatically send an email once a user has been added to your list.

Here is an example of how these services can be utilised together:

As a gigging musician and teacher, I like to promote the gigs I am playing but often forget to post anything on Facebook. Enter http://www.ifttt.comas the connection between my event in Google Calendar and the Facebook page that I would post my event to. While we are on the subject of Facebook and Dropbox, I have another http://www.ifttt.comrecipe that ‘automagically’ downloads any photos,that I am tagged in, straight to my Dropbox. When a new student is added to my roster, I add them to a list on my Campayn account. This then triggers an autoresponder that sends them an email with all of the information they will need. Presto!

What about reminding students about their upcoming lesson? While this is a little more complicated in that it uses four services and a bit more technical know-how, the time saved is completely worth it. I use a custom recipe on Yahoo pipes (this requires a little more knowledge of programming, file types and general technology) to filter and reorder the Google Calendar rss feed for only tomorrows lesson entries. http://www.ifttt.comthen reads the vital information, such as the email address to send it to and start and finish times, as well as the payment details and sends the prewritten email with this information inserted more than 24 hours before their lesson.

Setting Profiles for Android (and there are several similar applications for iOS) is a handy application that can control your phone’s settings such as wallpaper, wifi/data, bluetooth, sound and more that renders your so-called ‘smart phone’ actually smart. I use it to read my calendar events and set my phone to silent during travel, gigs and teaching. In addition, if I receive a call that miss during one of these times, the application will sms the caller to let them know that I will call them back as soon as possible.

Scheduling emails is easy with http://www.lettermelater.com. After you have set up an account, just send your email (with in your usual email program) to me@lettermelater.com with the subject and body of your email as you would normally, but with the addition of “to:”, the email address of the person you are sending it to and on the next line “when:” with the day and time. Press send and it will arrive at your intended recipient at the right time. Awesome!

Sign up for these services, explore the premade recipes and if you find one that makes your life easier please share it with me at http://www..facebook.com/sonicedwardsmusic.

Edited by Peter Muldoon – Original article appeared in Mouthzoff Magazine

For more info on how I work, see my previous article:

I’m Sonic Edwards, and This Is How I Work

Location: Brisbane, Australia
Current Gig: Musician, Educator, Music Industry jack-of-all-trades
Current mobile device: HTC Incredible S
Current computer: Frankenstein Windows 7 Desktop, and Toshiba Satellite M300 Laptop
One word that best describes how you work: In-large-creative-chunks…
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Google Calendar. There are heaps of other apps that I love and use everyday, like Zapier, IFTTT, Growl, AutoIt and AutoHotKey, but I can’t live without my GCal. From sending automated reminder emails to students and gig promotion, it all hinges on my electronic calendar being my hub. Ooh, and Dropbox…. A real lifesaver!

EDIT: See https://earwormusic.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/automate-your-life/ for more info on how I use these and other services.

What’s your workspace like?
Usually, very cluttered. As it’s a home office (and shared space), my wife hates it so I clean it up every now and then. And then I wonder where I put that stuff. I’m very comfortable working in my pyjamas and knowing exactly how far down the pile of papers I need to dig to find that scribbled phone number.
Pictured above: Part of Sonic's workspace.
Pictured above: Part of Sonic’s workspace. 

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Automation with Zapier, IFTTT, AutoIt, AutoHotKey.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

Until recently, RTM (Remember The Milk), but due to work flow and it’s integration with Zapier, definitely Gtasks (on android) with Google Tasks.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

Cutting through to the underlying ‘rules’ in processes, thought, music, whatever. It really took me a while to understand and value how I think. Now, I live by what I learn.

What do you listen to while you work?

Part of my work is to learn other peoples music, so whatever I’m working on. Otherwise a mix of classical, jazz, pop, country, whatever. I really don’t discriminate.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?

Instinctively, I’m an introvert but if I have something to say (that nobody else has or is going to say) I really take the floor, which makes people think that I’m an extrovert. Confusing, huh!?

What’s your sleep routine like?

Boring. (I don’t track, I just know I didn’t get enough sleep because I feel tired.) I work into the evening most nights and sometimes into the early morning, so generally I slepp anywhere from 10pm to 11pm and wake up around 7:30am/8am. And soft start with coffee….

Fill in the blank. I’d love to see ______ answer these same questions.

Albert Einstein.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein


“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.” – The Dalai Lama