I'm Benjamin Boyd, and This is How I Work

Location: Baltimore, MD
Current gig: Landscape Designer
Current mobile device: Samsung Galaxy S4 (rooted) / Acer A500 (rooted)
Current computer: Dell Tower@Work / Custom PC@Home
One word that best describes how you work: Methodically

What apps/software/tools can't you live without?


Apps: In terms of productivity apps, I use Evernote for taking notes and pictures of my Moleskin notebook. Any.do is fantastic for making to-do lists and actually getting them done. Google Keep is great for quick things like grocery and other lists off the tops of my head that I don't necessarily want to work into my Evernote organization. CloudCube is a great new app I found here on Lifehacker for managing my numerous storage accounts. AutomateIt Pro is also very handy when used correctly to automate certain processes and settings based on my location or time of day.

For personal needs, I use Accuweather because I am not a fan of the way the Weather Channel tries to make all kinds of weather life/death news (see: naming winter storms). Kindle books keep my free time busy catching up on novels that I've been putting off. Evernote Food has finally been upgraded in Android and is great for documenting my girlfriend's culinary explorations. I also heavily use Untappd for logging all the different varieties of beers I try as well as competing with friends for badges. I use Mint and Simple to manage my money. I am testing out YNAB, we'll see if it is any better than my personal spreadsheet.

Software: Because I work heavily with construction documents and graphic renderings there is a pretty generic sweep of programs that are essential to any modern landscape architect. Adobe Photoshop, Indesign, and Illustrator are in constant use at my desk - often in tandem. Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D, Trimble Sketchup, and ArcGIS are more industry specific programs used heavily. If I need to get really fancy and make a photo-realistic rendering of a project, I may get into Vue Infinite and Podium for Sketchup.

Tools: I use a Wacom Intuous 3 tablet I've had since school to work on renderings. It is a real advantage when working in Photoshop. Our office just purchased a Wacom Cintiq 24in HD for communal use, but our enterprise graphics cards only support 2 monitors so I stick with my personal tablet. Otherwise I work on rolls and rolls of trace paper, hundreds of markers, drafting pens, rulers and scales, and copious amounts of coffee.


I also just received a Timbuk2 Commute messenger bag for my birthday and it is extremely useful given the fact that I ride my bike to work each day. The fancy fur pockets for your phone and "Napoleon" pockets are great features.


What's your workspace like?


I have a nice dual monitor setup at work. The desk stays fairly clear because I am a bit OCD about putting papers away at the end of the day. At any point, however, there could be a hurricane of trace paper, construction drawings, and photography that attacks the desk. There is a large drafting table behind me and a sweet view of Baltimore harbor to my left. My moleskin notebook is always handy for taking notes, instructions, or sketching out ideas. The little desktop fan is a simple, but extremely wonderful addition to the desk.


At home, my workspace is crammed into our little rowhome basement dubbed the "mancave." I have my custom built PC that was beefed up to 2009 standards for back when I was in school. These days it mostly checks fantasy football and facilitates movie watching. I installed a larger hardrive and new video card recently so that I could watch movies on the adjacent TV. I use XMBC to manage the movie viewing and Calibre to organize all the various files. Honestly, it is not too complicated of a setup, but it is one of the things I enjoy most. Put the work away and the basement becomes my own little mini-movie theater.

What's your best time-saving trick?

Probably the best thing I can do to be more productive is avoid playing video games or watching TV. I recently cut the cord and switched to all streaming at home. So far I spend all my time catching up on shows that I otherwise wouldn't have made time for. Kind of backfiring at the moment, but it is saving me a ton of money. Turning off notifications on my phone during work hours has also been a huge help. It also saves my GS4's battery.


What's your favorite to-do list manager?

As mentioned above, I use a combination of Any.do for big things and personal stuff that I need reminders about. However, I use my Moleskin notebook heavily for project related tasking. Things constantly change with design projects and I need to be able to quickly write additional information or jot down a sketch.


Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can't you live without?

My latest and greatest gadget purchase has been the MOHU Leaf Ultimate. Since cutting cable the one thing that I have missed is prime time sports. I'm not the kind of guy that needs to see every game, but I do enjoy watching our local Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens as well as Sunday Night Football. That and I am a CBS Sunday Morning junkie. It picks up local channels is full 1080p and so far it has been a great purchase. If it isn't that... then it is probably my Xbox/PS3.


What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

I'd say that I probably have better work week lunches than anyone I know. When my girlfriend and I are planning out dinner for the week, we adapt our list to include extra servings that we immediately pack up as lunch. Sometimes we add a twist and change it up so it is not quite like we are eating the same meal twice. I feel like when I show up with pulled pork or red curry in a big container - something in the soul of the guy who is eating Hot Pockets dies.


What are you currently reading?

I am bouncing in between a few books currently. For pleasure: I am rereading the Ender's Game series in order to prepare for the upcoming movie adaption (about which I am pumped). I'm about halfway through World War Z and the same in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. For work: I am knee-deep in the Landscape Urbanism Reader by Charles Waldhiem, Gardens are for People by Thomas Church, and Green Metropolis by David Owen.


What do you listen to while you work?

I have Spotify Unlimited and a couple dozen playlists that I enjoy moving through. Sometimes when I'm writing, music with words get distracting so I turn on video game music like Nobuo Uematsu's Distant Worlds (Final Fantasy) or Anamanguchi. Other fantastic wordless options are Ratatat and Daft Punk's TRON soundtrack.


When words can be afforded I listen to podcasts. The 404 Show on CNET, How to Do Everything, Radiolab, 99% Invisible, IGN's Podcast Beyond, and Stuff You Missed in History Class, and ESPN's Fantasy Focus are some of my favorites.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

I'm mostly an extrovert. I enjoy being around people and I am actually the head of Baltimore's University of Florida alumni group. We organize events and game viewings that are a ton of fun to go to and meet new people. I play organized bocce (yes that is a thing) and football in fun leagues around the city. That being said - if I am not doing one of those things... I'm locked down in the basement running a 5 hour session on my Xbox and avoiding all real human beings. It is a give and a take.


What's your sleep routine like?

6-7 hours when I can get it. Coffee is essential.

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

Patrick Stewart, Chris Hardwick (updated now that he is everywhere), and Joss Whedon.


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

This, this, and also, "Never leave the game early."

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

One of the hardest things for me to figure out when I was younger is what "mold" I was supposed to fit in. When I was a fraternity guy in college there was a certain image people expected me to portray and the same when I was with other students of architecture or playing on a sports team. Over the years, I think it was realizing that just because I liked something didn't make me jock, nerd, or artist. I just ended figuring that I would try and get good at a lot of things - no matter what the subject matter or implication. I believe people used to call that a "Renaissance man" back in the day.

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