The Freedom team’s motivational secret is our ever-positive and innovative engineer Adis!
It may come as no great surprise to know that we are quite a productive bunch here at Freedom. We do like to practice what we preach, after all! This means that we prioritize the things that matter to us – building a great product, providing an exceptional experience, and ensuring that we preserve time for rest and play, too! Those company values, combined with our fully remote workforce, have resulted in an exceptionally interesting team, full of multi-talented, creative, and super-productive people!
We are extremely proud of the small, but mighty Freedom Family, so we thought it was about time that we share the stories of some of our awesome employees!
Our go-to when we need a bit of motivation –whether in the form of a book recommendation, a virtual coffee, a custom-made t-shirt, or implementing Pizza Thursdays– is software engineer Adis Hasović. He is always on the lookout for new productivity techniques and the latest apps and tools to help attain a better work-life balance.
Adis, who is based in Sarajevo, Bosnia, has always been in the engineering sector but made the switch to software systems when he joined the Freedom team – but that’s not where his talents end! He’s always full of ideas for our design and marketing teams, and has even turned his hand to writing for the blog!
We sat down with Adis to learn more about his career journey, and what it’s like to be a part of Freedom’s engineering team. Spoiler: blocking sites and apps is a little more complicated than it looks!
What’s your favorite thing about working at Freedom?
There are three things I worship in our organization. The first is our team, as everyone is helpful and understanding with great respect for time and effort.
The second is flexibility to work whenever I want, and wherever I am. During the summer I appreciate this as I can work from the beach. 🏖 During the winter I can organize my time better to adapt to the harsh weather conditions and to avoid getting caught in a blizzard, which has happened once or twice! ☃️
The third is the product we are building for ourselves and our customers, as everyone needs more meaningful time in their life.
How did you end up working in technology?
Ever since I was a boy of seven or eight years old, I enjoyed fixing stuff, beginning with my friends’ broken bikes. You may wonder how this relates to technology, but the definition of an engineer for me is someone who enjoys making things better and improving those everyday objects that we all use for our professional and personal growth, like, for example, PCs.
When I was around 10 I got my first PC! One month later I took apart everything and labeled it so I could put it back together. I would give everything see a picture of our living room back then, full of PC parts, the motherboard on one end, the power supply on the other, and in between all other parts, carefully labeled!
A couple of months later I built an entirely new PC which opened additional doors for, not just hardware but also software as the new PC was the platform I used to learn and explore the basics of the Windows operating system. During high school, I was famous for fixing PCs, TVs, and gaming consoles for my family, neighbors, or friends from school, and I was really interested in seeing how stuff worked from the inside.
I stayed in the hardware business all through high school and college, after which I landed my first job as a Systems Engineer with a focus on building and maintaining telco systems for local providers. This job widened my horizons in terms of the software and networks that are used to efficiently scale.
At that time I realized I needed to learn how to better communicate with PCs, so I started learning the basics of programming, writing small scripts which helped me to work faster and more efficiently. Then I started taking courses in software development. At the time Android was my love and I started learning Java. While I poured all my effort into finishing many courses, I was left frustrated as I felt I wasn’t making the progress I had hoped for.
That’s when I made the switch to web development, which was the single best decision I made, as I quickly adopted developer tools and gained the debugging skills I needed to help transition my hardware-based career to software. I took on small projects building and maintaining websites for friends and local businesses, and after I built a full-stack application for a local NGO that received huge network traffic in just one day I realized I was ready to fully sail into the software waters.
What does an average day at Freedom look like for you?
The first thing in the morning for me is to check if there are any urgent issues that need to be resolved ASAP, like an unnoticed bug or security issue, but these occasions are very rare, so I usually start my day by planning the work and dividing it into time-slots. The first time slot is reserved for reviewing specs and future work planning, after which I will review teammates’ work that I am assigned to, which usually takes one to two hours. Then I take a short break and walk for 20 minutes to clear my head, and start working on the main goal of the day. After two 90 minute-sessions split by a 5-10 minute break, it is time for our Standup meeting. After Standup I grab lunch and continue working on the main goal for the rest of the day.
What techniques do you use to stay productive?
There are a couple of techniques I use to stay productive, but I think the most valuable one is to transform the daily task into a habit, which can be a very difficult process. There are two rules I use when creating a habit:
- I set my goal very low, so I don’t have any excuse to skip it
- I track my progress and write it down so I can see the history of the work done
Creating a habit is extremely beneficial as it means I show up every day and have a daily ritual, which results in less stress and easier daily planning.
For boring tasks, sometimes I use mental tricks to motivate myself. For example, If I need to clean up my work space, I will say that I will just need to clean my desk and nothing else. But after cleaning the desk I know I will be motivated to continue until everything in the space is done!
What are some of your favorite tools or apps at the moment?
What are your biggest distractions and how do you conquer them?
Right now my weakest link has to be YouTube, as it is so hard to avoid since I use it for all kinds of purposes. Currently, I don’t block YouTube, I just have a timer for it which allows me to use it for 45 minutes a day. One of my goals this year is to find a better solution for this distraction.
During the pandemic, I was reading a lot of local news portals. After I caught myself opening the news site first thing in the morning I realized I had a problem, so I restricted news websites with Freedom and asked my family members to inform me if there is an emergency. Since then I am much happier and focused.
How do you envision the future of work?
I’m already living in the future! As I mentioned previously, I can work wherever and whenever I want and I think this should be implemented for everyone if their type of work allows it.
You’ve written previously about your experience of burnout. How have you adapted your work routine and lifestyle to this from happening again?
Enough time has passed for me to have a better perspective of what happened and why, the mistakes I made, and how to avoid them in the future. Nowadays I know when is too much, but the most valuable lesson for me is that I now know when to seek help and whom to speak to.
I keep my stress level to a minimum and there are a couple of techniques I adopted, like daily walks, running a couple of times a week, and meditating every day. During the pandemic, I tried Yoga, and I was pleasantly surprised so I am setting it as something that needs to be transformed into a habit as one of my goals for the year.
What things outside of work do you consider essential to your productivity and wellbeing?
I recently started meditating and I am recommend everyone to try it! I promise it will sharpen everyone’s focus, which indispensable for doing meaningful work. For things that don’t require full focus, I recommend combining them with audiobooks. For example, I like to listen to them while running or walking. For this year’s goal, I’m going to try Inemuri.
What (or who) is your biggest inspiration?
I know this may sound weird and egotistical, but my biggest inspiration is my past, and future self! I already mentioned that I like to write and keep my progress visible, so that present-me can see that anything is possible with enough effort, and future-me will remember that nothing can be acheived overnight. Where others may see just one step, I see a thousand small ones.