Shadow My Day as a Designer at Yahoo! in Sunnyvale

Yahoo! Campus
Bernat Fortet

Bernat Fortet  |  @bernatfortet  |
Hi! I’m Bernat a designer born and raised in Barcelona. I started an adventure that led me to SF. When I’m not working at Yahoo I’m thinking really hard on how to create awesome learning environments for children at night. I climb, hike and cherish my awesome girlfriend, Stephanie.


8:13am First Alarm  The first alarm rings and I snooze it. I use that time to snuggle or chat with Stephanie. I love that in the morning.

Bernat's morning journal

8:30am Second Alarm — Ok... Now I gotta get up. This alarm is for me to get into the shower. But first things first: I write in my 5 Minute Journal. It’s basically gratitude work, visualization and intention setting for the day. Quick and impactful. 

Then, my morning shower. I’ve had one almost every day of the year. That’s why I have been attaching rituals to it (Research says that it’s effective to create new habits next to already existing habits —check Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg). In the shower, I brush my teeth and I do as many stretches as time allows. Lately, I’ve started a new ritual: I verbally give thanks for being “here in this very moment”, I thank my body and I state my mission in life: “to collaborate to create nurturing and empowering environments for kids to learn and thrive.”

Disclaimer: shower times are above average. I compensate that with beef banned from my diet and super lower meat consumption (Watch Cowspiracy on Netflix)

8:46am Third Alarm — Shooot!! Gotta get out RIGHT NOW! For the past 8 years, I’ve finished every shower with a cold rinse. I scream first and love it later. It feels like when you drink lemon juice, it’s terrible at the beginning but sweet at the end! A couple months ago I dove deep into the concept of “Ego Depletion” (Read Your apps makes me fat). The gist of it is:

  • Decisions take brain power
  • You have a limited brain power
  • Use it wisely...

Now I try to have as few decisions as possible in the morning before getting to the IMPORTANT stuff (read The Procrastinators Matrix). Every night I choose my clothes, reach inbox 0 and plan the 3-5 things I’m going to do for work and for personal life. The result? Morning work is amazing! I transition to every task without resistance and I just get shit done. (it was not like that before)

Bernat biking to work

8:54am Fourth Alarm, The Point of No Return — I always overextend my shower but the panic monster appears, rescues me and tells me to GTFO  (read about the panic monster). If I leave later than 8:54 I will miss the shuttle. I’m always leaving in a hurry.... I kinda like it. I jump on my bike and I sprint like a madman. I love starting my days on hot wheels.

I don’t listen to music while I bike in the morning. I think I like tuning into the reality outside my house. The cars, people, cops, red lights. All that. I’ve developed a 6th sense for understanding how to maneuver through traffic when I’m in a hurry. I end up winning 2 extra minutes. It could be replaced by just waking up a little bit early or cutting down shower time... completely irrational. But it’s my morning ritual. 

Bernat's mornin shuttle to Yahoo!

9:00am Shuttle To Work — I jump in the shuttle (my bike goes in the trunk). There’s always nice chatting at the start. Say hi here and learn something new there. Then I focus on my morning tasks (those that I prepared the night before). I either read a book for 1h or work on my education/children development research.

Disclaimer: Tech shuttles are a thing in SF. A byproduct of the tech industry. They are not helpful in making SF/Bay Area Mass Transit friendly. I ride them every day. I don’t take them for granted, I’m thankful for it and aware of what they represent.
Bernat's morning breakfast

10:15am Breakfast — As soon as I arrive at the office I get my breakfast. What a great fortune to have readily available food. My ritual is eggs, spinach leafs, rice, beans, cilantro & almond butter. Unless it’s rainy, I will eat outside. It’s usually sunny and nice all year round. I will share the breakfast and comment on life or ideas with other folks.

10:30am Work — I start the day by saying hi to Chris my teammate — he is a designer. He is awesome. We sync up on what’s important to work on today. Currently we are working as the design team on a project that revolves around AI and conversations.

I will spend around half the day in meetings and the other half working on our stuff. I don’t like the amount of meetings. It doesn’t feel that productive that’s why I make sure I have a minimum of “get shit done time” on my calendar.

Yahoo! workspace

11:00am Pomodoro Mode — During this time I’m in Pomodoro mode. The gist of it is — work for 25 minutes on 1 or few tasks that are very VERY clear. For example, I had to improve the app icon of the app that I’m working on and there were some old icons that I based the new on. Steps:

  1. Download new icon from repository
  2. Make it pixel perfect
  3. Play with colors
  4. Choose 3 icons
  5. Send it to Jon
  6. Design 3 header variants OR brainstorm possible video uses cases.
  7. Rest for 5 minutes (I stretch my upper body or play a couple rounds of arcade basketball)
  8. Repeat

1:30pm Lunch — Lunch is with Chris, with friends from previous teams or during a meeting. Working in Sunnyvale we usually have a great sunny day and we enjoy getting out of a room for a little bit. My usual meal is: Steamed Vegetables, Champs, Guacamole (again :), Chickpeas or Lentils, maybe some rice, and as a good catalan...tons of olive oil.

2:00pm Afternoon Meetings  More meetings, brainstorms or focused work. Last year I worked on a platform project which required a lot of meetings with engineers. This year I’m currently working on consumer product. Meetings are now 50% Engineers and 50% Product Managers.

When I’m not in a meeting or “Work Time” mode I take care of small tasks. I’ve found myself walking around the floor with my laptop and sitting next to engineers to reduce the conversation and get to the results faster. I also enjoy dealing with engineers. I always learn something interesting with them.

3:00pm Afternoon Work  Since we are dealing with Conversational UIs we are not pixel pushing as much as before. Now we do a lot of UX design using words. That means we have to talk with Artificial Intelligence/Backend engineers which in my experience is not very common for designers. I’ve learnt a lot from this newly found relationship. For example, how machine learning and neuronal networks work. Their obfuscated nature doesn’t allow designers, not even engineers, have a great understanding on how things work on particular instances (a lot of it works through statistics). I’m excited about the day were we, as designers, we will be able to tap into these algorithms and understand UX from the micro and the macro.

As a designer, I use a small Mnemosyne notebook with Sharpie Fine Point Pens. Sketch to push pixels. Sublime Text to code. The Pomodoro timer app to track my pomodoros. I listen to music with Spotify, Noon Pacific or Soundcloud. I track my daily tasks on Notes and my whole life with Omnifocus + GTD

Shuttle back to SF

5:30pm Shuttle Back to SF — For the past 2 months, I’ve been leaving most of my communications for the shuttle back. No email during the whole day unless strictly necessary. This little trick that has dramatically boosted my productivity. I spend 30 min on SMSs and messages. Then the daily battle towards inbox 0. 

During the day I have been writing thoughts and tasks down on Omnifocus. If I have some extra time I try to actionize them and categorize them. I’m listening to Evening Acoustics on Spotify —a nice playlist to get stuff done in a calm way as the landscape changes through the windows of the bus. There are always amazing sunsets around here [insert timelapse]

7:00pm Climbing Gym — The climbing gym is a space for my mind and body. I climb and read. No music during climbing. This allows me to focus on my breathing and the subtle sounds of the wall, my feet, my hands... I do 4-6 rounds of 10 min of climbing and 9 of resting and reading. This allows me to reduce injuries (I don’t overextend myself) and learn new things through books. I read using Kindle.

This is my current library. A lot of early child development, productivity and ancient wisdom. (I can’t wait to read The Prophet) I climb 2-3 times a week.

Bernat's library

10:00pm Chores  As soon as I get back home I try to close out any home related chore. Clothes, beds, food, etc...

10:30pm Dinner  Dinner is variable. Stephanie or I might cook, some days we use Sprig to get delicious quick meals delivered or we go out. Not ritualized at all. Nonetheless, I always say “Buen Provecho” (like bon appetite but in Spanish) and share a couple of things I’m grateful for before eating. I’m not Christian but I think blessing the table is a great tradition.

Bernat's journal

11:00pm Closing Out  I prepare my bag. I clean up my calendar for tomorrow (no overlaps and getting to know what’s coming). I choose my clothes and the 3-5 things that I’m going to work on tomorrow. I write on my 5 min journal: 3 things that were awesome today and what’s something that I would do differently. Stephanie is my teeth hygiene muse and invites me to a toothbrushing party!

11:30pm Into the bed! — Stephanie usually procures us with a hot water bag. GREAT! All set for a great day tomorrow!

12:00am Good night 💤

Closing Thoughts — I used to be late to everything, be bothered by email/calendar and come back home and watch a tv show to relax. Lately, though, I’ve created many systems to beat that procrastination beast and work on my dreams. You just read the most ideal version of my life. 
Thank you!