How I Work: An Interview with Steven Grant

A key component of TGC’s view of gospel-centered ministry is the integration of faith and work. We seek to help Christians work with distinctiveness, excellence, and accountability in their trades and professions. To aid in this effort we’re launching a new series, “How I Work,” in which we ask people to share their shortcuts, tools, and routines that help them do their jobs or fulfill their vocational roles. (The concept and format are borrowed from the excellent Lifehacker series on work.)

For our latest interview in this series I talked to web developer Steven Grant.


What are your current vocational roles?

I run a small web company called GHIJK (Scottish Gaelic for “geek”) where we help our partners with their web projects. Most notably, I manage a number of TGC web properties: this site, church directory, job board, and the conference website.

What types of social media do you frequently use?

For work, predominantly Twitter as well as being a member of a few web technology Slack channels. I use Facebook as well, but that’s generally for family and friends.

What kind of workspace do you have?

Until last year, our studio was based in our attic. That became impractical when we made our first hire, so we built a custom studio space in the back yard. Our new space comfortably houses a bank of desk spaces, a small sofa, bookcase, and our log-burning stove for those cold Scottish mornings. It’s an enjoyable place to work.

If the house is empty early in the morning, I’ll often go through e-mail in our bright new kitchen space. It’s also where I tinker late at night.

What would you say your best time-saving shortcut is?

TextExpander—a neat little Mac app that stores commonly used text snippets. Since March (I’ve had it longer, but I reformat my laptop every six months or so) it’s saved me 80 hours in key presses.

Do you have an exercise routine?

It used to be soccer, twice a week, before injury and age took its toll. I’m currently assessing the merit of a treadmill or cycle desk to incorporate exercise into my working day.

What are your work hours?

The majority of my day happens between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., but I keep it flexible. Of course, with partners in multiple time zones, there are times I fall outside of that, but I try my best to guard my evenings and weekends for family.

Do you incorporate any spiritual disciplines into your work day processes?

I generally start my day at my desk, in my Bible reading plan (currently E100) along with prayer points. Recently I’ve started asking people online how I can pray for them. At times you’ll get a reply/replies, other times it goes unanswered, but it helps keep you accountable to prayer.

How do you manage what you have to do?

I use a range of project management web apps. We manage the tasks for TGC properties using Basecamp (I’m not a fan). Our company also uses Active Collab, and Trello as our issue log for website code.

Besides your phone and computer, what electronic tool can’t you live without and why?

My in-ear noise cancelling headphones. Just being able to drown out passing traffic and background noise is great. They’re also great for the times I’ll head into the city to work from a co-working space.

What do you do to recharge?

Spending time with my wife and four kids. Also, our small group is a great source of refreshment and encouragement for my soul, particularly after a tough workday. Other times I’ll just zone out a little on Xbox.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Really early mornings have never worked for me. I’ve tried and failed. I do enjoy tinkering with code or learning something new late at night when the family are in bed. I definitely find I’m more creative at night.

What’s your sleep routine like?

I generally get a solid seven or eight hours each night.

What’s the best work-related advice you’ve ever received?

Something I should remember more often: there’s no such thing as an internet emergency. I mean no disrespect to any of our partners in saying that—and it doesn’t mean I don’t care—but I think we could all use a little perspective in these things. That’s as much a reminder to myself in that when our internet service goes down and I get frustrated.

Do you listen to music when you work?

If I’m working on particularly complex piece of logic I’ll listen to music without lyrics, sometimes classical, sometimes house. Lyrical music tends to distract the mind.

If I’m stumped and trying to figure out why something isn’t working, generally I work in silence.

If I’m doing design work then I could be listening to anything.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers?

There are many times with work where I’ve felt out of my depth and questioned my ability, especially within such a fast-paced industry like web development. My dad gave me some perspective: “do it for the Glory of God, honor him in your work, and that’ll be enough.” Not everyone can be Zinedine Zidane (one of the best soccer players in the history of the sport); the world needs Bob Malcolm’s too (an average soccer player who played locally).

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