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Contribution stories: Marcin Zajkowski

Name: Marcin Zajkowski

Job title: Chief Technology Officer

Country: Poland

Has been working with Umbraco: Since 2009/2010

Marcin 1Mvpcg18

What type of contributions to the Umbraco project are you involved in?

  1. umbraCoffee (creator, co-host) - weekly, live-streamed series of Umbraco-related news from the community.
  2. Umbraco PL Festival x3 + PL community - co-organiser, leader, mentor
  3. Umbraco Trainer (before online) - courses in Poland and dedicated in Norway + UK
  4. Public Speaking / Knowledge Sharing - list (needs update), talks/slides, tips
  5. Open Source contributions - Github, Packages help
  6. Umbraco contributions - issues, pull requests, polls & discussions

What motivates you to contribute?

I was never looking for a motivation to contribute or be active within the community. I always liked to share knowledge and learn from others (since high school/studies). The Umbraco community became a place where I opened myself for interactions and where I felt listened and heard. If I would name the source of motivation here, it’d be exactly that - seeing that my actions help others shorten their paths, "horrors", learning curves, etc.

How much time do you dedicate to contributing? 

It’s extremely hard to be precise with it here, as a huge part of my daily job is related to contributing to Umbraco in various ways. It’s also not regular, as there are instances where I’m almost making up time and trying to fill every spare moment I have, but also moments when I don’t even want or able to give back. I also try not to pressure myself, so now all of my actions are driven by a simple need or impulse to JUST DO IT.

How do you manage your contribution time?

^^ See above! I try not to manage it recently at all (and it works extremely well!). In terms of management here, I just track all of my time spent on tasks and from my quick look on the tracked time: 

  • I’ve spent ~44 hours on tasks (non-work related) last year
  • ~9 hours in 2020 (!) so far

Not that much, but it doesn’t cover e.g. talks and the preparation they require (as I’ve treated them as a part of my job) and many more contributions which I’m extremely grateful to do at work. Thanks to my experience as well, I start from eliminating tasks that I don’t want to do first and also automate as much as it’s possible (to SAVE TIME :)).

All of my activities (maybe besides umbraCoffee - which is scheduled and performed at the same time every week) I try to do ad-hoc and almost immediately when it’s needed or feels like something that I need to do e.g. to free my brain, help my team or someone else.

A couple of years back, I dedicated 1hr every morning - before my normal workday started - to answer questions about Umbraco on StackOverflow. It’s interesting, but again, it’s more an experiment and challenge. Currently, I don’t want to force myself to anything and thanks to it, the effects of contributions and activities are more valuable in my opinion.

Not particularly related to Umbraco/open source contributions, but as a hack to increase productivity in terms of time management and arrangement of my activities during the week - I also divided my week into themed days. And e.g. I try to have all of my meetings on Fridays to not distract me from anything else on other days. I start weeks from the most problematic tasks on my list to get some time after finishing them for e.g. contributions! A very helpful technique is also dividing days into blocks. I prepare a list of “ToDos” (on paper, old school!) every day and cross out what's done from this list as the day goes by. I keep this card in front of me to remember what I’ve planned to do for the day. 

Are there productivity tools that you use and that you can recommend to (new) contributors to the project? 

  • Toggl - the time management tool (free for personal use), to track and measure time spent on specific tasks. Very valuable data as time is our only currency and most precious element of our life. Worth to see where it’s used (and wasted :)).
  • Trello - task management software without which I’d literally DIE! I keep things to be done there, ideas, links and various other things there to help me deal with everything.
  • Tweetdeck (& Better TweetDeck) - as the Umbraco community is very active on Twitter, I use those two to gather information about Umbraco and various other interests in the columns to not scroll through and waste a lot of time to find what interests me the most.
  • Zapier (or Pipedream) - automation tools to do some manual work for me, automagically. They allow me to connect some of the tools I use and e.g. gather some data for me to let me proceed with it when I’ll find time for it.
  • Notepad/paper - to keep things to be done nearby and ‘present’ in the offline life! :)