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Working Better: Interview with creative developer Cassie Evans

Working Better

Working Better - Interview Cassie Evans

This interview is part of the Working Better series.
The series aims to show how people from different fields work, how they balance life and work and how they take care of their wellbeing.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do, your background, and how you got to where you are today?

Sure thing! I work for GreenSock in developer education/advocacy. It’s my job to help folks understand how to make the most out of our web animation library.
It’s the perfect job for me. I used to work full time at an agency as a front end dev. I enjoyed building websites, but my passion really lies more in creative coding and also in helping people. I used to try to squash it all in. I did some mentoring at codebar, spoke at conferences about web animation and messed around with creative coding on the side. Now my whole job is tinkering with animation and helping people! I guess I got lucky and my side-hustle became my full time job!

On a typical week, where do you usually work from?

Since the first covid lockdown, like many people, I’ve switched over to remote working. It’s been a little tricky because I live in a very small one bed flat. ‘My office’ is also the dining room, the lounge, the laundry room and my partner’s office. It’s can get a bit chaotic sometimes, thank goodness for noise cancelling headphones!

What are the things you do to help you start the day in the best possible way?

I’ve never been a morning person, but I’m also a delusional optimist, so I’m constantly inventing new and exciting ideas for morning activities which I inevitably hit ‘snooze’ and sleep through.

Occasionally I’ll manage to trick myself into getting up early and doing something more intentional. I did a few early morning sea swims in summer and felt very smug about it. But honestly, most days I just sit in bed with a coffee, listen to the radio and cuddle my dog.

Can you take us through a typical workday?

I can’t pin down a typical workday and I love it that way. Sometimes I’m making instructional videos, sometimes I’m hunting for bugs or helping to get a new release out. Other days I might be writing an article, making demos or updating documentation. I might be off traveling to conferences or running workshops! The only constant is the GreenSock forums, there are always people to help in there, so I dip in and out and lend a hand in between other tasks.

How do you take care of your wellbeing while at work?

I’ve struggled with anxiety, depression and ADHD for years, so this has always been a bit of a battle. One thing’s changed recently and that’s the ability to set my own hours. Being able to start work later and fit tasks around my schedule and mood has been a game changer. I’m incredibly thankful for that.

What are the things you do that help you when you’re stuck, feel uninspired or need some motivation?

I pop on Noisli! That’s why I was so happy to do this interview. Thanks to my ADHD, I find motivation and focus very tricky sometimes. Getting started or task switching is always the hardest. I have this very big ugly timer on my desk which is great for being able to ‘see’ time. I’ll set a time, choose a task, put on my noise cancelling headphones and use Noisli for background noise. It works (almost) every time.

What do your typical after-work hours look like?

I start work late and often work pretty late into the evening, my partner does too. So usually we’ll have a break for dinner, followed by a little more work, then we both get into bed and read until we’re tired. We both work best with slow, relaxed mornings and deep focus later in the day.

What do you do to maintain a healthy work-life balance?

What’s the saying? Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life work super hard all the time with no separation or boundaries and also take everything extremely personally.
I find this one hard. I burnt out pretty hard just before starting my current job, I tend to say yes to everything even when I don’t have capacity for more things. It’s become a bit of a joke with friends and family. Everyone cheers when I say no to things. I’m getting better though, one ‘no’ at a time.

In general, over the course of the year, what else do you do to take care of your wellbeing?

Wellbeing isn’t all candles and self-care and cosy jumpers and yoga. It’s also panic attacks and ugly-crying and days when you can’t shower or get out of bed. For me, medication helps stabilise this. My career really took off about five years ago and it’s not a coincidence that it coincided with when I started taking meds. My life was pretty messy before that.

Can you share any personal learnings when it comes to your wellbeing and productivity?

Your worth isn’t measured by your productivity. It’s incredibly hard to detach the two, I know I haven’t managed yet, but it’s a helpful lens to view things through.

In general, what had the biggest impact on your wellbeing?

Talking freely about mental health, medication and flexible working hours! Oh, and my dog. I outsource my serotonin production to him on days when my brain isn’t working so well. He’s always so full of joy.

Which advice would you give to someone in your field when it comes to wellbeing and productivity?

I don’t think there’s much advice I can give that will be relevant to everyone, people are so different! Maybe that’s the advice? Everyone’s different. Be gentle with yourself. Find what works for you.

What is your favorite moment of the day?

Getting into bed with a good book and listening to my dog snoring.

What are your interests, hobbies or side projects you love to spend your time on?

I’m building a camper van conversion at the moment. It gets me away from my laptop and I’m learning how to wire up electrics, and do carpentry. I love it. It’s so calming.

Any favorite books or podcasts you would recommend?

I absolutely love listening to radiolab. Top tier independant journalism for nerds.
In terms of books, I love serious sci-fi and somewhat trashy fantasy novels. Some of my favourites are the The Kingkiller Chronicles – Patrick Rothfuss, the Broken Earth trilogy – N K Jemisin and Vurt – Jeff Noon.
I’m always up for book recommendations so if you actually read all this pop me a DM and let me know your favourites!

Where can someone find or follow you?

I’m cassiecodes pretty much everywhere but I’m most active on twitter. If you ever need help with animation on the web, hit me up!

A big thank you to Cassie for this interview!

Avatar photo Written by Sabine Staggl

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