automattic, happiness engineer

A Day in the Life of a Happiness Engineer

I work at Automattic as a Happiness Engineer for I’ve shared some details on what that’s like before (see here), but never a whole day play-by-play… until now! My day, as it happened on Wednesday, February 22, follows.

Note: The organization and demands of the job have changed quite a lot since I wrote this post, so it is no longer an accurate depiction of how a day would necessarily go. When I find a post with a good, current example, I’ll add a link here to update.

A Day in the Life of a Happiness Engineer by

7:30am – This is when my husband says goodbye and heads to work, so I start thinking I should probably get up too. I rest a while longer, then grab my phone and check Slack to catch up on my team’s channel plus a few others, and see what happened on Twitter overnight. I’m still not quite ready to get up, so I read a few chapters of a historical romance novel I’m in the middle of in the Kindle app. (Book: A Duchess in Name, The Grantham Girls #1 by by Amanda Weaver.)

8:50am – I jump out of bed and get dressed in real-ish clothes so I’m video-worthy, then I finger comb my hair, brush my teeth, grab a big ol’ cup of homemade cold brew iced coffee and a piece of toast, then wedge myself into the corner of the couch in my living room with my laptop propped on a cushion.

9:00am – It’s time for my team’s weekly video hangout. The ice breaker this week is about songs or playlists we use while working on tickets. My answer is very un-musical (except that one episode), because I tend to keep Buffy the Vampire Slayer on a loop while I work. I’ve seen it so many times that I can tune it out when needed, but I never tire of it so it’s nice to look up and see my old favorites anytime I want. When I do listen to music while I work it tends to be movie scores so words don’t distract me, although sometimes I can manage some catchy pop tunes while I live chat.

We use Zoom for our hangout, so we can see each other (in a Brady Bunch-style grid) and chat about a bunch of things, like helping another team cover their workload while they’re away for their upcoming meetup, a new feature recently added to we’ll need to check out so we’re able to support it well, and so on. We also had a special guest this week (our lead’s lead) so we grilled him asked him a bunch of very nice questions.

10:00am – A roofer swings by my house to give me an estimate on some work I need done. When he remembers I work from home, he asks what I do and when I mention WordPress, he lights up and tells me how much he loves it. He shares how he’d never imagined he could handle making his own website, and previously had to pay someone every time he wanted them to update the content, then a friend told him to use WordPress and the rest is history. I basically feel like a hero once he’s done talking about how great it is and how he’s glad I help people with their sites.

10:15am – I open my logbook (a personal p2 I keep in my bookmarks bar) and see what I’ve got planned for the day. P2 theme lets you post from the frontend of your site, rather than in the dash, so it’s nice for this type of work. (You can use the theme for your own logbook if you want!)

In my logbook, I make one post per day and it always includes a checklist that I refer to throughout the day. I also publish a monthly post that I keep pinned to the top with an overview of my month that includes any travel I have planned, time-specific appointments, project goals/deadlines, expense report reminders, and so on. It’s basically a very simple digital bullet journal.

Here’s February’s to do list:

my work logbook's monthly to do

And here’s February 22’s post (screenshot taken the following day):

my work logbook's daily to do for February 22

If I can’t get to everything one day, I make sure to carry things over into the next day’s post so it’s on my list again. I also reply to the post and leave comments throughout the day if I need to save reminders for myself, store URLs to tickets I want to check in on later, notes for bug reports, and so on.

I started this logbook back in October and it’s worked out really well. It helps me keep things all in one place more, rather than having notes in different apps and a mysterious in-my-head to do list. Plus checking boxes is fun.

10:20am – I usually live chat in the mornings for a few hours, but it was well-staffed when I went to schedule myself last week, so I’m on tickets (emails) this morning instead. First I check my replies and I’ve got one that gives me another boost:

“This is EXACTLY the help I needed to get going! THANK YOU for your assistance!”

The day before I’d walked through setting up a theme in detail and answered several questions about configuring this person’s site. When I look at it now, I see he’s done it all and his site is looking great. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes me happy to do this work.

I work on tickets in batches for almost two hours from my couch corner. I tend to claim a handful, work through them, then pop over to Slack to see what’s going on and say hi to my team, before grabbing more and going again.

12:oopm – I post a photo to the Instagram account. I started running the account a little over a year ago when I noticed we had one but it had no photos on it and wrote up a proposal about how I thought we should use it. I got the green light and have been handling it ever since. I share content from sites, and really enjoy searching the Reader to find new-to-me bloggers and websites to feature. I try to share a mix of food, quotes, DIY projects, travel photos, art, journal pages, style bloggers, books, and anything else that catches my eye.

Posting this photo right now is really simple, since everything is ready to go. I plan posts on Trello, which has a nice iPhone app, so I open it up, copy the caption and hashtags, save the image, and head over to Instagram to share. While I’m there, I also check for spam to delete, comments that need replies, and mentions to like.

12:15pm – Lunch time! Today I have salad and chicken tenders waiting, plus yesterday’s episode of The Mindy Project. I eat and laugh a bunch, which makes for a really nice break. I run and unload the dishwasher so my husband will load it as he cooks dinner tonight. This is pretty much the only chore I can manage during the day. When I try to do laundry, I end up starting one load in the morning and forgetting about it until around 5:30. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

1:00pm – I write captions for a few videos I recently helped record for a video series I’ve been a part of making for over a year now. We record short videos with coworkers about what it’s like working at Automattic, what their application process was like, their favorite things and the most surprising things about the work, and more. The playlist for the series is on YouTube here. If you’re curious about applying for a job with us, I recommend checking out the videos. You’ll see how great the people are, and they’ll give you the nudge you need to apply. 😉

1:15pm – I do a 15-minute stretch/yoga routine in my living room to loosen up a bit and help with some lingering shoulder pain I’ve had lately.

1:30pm – I read p2s (our internal blogs) to keep up with everything going on around Automattic. My work email is used almost exclusively for post notifications, since we tend to communicate over p2s and in Slack instead. I especially pay attention to any updates around a project I’m working on right now (but it’s a secret so I can’t share any details about what it is yet). Shhhhh!

2:00-4:30pm – Chat time! I’ve scheduled myself for live chat during this block of time, so I settle in at my desk and hop into chat. I do 15 chats during this time, which means it wasn’t very busy/had plenty of staff on. I tend to stick to up to three chats at a time as my maximum. I can do more, but I feel like quality starts to decline and it drains me quicker, so I’d rather get through three really well then accept some more. When I have some slow times, I grab tickets to work on while I wait for a new chat.

4:30pm – After chat, I troubleshoot an issue I couldn’t figure out while chatting and email the user an update, as promised. I check and clear my ticket replies again one last time before I sign off for the day. I chat in Slack for a few minutes, skim my notifications for anything I need to know right now, then say bye to my team. I publish tomorrow’s logbook post with my checklist for things to do the next day.

5:15pm – I close my laptop. My husband is home, so that’s my cue to stop. We’ve got to head out to look at appliances for our upcoming kitchen renovation.

My days vary in length and work, and I’m starting a rotation in mobile app support soon, so I’ll do another post like this to better show the variety a bit. Beyond how my days vary, every Happiness Engineer works differently, on various projects, and in their own way, so these #a8cday posts are a great chance to get a look at that.

Interested in working with us and finding your way through the chaos too? We’re hiring! 

about sarah, automattic, happiness engineer

Thanks for the memories, Timehop.

Thanks to Timehop, I realized a year ago today is when I had my Matt Chat, which wrapped up my Happiness Engineer trial at Automattic, and led to the job I currently have and love.

My tweet from when I got the first Slack ping from Matt and the chat began:


And then about six hours later when it was done and I’d landed the job:


I spent the rest of the day (and the next few days, if I’m honest) in a haze of excitement. After yesterday’s blahs, this was a perfect reminder of something that has gone (and is going!) great in my life, so thanks, Timehop. I appreciate your perfect timing. This day last year changed my life in an amazing way and I’m glad to remember it.

I’ll celebrate the official one year anniversary of my first day on the job later this month. I marked six months very happily here. <3