Name: Lisa Martinovská

Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Occupation: Product Designer

Room size: 3,5 m2 (37,7 ft²)

Cost of the setup: $4,080 (tech) + $222 (a table) + $300 (promo and gifted items)

Social media: Instagram, Twitter and Dribbble

Hey, Lisa! Tell us a bit about yourself

Heya! 👋 As you already know, my name is Lisa and I am currently based in Prague, Czech Republic. Yes, it’s that tiny country at the very heart of Europe.

I am a UX/UI designer, which practically means that I can take your idea (and budget, haha) and deliver the final solution. I am able to handle pretty much everything from research to wireframes and on up to the “pixel-perfect” — argh, hate to use this phrase! — design.

Mobile apps, desktop apps, websites — you name it, I’m on it. By the way, feel free to follow me on Dribbble, Twitter or Instagram as I’m always open to meeting new people and expanding my social circle.

While I am currently a full-time employee of a small Czech startup as a product designer, I had an incredibly difficult start to my career.

My first job as a graphic designer was working for my friend, making mostly newsletters. I was then hired by a brand new design studio to taking care of their UI. What a wonderful world, you might have thought.

However, after a year and a half, we faced hard times, and I was thrown into the Sea of Freelance.

The funny part was to find yourself, a loyal employee who supported the company till the very end, out of money and out of a job. And by funny, I mean horrifying.

Luckily, I got hired shortly afterwards as a UI designer at Immutable to be working on a game called Gods Unchained, and I have been immersed in the gaming UI world ever since.

That’s how I turned into that hard-working motherfucker, working full-time during the week and sweating over freelance projects on the weekends.

Can you describe your home setup?

I believe what took me the longest to put together was a goddamn table.

Originally, I had a Thyge desk, the cheapest white IKEA table. But once it was assembled and I started to use it, I got disappointed because I had hoped for a more natural feel. A wooden base, some nice flowers, you know.

So I came up with an idea to ditch the white part and replace it with the Karlby kitchen countertop from IKEA.

IKEA is a popular choice for building a maker station. It allows to combine different table tops, legs or trestles, resulting in a custom desk built for your needs
IKEA is a popular choice for building a maker station. It allows you to combine different table tops, legs or trestles, resulting in a custom desk built for your needs

Guess what. It turned out that IKEA folks clearly didn’t expect some dumb people would try to use a kitchen worktop as their office desk.

So I ended up buying some drilling tools, making a few holes and then screwing the legs from my previous table to the new one. Can I include “carpenter” on my CV now? I think so.

At first, I wanted to build a small YouTube studio at home — install some soundproof panels on the walls, stuff like that. But that never happened and likely won’t.

Instead, I bought the thickest and fluffiest rug you can possibly find online so that there is at least some soundproofing. Flowers and the shelves did the rest.

My only window faces east, so in the morning it would burn my eyes, and then, after 2 pm, the utter darkness falls. It also means I have to get up early morning if I need to take some pictures. And I am many things, but I am not a morning person. The wallet-friendly IKEA lamps, however, allow me to work during both day and night, yay.

My office is still in the process of making. I would love to get a new black pad under my keyboard along with a mouse, some new plants, and definitely some paintings on the walls.

Currently, the only “cutesy tootsy” items that make my desk seem less non-personal, are the small figures. There’s a mushroom from the Mario videogame series as well as my favourite boys, Tyrael and Diablo. As someone who grew up playing Diablo I and II, I love them the most.

What’s your favourite item on your desk?

I bet most people would have a statuette, a nice little air humidifier, or a photo of their baby on their desk. What ties my home’s setup together? I have been trying to figure it out for a while. Finally, I have an answer.

Since I cannot place my dog on the table (she’s too rebellious), my favourite item would be the MacBook Pro.

As I needed something to work on, I had to take a loan. I paid for it through hard work, but never regretted it. I used to adore Windows until I had a chance to work on a MacBook for the first time. Man, this device is a whole new universe.

It’s striking how much faster an Apple MacBook runs — from small touchpad gestures in apps to the actual OS speed. Whenever something freezes, it’s only one app, not the entire system, so you don’t get a blue screen of death all of a sudden.

Another advantage of a Mac is its RAM. It lets you pretty easily export photos from Lightroom, edit a video in After Effects, and chat on Slack and Discord all at once.
In similar circumstances, Windows would go bonkers, while its fans would sound like they’re going into space.

What does your typical day look like?

I have a dog. It’s an adopted cross-breed baby named Zoe the Nugget.

That translates to the following: around 6:40 am, I open my eyes, slowly waking up to Reddit, Twitter, regretting my life, Instagram, checking emails, and then actually get up around 7:30 am for a dog walk.

My work schedule then depends on whether I must go into the office that day or not. Firstly, I take a shower. If I work from home, I get dressed (which helps me break out of that sweatpants procrastination mindset), make some coffee, and then sit down to work.

By 5 pm, I finish up working at my day job and spend two hours freelancing. I am usually busy until 7 pm, and this includes a lunch break and walking my dog.

Then it’s dinner time (absolutely unmissable). On some days, I hang out with my friends playing Overwatch. This game can be a great way to study and analyse what Blizzard did and why they did it. I highly recommend checking out this shooter if you are now or in the future working as a UI designer on a gaming project.

Since most of the games I’d like to play are Windows-only — and I work on a Mac, did I ever mention it? — I’ve got a Windows station in my living room.

Even though Lisa works from home, she tries to stick to the same schedule. Drinking fresh coffee is an important part of her morning ritual
Even though Lisa works from home, she tries to stick to the same schedule. Drinking fresh coffee is an important part of her morning ritual

I used to work 14 hours a day (and sometimes I still do if I have nothing else to get my hands on). For almost a year, I had been working constantly and wondered what was causing my exhaustion in the evenings. Well, you know what, don’t be stupid. Take a break, or your body will take one for you.

Coronavirus didn’t hit me as much as most people. I had been working from home continuously for two years prior to the pandemic. It has never been a problem for me. I mean, what’s not to like about being able to sleep longer?

Your tips for working from home?

I’ve got three tips.

The first one: get dressed as you would for going to the office. Wear jeans rather than a pyjama bottom and a shirt instead of a pyjama top. It will help you mentally adjust to the fact that even if you are at home, you are still at work.

Here is my second advice. Drink. Enough. Water. You know what, go ahead and drink some water now. I’ll wait here.

A final tip: if you need to focus, turn off your phone. Or better yet, leave it in another room.

We are accustomed to checking our phones at random. We touch it. It lights up. Could there be a new notification for us? Let’s check it out. And the next moment you’re watching TikTok, and it’s been three hours.

When turned off and out of sight, your phone has no chance to distract or tempt you, and you are able to focus on what’s important. The sands of time slow for no one.

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