Five years ago to the day, Poppy Disney launched WIWT, or What I Wore Today, for people who are interested in fashion to share images of their outfits and links to where interested parties could find the respective outfits for purchase. It started as a personal blog and grew to become an online community with its own app—probably the most popular of its kind in the UK.
Poppy also blogs, is a contributing writer to various sites where she discusses fashion, among other things, and is generally a charming wellspring of wit. She says she's "the opposite of a 'think smart lifehacky' person," but I disagree.
She's also a friend of mine (if online only!); last year I asked Poppy to contribute to the How I Work series because it seemed as though my planned interviewee wouldn't make their deadline and I needed something. But the deadline was met and I've been saving Poppy's interview for a rainy day, albeit knowing that Lifehacker readers are probably not the most fashion-focused lot. With that in mind, I'd rather feature this here than let it sit at the bottom of my inbox, waiting for an opportune moment. Here's Poppy:
Location: London, UK
Current Gig: Founder of outfit sharing platform What I Wore Today (WIWT.com and WIWT apps), consultant at fashion discovery start-up Grabble.co.uk and freelance writer at MSN.co.uk and beyond. [Edit: Some of this info is out of date.]
One word that best describes how you work: Relentlessly.
Current mobile device: iPhone 4, still running iOS 6. That's bad, isn't it?
Current computer: Some unspeakably hefty ASUS thing. It works wonderfully well but lugging it about will be the death of me. I broke my skinny Acer Ultrabook whilst reporting at a festival two summers ago and never got around to getting a similarly thin replacement.
What apps, software, or tools can't you live without?
I always feel like founders want to give smart-arse answers at this point and recommend obscure apps that nobody actually uses. Let's cut to the chase, Twitter is still the app I can't live without. It's where I consume, share, relax and learn—no other app ticks as many boxes for me as Twitter. My life would genuinely be much harder without WhatsApp; it has changed how I communicate. I am in much more regular communication with friends and family because of it, but it's also an essential work tool for me. I'm only in the Grabble office one day a week but we have a team WhatsApp group where we chat all day every day. It's the perfect solution for keeping everyone up to speed. Hailo is another favourite, I can hail black cabs and pay with my business account from my phone—it's simple and it WORKS. I don't get the Uber hype, but that's probably because I think black cabs are the greatest thing about London. I'm a big MyFitnessPal fan too, I track calories even though I am usually ashamed of what I'm inputting. I'd rather not know that my dinner is going to be 984 calories, but there you go. I know it's not trendy to be a fan of Microsoft Office, but I bloody love Paint and Notepad—too many things have too many functions these days, there's something rather lovely about stripping back everything in Notepad.
What's your workspace setup like?
I have always preferred to face a wall and have minimal distractions. A lot of people find that a bit bleak and depressing, but I find it gives me focus. I've done the whole "loud office with constant Xboxing and ping pong" thing and it's not really for me. I ideally want undisturbed solitude. Those office "cubicles" so often ridiculed in US sitcoms actually seem like heaven to me. I don't need anything except a plug socket and a pen and paper.
What's your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?
I love to get on top of my emails whilst on the Underground. We have Wi-Fi on the tube now but I purposely don't connect to it; I find it easier and less distracting to get all my emails drafted whilst I'm offline. I've found myself more commercially successful since prioritising my workload by monetary value too. That may sound painfully obvious, but I think a lot of us are guilty of getting caught up in nonsense that doesn't pay the bills. I think creative types can follow their hearts too often, I know I can, so I have to check myself and ensure I don't just spend all my time doing 'fun stuff'.
What's your favorite to-do list manager?
Pen and paper, always. I have to use squared grid paper though, I can't focus with normal lined paper. I always carry a grid paper notebook with me and I keep all my notebooks once they're filled up too. I love flicking through old ones and seeing how my priorities and vision have (and haven't!) changed.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can't you live without and why?
I didn't realise until I was without it during a house move, but my Philips Sonicare DiamondClean toothbrush. If there's such a thing as teethorexia, I have it. I would floss and brush all day if I could and nothing comes close to the Sonicare brushes. I didn't realise I was such a nerd about it until I was in Egypt last week and I actually "got it out to show people" ON A BUS. Philips are not paying me to say this, but they should. I might call my first baby Sonicare.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?
Making guacamole, the secret is more lime and no tomato.
What do you listen to while you work?
If I'm writing, which I usually am, I need to be in silence really. I treat myself to music if I'm doing more mundane tasks like picture re-sizing or accounting. Ideally it's music I can't sing along to, I regularly turn to the Hanna soundtrack by Chemical Brothers. I don't know why I love that album so much, maybe it's because Hanna is so bad-ass.
What are you currently reading?
I did an interview recently where I said I was too busy to read and I felt like such an arse when I read it back. Giles Coren recently hit the nail on the head with a rant in The Times where he made the valid point that journalists are some of the least well-read people going. I read so much for work that the idea of reading for pleasure seemed hard to fit in to my day, but I make sure I read print when I do read. I may upgrade to a Kindle one day, but for now it has to be books. There has to be a contrast so it feels like a break from the screen. I'm currently reading Little Face, a psychological thriller by Sophie Hannah. I read a lot of magazines too, but I only like trashy "real life" mags like Take a Break and Real People—anything that doesn't have fashion or celebrities, basically!
Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
I'm an extrovert.Occasionally I've thought I have a shy side but I think I'm just confusing shyness with laziness. I often don't want to join in with things but that's more because I can't be bothered rather than because I don't feel confident enough to. We can't be "on" all the time. I love being at home with nothing to do, though I literally can't remember the last time that happened.
What's your sleep routine like?
I'm trying to describe my sleep routine without swearing. It's a mess, essentially. It's the one thing I really need to sort out. Some days I get to my desk at 4.30am (usually because those hours before 9am are when you can actually work without disturbance) other days I have to sleep in the afternoon because it's the only two hours I'll get. Do I need an app? Maybe I need an app.
Fill in the blank: I'd love to see _______ answer these same questions.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
"If you don't like your life you can change it." I bloody love this Mark Titchner print and I have a signed copy framed at home. It was part of the Art on the Underground series and was all over the tube a few years ago. I drew a lot from it and I think it's true. I've met some people who hate it, but they tend to be the kind of people who always have an excuse for why they're unhappy.
Is there anything else you'd like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans?
I don't know if it's interesting but I saw this postcard on the PostSecret blog a few years ago and I printed a copy and kept it ever since. I just think the message is something I can really relate to. We often think we really want things but won't make the one key sacrifice to make it happen, this simple statement reminds me how futile that is.