How Ben Epstein Works

Name: Ben Epstein
Location: DePaul University
Current Gig: Assistant Professor of Political Science
One word that best describes how you work: Musically
Current mobile device: iPhone 5
Current computer:  Macbook pro


What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Twitter, Word, Workflowy, Google Calendar, Google Scholar, Probably whatever Google comes out with next.

What’s your workspace setup like: Office at work is embarrassingly messy but has what I need. I also do a lot of work at my local Starbucks, the clean space helps me be much more efficient.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack? Do you automate something that used to be a time sink? Do you relegate email to an hour a day?  I use workflowy and set up hashtags for specific days to give myself deadlines. I assign myself a certain amount of time to actually do my own work each week but I allow that time to be flexible in terms of how much is used each day because life (read: my kids) happen. Also Google calendar reminds me of things all the time.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager? Workflowy

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why? My big headphones. I’ve been using some iteration of these for over 20 years.

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret? There are a ton of talented people around. I work very hard, stay humble, and try to ask good questions and listen. There are no secrets.

What do you listen to while you work? Spotify (and sometimes Pandora) and I have a ton of music but I need it to be without lyrics. I listen to a lot of vitamin string quartet and other groups that do contemporary music with strings or pianos. When I can do something like emails etc. I will listen to more Soul and Hip Hop. If you pass the office playing Vitamic String Quartet, followed by Sam Cooke, and the Kendrick Lamar, it might be my office.

What do you do to stay inspired? Who are some of your favorite artists? See above. Plus if I need to get particularly pumped up, there is no better song than I Go To Work by Kool Moe Dee. 

What sort of work are you up to now? I am finishing a book manuscript this month (fingers crossed). It presents a theory about repeating patters of political communication change throughout American political history and explores the theory through a historical narrative comparing major changes from the newspaper to the internet. I also have projects involving e-government services, political internet literacy and online political influence in the works.

What are you currently reading? Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It is extraordinary and a must read.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert? Maybe both? I took the Myers Briggs test but always forget what I am. I think I am honestly more of an introvert but I think that I can generally be around other people without needing a paper bag to breathe into.

What’s your sleep routine like? I try to go to be around 10:30, I go to bed around midnight, my daughter wakes me up around 3:30 3-4 days a week and I get up around 6:45 to help get the family moving for the day.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _________ answer these same questions. Why?

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Nobody knows you as well as you do.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans? I am a gigantic Minnesota fan and sports fan. I am therefore a huge fan of Minnesota sports.

The How I Work series featured on the re/search blog is shamelessly stolen from Life Hacker’s How I Work series.  The SSRC’s version asks DePaul’s heroes, experts, and individuals of note to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more. Have someone you want to see featured, or questions you think we should ask? Email Jessi Bishop-Royse at jbishopr AT


Author: Jessica Bishop-Royse

Jessica Bishop-Royse is the SSRC’s Senior Research Methodologist. Her areas of interest include: health disparities, demography, crime, methods, and statistics. She often finds herself navigating the fields of sociology, demography, epidemiology, medicine, public health, and policy. She was broadly trained in data collection, Stata, quantitative research methodology, as well as statistics. She has experience with multi-level analyses, survival analyses, and multivariate regression. Outside of the work context, Jessi is interested in writing, reading, travel, photography, and sport.

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