Community Change Maker: Justin Barrett

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Airtable Alumni (Retired)


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The Airtable Community Change Maker Spotlights are a new ongoing series where we will be highlighting inspirational creators across the Airtable Community. We are thrilled to be able to highlight Justin Barrett

LM: How would you describe yourself on the back of your autobiography?

JB: Justin has been juggling left- and right-brained activities all of his life. With activities ranging from programming to community theater, databases to voiceover, “varied” only begins to describe his life experiences. He’s currently the IT Manager at Lights Over Atlanta, an exterior lighting design and installation company outside of Atlanta, GA. He works remotely from Las Vegas, NV, where he and his wife are serving as live-in caretakers for her aging parents.

LM: How long have you been using Airtable?

JB: I’ve been using Airtable for about four years now. I discovered it through the Film Riot channel on YouTube. At the end of some videos, they’ll occasionally talk about tools they’re using, and they mentioned Airtable in one episode. I took it for a quick spin, thinking after an hour or so that I might use it sporadically. Within a week I had at least a dozen bases, and it just kept growing from there.

LM: How do you use Airtable? At work? At home?

JB: Yes. 😂 After becoming quite active in the Airtable community forum, I started getting hired to help others with their Airtable issues and projects. One of my clients was Lights Over Atlanta, and after feeding me steady work for nearly two years, they hired me full-time.

LM: What is your favorite Airtable feature?

JB: Probably its scripting features. I’d dabbled in JavaScript a number of years ago on some web projects, but didn’t understand it very well at the time, so I didn’t stick with it. Only after Airtable added scripting features did I decide to give it another try, and now I’m writing code almost daily. I commented to someone the other day that it’s a little ironic how I got back into JavaScript via a tool that is mostly known for its no-code features. 🤣 

LM: How did you learn how to use Airtable?

JB: The same way that I tend to learn most software: a lot of experimentation combined with combing the Interwebs for answers to my own questions. Even after four years, I still use the same techniques. I usually start with my own tests, and revert to searching online if those tests either fail or prove inconclusive.

LM: What is your #1 Airtable product request?

JB: Add support for user-created code libraries. Most of my work these days involves scripting, and I find myself using the same chunks of code in a lot of scripting projects. I’d love to have someplace where I can save commonly-used functions, modules, etc. that I can reference from any of Airtable’s scripting environments.

LM: What is your favorite hobby outside of work?

JB: I’ve been so busy with projects in recent years that I (sadly) haven’t given myself the space for hobbies. I do work part-time on the entertainment crew of a minor-league baseball team, but I’m not sure if that counts as a hobby. However, lately I’ve felt an increasing interest in LEGO, and I just ordered my first small LEGO set the other day. I see building with LEGO as a tactile equivalent to writing code: with the right pieces in the right combinations, you can build almost anything you can imagine.

LM: What impact has Airtable had on your workflow? (ex: saving time)

JB: Airtable has had a tremendous impact on my workflow. I’ve used it to:

  • Create reminders for specific activities (e.g. vehicle registration renewal)
  • Automate social media posts
  • Assist with assembling and publishing newsletters

The biggest impact has been through the personal planning system that I built in Airtable. I began working on it shortly after discovering Airtable, and have continued to add and tweak features over the years. Instead of being constrained to someone else’s system, I could build a system that worked more harmoniously with my own brain and the way that I think about tasks, projects, etc. Sadly Airtable can’t do much to help me with impulse control, and there have been stretches when I didn’t use the system at all. I’ve been getting back into it lately, though, and have again found it to be immensely helpful.