your place

November 19, 2014 in Coworking, new ways to work, workspace

IMG_3413When I get stuck, I like to go back to basics, and for me that often means remembering why I am in this place to begin with. Literally why THIS PLACE. I go outside for a walk to soak in the air and leaves and vistas in my place, or if I can’t go outside right then, I look at a few photos and bingo! There is why. (see photo)

Of course the place itself isn’t always the full answer, but it does help me get focused on why I am here in this place and what I am doing. And then I can move forward again to what I should be doing and why it is important, today.

So in my case, why I am in Plymouth? That is a story for perhaps another day, but once I landed here I realised I wanted to be part of a community, and one of the ways to do that was to find other people who are working on their own business, and who also enjoy the company and support of others whilst working. There are proper networking groups, but being a bit of an introvert, the traditional networking events and groups didn’t really work for me. After various turns and twists, I teamed up with Rob and Kirsty Wick to start THINQTANQ. Now we have a space where people who work from home can come along and work here on a regular basis – set by their own timetable – and enjoy the company and ‘networking’ that happens naturally when you work around others. Plus we organise other events that our members ask for or which we think they might enjoy, and then other people get to enjoy our lovely airy space smack in the middle of Plymouth.

And everyday I get to take a boat then walk through the Barbican to get to work around really interesting people doing all kinds of inspiring work. How amazingly wonderful is that!

So when I think about all that: the lovely Plymouth setting, that I get to enjoy the changing light on water every day as part of my commute, and that I get to work around people who choose to be here, I get slightly goose-bumpy and a little smile inside, and think how very lucky I am. It is pretty easy to move forward when I think about it like that!

So how about you? What do you do when you get stuck? If you think you might need a change of place to do your work, I know a really lovely place you can stop by any weekday :). Hope to hear from you soon! You can find me here, or at http:thinqtanq.co.uk.

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    Go home happy!

    November 12, 2014 in Coworking, new ways to work, workspace

    GetworkdoneThis is the giddy time of year – all the hullabaloo around the holidays is ramping up, and all the end-of-year goals and deadlines are looming large. So how do you concentrate and keep your focus?

    Whilst I confess to being a holiday junkie, and there will likely be the first set of fairy lights put up before the end of the week, here at THINQTANQ the focus is on getting our work done.  So if you are struggling to maintain focus at home, and would like to crack on for a few more days, why not try coming along and getting your work done here? For only a fiver, you can work 4 full hours, have free tea or coffee, and enjoy our warm and comfortable working space. Just bring your laptop, and you’ll be ready to go!

    If you need to get your end of year goals finished, but like me, when you are working at home, you might instead peruse a few catalogues, finish the dirty dishes, start a load of laundry, then finish it, all before sitting down at the computer, you need some discipline! Nothing like working around a bunch of other business owners – just like you – who are focusing on getting their work done. The enthusiasm and passion for getting work done rubs off, and soon you are well on your way.

    And after a day of focus, you can go home and relax. Remember that word? It takes on a special meaning when you can happily say you got your work done for the day so you can now RELAX. And when you’ve really focused for a few hours with no distractions, it is amazing what you can get done.

    Once again this week I heard one of our new members say towards the end of his third hour working here: “um, I finished my list of tasks for the day, now I’m not sure what to do!” Imagine that!

    And, please, don’t just imagine, try it for yourself. We can’t wait to see you! For directions and more details about working at THINQTANQ, click here!

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      Pumpkins and cake and copywriting, oh my!

      October 28, 2014 in Events, new ways to work, workspace

      IMG_3507Just wanted to share all our fun this week! Our pumpkin carving judging will happen Thursday at 1pm so everyone has time to get their pumpkins scooped out and carved. The pumpkins are starting to gather, as are the initial carving efforts.

      In the meantime, Wednesday is our monthly ‘cake and conversations’ with the Plymouth Business Networking group from 10 am to 12 noon. This month we have a special sponsor and short talk by Eric Moller of Copy Dojo, from zero to copywriting hero. I am really looking forward to hearing more from Eric – I found his insights into sales copy writing really easy to grasp and had a couple of those ‘aha’ moments when I heard him speak last month at the Digpen Conference. Everyone is welcome at these FREE events, so I hope you can find time in your schedule to come along tomorrow and meet him yourself!

      On Thursday of course we will have the carved pumpkin judging, and other Halloween treats!

      Don’t forget, even if you work from home, you can always pop into THINQTANQ for the day, or even half a day to give yourself a change of place.  Your work self will thank you for the boost in productivity, and you will enjoy that feeling of going home at the end of the day with so much accomplished. And besides, you’ll get a few hours of that holiday feeling (without shopping), which sometimes is just what we need to feel connected to the rest of the world.

      See you soon!

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        Christmas lunches for Freelancers

        October 21, 2014 in Coworking, Events, new ways to work, workspace

        photo (2) copyHere in the UK we are getting bombarded with reminders to reserve your company Christmas lunch at local restaurants now! One of our members suggested that since people working on their own or as freelancers don’t ever get invited to the traditional Company Christmas party, maybe THINQTANQ should organise one for OUR community. What a fantastic idea – so we are!

        It reminded me that although there are many reasons most entrepreneurs and other independents prefer working on their own/not working for “the man”, there are periodically events and circumstances when you are reminded that you are out of the mainstream of how working generally works. And holiday celebrations are one of them. So we plan to do our best to make holidays at least as fun here as they are in any cool office.

        To begin, Monday 27 October we’ve got our pumpkin carving competition set for a 1 pm ‘carve-off’ (BYOP). Some of the entrants are already talking trash to each other to push up the design standards, particularly amongst the graphic designers. If you’ve been trying to decide what day to come in, I’d highly recommend next Monday – it should be a cracking event. And even if you are not graphically skilled (like me) we plan to support and celebrate all our carver’s efforts, not just the competitive lads. Hope to see you here!

        We’ll be sure to post some photos next week!

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          Do you have FUN at work?

          October 13, 2014 in Coworking, workspace

          IMG_3356Do you have fun at work? Do you laugh, do you have a little play together with your coworkers now and again? How does that make you feel? Do you work any better as a result?

          We’ve been known to have a laugh or two here at THINQTANQ, and know that since we all work hard, we might as well enjoy ourselves just as enthusiastically. If you are a freelancer, a sense of humour will get you through some of the more frustrating moments, and of course will help you be more fun to work with and more likeable to your clients. If you work in an organisation, it is also very important to make time to have a good laugh. If you need more convincing, here is a quick list of 10 reasons why humour is a key to success at work (excerpted from an article by Jacquelyn Smith, Forbes Magazine: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/05/03/10-reasons-why-humor-is-a-key-to-success-at-work/2/).

          1. People will enjoy working with you. “People want to work with people they like,” Laura Vanderkam says. “Why wouldn’t you? You spend huge chunks of your waking hours at work, so you don’t want it to be a death march. Humor–deftly employed–is a great way to win friends and influence people. You need to be funny, but not snarky (that’s not good for team building) and you can’t offend anyone.”
          2. Humor is a potent stress buster. “In fact, it’s a triple whammy,” Michael Kerr explains. “Humor offers a cognitive shift in how you view your stressors; an emotional response; and a physical response that relaxes you when you laugh.”
          3. It is humanizing. “Humor allows both employees and managers to come together, realizing that we all seek common ground,” Lynn Taylor says.
          4. It puts others at ease. Humor is a way to break through the tension barrier, she says. “Research shows that humor is a fabulous tension breaker in the workplace,” Kerr adds. “People who laugh in response to a conflict tend to shift from convergent thinking where they can see only one solution, to divergent thinking where multiple ideas are considered.”
          5. Ha + ha = aha! “Humor is a key ingredient in creative thinking,” Kerr says. “It helps people play with ideas, lower their internal critic, and see things in new ways.” Humor and creativity are both about looking at your challenges in novel ways and about making new connections you’ve never thought about before, he adds. Taylor agrees. She says humor “establishes a fertile environment for innovation because people are more inspired when they are relaxed.”
          6. It helps build trust. “You can build trust with the effective use of humor because humor often reveals the authentic person lurking under the professional mask,” Kerr says. He explains that numerous studies suggest that people who share a healthy, positive sense of humor tend be more likable and are viewed as being more trustworthy. “Humor is also viewed as sign of intelligence,” he adds. “All of these characteristics, as well as the fact that humor is a fabulous icebreaker and can tear down walls, can help people build relationships in the workplace, and especially these days, relationships are critical to success.”
          7. It boosts morale. Humor boosts morale and retention while reducing turnover because employees look forward to coming to work, Taylor says. “Employees like to work for and with others who have a sense of humor. We all prefer to have fun at work. It should not feel like an indentured servitude environment.”
          8. People who use humor tend to be more approachable. The more approachable you are, especially as a leader, the more honest and open people around you will be, Kerr says. “And the more honest and open people tend to be, the more successful and innovative teams tend to be.”
          9. Humor can allow your company to stand out. “It can help companies stand out and go beyond with their customer service, garnering them a huge loyal following,” he says. If you want to stand out from the pack, using humor with your service is an effective way to do that.
          10. It can increase productivity. “Humor creates an upbeat atmosphere that encourages interaction, brainstorming of new ideas, and a feeling that there are few risks in thinking outside the box. All that leads to greater productivity,” Taylor explains. “It also stands to reason that if you’re in a more jovial atmosphere, you’ll have more passion for what you do. Your work ethic will increase, and your enthusiasm will likely be contagious. It’s a win-win for you and your employer.”

          Let us know what YOU do to have a good laugh at work…

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            Planning and thinking time…

            October 2, 2014 in Coworking, new ways to work, Planning, workspace

            IMG_3372Do you have difficulty taking time away from DOING your business to actually PLAN for and THINK about your business?  Me too! We all do, it seems.

            It has been a busy week here at THINQTANQ with events every day and a conference that have all been providing great ideas for planning and thinking about how we do our businesses.  I have been learning so much! Now the trick is to find a few more moments to reflect in order to implement some of that learning. But it is hard when the next thing is coming up, and I need to get ready for that…You know how it goes. Doing the business; not planning…

            One thing our members say when they come in is how it is nice to get out of the house and go to a place that helps them focus. Here everyone is working on something – it is one of their workplaces: no laundry or dishes to distract, no cats or dogs to play with. Some people use THINQTANQ to get their paperwork done – no procrastinating, but fun people around and lots of light so it doesn’t feel like punishment. Others use their time here to do that planning and thinking about the business since they are not in their usual ‘workspace’.

            What are your biggest hurdles to getting your work done? Distractions? Lack of focus? No people to bounce ideas off? Too much noise or too little? Other things? How do you manage those hurdles? Let us know in the comments!

            And of course, hope to see you around here soon!

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              Coming up: Re~Invent Work Week!

              September 24, 2014 in Coworking, Events, new ways to work, workspace

              IIMG_2261IMG_2658t is a very busy week coming up for us here at THINQTANQ!

              Friday we’ve got the Digpen 7 Web Conference Workshops here all day, with some great talks. Check http://digpen.com for all the details.

              Next week is our Re~Invent Work Week, with talks and events happening all week showcasing our local talent, as well as giving all of you a chance to explore a new way to work. If you work from home, you may be surprised to know there is a place you can go work whenever you want to be around other people, that is like an office, but you don’t need to lease it or provide any equipment: you just show up and get to work! You can come and go when you want, and only pay for the time you are here. You will get more done and be more productive, because there aren’t the distractions and isolation of home, and you will be surrounded by other people also working diligently away.

              THINQTANQ is an un-office: we are not corporate-looking, we laugh out loud, and have silly drawing competitions. But our members also work hard, offer advice and suggestions when asked, and know about all the latest technology. You can bet someone has been to that new restaurant already and can tell you what they think. You will meet several other businesses who can help you, or who may need your skills, without even exchanging a business card.

              But come see for yourself! That is the best way to experience what it is like to work around others on your own terms. Next week you can come to THINQTANQ every day for FREE, and we are offering some special deals on our monthly memberships for those who come in for the first time. Needless to say, we are very excited and can’t wait for you to experience it too. So, what are you waiting for? See you next week!

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                Working well

                September 17, 2014 in Coworking, new ways to work, workspace

                IMG_0438Last week I mentioned the Digpen 7 conference coming up the weekend of 26-27 September (linked here). Amongst the many awesome technical talks, I will be giving a more general, working life related presentation. My talk, perhaps not surprisingly, will be about paying attention to where you are working, and making sure you are working in the right space for the kind of work you are doing.

                Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But if you have some flexibility on where you work it can make a huge difference in your productivity. For example, if you work from home, you likely won’t have a client meeting in your living room. You may instantly think coffee shop for a meeting, but what about a nice hotel lobby instead? If you can choose a quiet place to meet, you will set a respectful and professional tone. If you are here in Plymouth, consider one of the larger restaurants in off hours, or one of the open University buildings that has a café and seating area. Of course your local coworking space has some really nice conference room space available to use as well!

                If it is a nice day, what about going for a walk? There are many benefits of walking meetings, and the fresh air along with walking side-by-side can stimulate more interesting conversations than in a coffee shop setting.

                Conversely, if you work in an office with loud bustling space, and you really need to concentrate on your work without distractions, try to find an available conference room so you can shut the door. Or see if you can work out of the office for a few hours, or borrow someone’s private office (with their permission of course!) If not, try headphones with appropriate music to help you tune out the surrounding conversations and focus on your tasks.

                I’ll be talking about these and other suggestions for the various types of working spaces most of us need, illustrating how giving yourself the best possible space will help you get your work done more efficiently. And wouldn’t we all like to get more done in a day? Or at least feel as if we didn’t waste time getting our work done, no matter how much we love what we do!

                Hope to see you at Digpen 7.

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                  Re-Invent Work Week

                  September 12, 2014 in Events, new ways to work

                  REInvent work weekWe are very excited to share with you the events we have organised to celebrate Re~Invent Work week here in Plymouth. Beginning 29 September, we will be hosting events and workshops for all of you independents, free-lancers, and home-based workers who want to try a new way to work that will help you become more productive, more connected, and able to enjoy our community focused on helping all of us thrive in our businesses.

                  Here are some of the events we have planned so far:

                  • Mon 29 Sept: Lunchtime talk by Business Coach Jo Higson, Parakeet Coaching CIC
                  • Tue 30 Sept: HootUp! Learn how to become an expert Hootsuite user! 6-8 pm
                  • Wed 1 Oct: Friendly Business Networking conversations and cake 10 am -12 noon
                  • Thu 2 Oct: Lunchtime talk by Plymouth Patent Library – Patlib
                  • Fri 3 Oct: End of the week Party!, 5:30 on

                  Best of all, attendance at THINQTANQ and all the great workshops and events this week is free! We really want you to experience the benefit of working alongside others in a creative friendly environment, so we are trying to make it an amazing week for everyone. We will also be offering some special deals on our monthly memberships for those of you who attend for the first time during the week. I’ll be posting additional information about each of these events between now and 29 September, so watch this space!

                   

                   

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