Thursday, October 21, 2010

Office in a Bag - Macbook Air & Accessories for Road Warrior - Episode #26

How to fit an entire mobile office in one bag? In this new episode of Productive! Show I'm sharing with you how I manage to fit my Apple Macbook Air and all of the accessories into one small bag.

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Question: How does your Road Warrior bag look like? Do you fit everything in there?

P.S. This video was inspired by Chris Brogan and Michael Hyatt.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Zen Home-Working Environment - a cool business idea

Recently I just stumbled upon a great web site and business idea... of a British company that offers beautiful, zen-like office spaces for home workers... to put in their gardens (OfficePOD):
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Bare-bones office with cool design

Actually what more do you need. If you have a garden where you can put this kind of office, it seems for me a perfect place to work. Lots of fresh air when you need it, because of the glass feels spacious and the design creates a very nice environment.

Teleworking (Telecommuting) at its best

They don't sell these things - they lease them to companies who want their employees to work remotely. It's a great idea, because this nice office helps overcome the most important problems of teleworking:

- office in the same place where you sleep - not anymore, you actually have to leave the house to go to your "office"

- office environment not properly set up - again, the employer can prepare the office setup the way he wants so the employee has everything they need to get the job done, even furniture :-)

- lack of office feel to the home office - again, not anymore, this office feels like office... but then again, because it's located in a garden, feels like a "nice office" - so you switch to a nicer work environment than your good old cubicle in the old building.

The only problem I see here is if... well... you don't have a garden. Other than that it's really cool.

Congratulations to creators of this office space for this fantastic business idea. Hope it spreads the idea of working remotely from home.

By the way, the new Productive! Magazine is all about working from home, so grab your free PDF issue.

What do you think? Would you like to work in a home office like this?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

3 productivity tips and tricks for open space workers in California's Silicon Valley offices

If you've been following my Twitter feed lately, you can see I've been traveling in Silicon Valley in California, visiting headquarters of the companies like FacebookYahooGoogleTechcrunchPlug and Play Tech Center and others... and most of these companies have office spaces that look like this:

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"Open to everyone"... and everything - including distractions

All of the companies say this kind of office setup is cool and promotes openness... but what they don't tell you is that it's really hard to concentrate and get things done in a setup like this. The funny thing is that most of the guys who designed offices like this are brilliant people who might have even read the book "Peopleware" but they somehow forgot about the key advice from this book...

How to get stuff done in an "Open" environment?

OK, let's be constructive about this situation and embrace the "openness" and give some solutions as to how to be effective and productive in this kind of environment:

"Solution" 1 - use headphones

Yes, I've heard that before - developers and office workers use headphones to clear the noise, but many studies have already shown that programmers do a better and more creative code when they are sitting in silence than listening to the music. Music is usually a distraction as well.

"Solution" 2 - use 3 display monitors... or more!

The problem with working in a place like this is the fact that even if you've cleared the noise with headphones, you can still see everyone around you. To make sure you won't be tempted to look around and stare at other people, get as many display monitors as you can... and as big screen displays as can be - this way you won't be able to see people around all that much.

Using multiple monitor setup is actually a great productivity booster as such, but in an open environment it gives an additional benefit of being a barrier between you and the guy in front of you.

"Solution" 3 - embrace it (like you have a choice)

That's right, embrace the fact that most (if not all) companies in Silicon Valley prefer open spaces. That Venture Capital firms which invest in startups don't want them to "waste" money on private offices. Be proud of the fact that you work for Facebook in an open environment - after all it's the most over-valued and over-hyped startup in the world and they are allowed not to care about your working environment.

Finally, enjoy the good weather in California, maybe other programmers at companies like Fog Creek have great private offices, Aeron chairs and a overall fantastic environment (I know, I was there)... but they are located in the cold New York City.

The "solutions" described above won't help all that much

This is why they are written with ' " ' sign - these are not solutions but key problems I have with open spaces. Aha, and did I mention that it's really hard to get stuff done in an office because people can poke you and distract you all of the time? Well, in an "open" office constant poking is guaranteed.

I don't like open spaces and I think they're a contradiction to productivity. I'm just not THAT open - what do you think?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Cleaning: Clutter-free Productive Home Office

Update (30 Nov 2010): I've moved again and I have a new home office now. Make sure to check it out.

OK, so after we've moved to our new apartment I got my very own room to set up my very own home office where I'd be productive when at home... and I wanted a true clutter-free experience. As you know, in the past I managed to pack all of my office-related stuff into an Ikea cabinet but this time around I was aiming at an Apple-style-designed big, clean, lean and clutter-free desk. This is the outcome:

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There you go, from the left there is my Canon MP110 Printer and scanner (it's so far on the left that you can't see it, but you'll see it on the other photos), a 21-inch Gateway external monitor (aligned vertically - I prefer it that way), my Macbook Air, GTD-style folders and iPhone dock, my previous main machine: X60 Thinkpad TabletPC (docked) which my wife is currently using, my Toshiba M200 TabletPC (acting as my home server) docked and accessible only with Wacom active digitizer pen, GTD-inboxes and a document shredder.

Interested? I've got more pictures for you and the setup photos below.

Step 1 - big desk with lots of free space

I started out with a big desk Apple-style without anything on it or attached to it. It even doesn't have any legs, sweet pure and beautiful place to work. So I started digging around it, making holes and putting first wires:

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Step 2 - preparing "cage" to attach to the bottom of the desk with chargers inside

I bought a clothing drawer in a local superstore and cut it to fit my space below my desk:

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Step 3 - prepare the wires and chargers

There are lots of chargers and wires we need to prepare to put "below" our desk:

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Step 4 - make sure you have enough "juice"

I need lots of "power sources" to power all these little tiny devices and all my computers, so here goes - two (eventually I ended up with 4 when I realized how many power outlets I really needed) power lines:

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And additional "chimney" for ad-hoc power on the desk (clutter-free power):

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Step 5 - put the cables and stuff into the "cage" and attach them with plastic straps

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Step 6 - install power juice and make sure all the cables are in place

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Step 7 - realize you have to few power outlets and install more, install cage

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Some design details - how I attached the "cage" with all of my stuff:

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It's nice to use a plastic pipe to make sure the details look really nice:

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Step 8 - install a "charger basket"

I got this idea from unclutterer and I liked it a lot, here's my basket with all the outlets for mobile phones, camera and digicam in one place:

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Step 9 - move everything around and attach your last cables

After I've done my initial version I had to do it all over again to make sure everything is in the right place:

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Step 10 - enjoy your new clutter-free and beautiful office space

Here's my left side of desk:

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And here's my right side:

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Here's what's in front of my eyes when working:

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Hope you liked my very lengthy blog post and you got inspired to get a clutter-free place to work.

And there is one more thing....

Don't try to pull it off on your own! Always get help from someone qualified to help you with this kind of setup, luckily my daughter (11 months young) gladly helped:

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How is your home-office? Do you work from home? How is your real office? Enough room to be creative?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New uncluttered space is a place for creative thinking

As I've already mentioned on my blog, we've moved to a new apartment where I'll finally have a dedicated room for a home office. I'm working currently on the whole IT-office-setup for my home office and for our house. It's a constant work in progress - but the main "theme" is to have the least clutter possible....

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If you've been following my blog for a while know, you might know my cool clutter-free cabinet.

It's a thing I've been really proud of - takes the least amount of space and manages to pack my laptop, external monitor and another laptop (that acts as my home server)

Less space is cool, but there is no room to breathe

Now that I have a dedicated room to work, I have a big desk where I can fit all of my stuff and have lots of space to feel better... and I must tell you - having a big desk with just a few things on it and lots of "unused" space feels really fantastic... and gives you more "creative room" to breathe and think.

It's a work-in-progress but it's almost done now

I'll post next week about the results of "pimping my new desk" and you'll see the steps it took to make it really perfect.

One important hint - don't put anything on the desk unless you need it there.

The desk I have is really big... so started "littering" it with stuff... because I could :-) ... and I made it really quickly an impossible place to work... I had to get rid of everything from my desk and only put the stuff I really need there - my laptop, my other laptop and hardly anything more... and I could work again.

If you can - get a big desk and make it clean and uncluttered

Having lots of clean, uncluttered space on the desk makes you feel great.. and creative... gives you space to breathe and if you have to sit by this desk 10-12 hours a day to get stuff done, this makes a big difference.

What's your working space? What's your productive desk? Link them up! Let me know!

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Productive Office - find your best place to get stuff done

I've recorded this video a while ago, actually right before launching Nozbe 1.2 - right when I needed to get a lot of stuff done my friend let me use his office - special thanks to Krzysztof Kowalczyk of UBIK Business Consulting for letting me use the office when I needed it :-)

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Watch and comment on YouTube

Question: What's your "productive office"? Where do you get stuff done best?

If you have enjoyed this episode of the Productive! Show, please subscribe:

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Subscribe to AUDIO podcast | Get AUDIO from iTunes