Community Cultivators: Cohere Coworking

I want to take a moment to recognize the FIVE Cohere members who make Cohere run smoothly. Adding several cultivators has really taken our community to the next level. While I still do much of the broader organization for Cohere (see also: Amazon Prime Orders), having this capable crew on tap has made all the difference in my sanity and has distributed responsibility across many people rather than everything landing squarely on my plate.

Alaina Massa: Team Tidy

For those of you who are really paying attention to details, my Cohere Bandwidth staff person is Tim Massa. These two are married and having both on the team is infinitely better than just having only one. Alaina recently took over the big task of keeping Cohere’s space in tip-top shape. She comes under the cover of darkness each week and when we arrive the next morning, everything is sparkling. If you are in need of some clean, contact Choice City Cleaning.

Carrie Lamanna: Copy Editing Magic

Carrie is a writer/editor/professor by trade and I’ve recently had her start copy editing all of my coworking consulting resources. I *know* I’m an average writer and having Carrie as my secret weapon helps me deliver more consistent content that makes more sense. She did NOT edit this post so don’t blame her for my flaws.

Andy Brown: Tours & More

Andy is an expert in e-media analytics and pretty much the nicest human ever. He cares for the basic maintenance around Cohere: finding rare light bulbs for old fixtures, minding the recycling and alerting me when supplies get low. He also does the bulk of our tours and orientations for prospective and new members. Book a date with Andy here. 

Jenny Benton-Fischer: Tours, Sarcasm and Therapy for Angel

Jenny and I have been running into each other for something like 15 years and she’s been a remote member of Cohere for YEARS. Her recent move back to graphic design freelance finally freed her up to be here in person. I knew she was “The One” when we both said a swear in her interview. Book a tour with Jenny.

Kim Kimball: Rocket Ships, Math and Jokes

Kim wanted a way to spend more time in the coworking area vs. his neat little office downstairs so he came on board to help out too. Kim works remotely for the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena under the guise of IT but usually just does hard math a lot. He’s also super good at scrubbing the kitchen sink (which, honestly, is why I had my eye on him to Cultivate anyway). He’ll be giving tours and delighting the members with his quick wit and Roomba jokes.

I do sincerely hope you’ll come visit us and meet our amazing team of Cohere Cultivators. They are equipped to help you meet other coworking members, find a fork or recommend a lunch spot in Downtown Fort Collins.

Honorable Mention: Harvey Wallbanger

Named by member Julie Sutter, Harvey is the unsung hero of Cohere. Between the tree seed pods, the cottonwood fluff and spilled coffee grounds, Harvey fires up at midnight each night and keeps our floor spotless. He also often gets trapped or stuck and we have to rescue him. It’s a labor of love though.

 

My Favorite Coworking Things: Cobot and Zapier Integrations

2015-06-26 17.05.52-1 (1)

Zapier and Cobot high-fiving… only via the internet… and at night while I’m asleep.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the Cobot coworking management software platform. Somewhere around my third year of running a coworking space, I tore a small chunk of my hair out by the roots as I sorted through some sticky notes and google sheets trying desperately to figure out if member x paid a prorated amount back in December or if I owed them money for some reason.

I was DONE. Even with a modest 30 members, I couldn’t keep track of everything. Rather than throw in the towel (laptop), I tried a Cobot trial month and it changed my life.

I love Cobot because it makes me efficient on tasks I DON’T NEED TO BE PRESENT FOR and gives our now 62 members stability. They always know what to expect from payment and how to reserve a conference room. I’ve become a bit of a Cobot power user as of late and boosted my efficiency by integrating Cobot and Zapier to automate even more tasks in my coworking space. Cobot asked me to tell you about the zaps I like best.

By far and away, automating the new member welcome email has changed my life. I no longer have to remember if member x got the door code or if member y will know where to park on her first day. All that data is in the welcome email. Zapier “watches” my Cobot and every time there is a new member, Zapier sends my gmail template email to the new member at midnight on their first day of membership. I love the consistency in experience that each new member gets from this integration.

Zapier Task History

A couple month’s worth of automating the new member email.

My second favorite integration is automatically adding new members into our slack chat room. It’s like a little instant gratification ping for a brand new member to instantly find themselves in our digital sharing/joke world.

My third favorite integration is adding new members to a google sheet where we mainly keep track of our capacity and when peoples’ birthdays are. My goal for this quarter is to reverse this process and delete cancelled members from that same spreadsheet to save even a little more time.

When it comes to Zapier and Cobot, I’m sure you can think of at least one task you can automate that will have no impact on the strength and sense of connection in your community. Between Cohere and Cohere Bandwidth I have nine “Zaps” automating anywhere from 10-50 work tasks a week. I always feel smug when Zapier sends this out:

Zapier weekly tasks

Zapier did 49 things for me this week.

Here are some more examples or you can find them yourself at http://zapier.com and then type Cobot into the search bar.

Zapier Popular Cobot Zaps

Some of the most popular Cobot integrations with Zapier.

Unsolicited Advice for Displaced Galvanize Coworkers

So your coworking space is closing. That super sucks. You’re all entrepreneurs and self starters: problem solvers of the quickest kind. I’m hear to say to you STOP. Do not take action on a lease right now.

I’ve been working on coworking and community in Fort Collins and around the world since 2009. That’s three years before Galvanize incorporated for its first space. At the time of Galvanize’s closing, Cohere was/is on a wait list for membership. I think I’m worth listening to…at least when it comes to coworking in Fort Collins.

Please Hold

I was on hold with Comcast but I use this photo every time I want to indicate that I am exasperated.

Do not make decisions right now.

You’ve had a big crushing blow to your heads when it comes to office space. The great news is, you can office from literally anywhere these days. You could invite your employees into your living room and probably get in a solid day of work. A small gap in well-equipped office space is not a crisis. Spaceships won’t fall out of orbit. DO. NOT. MAKE. DECISIONS. RIGHT. NOW.

All the displaced coworkers need to take a collective deep breath and process what the fuck happened in your spaces and communities. Because you didn’t own the space, you might not understand why your space is closing. On paper, your space closed due to lack of money. In my mind, your space closed due to lack of community and an overzealous interpretation of the market research about how many people wanted to pay $26,000 to learn how to code. The fact that you didn’t know your space was closing until you got the announcement is proof that your space lacked one of the key values of coworking: transparency.

Do not sign a lease and especially don’t try to keep the Galvanize lease.

That Galvanize building will be one of THE most expensive buildings in Old Town. You don’t spend a few million on a renovation and thousand dollar desks to cut a great deal to the poor displaced members. That space has NOTHING to do with Galvanize’s success or failure. Okay, I’ll admit it was absurdly expensive but the space didn’t do much to foster community. At all. Don’t even get me started on the caste system of placing people on higher levels based on how much they could afford. Ugh.

If you love your current startup or business, you will hate being a Community Manager.

I bet you want to start your own coworking space. I bet that feels easy since you’ve been a member of one for a little while. Being a member of a space and running a space are really different. It took me TWO full time years to get Cohere off the ground. Even now, I have a small army of part time people to help me attend to all the details of our relatively small community. If you don’t want to abandon your other job, do NOT start a coworking space. Also, there is far less money in coworking than you might think.

Explore your existing coworking options first.

There are at least three shared spaces in Fort Collins that are not at capacity. Please give those a chance before trying to start your own. The Articulate, Digital Workshop Center, and Office Evolution. The fact that you were all in the same world (startup and tech) is actually a disservice to your companies. You’ll grow more when surrounded by people in different stages of growth including those people who have dialed in their businesses and are NOT in startup mode as well as the freelancers that are keeping everyone’s small businesses afloat.

cohere-member-wallHire me so you can have ^^ this many friends in your coworking space.

You don’t have to do this alone. I will encourage and teach you how to engage your budding community before you sign a lease so we don’t have to read about your closure in 18 months. Email me right away to get my $500 one-on-one consulting package. It even includes math worksheets and realistic member growth rates! There’s also another compelling reason to email me right now but it’s a secret until January 1.

 

 

How to F^ck Up Your Second Coworking Location

angel gcuc speaker

I recently got invited to present FAILURE at the Global Coworking Unconference Conference in Toronto, Canada. I take spectacular pride in my ability to fail with flourish and since the GCUC crowd always likes a good train wreck among stories of 43 Billion Dollar valuations and epic expansion stories, I indulge them. Below is the narrative of the failure and here is a link to my slides.

 

falling down

https://www.flickr.com/photos/felixtsao/4909753834/

Near the end of 2013, 4 years after Cohere hit the coworking scene in Old Town Fort Collins, I had to start turning away would-be members. We were full, things were great. So naturally, I would make a series of unfortunate mistakes that would lead to the 2nd space’s death in early 2015.

To be clear, I did SOME of the things right. In fact, all early indicators would point to Cohere’s second location being a raving success.  Here’s what went right:

  • I had a wait-list of members who wanted to join Cohere.
  • Cohere was nearing auto-pilot. Systems helped manage the behind the scenes tasks, 3 members had a strong hold on the day to day in the space and I was getting bored.
  • I selected a location that was near to OG Cohere but further south in an up-and-coming neighborhood called Midtown where rents were still affordable and the housing market was blowing up in all the right ways.
  • I took many, many members through the building pre-lease and they steered me away from one suite into 3 other suites they were much more excited about.
  • The members lovingly name it Cothere. It sticks. It’s perfect.
  • Natural light, windows, trees and parking were in abundance.
  • After we got into the space, the Coherians partied to clean up the parking lot and build furniture. It was spectacular fun and had all the trapping us Veterans look for in budding communities.
  • I paint everything, repair broken door knobs and make our entrances more safe. I pour all my love into this physical thing that will allow Cothere to grow and flourish.
  • I met and offered up our space after hours to our brand new Girl Develop It chapter. We love each other so much.

Things start to take a turn for the worse:

The landlords fail to make improvements to Cothere that are in my lease: working windows, safe stairs for our private entrance (my mother-in-law almost falls 2 stories after the railing breaks away during move-in) and cleanliness issues in the common area start to clog my inbox

And A LOT worse:

  • Nearly every day, concerns about lack of health and safety in our parking lots and common area restrooms begin to flood in.
  • My repeated requests for help from the landlords are met with either silence or passive aggressive notes in the common-area bathroom saying, “PLEASE KEEP THIS RESTROOM CLEAN!!!”
  • I become mortified when new members ask where the restroom is. The members say, “this building is dicey but Cothere’s areas are NICE!”
  • I spend 3 hours cleaning bathrooms just to prove to myself that I’m right about how dirty the bathrooms are. I am right. I get pneumonia 5 days later.
  • The restrooms are dirty again. ALL. THE. TIME.  I have to explain WHY we need more toilet paper. Sarcasm floods through my veins. “We have explosive diarrhea!” “All the women are synced up this week!!” “We are STEALING it because we are terrible people!!”

Piper

The last straw:

  • The landlords tell me in an email that goes out to all the other tenants of their building, “you don’t pay enough to have the right to complain.”

I check out. I resent the space. I no longer care about it. I do the bare minimum that an office space rental agency does. Paper towels? Check. Vacuumed? Check. Coffee? Check.

I bring on a friend to help the Cothere community and she tries really hard but we are broken. Midtown is broken, the gross restrooms are broken, our parking lot is an ice skating rink in winter and a mixed-media nightmare of dead squirrels and fallen tree limbs in summer. I refuse to pay more for basic tenant rights.

I stop coworking at Cothere. I repeat. I STOPPED COWORKING AT COTHERE. <—-really important warning sign

I spend all my time at Old Town Cohere. I breathe a sigh of relief every time I cross the threshhold and see the man that takes care of our lawn. I run into the landlord and he inquires about my well-being and asks if everything is okay in the building. He compliments Cohere, the members and how proud they are to have us as tenants. They are always a text away. Quick to fix and utterly un-involved in our day-to-day ops.

I get out of my lease free and clear on their breach of contract. After an extremely polite email exchange requesting the termination of my lease and having them agree, I feel this:

57340204

 

Down from a high of 20 members, the 3 remaining Cothere members join Cohere and love it. Just. Love It. “It’s so happy here!” “Everyone talks to me!” “I thought I wouldn’t like Old Town but I DO!” Several private office members at Cothere REMAIN in Cothere’s space after we leave. <—-this blows my mind.

So Really. WHAT went wrong?

As a veteran of the coworking community, I was raised up to always put the people first and see the physical space as a useful container that merely facilitates connections between people. Sure, I always made sure that Cohere’s container was lovely, cared-for and well-tended but none of my spaces until Cothere had ever existed inside a larger shell of a bigger building that I had no control over.

I began to think like a member as I approached the larger shell of Cothere’s space. Unkempt parking lot, dead bugs and leaves in the lobby, outdated decor in all the wrong ways, a soul-less, colorless hallway and then finally, the mecca of entering Cothere’s suites.

But sometimes the journey to mecca is just too far.

Post-hoc, I realize that Cohere has a really important value as a company and as a community that I had never said out loud, never consciously thought about and never wrote about. And this value includes the entirety of our physical container from the grounds around the building, to the entryways and all the way to the inner sanctum of our coworking areas.

To BElong to Cohere you must BE eager to help everyone feel proud of our space and the people in it.

Because Old Town Cohere has always had a loving landlord (we actually call him the Innkeeper) who tended to our grounds and common areas we had never truly felt the pain of a building owner who literally could not hold our container with positive regard. That, in turn, caused me to spend all of my Cothere energy trying to help the landlord learn how to hold the container that held US! He made it clear that he couldn’t hold the container. Won’t. Wouldn’t even pick it up and try.

As the community manager, I had nothing left to give the people of Cothere. My usual zest for connection and energy to give and listen was tapped out. My arms, my heart, my brain, were overwhelmed by TRYING to figure out how hold a container that didn’t actually belong to me. To us.

After asking the members what I should do about Cothere, all but one say a version of this, “we’ll follow you where ever you take Cohere (as long as it’s not in THAT building). Do what is best for you.” So I laid down the container. Permanently. After 14 months I gleefully get out of my lease and bring everyone back together at Cohere. The community is overjoyed that the saga is concluded.

As if the universe was bulging with abundance while it waited for me to sort out my shit, its fabric rips open and pours forth a rush of people who want to join Cohere. Tours are joyous again, filled with people and introductions and I don’t have to make excuses for the common areas. Each day we border on being full. Full of members, full of laughter and connectedness, donuts and lunches out together.

Cohere Social Event Hotdogs

A hot dog potluck marks the closure of Cothere and the revitalization of Frank Friday

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I immediately refine and add our values to our membership page:

BE yearning for interaction

BE willing to introduce yourself, make friends and help

BE ready to participate in impromptu and planned events

BE eager to help everyone feel proud of our space and the people in it

BE prepared for abundance (work, laughter, goodwill, and more)

Key Learnings

When considering expansion, don’t look for a building. Look for people.

  • Look for a community helper who is invested, excited and willing to put in the hours needed to bring people together.
  • Look to your existing members for feedback and talk about what expansion means for both communities.
  • Find a commercial Realtor who can add very specific language into your lease about maintenance and responsibilities.
  • Look for a landlord who is capable and willing to hold a container for you. MEET your landlord(s) in person before you sign.

Brave enough to share your epic failure? Post it in the comments or email it to me!

Shit I Never Thought I’d Have to Buy This Coworking Space

A surprise county tax form afforded me the opportunity to review every purchase I’ve made for the Cohere coworking spaces in the past 5 years. Some stuck out amid my former business plan list of what a coworking space needed (wifi, coffee, desks, chairs, power strips) In no particular order I present to you a cautionary listicle of shit you might have to buy for your coworking space:

12 Forks

A dual plug digital power cycler for Unifi Pro wifi access points

12 Forks

Unicorn pinataFullSizeRender_1

Eleventy hundred packs of Command adhesives

The world’s secretly tiniest and least useful trash/recycling bin

Moon Gels

Chia Obama Handmade Decorative Planter, Determined Pose: Priceless

Preformed coin wrappers, 100 count, quarters (of which I have used exactly 8)

1 pack multi-color star stickers

3 Tripp Lite N201-020-GY Cat6 Gigabit Gray Snagless Molded Patch Cable RJ45M/M – 20 feet

4 Forks

TV Cart / Stand for LCD, LED, Plasma, Flat Panel TVs with 3″ Wheels, mobile fits 32″ to 50″: bomb proof

200 million Tripp Lite PS2408 Power Strip 120V 5-15R 8 Outlet 15ft Cord Vertical Metal 0URM

400 ForksFullSizeRender

Lite Brites: 2

12 More Forks

Recessed Door Reinforcer 1-3/4-Inch Thick by 2-3/8-Inch Backset 2-1/8-Inch Bore, Stainless Steel

Music Note Black Poly Resin Coated Tin Cookie Cutter 3.5″ for use in making Cohere Bandwiches obv.

IMG_3512

Polaroid High Capacity Replacement Battery For The Polaroid Instant Digital Camera

Portable Foldable Universal Mini Desk Table Stand Holder For iPad: code for world’s cheapest/most effective ipad standFullSizeRender_2

Congratulations (Gold) Award Seals Stickers – 4 stickers per sheet, 8 sheets: I wanted silver. Not gonna lie.

What weird things have you bought for your coworking space?

Stop Fucking Up This Type of Email

suggestion-boxIn a world of increasing remote work and ever expanding social networks people are desperate to connect in a more meaningful way (besides our lovely coworking space in Fort Collins). Often, that meaningful way is to get a cooperative 3rd party to introduce you to someone over email. If one more well-meaning 3rd party sends me a “connection” email like the following, I’m going to go CRAY all over the interwebs.

Angel,

I was in a meeting with these folks yesterday and thought you’d all like to connect. Find their email addresses above.

Tom

WHY?! Why would I want to email a bunch of strangers? It’s sort of like ringing my doorbell and slinging a couple of strangers into my living room then driving away, tires squealing. But because I’m a lovely person, I tried to email the strangers and ask what they needed from me but Tom, in his infinite wisdom, mistyped all of their email addresses so they all bounced back. Tom, you’re a peach. Never change.

Here is a formula for crafting connection emails that won’t make your friends and colleagues cringe:

Character Key:

Needer: person who you’re trying to help

Giver: person who you think can help

Me: I tell the Needer that I’ll send a connection email so they know it’s coming. OCCASIONALLY I will warn the Giver that a connection email is coming but since I’ve pretty much nailed the connection email process this isn’t usually necessary. I ALWAYS address the Giver first in the email and the NEEDER second.

Components of the Connection Email:

Address the email to both the NEEDER and the GIVER.

Title: Please e-meet each other!

Giver,

I’d like to introduce you to my friend NEEDER. She loves X, Y, Z (Z is always directly related to the need they have). Background info like relocation, education, jobs or another way they might know each other OR the context of why they should know one another (you were both at my birthday party). Needer asked for my help in meeting people who Z & A so naturally you jumped right out at me as an expert in those areas. NEEDER will be emailing you with more info about the project etc. Needer is also available to help volunteer for your upcoming event if that’s helpful for you.

Needer,

Please meet my dear friend, GIVER. She loves X, Y, Z and we’ve known each other for xx years. She has been instrumental in Z & A so she’ll be a wealth of information for your upcoming project. Giver is wicked busy right now due to an upcoming presentation so it may take her a few days to get back with you. Thanks for being patient.

I’ll let you two connect directly from here as everyone is copied on this email. I hope it’s fruitful for you both!

Angel

Summary:

There are a couple of key components that will make your connection email more useful to everyone.

First, in order to pull off a stellar connector email, you HAVE to know both parties fairly well. You won’t be able to address their likes, needs and personality if you’ve never had a good conversation. If you don’t know each party well enough to follow the script above YOU SHOULD NOT BE SENDING CONNECTOR EMAILS!

Second, always make it clear WHO is supposed to take action. 99% of the time, I ask the NEEDER to send the next email and a tip on what it should contain. This removes ALL the ambiguity of who is supposed to do what and it’s the key thing that is lacking in almost every connection email I RECEIVE. #awkward.

Here are some real world examples of connection emails that I have sent in the past month:

Amanda M,

Please meet Amanda W.  Amanda is relocating here in August. She mentioned that she’s certified in event planning, has an MBA and loves coordinating business events so it seemed natural to connect you two.

Amanda W, please meet Amanda M. Amanda and I have known each other for years and she’s a neighbor to our midtown Cohere location. Here is her website xxxxxxxx. Amanda is well-connected to many businesses, events and the arts scene here in town.

 I’d love for you two to meet sometime and see if an interesting connection pops for you. I’ll leave it to Amanda W to email Amanda M.

 Glad my name’s not Amanda,

Angel

C,
Please meet S, Founder of the xxxxxx. We used to be next door neighbors in Fort Collins (our businesses, not our homes) and S is expanding into Denver. He’s looking for connections with the coolest coworking spaces both for space to conduct the tech workshops AND as a business landing place.

S, Please meet C of xxx xxx. We’ve been circling each other in the coworking world for 4-ish years now?! xxx xxx is very similar to Cohere and if I may be biased, is my favorite Denver coworking hub. C is the founder and community manager for both locations.
S, please email C and explain in more detail what you’re needing.

Angel

***********************************

Go forth and connect.

Ridiculously Productive Meetings

FullSizeRender

I bet you never wonder how 3 people with full-time jobs manage to shoe-horn in the creation of a shared rehearsal space for Fort Collins in their “spare” time. If you’ve been following us, you might wonder why I would brag about our ridiculously productive meetings for Cohere Bandwidth when we’ve been at this for almost 2 years. If you must know, most of that 2 years was spent waiting on real estate with very few DONES getting checked off of our TO-DOS. Skip below to the COMPLETION step if you are skimming.

But now that the space is REAL and under construction we spend every Friday going from Oh Fuck! to Hell Yes! Here is our extremely effective meeting process:

  1. AGENDA: Anyone can create or add to the agenda. We do this in a shared google doc that everyone can edit. The doc contains ALL of the agendas with the most recent at the top. The agenda is usually created the night before or the morning of each meeting. We’re agile and quick so it wouldn’t make sense to create an agenda further in advance than that.
  2. SCHEDULE: Meetings are always at 10am on Fridays at Cohere and last 1.5 hours. The person who is late has to get coffee for everyone else.FullSizeRender (1)
  3. AIRING OF GRIEVANCES: At the start of each meeting we get our feelings out. Yep, you read that right. If anyone is frustrated or flabbergasted or just plain giddy, we talk it out BEFORE we task. This step is key. Due to the nature of our structure, we can’t be together or even talk every day so it’s important to make a real connection to one another before we start doling out chores.
  4. ORDER: We go through the agenda in order. Always. We rarely add anything to the agenda during the meeting.
  5. TIME: Never, ever, ever put an estimated time for discussion on an agenda item. This makes no sense.
  6. COMPLETION: We complete any tasks that come up IN THE MEETING. Example, if Julie needs to email someone about a radio interview then Shane and I talk about a graphic design task or similar. This allows everyone to be productive during the entire meeting, which is something I never got to experience in corporate life.
  7. DELEGATE: If any tasks remain, they are completed directly after the meeting ends or get shifted to me (Angel) if possible since I have the most spare time to complete things. Shane will often do heavy duty graphic design tasks outside of the meeting as it’s part of his creative process.

So there. Now you know how we make the most out of our 12 hours/month together.

Does your team have an unconventional meeting process? Tell us all about it so we can steal your tips for our next meeting.

Help Us Make This Coworking Blog Better!

Coherians, we need your help.

As you may (or may not) know, we publish a blog post here once a week, usually on Monday mornings. This is something we’ve done ever since Cohere opened its doors. In the beginning, blog posts were about what coworking is, the benefits it brings to your life and business, and how to be a successful member of a coworking community.

As the community has grown and matured, we’ve added in topics about challenges in the freelancer/entrepreneur lifestyle and how to tackle them, featured member profiles, and insight about how to nurture your creativity.

As we enter our third year, we want to know what you’d like to see on this blog in the coming months. Do you have any questions about coworking, freelancing, business, work/life balance that we can address? Would you like more member info (like the interviews we do) or something different? Likewise, if you’d like to share a tip, experience, or topic and feel like writing a guest post about it, we’d love that too!

If you’ve got a suggestion, question, or idea, please don’t hesitate to share it. You can do so by mentioning it to Angel or Kristin, commenting on this blog post, or leaving a comment on the Cohere Facebook page.

Thanks!

Image via hashir/Flickr

Social Media: The Productive Freelancer’s Arch Enemy

It’s Monday, the first day of a new week. Although we freelancers tend to work 24/7, most of us can (and SHOULD!) eke out a little time for fun and family over the weekend. So today’s the first day back to a full-plate of work. We start off the week with the best of intentions, we’ve all got an enemy out there who wants to kill our productivity. No, it’s not a competing firm or terrible client, it’s that oh-so-innocent-looking social media MONSTER. It lurks in our bookmarks, our browser history, and for some, our literal muscle memory: we open, check, and browse social media websites constantly.

Unfortunately, sometimes social media is part of our legitimate work, so the temptation to flush hours down the drain clicking through photo albums and sharing clever memes is almost too much to bear. If you’re trying to make the most of your eight hour day, the key is to work smarter, not get up earlier, and smart work begins with eliminating time sucks like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and all the rest of ’em.

Scroll through the infographic below for shocking stats about how much your social media obsession could be costing your business, and then check out our list of tips for shoving this beast back in its cage.

Social Media Monster [Infographic]

Shocked by how much time (and money) you’re wasting? Here are some tips from Apartment Therapy about how to avoid the siren song of social media:

1. If you use Google Chrome, you can install StayFocusd , a simple browser extension which lets you set time limits on how long you spend on certain sites.

2. Clean house on your Friends/Followers list. Fewer unnecessary connections means less distracting junk showing up in your feeds and streams. Don’t want to delete loose connections? Consider using some of Facebook’s built in feed settings  to control how much you see.

3. Consolidate. Flipboard ( for Android , iOS ) lets you consolidate a digest of social media sources, prioritizing what it sees as big stories (based on your social graph). Bringing together content from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and even Google+, Flipboard is a great way to get a quick dose of stories from all the social sites you frequent without hopping all over the web.

Got other tips for avoiding the social media time-suck? Share them in a comment!

Infographic Courtesy of Red e App

5 Easy Ways To Be More Productive Before Lunch

productivity-before-lunch

Did you know the hours between waking up and eating lunch represent your best chance for getting stuff done? You might claim to be a night owl, but studies have shown that we’re at our most creative early in the morning. Of course, we all burn the midnight oil every now and then, but it’s really the a.m. hours where we bring our best and brightest ideas to the table.

If you’re the type of person who needs 3 cups of coffee just to assemble complete sentences, this could be a problem. Getting up and motivated in the morning isn’t easy, especially if you’re out of practice. Recently time management expert Laura Vanderkam published a short list of tips for making the most of your mornings. If you’d like to turn the pre-noon hours into super productive work time, these tactics could help get you on your way to building morning habits that stick.

1. Track Your Time

Vanderkam says the key to using your time more wisely is knowing how you’re spending it now. Write down what you’re doing as often as you can throughout the entire day. You may notice that you’re pushing certain things to the end of the day that would be better accomplished at the top of the list.

2. Picture the Perfect Morning

“After you know how you’re spending your time, ask yourself what a great morning would look like,” advises Vanderkam. Kicking off the morning with a few activities that enrich both personal and professional growth will set the tone for a positive, energized day. Go for a run, read that article you’ve been meaning to get to. Strategize, dream. Allow yourself to have big ideas while your mind is still fresh.

3. Think Through the Logistics

If you fill the morning hours with important activities you’ll crowd out things that are more time intensive than they need to be, writes Vanderkam. Think about mapping out a morning schedule that will give you time for personal and professional development. As for the mornings themselves, what would make your ritual easier? Do you need to set your easel next to your bed? Can you find a more cheerful alarm clock or one you can’t turn off so easily?

4. Build The Habit

According to Vanderkam, this is the most important step. She advises choosing one new habit at a time to introduce and using external  treats and rewards to keep yourself motivated until the habits stick.

5. Tune Up as Necessary

Mornings are a gift. They come around once every 24 hours offering us a clean slate, a chance to do better than we did the day before. “The hopeful hours before most people eat breakfast are too precious to be blown on semiconscious activities,” writes Vanderkam. “You can do a lot with those hours. Whenever I’m tempted to say I don’t have time for something, I remind myself that if I wanted to get up early, I could. These hours are available to all of us if we choose to use them.”

What tactics help you get the most out of your mornings? Share them in a comment!

Image via orcmid/Flickr

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