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Church as Co-working Space

I came across an article about church as a space for co-working yesterday.

It was one of those moments when you think that something is so obvious you can’t believe everyone isn’t already doing it!

We know that working patterns have changed.  Loads of people work from home now.  That’s great.  You don’t have to commute.  You can work in your pjs, listen to whatever music you like as loud as you want, video conference, email, work hours to suit your life… Home working has lots of upside, but it can also be a lonely existence.

That’s why you see so many people camped out in coffee shops with their MacBooks.  They are looking for company.  The presence of other human beings.  And cake.

nomad worker

But we also know that being with others is a creative way to work.  Those conversations where people ask what you’re working on and then add some insight or suggest a contact that could help, or suggest working together on something…

So, why doesn’t your church create a space for these nomadic workers?

You have a hall that probably doesn’t get used much during the day.

You have tables and chairs.

You have a kitchen and toilets.

All you need is some good, reliable wifi, power sockets, a wifi printer and someone to be around to welcome people and put the kettle on and make a decent cup of coffee.  Stick in some whiteboards and plants and you have just created co-working nirvana.

It’s like a constant coffee morning for people with jobs.  And they will pay to use your space.

I’m not suggesting you become a start up incubator, yet, just a nice friendly place with space and a welcome.

There are some great examples of churches who are already doing it…

St Lydia’s in Brooklyn is my favourite.  They do dinner church so they were already half way there.

Sy Lydia’s Co-working

So, what’s stopping your church from being a space for co-working?

GTD Life

digital housekeeping

Is it just me, or is it much easier to hoard digitally?

I’m running out of memory on my laptop.  I keep everything.  I have music I’ve never listened to and ebooks I’ve never read.  I have every worship service I’ve ever led and every PowerPoint I’ve ever bored people with.

I have 2 external drives with plenty space but the temptation is just to copy everything over and end up with another hard drive full of rubbish I’ll never use.

I know it’s easier to start from scratch but that’s not a reality.  I have years worth of stuff that sometimes comes in handy… and years worth of stuff that never has.

Tell me, how do you decide what digital stuff to bin and what to keep?  Or should I get some kind of digital maid to come and spring clean?

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one at a time

Do you ever notice that when you are focusing on an idea, a concept or a task that resources appear.  A blog post, a tweet, a book, a newspaper article, a movie or a conversation somehow relates to your thoughts.

Sometimes it happens the other way around and something inspires you to focus on something but I tend to find that it’s when I’m focused that ideas come and inspiration appears.

So, why do I try to do 100 things at once?  And why have I been saying that since, well forever?

Do less better.

It’s the memo Jerry McGuire wrote in the 1996 movie.  It’s the thing we all tell ourselves when we are swamped or up against a deadline.

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits fame has put virtual pen to paper and written :Focus, a simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction… and he’s giving away a free version.

And by free I mean no cost and no copyright (when was the last time you gave something away for free?).

It’s well worth a look.  It chimes with some of the stuff we have talked about here about Sabbath, getting stuff done, creativity and relationship.

Now, what was I supposed to be doing?

GTD Life work

always available

My name is Stewart and I have a problem.

Over at We Live Simply Jonathan is thinking about ‘downtime’.

His thoughts really made me think.

We probably all have a sense that we are more available than we used to be.  The mobile phone sorted that out.  But the smart phone has taken our availability to a whole new level.

Email on your phone so people can contact you anytime, and expect you to answer.

Twitter.  Facebook.  FourSquare.  All designed to keep you ‘in touch’ but as this article on Life Hack suggests there is a huge downside.

…what’s actually happening in the life of many  professionals is not amusing at all.  Their companies  have taken the opportunity given them by technology and the recession to convince employees to spend more  “down time” doing work.  At the same time, they send a subtle message that  “staying in touch” with work also means being available 24 hours  a day for 52 weeks of the year.

Converting “Down Time” Nowadays, it seems, everyone with a smartphone has gotten into the habit of continuously trying to convert “down time” into useful, work time.  Here are some everyday examples of ways in which many professionals are converting their “down time.”

  • – a manager driving on the highway at 70 m.p.h. sends a text to his team  (while spilling hot coffee into his lap)
  • – an engineer in a meeting that’s going slowly, checks her email and replies (missing two action items assigned to her)
  • – an accountant watching his child play baseball on Saturday morning closes a deal in the fourth inning via cellphone (and lies to his  son about seeing him make his first catch ever)
  • – a supervisor attending 3 days of personal productivity training is unable to leave her smartphone untouched for more than 15 minutes (and later complains that  the trainer was ineffective)
  • – a consultant speaking to a client on the phone remembers that  he should have sent an urgent message to a colleague, and quietly does so (even as the client notes the sudden lapse in attention and interprets it as a lack of interest in continuing the relationship)
  • – a hard driving attorney once again takes his smartphone to the  urinal where he can multi-task (… and is noticed by his boss’ husband who happened to borrow his smartphone just five minutes earlier)
  • – a family cheers in unison when executive-Mom forgets her  smartphone at home 5 hours into the annual vacation (and falls into  despair when FedEx delivers it the next day)

I recently asked a client: “How did your big presentation to the executive team go?”  She responded: “OK… but the CEO spent the entire hour on his (expletive)  Blackberry.”

This was bad news for my client, whose project was now being viewed by the CEO as another chunk of his “down time.”

Rest is essential.  Spending time with the people you love is too.  These people need you to be available to them too.

For many people reading this your life, like mine, will be complicated by the fact that you work from home.  People call at mealtimes because they know you will be there.  People expect you to reply to email because they know you can pick it up anytime.  And we feed those expectations because we pick up the phone and answer the emails at 2am.  We like the versatility and the chance to arrange our days but we need to switch it off sometimes.

Working from home also brings isolation.  Twitter and Facebook give the feeling of company.  But like at work when you might chat to your colleagues over coffee there comes a time when you just need to get on with work.  That’s why you’re there after all.  The same is true when working at home.

So, I’ll be turning my work email off at 5pm and on at 9am.  It will stay off at the weekend unless I’m working.  When I’m off I won’t be looking and when I’m with my wife or my kids I’m going to try to keep my phone in my pocket unless I’m taking photos or using it to enhance our day.

So, what do you think?

GTD Life

43 Things

43 Things

I posted a list of things that I Will… do in 2010.  They are goals, not resolutions.  What about the things I’d like to do longer term?

Well, 43 Things is a pretty simple little online tool with an iPhone app that lets you write, update, track and share your goals as well as encouraging others and sharing tips on how to achieve your goals.  You can have goals for 2010 and life goals.  It’s free and simple.

I’m ‘stewcut‘ if you want to keep tabs on me and I’ve added an RSS feed to the sidebar of this blog to keep you up to date with my progress.

What are your goals beyond 2010?

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My MacBook is home and all fixed.  My couple of days being laptopless have been interesting.  Here’s what I learned:

Old windows laptops suck

I have a very old (8 years) laptop with a massive 500mb RAM and 20GB hard drive which lives under the bed.  It would have been as well staying under the bed!  By the time it had installed its 47 updates and then decided Service Pack 3 was in order I’d wasted a day.  Don’t bother.  A pen and paper work better!

iPhones are great… except…



My new iPhone appeared the day after I spilled coffee on my MacBook.  Just as well. The email works great with exchange so all my work email and calender was all there when I needed it and appeared like magic when I started up my laptop.

But there is stuff missing that I had on my Palm m130 years ago that you just expect to be there on what reports to be a ‘business tool’.  

I want to be able to access documents from my server or laptop and edit them.  How hard can that be?  I can get my email from my server, why not my word docs?  I know dataviz is working on documents to go for the iphone but seriously, is there no Word app out there?  I’m sure Micro$soft know there are big buck for the winner of the iPhone mobile office race.  What’s taking so long!!!

What about presentations?  It’s great I can use my phone as a remote… but my Nokia N95 runs powerpoint with a video cable out to a projector.

Come on Apple.  The iPhone is brilliant.  The interface is amazing, the email and web apps for twitter and facebook are all good.  The games are smart and quirky.  But I want business tools too!

Gadgets GTD Life Web 2.0

Journey Tracker?

It seems as though Nokia’s Sports Tracker is just a neat little training tool for runners and cyclists… however…

Do you ever go on holiday, wander around, take some photos and then forget where you went and how you got there? This could be the tool for you! Sports Tracker records your journey using GPS (kind of the opposite of sat nav… tells you where you have been rather than where you are going!) and you can then upload your journey to the Sports Tracker site where it marries your GPS data with Google Maps. You can add photos of your route using geotags. So Sports Tracker is really a Journey Tracker. Pretty cool.