Do you ever feel like your mind is going into overdrive and you can’t seem to handle or control it?
We live in an era where everyone is competing in a blood sport to get our attention.
And let’s be honest, it’s crazy hard to escape the hustle and bustle.
Escaping our phones, emails, social media notifications, the kids, the phone calls, advertisements and messages is HARD STUFF.
It’s overwhelming and not to mention, it is mentally exhausting.
And unfortunately this takes a massive impact on our ability to focus and… in turn our productivity.
A friend of mine recommended Head Space; a guided meditation app that was meant to help calm the mind.
I was never really into the whole meditation thing. Sitting in silence with no movement seemed like a torturous thought.
But my friend ASSURED me I would see a huge difference in my mental capacity and I could control the constant turnings of my mind.
So I gave it a shot.
Every 10 seconds I’d lose focus of my breath and would find myself thinking of that email I needed to write to Joe, when Expedia’s going to have the best deals or where’s the closest convenient store to pick up a Kit Kat bar.
We all have weird thoughts okay…
I just couldn’t stop it.
But after taking a meditation workshop in October 2018 I learned something extremely valuable.
The goal of meditation is not to never let your mind wander. A successful meditation session is when you notice your mind wanders and learn to control bringing it back to the breath.
By practicing this technique often, meditation helps you cease your thoughts and focus on the present moment in everyday life.
By focusing on moment-by-moment experiences, I learned to train my mind to remain calm, even in stressful situations. Consequently, distractions are less and less likely to sweep me away.
Even a few minutes spent meditating regularly can make a big difference.
Recently one of our members offered to lead 30 minute free guided meditation classes on Fridays. The first week we started with 3 people words getting out pretty quick because every class is full now.
If you’re not yet a member at Coworkly, I highly recommend giving HeadSpace a try. It’s free, guided and you can try it anywhere from 2 minutes to 15 minutes. Heck, you can even try it for 1 minutes.
You and your mind won’t regret it.
I don’t know about you, but I, OFTEN, find myself dozing off around 2pm. The morning coffee is waring off, I’ve been plugging away at my computer since 8:30am, and my lunch is making me sleepy.
According to Dr. Sara Mednick, a psychologist at the University of California, and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life, she say “naps are good for most people.”
Her research shows a nap—defined as daytime sleeping that lasts between 20 and 90 minutes—can improve brain functions ranging from memory to focus and creativity.
“For some people, naps are as restorative as a whole night of sleep,” she adds. More research shows a quick nap can lower stress and recharge your willpower.
Not to mention, you just feel great after.
A break from all the demands a break from the screen, a moment to shut-off during the mayhem…. sounds like a sure win to me.
There’s a huge group of people who insist napping is a huge waste of time.
So instead about 40% of the population often reach for energy drinks, caffeine or other stimulants that perk them up but don’t recharge their cognitive batteries the way a short, healthy snooze would.
Want to give it a try?
If you’re a first time day napper, the trick is to keep your daytime shuteye very short—no more than 15 minutes at first.
This will prevent your brain and body from slipping into the deeper levels of slumber that leave you feeling foggy upon waking.
The last thing you want to do is disrupt your normal daily circadium rythm, our inner biological clock that keeps us on an awake schedule during the day and asleep at night.
So, if you’re feeling sleepy. Go for it!
That’s exactly why we have a murphy bed!
We’ve heard it time and time again, living a sedentary lifestyle can be dangerous to your health.
Sorry folks, but yes, sitting all day at your computer is included.
The truth is, Canadians sit for about 10hours a day.
Do you fall into that stat?
(YIKES! I think I sit for even longer than 10 hours)!!
The facts are out and honestly, they’re a bit scary.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to look like a hunchback when I’m old and grey.
On top of bad posture, did you know that if you sit all day, you have a higher chance of being overweight, developing type 2 diabetes or heart disease, and experiencing depression and anxiety?
Here’s what it comes down to:
The less sitting or lying down you do during the day, the better your chances for living a healthy life.
So how do we do it?
Besides taking walking around every 30 minutes (which, let’s be honest would kill your focus), have you tried standing desks?
It was really something I never considered before starting to work at Coworkly.
But as I saw more and more members using them, I became intrigued.
So I interviewed those members. Got the deets and then tried it myself.
I slowly lost the rounding in the back (ehemm the hunchback look I was telling you about).
My head went from in front of my shoulders to above them.
And most importantly, I felt better. I had more energy.
And from what I can tell, I’m not alone.
Try opting for standing about about 25% of your day.
Crank the handle on your white standing desk and see what it’s like OR if you don’t have a standing desk, bring your laptop over to the standing up blocks along the pillars to change it up.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the magic it’ll work on your body every day and over time.
…. I mean unless you want to look like hunch back.
A new era is on the rise.
The concept of working from home is not new, but it’s only in recent years that it’s truly taken off. Several reports have estimated that by 2025, 40% of the working population is expected to work remotely.
For many reasons this is a win-win for both the company and the employee.
Companies are saving anywhere from thousands to millions on rent costs, office equipment and property management costs. All while the employee can say goodbye to traffic, strict starting hours, mundane cubicles and outdated lunch rooms while saying hello to freedom, flexibility, independence and comfort.
But as any freelancer, beginning entrepreneur, remote and independent worker knows… life working on your own certainly comes with its disadvantages as well.
Distractions, lack of variety, focus, holding yourself accountable to working a long day, creativity and one of the worst downsides is the lack of social stimulation, i.e. a community or just someone besides the barista to say hi to everyday.
However I don’t particularly like the word community. It’s a word that’s unfortunately overused, overbranded and a tad cliche in today’s marketing world – so we’ll just use the term our members use; friends.
You know all those seemingly pointless and meaningless encounters that no one really thinks makes an impact…
Like that small talk at the coffee pot every day.
The smile from the friendly security guard before entering the elevator.
Or even the colleague in the cubicle next to you that asks you how your night was.
… well turns out they really do provide value.
It’s proven that socialization at the workplace improves productivity, creativity and accountability; but more importantly, it gives people purpose.
Purpose you say?
Isn’t that getting a little deep here?
BUT. It really comes down to connection. Human connection and the value we feel from being a part of something matters for us.
You could live on the most beautiful, luxurious island with all the highest quality foods and drinks, water toys, sunshine, heat and not have to lift a finger, but if there’s no one there to experience it with you, to share those moments… the hype and glamour of it all is going to be short-lived.
There’s something about community (oops I’ve just used that word again), about friends or even a familiar friendly face that makes your work day all that more effective and better as a whole.
It makes sense right?
Humans are naturally social beings.
I’ve heard from member after member that you can only sit at home in your office for so long before you crave interaction. Some even found themselves chatting up the grocery store clerk about kitty litter brands just to talk to someone.
It’s true! Social isolation can seem like a never ending battle when you work remotely.
And it’s getting to the point that the reasons people were excited about becoming remote in the first place are the same reasons why these remote workers are feeling unfulfilled, unproductive and unhappy.
Sure, people need a quality place to work, but more importantly people want to feel connected and a part of something.
At Coworkly we’re all about connectedness.
You see it in our Thursday’s lunch-and-learns when every member joins us at the lunch table.
Everyone is catching up after being buried at their desk, fully concentrated working on their own projects for the last few hours. Together we exchange funny stories, discuss issues or even a casual chit-chat. All over delicious lunch and a 5-minute presentation from a new member about what they’re working on.
One of our part-time members mentioned last week “just how nice it is every Thursday to come in, talk and eat lunch with others.” As seemingly simple as that.
It even goes back to our main reason for choosing Vanier as our location in the first place. We wanted to bring unity to a community; where the same people in the community keep coming in, where people got to know each other, and felt as though they had a place within their own community they could be a part of.
But isn’t this what all the coworking spaces are saying?
Coworkly is special.
We’re brand new, small and our space is open; encouraging community. Our staff cares about how your night was, how the meeting went, if you got the contract and that funny thing that happened to you this weekend.
The best part is it goes beyond the staff, we’re proud of the good, friendly and caring members we’ve attracted.
It’s become a place where members ask when other members are coming in because they want to share something with them.
A place where people introduce themselves to new faces in the space because they want you to feel welcome.
A place where everyone knows you by your first name. And most importantly a place where the vibes are always welcoming and positive.
We consider ourselves as much a hospitality company as we do as a workspace provider.
Working remotely no longer means isolation. It means community, feeling cared for, caring about others, and being a part of something familiar.
And there’s just something about that that makes coworking such a nice addition to your remote lifestyle.
If you’re a remote worker, come on in and experience it for yourself. I’d love to meet you,
Director of Community Engagement
It’s a beautiful day, you go to the gym, shower, eat a nice breakfast, you’re ready to start your day. You grab your laptop, a notebook, a couple pens and you head over to the nearest coffee shop.
Life is grand.
You park and make your way into the shop.
And just like everyday, it’s morning time so that means it’s busy.
After a slightly annoying 10 minute wait, you hear your venti iced skinny hazelnut macchiato, sugar-free syrup, extra shot, light ice, no whip get called out.
And just as you’re sprinkling on some cocoa the table next to you opens up so you quickly snatch the seat. Ninja style.
After all, the shop is full and every other table is taken.
But soon enough you realize there’s no plug nearby. Since every other table is taken you pop out your laptop and get started while you stay alert for the next available spot with a plug.
You open your computer, connect to the internet and off you go to work.
Everything seems great.
You’re semi focused on the emails you’re tackling, but you can’t help but overhear the conversation going on next to you.
And then the guy in the suit across from you picks up a phone call. It looks like he’s dealing with an upset customer. The guy speaks louder trying to calm down his client.
You’re trying not to listen but you can’t help to take in the drama.
You sip your coffee, and toss in your ear phones. Time to regain focus.
The caffeine kicks in and you get this jolt of focus for the next 30 minutes.
Then your phone rings.
It’s the doctor’s office confirming the appointment you wanted to set up.
You take the call.
You struggle between speaking loud enough for them to hear you over the sounds of the people talking and the music playing in the background but also quietly enough so the whole coffee shop doesn’t know about that nasty ingrown toenail you have going on.
Spontaneous bathroom visit?
I think so.
You grab your laptop, head to the bathroom all while still trying to explain your situation to the receptionist.
It’s not the most pleasant place for a private call but it’s better than letting everyone know about your toe situation.
You get off the call, leave the bathroom and head back to your spot.
In that moment you notice a table next to a plug opens up so in the heat of the moment, you grab the rest of your things and move places.
But just as you login, you notice the internet got disconnected.
You reconnect and get back at it.
You manage to get in another 30 minutes of work when someone approaches your table and asks if they can use the 2nd chair at your table.
You nod trying not to let it interrupt your thoughts.
Turns out they’re taking chairs from all ends of the store.
Your curiosity peaks.
“What’s going on here? Is it a group meeting, or a meet-up event?”
Nope it’s just a bunch of old folks catching up over coffee while discussing politics.
And does anyone else notice how loud that coffee grinder is?
Once again your focus is gone.
Does this sound all too familiar?
Working at a coffee shop is something almost all of us have done.
But are we really being all that productive?
Probably not at full capacity.
But, we’ve all done it time in and time again.
And we’ll continue to do it.
Because as a remote worker, you want a place to work other than your home.
You work better around people.
You feel inspired around other people.
You want to meet customers or colleagues somewhere other than your house.
You like coffee, they have coffee.
You need wifi, they have wifi.
And because it’s close to home and convenient.
Traditionally, when you think of getting work done outside the house, the cafe always seems to be that place our mind automatically goes to.
But it’s not exactly the best place to get work done.
And that’s the big problem.
Getting a desk is uncertain; nonetheless one near a plug and not next to noisy neighbors.
Wifi can be wonky, slow or kick you off from time to time.
Distractions are everywhere.
Purchases can get pricey every few hours.
Not to mention, you’re far more tempted to eat pastries, other high fat and sugar induced treats.
People serve as distractions instead of motivation or intended interaction.
Having a professional conversation on the phone is nearly impossible.
Meeting with a client isn’t creating the most professional atmosphere.
So why are so many people still using coffee shops?
Largely, it’s thought that most people don’t really know what else to use.
Fortunately with the uprise of coworking spaces – there is a suitable alternative.
They provide a consistent, quiet and distraction free space for you to get work done.
You’re surrounded by like-minded, hard working individuals who want to do the exact same.
There’s plugs at every desk, free lunches to meet others, private meeting rooms for calls and meetings, and you can even leave your things here overnight.
Plus the coffee, the Nespresso and tea is included!
So if you’re a guilty laptop loiterer and a Wifi hog, we welcome you to visit Coworkly.
Somewhere that invites loitering, encourages Wifi hogging and most importantly, minimizes distractions.
Okay, we get it. Vanier doesn’t have the best reputation in Ottawa.
Over the years, a number of different shops and facilities have made Vanier their home. This includes a few drug treatment centers, Medicinal Marijuana shops, more Cash 4 You stores than you can shake a stick at.
But behind the not so glamorous facade is a vastly cultured community of homeowners and business owners who know that there’s so much more to Vanier than it leads on.
The neighbourhood is much like any other in Ottawa – there’s pockets of questionable characters, but for the most part it’s quite a thriving community.
Turns out Vanier has the highest percentage of designers, artists, LGBTQ, Aboriginal and French population than any other neighborhood in Ottawa.
This is particularly true due to Vanier’s competitive real estate prices.
Did you know it’s cheaper to live in Vanier than in Kanata, a suburb 25 minutes West of the city’s core??
Plus, it’s a 4-minute drive from downtown and it borders the tranquil Ottawa River waterfront alongside sporting fields, dog parks and picnic benches.
As such, younger families, immigrants, young professionals, retirees and students are flocking to the area and taking advantage of the affordable in-city housing opportunities.
Unlike trendy and expensive neighbourhoods, like the Glebe which is known for its cafes and new entertainment area, Vanier is unique.
It remains a cultural web of inhabitants widely ranging in nationality, income level, industry and job security, age, marital status and along other demographics.
You’ll find lawyers, teachers, government workers, high-earning business leaders, students, strippers, blue-collared workers and accountants.
And what’s really cool is that it’s rare to come across someone who isn’t totally content living there.
Not only is Vanier home to several colourful murals; including Ottawa’s tallest mural as seen above at 261 Montreal Road, you’ll also find the Wabano centre (Vanier’s newest Aboriginal centre), the ever so popular Farmer’s market held during the summer and falls months, and even some incredible hole-in-the-wall and Ottawa famous restaurants.
Like Quelque Chose, owned by a Venezuelan family who is widely known for making delicious handmade, mouth-watering macarons and other bakery items.
Bobby’s Table: a classic hole-in-the-wall diner that displays photos of the Prime Minister, Mayor Jim Watson and a few other local celebrities shaking hands with the dedicated owner and face of the business, Bobby. His tasty and under $5 breakfasts, delicious smoked meat sandwiches and popular spaghetti plate is what gets people lining up for on the weekend.
Vanier is also home to the Ottawa Famous Louis Pizza. This family-owned restaurant has been featured several times in the news for their longstanding family operated business and legendary pizzas.
Our newest addition is Cadmans, a delicious and classic Montreal style bagel and sandwich shop on the corner of Vanier Parkway and Montreal Road.
Ola Cocina, a small but flavourful Mexican taco and salsa bar located near Beechwood which draws an impressive crowd every weekend at this colourful location.
And most recently our new coworking space Coworkly, joined the community.
But what we kept hearing over and over again is – why Vanier?
Words like tech startups, trendy, cool, bright, and modern don’t exactly come to mind when you think of Vanier.
But what we say is why not?
On top of the benefits just named in Vanier, here are a few others:
- There’s a need. The local Bridgehead, Sutherlands and Starbucks on Beechwood is full to the brim with laptop workers.
- It’s outside downtown but still central.
- There’s tons of on-site and street parking (this is a biggie).
At the end of the day, the community, for the most part, is quiet and humble. People are independent, family-oriented and that’s ultimately the kind of people we want to attract.
In addition, we want to provide something quieter and better suited for client interactions than a coffee shop and something that has more community and social value than a library.
Vanier certainly has it’s interesting corners, but it takes one big move to start changing things around.
And we intend on being part of that movement.
That’s it! I’m outta here!
It was time for a new challenge in my life.
I got used to a heavy and fast-paced schedule at a young age playing competitive ringette and rugby, acting in drama productions, preparing for public speaking competitions, organizing social events and having top grades.
See, some people are addicted to cigarettes, some (or should I say most?) are addicted to Game of Thrones, and for others it’s coffee, whereas I have an addiction for trying new things and challenging myself.
No challenge? Not interested.
It came as no surprise that at 18 I dropped all activities and started my first business while I attended University. Two years later, I successfully coached over 50 young entrepreneurs over 4 years to over $3M in business and grew and managed one of the largest divisions for a Canadian Profit 500 company.
I had the perfect job supporting new and driven entrepreneurs every day.
But after consulting for 4 years, I realized I wasn’t growing anymore and it was time to get the heck out!
I sold everything I owned, condensed my things to a backpack and left to go travel the world alone.
For 7 months, I backpacked the beautiful streets of Morocco and rode a camel beside the pyramids in Egypt. I also volunteered in Kenya, and spent 56 days overlanding from Nairobi to Capetown with 24 complete strangers from around the world.
I then explored Thailand and Laos by scooter and boat. I ended my grand exploration in Indonesia while completing my Divemaster course to become a professional scuba diver.
Sounds magical right?
And it was! But there were numerous times I found myself up sh*t’s creek without a paddle. Fortunately, not literally.
I broke my phone within 15 minutes of getting off the plane in the first country. I also zapped my laptop after plugging it into a bad power source in the first month.
To make things worse, I had $500 USD stolen along with my debit and credit cards, I lost tons of expensive hiking clothes, a quality speaker, and a flashlight.
One time, I had to deal with a nasty gastro sickness with only a hole in the ground as my toilet. I was always dirty from the lack of soap to wash your hands, I slept at bush campsites with no showers, oh and it was blistering hot 40 degree weather every day.
I’d often share a room or tent with bugs or ants, I was always being sold things 60% higher than they were worth and often times you’d find me chiming off eenie-meenie-moe to choose my order off the non-English, no pictures foreign menu.
Sh*t happens. Backpacking ain’t for sissies.
“Now wouldn’t this make a terrific travel blog,” I thought?
So I made one. It was all about minimalism, bravery, how to survive the exciting (and sometimes downright terrifying) unpredictabilities of traveling and of course my fun adventures.
But one of the biggest difficulties I faced, especially in Africa, was the lack of a reliable connection to wifi. 97% of the time I couldn’t even load a picture onto Instagram!
When I finally arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand, a massive expat destination, I knew there had to be reliable Wifi somewhere. Fortunately, the super sweet, 4 ft 8 lady who ran our hostel recommended this coworking space near my hostel so off I went.
At this time, I had no idea what a coworking space was.
I imagined an uncomfortably hot, quiet, empty room with rows of computers with a few locals, and if I’m lucky a couple expats working silently away on a computer while an unengaged, non-English speaking person at the front desk collects my money and plays Fortnite on the computer all day.
Little did I know that a coworking space is quite literally the opposite.
I walked in and was instantly blown away.
In front of me was this unique and modern space with wide, open windows and loads of green luscious plants on the new solid tables. A small cafe was behind the sophisticated, front desk and the room was surrounded by a variety of expats, freelancers and small business owners vigorously working away while others networked away over a coffee.
I seem to have walked into this thriving business ecosystem.
“How can I help you”?
I was instantly and warmly greeted by an English speaking, pleasant and enthusiastic young Thai man sitting behind the front desk. Even with a 12-hour time change and over 13,000 km from my hometown Ottawa, this was the first time I felt like I was ‘home’ in the last 6 months.
For the rest of the day I hammered out a chunk of articles for my blog, and uploaded all my photos. I also connected with family and friends.
Over lunch I connected with 2 other expats that lived in Chiang Mai who gave me some feedback on my blog and helped me with some WordPress extensions and plugins I didn’t know how to use.
Not only was it my most productive day in the last 5 months of traveling, but it was incredible being surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs, people who were working hard towards a vision and wanted to meet other cool people. I felt like I was part of my old startup community again.
It wasn’t until I returned home from Asia 6 weeks later that I began looking for a similar place to get work done here in Ottawa. I wanted a quiet and clean space, where I could go to concentrate, build a new network and get work done.
At this time, I wasn’t an entrepreneur; nor a freelancer or even had a job for that matter, but I knew I wanted to re-enter the startup world and be surrounded by those who were getting traction.
Starting and growing a business is tough and I knew that being home alone all day wasn’t helping me make the progress I needed for the vision I had for myself.
Fortunately, I came across Coworkly, a beautiful, brand new coworking space in Vanier, only a 7-minute walk from my house. It was perfect for me.
I didn’t know what to expect…. after all this was Vanier.
The building was nothing fancy, but once the elevator doors opened to the third floor, I knew I was somewhere special.
A modern, clean, creative and technologically advanced space in Vanier?!? I felt like I just walked in a progressive workspace studio in San Francisco!
Compared to my Asian experience, this space was bigger, wider, had more light, was freshly painted, had motivational quotes on the walls, and had large glass walls panels in the office rooms. They had a Facebook live corner, cameras for events, beautiful meeting rooms, an audio production room for podcasters, and most importantly, it was clean, comfortable and distraction free. It was gorgeous!
Coworkly had only been open for 6 weeks at that time, and they already had a tight-knit community of 10 members and were eager and ready to welcome more.
Little did I know that this was about to become my new home.
Within no time, Coworkly was ready to take on their first employee to help build and expand the business.
Realizing the perfect opportunity to be a part of a unique and forward-thinking community, I sent in my resume, sat down with the owner and got the job.
There was no doubt in mind that after an epic adventure and the search for a new exciting endeavor that this was going to be my new challenge.
Director of Community Engagement
P.S Whether you need a local creative space to get work done, want to talk about travel or just sit down for a coffee, please feel free to reach out! I always value connecting with like-minded people and learning about the different ways in which we can help each other. Please feel free to add me on LinkedIn.