Category Archives: Collaborations

Space Planning Challenge: The Gowanus Girls Indie Design and Food Mart

When Samantha and Melissa first spoke to me about their idea for a craft market at the Gowanus Grove I thought it was a particularly splendid idea. The grove (which I see often as it’s two blocks from my office) is a bit of a diamond in the rough along the Gowanus Canal. From the grove, looking at the Carroll Street bridge, you could almost imagine you are standing in a serene bend of the Seine river.

The tall poplar trees provide a rural tone to the otherwise industrial landscape that surrounds them. And it was the trees that provided the biggest challenge in planning the layout for the market. Despite being provided with some architectural drawings, no one had ever bothered to plot the trees. We spent a lovely afternoon in the grove measuring, visualizing and plotting the locations of vendor tents and tables. Ultimately I was able to come up with some fun renderings that gave us an idea of how many vendors we might fit, and where to place all of the other activities planned, like live music and children’s crafts.

The second challenge? A gigantic boat trailer that lives in the space! Oh well, we figured we could put some decorations on it and just work it into the canal-side theme.

There’s always room for a boat trailer.

A helicopter view made it easy to count spots.

Now, the real joy came on the first market day (Oct 13th) when vendors started to arrive and set up their wares. I have to admit I was nervous…what if I had miscalculated? I met each vendor and led them to their spots one at a time and thankfully, everyone  and everything fit perfectly. Did you miss the 10/13 market? Have no fear, you can check out the second installment this Saturday 10/27

The welcome tent!

Vendors set up between trees

Friends at the market.

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A Short Appearance On Camera

I had a great time appearing in this segment for Checklist Home Services on Sector B. Checklist is an amazing service, they fixed everything in our apartment– as you’ll see.

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New Workshop!

The awesome Sarah From and I have been working on this workshop idea for a long time and now (finally!) we’re ready to present part one of a two part series on creating the work life you want.

Please join us on January 27th! Click on the image for more information and/ or to register.

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Showing Your Schedule Who’s Boss (guest post by Sarah From)

Lately I’ve been collaborating with my friend and colleague Sarah From of Do Your Best Work. Her insight and clarity on issues from time management to work/life balance are on point and extremely valuable. While we both help clients with issues of organization and efficiency, we quickly realized that our different voices would be of interest to our respective readership. I was very inspired when I read her article on defensive scheduling, and am thrilled to share it with you here! She’s got many more tips at her website! Enjoy, Liz

Guard Your Time With Defensive Scheduling

credit: Assuroca on Flickr

by Sarah From of Do Your Best Work

Sometimes it feels like our schedules happen to us.  What seems like a relatively calm week on Monday gets jammed with meetings and phone calls by Thursday, and all of a sudden there’s no time to do all the work we know we need to get done.

Most often, it is the “important but not urgent” tasks like planning, relationship-building, and big-picture thinking that get squeezed out when schedules get tight. This can create the feeling that we are flying by the seat of our pants and not really attending to everything that needs our attention.

While none of us has complete control over our schedules (we must cede time to superiors, funders, and unexpected events), we could all find a little more wiggle room in our calendars if we practiced proactive, defensive scheduling.  Here’s how.

Time Blocking
Block out time in advance for the important projects that you would otherwise neglect in the rush of everyday work.  If you have a board meeting in six weeks, schedule two hours of prep time three weeks from now so that you don’t find yourself scrambling to prepare the day before the meeting.  If a conflict arrises, be sure to reschedule this time block as you would any other meeting.

Meeting with Yourself
It’s impossible to keep work flowing without stopping from time to time to step back, take stock, and course correct as necessary.  Most of us will need to review our current work load weekly and take an even bigger-picture look every month or two.  Schedule this meeting time with yourself — a weekly hour or 90 minutes to review your current work, and a bi-monthly big picture check-in — and then defend against all who would seek to impede upon this time.

Time Batching
In any given week you may have  work to do on 7 different projects.  Rather than flitting around from task to task, project to project, give yourself chunks of focused time each day to work on a single project.  Maybe on Monday you devote time solely to projects 1 and 5, Tuesday is all about project 2, Wednesday it’s 3, 4 and 7, and so on.  Rather than staring down 7 projects at once and scattering your attention amongst all of them, you will make significant progress on one or more project each day, adding up to a much more productive week.

Playing Nicely With Others
Meetings scattered throughout the day and throughout the week can leave little solid time for at-desk work.  To remedy this, set scheduling boundaries on meetings, such as: no meetings on Tuesdays, (or, all meetings on Tuesdays), no meetings after 3 PM, or only phone meetings on Friday.  You won’t be able to hold to these structures in all cases, but you will probably be surprised how much agency you do have once you start asserting your meeting boundaries.

Give Yourself A Break
No more back-to-back meetings!  After every meeting, you need time  to capture, process, or reflect upon the outcomes of your last meeting before starting the next (if only for a few minutes).  What’s more, your body needs to stretch, eat, use the restroom, take a walk and generally renew itself after a period of intense focus. Give yourself 20-30 minutes between meetings to take care of these essential tasks.  Otherwise, you risk losing ideas and actions generated in your last meeting and you compromise the quality of your attention going into your next meeting.

Say No
Probably the #1 thing that you can do to defend your schedule and create more time for yourself is to simply say no.  No to attending that meeting when your colleague could do so; no to that extra committee; no we cannot pursue this funding opportunity given our current workload.  The incredible thing about saying no is how much it frees you up to do a better job at fulfilling the commitments you say yes to.

What are the biggest time-eaters in your schedule?  What strategies do you use to defend your time?

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Project Archive: Curious Jane-The “After” Photos!

While the actual Curious Jane makeover only took 2 days, getting the final “after” photos together feels like it’s taken forever. But here they are, what we accomplished and a few compare/contrast shots to show how we did it. For more info on the beginnings of this project check out this post. To view the photos on Flickr, click here.

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Project Archive: Curious Jane Office Makeover

When I met Samantha Murphy of Curious Jane Camps and she told me about the amazing after school and camp programs that they do for girls I immediately wanted to get involved.

As soon as I saw their office I knew exactly how we could help. I offered to do a makeover of any area of the office that needed the most TLC. The CJ office is bright, colorful, and full of energy. Upon entering you know right away that this is where good things happen. The area that seemed to be under-performing the most was the arts and crafts supply area. While everything was sorted well, it was difficult to access certain items as invariably the one thing you needed would always be in the bottom bin.

which bin is it in?

My space-making brain immediately went wild with ideas. Initially all I wanted to do was get those bins off the ground and into some sort of storage system. However, after bouncing ideas around with Samantha we got into even more fun things like an updated color scheme and magnetic and chalkboard paint for different walls.

Floor to ceiling shelving for bins.

I drew up our plan of attack starting with some shelving units we would need from Ikea as well as some solutions for double duty areas that needed both storage and seating.

3 in 1: storage, seating and writing

Samantha went to Ikea with a list I manufactured, neither of us quite realizing how much stuff there actually would be.

Flat packed and ready to go.

Luckily, with the help of a nice stranger she got it all into the car and was on her way. This weekend we’ll be painting and putting everything together. Updates coming soon!

A miracle of packing.

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Filed under Collaborations, Community, Doing Good, Durable Ikea, Giving, Kids, Methods, Projects

Project Archive: IPhone App Development

Problem: Gather 400 photographs of as many locations around NYC in 4 days to be used in an Iphone App for a network TV channel that shall remain nameless.

Solution: Create a strategically laid out route by neighborhood and take street-side snapshots from a bike.

We started with a spreadsheet (don’t we always?) that outlined not only the location and address, but it’s vertical and horizontal cross streets so the biker could easily navigate from point to point.

spreadsheet-erific

Then we plotted the routes out on maps, and printed the maps the right size to fit into special plastic sleeves that were mounted on the handlebars of the bike.

new directions

As the bike-photographers weaved their way up and down the city streets, they would mark down the sequence of the photos they captured so that the folks reviewing the photos later could recognize which location they were at.

a classic

From time to time we would also take a quick shot of a cross street to orient the photos.

Thank goodness the weather was good! It was an amazingly fun project!

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Project Archive: EA Sports + NBA Triple Double Event

The event:

Problem: After hundreds of pieces of gaming equipment from four different sources get mixed together, how can we make sure the right pieces got back to the right owners?

Solution: Create a visual, itemized inventory of everything leaving the site complete with tracking numbers. Any piece can then be traced back to the specific box and bundle it went out with.

And did we mention we had 1.5 days to figure this out? And that at the time I knew nothing about gaming consoles?

We started by separating out items by vendor and type.

video game consoles

so many controllers!

Then, we taped out three large squares on the floor and used them to stage the contents of each box. Everything going in one square/box would be itemized and entered into a spreadsheet, and then photographed with the box number.

 

ready for boxing!

contents of one box

I’d leave someone to then pack the box and I would move on to stage the next one. We kept moving from square to square in this fashion until everything was itemized, inputted and photographed.

 

boxified.

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Freelancer Field Trip #1: The Orchid Show

Save the date for our trip to The Orchid Show!

Friday April 22nd, 1pm at The New York Botanical Gardens

Getting there and meeting up: Follow the directions here to get to the gardens. It will be $20 at the entrance and then we’ll meet up by the gift shop at 1:00pm and head in together. This is not a guided tour, so everyone can meander on their own time. There is a free tour of the forest grounds at 1pm, which is an option for anyone who might like to start outside. There’s a great cafe on site.

orchid madness

What is a Freelancer Field Trip? It’s an opportunity for NYC freelancers (and their friends) to get out of the house, office, library,  or cafe and into a three-dimensional environment with other living, breathing people. It’s an organized event that encourages seeing and doing things that are out of the ordinary, and that contribute to our appreciation of our city and each other. FFT’s are a free service organized by Make Space to help build community, encourage wellness and self-care among the city’s hardest working professionals.

Why the orchid show? Because you probably wouldn’t make it on your own, would you?  It’s not just for flower or orchid lovers, it’s for anyone who appreciates color, light, and living things.

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Filed under Collaborations, Community, Doing Good, Events, Field Trips, Places

Project Archive: Unpacking an office

Problem: A creative experimental events agency moves to a new office and needs a working freelancer station for part-time designers.

Solution: Create a functional work-area where freelancers can pull up a chair and feel like they’ve been working there for years. Build a transparent office supply area so no one ever needs to ask: “Wait, where are the sharpies?”

It’s a personality trait (or quirk, if you’d rather) of mine that I love a huge mess. I see giant, chaotic spaces as opportunities for creative expression. This project was a particular treat in that regard because it was no less than a complete disaster area and we had 2 weeks to turn it into a working office space.

chaos is sexy

Determining the order of operations is the first thing on the agenda. Everything in this room needed to be unpacked, but we also needed a place for many of those items to go. Like a supply area. But the supply area looked like this:

aaaaah!

The plan of attack really just starts with what I like to call “a grand sort.” Basically we become a giant funnel that takes every item in and spits it out into an appropriate category, which usually starts as a pile or a bin and then eventually becomes an area with a designated address. I’ll spare you the details (they sound something like this “ball point pens here, staplers there, usb cords in that box…”) and delight you with the final products.

So clean and crisp!

Finally, a supply area that anyone could walk into off the street and understand immediately. It’s called transparent system, one that requires no expertise or prior knowledge to use (in other words, no instruction manual).

wysyg=user friendly

 

 

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