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5 Benefits Of Shared Community Office Space

One of the up and coming trends in the creative business world is the concept of shared work environments, and these wonderful collaborative spaces are changing the way we view and do our work. For a small monthly membership fee, you can have access to a professional office, take part in social and networking events, and even get deep discounts on classes and other programs to enhance your knowledge and further your career. And the best part of investing in a local co-working group is that you know exactly where the money goes and you know that your neighborhood friends and contacts will benefit from such a powerful collaborative force in the community. Many professionals and freelancers work from home these days, but they miss out on the benefits of office life like the chance to collaborate with others and skip the distractions. And coworking lets you opt out of the bad parts, like angry bosses and sad energy-sapping cubicles. Plus, when you throw in perks like free coffee and snacks, reliable high speed internet, conference room access, locker space, and hands-on instruction, it’s hard to justify sitting on your couch in your pajamas for even one more day. Take a look at our top five reasons to join our coworking community! Opportunities for collaboration You’re pretty smart. But you know what’s even smarter? 5 of you! When you share office space with other creative professionals, you can meet people who can help you brainstorm ideas, edit your content, offer suggestions, and make referrals. There is always something new and exciting to learn from your fellow coworkers, and you can have an opportunity to share your expertise as well. Chances are also that you will meet someone in the same industry or with similar interests, and they just might become your next business partner! Healthy work/life balance Anyone who works from home or on a freelance basis understands how hard it is to keep your work life separate from everything else. Gigs and projects tend to bleed into all hours of the day and night, and it can be tough to maintain a good schedule for optimal productivity and personal satisfaction. When you come to work in a community space, you will be able to leave the distractions and obligations of home behind for a while, and focus on your assignments. And when you’re done, you can pack up and return home to enjoy your family and your hobbies. Your spouse, children, or roommates will certainly thank you for investing in a healthy work/life schedule. Inclusion in creative community It can be lonely and even stifling as a creative entrepreneur, especially when you don’t belong to a collective of other talented and passionate people. So come join the group, and immerse yourself in ideas, life, and imagination. Contribute to something bigger than yourself. Be a part of an inventive cluster of individuals who want to grow their businesses, help others succeed, and change the world for the better. When passionate and motivated people come together, amazing things can happen everywhere from sales and development to design and marketing. Skip the hierarchy What’s one of the best parts of a coworking environment? That’s right, no bosses. No hierarchy. No strict schedule. You can come as you are and work as you need to- we’re not going to bother you about deadlines or emails. Chances are you are fighting to make your own way in the world as a freelancer or small business owner, so why would you want to go back into the domain of the corporate pecking order? When...

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3 Reasons To Bring Your Mom to DWC

In today’s fast-paced and ultra-connected world, technology is what holds us together. It drives our commerce, supports our social lives, and is the tool we use to create our futures. The amazing thing is that computers haven’t even been around that long- it wasn’t until the late 1980’s that most families owned their own desktop, and it would be almost another two decades before smart phones became a thing. If you’re under the age of 30, chances are you’re extremely comfortable with technology and can traverse the digital terrain with no problems. But many older people are just now entering the personal computing market, or have been struggling to catch up with their now-outdated technologies. Some of our parents and grandparents may be feeling lost or left out in the data-driven modern life, but luckily there are people and places out there that can help. At Digital Workshop Center, we offer several classes that can help our community elders master the latest and greatest smart phones, tablets, and computers. Here are just three great reasons to bring them in and sign them up today! They can harness their email with Computer 101 There are few places that still offer the most basic of computer classes, which is a shame considering how many people could still benefit from them. In our Computer 101 course, we can teach anyone how to be comfortable with the day-to-day functions of their laptop or desktop including, but not limited to: Organizing files and folders Browsing the internet and saving bookmarks Composing and filing emails Sending and receiving photos and videos We have courses in both Mac and PC applications, taught by our resident computer gurus, which are perfect for anyone who is new to computing or simply making a transition from one system to the other. They can stop sending embarrassing texts with iPhone/iPad 101 Many of us may find humor in reading the latest “texts from my mom” memes that are floating around the internet, but secretly we hope that will never happen to our own parents. Help them avoid a technology gaffe by bringing them and their new iPhone or iPad into Digital Workshop Center for our intro class. In only 3 hours, this course can help anyone master their shiny new Apple product by teaching things like: Downloading, deleting, and using apps Checking weather, email, and news Finding files, music, and photos Navigating the internet browser Sending text messages or photos Whether you’re 60 and you got a new iPad for your birthday or you’re 30 and just switched from an Android to an Apple phone, this is the class for you! Learning the ins and outs of any piece of technology is a worthwhile investment, as it will save you time and effort the more you use it. And not to mention, save you from any embarrassing fumbles. They can capture memories with Digital Photography Classes Digital cameras are everywhere these days, but many people still struggle with understanding all the complicated settings and gizmos that make them work. Everyone can appreciate the importance of photography, especially when it comes to preserving family memories and exploring new hobbies. People over 50 are one of the fastest growing groups purchasing new digital cameras, and we’re here to help them get started taking photos painlessly. Just a few of the things we can teach them include: Using both auto and manual shooting Settings for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO Basic composition Importing image files onto a computer We offer basic courses in getting to know either your digital SLR (DSLR) or point...

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Harvest Offers Integrated Time-Tracking Tools

Completely stuffed after an amazing Thanksgiving dinner, I settled in to watch some football and think of new topics to write for my upcoming columns. With the tiring haze of tryptophan creeping in, I started thinking about an appropriately named online tool called Harvest. Harvest is a simple website that helps with personnel time tracking. It offers an easy way for teams to collaborate and track billable hours on multiple projects at once. It makes time sheets obsolete and data entry associated with time cards as easy as possible. It’s also perfect for any freelancer who may need to track hours while working on multiple projects. In just a few minutes, you can have your account up and running. Features like one-click entry and desktop time entry make it simple to enter hours worked on a project and create line items. If you need to turn on the stop clock while you work, it can stay open in a browser window, and then immediately be assigned to a specific client when stopped. After you’ve finished entering your time, there are robust reporting tools that can help you analyze your time or your whole team’s working hours and get a better handle on how billable time is spent. In addition, exporting the data to a Google spreadsheet or CSV is a one-click operation if you want to integrate the data with other reports. An added bonus is how easy Harvest can connect to popular small business accounting tools like QuickBooks. You can import the billable hours and assign them to clients as needed. If you have billable expenses, you can easily track them with Harvest and upload them via any mobile device and the Harvest app. Keep your receipts and you can use a mobile device to store them digitally into Harvest. Harvest does cost a modest monthly fee, starting at $12 for one user, $40 for up to five users, and $90 starting at 10 users. You can also add additional users to any plan for $10 per month. Since I work with a lot of contractors, I’ve found that Harvest is a wonderful tool to keep a good understanding of what each person is working on. It makes data entry for all parties involved easier than ever. More importantly for me, management of the data has become easier. I highly recommend Harvest if you need to improve how you handle your time tracking at your business. Stu Crair is the owner and lead trainer at The Digital Workshop Center, providing digital arts and computer training instruction in Fort Collins. Reach him at (970) 980-8091. [Originally published in The Coloradoan on...

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Mint.com Helps with Financial Organization

In the past few weeks I’ve written about some hot, new online tools that are helping change how we all operate in daily life. I know scheduling and organization sites all too well, as I’m constantly juggling multiple schedules at the Digital Workshop, along with my personal obligations. I’ve mentioned before that I often use small business accounting software to manage my business expenses. However, over this past weekend I was introduced to one more site that I thought just about anyone could benefit from: Mint.com. Mint is a site dedicated to helping individuals and small businesses keep track of finances. It’s free and extremely easy to use. Some of the best features include how Mint can categorize and organize your information, yet give you total control to make changes as you see fit. Collecting information on checking accounts, saving accounts, retirement accounts, credit cards, auto loans, private loans and more allows you to better budget your spending. And by having a better grasp of your spending, you can have a clearer picture of your total personal finances. The site is completely secure, giving you peace of mind as you enter your important banking information to be tracked. In fact, you really don’t make any transactions through the site, so your security risk is low. You strictly use Mint as an organizational tool to be able to keep your finances in better order. The developers at Mint have also incorporated all of the popular mobile and tablet features we’ve become accustomed to, which means you can track all of your spending in one place from anywhere in the world. Alerts can be set to your phone when you spend more than you’ve budgeted, stopping you from making an ill-advised purchase. Other common alerts include low balance and payment due alerts so you never get those dreaded insufficient funds fees or incur a late fee. The reporting tools are also fantastic if you want to get a picture of your finances over time or do a comparison to year’s past. Graphs are built into some of the common reports, or you can customize aspects to your liking. Mint.com provides a safe, secure method to track your finances and avoid the pitfalls of trying to organize this information on your own. Give it a try and see if Mint helps you organize your finances better. [Originally published in The Coloradoan on...

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Schedule Once a Big Help in Event Organization

I know sometimes I look like a really busy man, at least on paper. My friends and family often ask me how I keep all my classes, shows, tasks and events organized. Many years ago, I relied on old-school paper organizers, a couple of highlighters and a lot of sticky notes. I had a pretty amazing scheduling system that no one else on this planet would be able to understand. My appointment acronyms and color coding of meetings might’ve looked like the handywork of a messy third-grader, but it made perfect sense to me and that’s all that mattered. Today, life is even more complicated and I’ve ditched my paper system for a combination of nine Google calendars, a smartphone and a lot of automated reminders. I still make mistakes from time to time, but these tools provide me with enough power to know where I need to be at all times. While I may know where I’m supposed to be on most days of the week, other people I may need to collaborate with are a different story. Recently, one of my employees introduced me to an amazing tool called Schedule Once. It’s already saved me a couple of times when trying to plan events based around other people’s schedules. My old-school method would’ve involved me setting an event date and time, contacting the invitees by phone or email, hoping enough people can attend the event as planned and then, upon finding out the date only works for half the invitees, finding a new date and starting over. Hours would be wasted going back and forth through this process. With Schedule Once, the nightmare of scheduling with other people has gotten a lot simpler. First, I can set the preferred date and duration that I want the event to be held. Next, I invite the attendees and have them go online to my Schedule Once calendar to see what I’ve posted. Each invitee can then mark which dates will work best for them. Then, Schedule Once sends me an email to alert me that someone has responded on the calendar. I can check in once all the invitees have gotten back to me. Finally, Schedule Once provides a simple, user-friendly interface to show me the best date and time for the entire group based on their responses. It even suggests the perfect time based on the number of matching responses, the duration of the event and other pertinent details. To top it all off, Schedule Once is free and integrates with my existing Google calendars. When I’ve locked in the event time, I simply confirm it in Schedule Once and it adds an appointment in my Google calendar automatically. My highlighters and organizers might hate it, but Schedule Once has become of my new favorite online tools. [Originally published in The Coloradoan on...

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