My Home Office

We’ve previously covered planning your home office and setting up your home office here on WebWorkerDaily. Here I share a real-life home office: mine. I’m not a decorator — far from it, just an organized person who wants things to have a place and feel comfortable where I spend most of my time during the work week. Seriously, if I can set up a home office like mine, anyone can.

I don’t let my family mess with my home office. Sure, they can borrow my stapler and tape as long as they promise to bring it back: one sneak held on to my stapler for a week! At least it’s not a red Swingline stapler (I wish). But no leaving toys and backpacks behind. It’s also the tidiest place in the house, something important to the neat freak I am.

Meryl's office

The home office also sets aside a working space that sends a message to the family that I’m working. Moms and Dads can keep dreaming that their office space will keep out children. However, kids will disrupt your work less often in a dedicated office than if you work in a bedroom or living room.

Though a small space, the setup works well. Let’s just say the master bathroom has more room than the office. Every web worker’s office space requirements differ based on their jobs and space available.

Before I became a full-time web worker, I had my “office” in the family room. This let me keep an eye on the baby — now five-years-old — and the other kids. I moved into my current home office when the youngest was two and I switched to full-time freelancing.

This post lists things I have that make me feel “at home” in my home office. Maybe they’ll inspire yours. For more inspiration, see 5 Inspirational Workspaces. Read More about My Home Office

Two Sites to Ease Your Travel Headaches

AltSearchEngines has a couple of posts up that should be of interest to web workers who frequently travel. SeatGuru, a great site for planning out which airplane seat to sit in and which amenities your seat will provide, has been steadily adding site visitor reviews and more since being acquired by TripAdvisor in 2007. Meanwhile, FlightWait cuts through the complicated muck at many of the flight tracking sites and shows you just the flights in your area that are delayed.

Here’s what you’ll find at these useful travel sites.

Read More about Two Sites to Ease Your Travel Headaches

Online Ad Creation Sites Seeking Creative Talent

Are you a web worker with strong creative, design and online video skills? If so, you may want to look into some of the startup companies that are cropping up with ways to crowdsource grassroots video advertising spots. There are some interesting opportunities opening up in this space, where, in some cases, large global brands offer cash for the most creative grassroots advertisements.

Here are two notable examples, where you can show your stuff.

Read More about Online Ad Creation Sites Seeking Creative Talent

When is Good: Spend Less Time Scheduling, More Time Meeting

wiglogoIn general, I am meetings-averse. Most of the time I find them of questionable value, with attendee lists that defy logical explanation, and a frequency which is almost never merited. They are also frustratingly difficult to schedule at a time that suits all of the attendees. Accordingly, anything that makes the business of meetings easier, and less of a hassle to organize, is a useful tool in my book. When is Good, a new, simple scheduling web app designed to take some of the calendar-fumbling out of planning a meeting, definitely fits that description. Read More about When is Good: Spend Less Time Scheduling, More Time Meeting

Snowfalls in Britain Forcing Many to Work from Home

A car in the snow

A car in the snow

Large parts of the UK have been seriously disrupted by snowfall today, with the South East of the country seeing its worst snowfalls in 18 years. With many people unable to make it to work – or in some cases, making it to work only to find their offices shut – we may see the ranks of web workers swell temporarily over the next day or two (in fact, there have been anecdotal reports of webmail services running slowly today under increased traffic)

One of the advantages of web working is not having to deal with the stress of the daily commute, but on days like today, with trains cancelled, chaos on the roads, and snow continuing to fall outside with more forecast to come, it makes me very glad that I can work from the warm comfort of my kitchen.

Have you been affected by the weather in the UK?

(photo by stock.xchng user Mattox)

Online Community Managers: What Do They Do?

In my post from earlier this week, Online Community Manager: Yes, It’s Really A Job, I talked about how online community manager jobs continue to be a hot position for web workers despite the current economic conditions. The Monday post was in preparation for a talk that I gave at Oregon State University yesterday to a mix of students and other people from the business community in Corvallis who were interested in learning more about community management careers. I wanted to follow up on Monday’s post with a few more details about community manager positions along with a copy of the presentation that I used for my talk. Read More about Online Community Managers: What Do They Do?

Will the Last One to Leave GrandCentral Please Turn Out the Lights?

We’ve been worried about GrandCentral for a while now. The free service that promised “one number for life” started with such promise. And then Google (s goog) bought the company and the technology way back in July 2007…and they left it to rot. No new invites. Existing users have seen the service languish in maintenance mode since the acquisition. No updates. No new features or improvements. No word from the developers. Shame.

This morning, those of us still using a GrandCentral number are logging in to our accounts to see this:


An expired SSL certificate is not a big deal. Just accept the expired certificate because you trust the site and move on. But that’s not the point. It’s yet more evidence that if the GrandCentral folks are still at Google, they’re working on something else. The GrandCentral support forum is filled with questions and problems, and there has been no official answer to anything.

The challenge for those of us left behind is number portability, or lack thereof. I like my GrandCentral number. It’s easy to remember. It’s in the area code I want it to be. I would gladly use another reasonably-priced service if I could take the number with me (I do use PhoneFusion for my local contacts). Yes, GrandCentral has always been “beta” and was never meant to be used for mission-critical contacts. But it’s a little difficult to “test” a service like GrandCentral without giving the number out to contacts, isn’t it?

It’s about time for Google to do the right thing. Shut GrandCentral down once and for all, and give us a way to port our numbers elsewhere.

Twingly: A New Microblog Search Application

Earlier this month I wrote about Whostalkin, a beta search engine that focuses on finding content on social media sites and blogs.  It seems that the whole notion of expanding searches to social sites is gaining momentum. Today I’ve been experimenting with Twingly, from a Swedish company that bills it as “the first federated microblog search” engine.

You can find out more about it in this blog post, and here are my impressions.

Read More about Twingly: A New Microblog Search Application

Road to Recovery: Tools for Web Working Self-Control and Productivity

Sometimes, working online from home seems like a never ending battle with procrastination and distraction. Like today, for instance. That Facebook tab is just taunting me. And don’t think I don’t know what that look means, YouTube tab. I don’t even know why I keep you open.

The point is that the internet is a distracting medium, by and large. As web workers, we need to either practise rigorous self-discipline, or arm ourselves against it with a clever cache of sophisticated weaponry. Since my self-control is sometimes lacking, I want to explore the second option with you today.

Read More about Road to Recovery: Tools for Web Working Self-Control and Productivity

3 Key Web Working Skills to Develop in 2009

Targeting your professional development in a preemptive rather than reactive way, is not always easy. Usually freelancers and consultants just roll with the punches and learn what they have to depending on client requirements. A little forethought, though, can go a long way to making you the applicant of choice before any contracts are awarded.