Sweet Tools: The CoWorking Collective

This is a guest post from the delightfully curious Andrea Lewicki. We first met a year ago in a branding boot camp. I was immediately drawn to her quiet playfulness, and deep thoughtfulness. It has been such a pleasure to watch (and be a tiny part in) the evolution of her Lewicki Agency. This Spring she opened up a really great, simple, tool for all of us who work independently.  Below she shares The CoWorking Collective, in her own words. Check it out & maybe we’ll be work buddies for the session that begins June 11th!

 

One of the best and worst things about being self-employed is not being part of an organization. On the bright side, you have the freedom to arrange your workday. You decide the mission and vision for the work you do. You are liberated from bureaucratic duty.

On the other side, you miss out on the embedded support structure an organization provides. You always have to take the lead, do the work and deliver in your team of one. It can feel like you’re working in isolation, and sometimes you feel like you’re the only person that cares about the work you do behind the scenes.
So much of what we do as self-employed people happens when nobody is watching. Sure, you might work at the coffee shop now and then, but the people hidden behind the other laptop screens don’t care if you’re working or goofing off on Twitter. It’s true that there are people who are interested in your work and can’t wait to see what you do next, but they’re not asking you what you’re going to accomplish between now and tomorrow. It doesn’t matter to them if you launch your big idea this week or two weeks from now. Maybe, like me, you’ve taken a online class aligned with what you’re trying to do. You get to connect with people in similar situations and there’s a support forum, but all of it comes with extra items for your to-do list. Depending on the class, you may end more behind than where you started!
And don’t get me started on all those time-management techniques. Most of them don’t work in the long run because you’re left being accountable to yourself. You and I both know how easy it is to justify your way out of that kind of accountability. You don’t need a lot of accountability — just enough to keep you showing up and doing the work.
For all of these reasons, I decided to create a simple support system to fill the void. It’s called The CoWorking Collective, and it’s a virtual CoWorking system that’s easy on your wallet, your time and your attention. I designed it to meet two specific criteria:
  • a low-overhead structure that balances freedom and support without weighing people down
  • a support system without teaching, coaching or obligation beyond the short daily check-in
Investment: $15 per work cycle (8 business days), 15 minutes a day (first + last days are 30 minutes)
That’s it. In return, you and your CoWorkers are partners in accountability. Check-ins happen via Skype or Google+ hangout. Partners are matched to optimize time zone compatibility (it’s a global enterprise). I provide tips on starting the conversation, getting to know each other and handling the check-ins. Once you’ve completed a work cycle, I’ll ask you how it went and what I can do to improve the program. The whole thing happens in 5 easy steps, shown in the diagram below.
It’s a fantastic tool for sprinting a project to completion. You can sign up for work cycles 12 weeks in advance, meaning you can plan support into your execution strategy!
It’s amazing what a difference those 15 minutes can make. One of the most remarkable things is that you begin to notice how much you’re really getting done. Chances are it’s a lot more than you think! Another thing that happens is you get better at breaking up large, overwhelming tasks into doable increments. You make progress. You get to the end without pulling out your hair!
The next work cycle begins on Monday, June 11th. Registration closes on Thursday night. You can find more information, including registration here. If you’re interested in the Collective but you’re not ready to schedule, you can also add yourself to the mailing list here.
There’s one other fringe benefit of joining us in the CoWorking Collective is the Brown Bag Lunch Series. I invite guests to share helpful information on topics relevant to independent business owners. The first guest is Christyna Lewis on Tuesday, June 12th! She’ll be talking about Financial Friday and how to make it a supportive part of running your business.
how it works
One Response to Sweet Tools: The CoWorking Collective
  1. Christyna
    June 5, 2012 | 8:47 am

    [post edit June 5, 2012] My introduction for Andrea’s guest post was not uploaded with the post yesterday. I have added that in this morning.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on simple accountability systems that have worked for you in the past. Please leave a comment on this post!