The Best Digital Rolodex Apps

The Best Digital Rolodex Apps

Remember the Rolodex? The toylike office accessory was originally designed to allow professionals to thumb through a Ferris wheel of business cards. They were efficient at organizing the clutter of your contacts physically, but by today’s standards, look dated and limited in their capacity.

Today we live in the information age. We can easily capture thousands of contacts and access them with just a few swipes and taps on our phone. Thus, the question of contact organization has now become a digital one: which app is best for storing and organizing contacts?

 

CamCard

As the name suggests, CamCard makes it simple to snap a photo of your business card and digitize them. The app automatically orients the image, transcribes it into your contact list, and exports the information to your email, contact list, or social media. CamCard is excellent at reading words and numbers but fall short in categorizing information to the right places. You may have to manually edit a person’s company name into the right field, for example.

CamCard is available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry. There’s a version with ads and limited card slots, and a premium version that ranges between $10 and $20.

 

ABBYY Business Card Reader

ABBYY Business Card Reader is billed as the “world’s fastest business card scanner and contact management app”, and has even been recommended by The New York Times, CNN, The Telegraph, Computer Business Review, and Macworld. ABBYY works like a breeze, even auto filling missing text and offering automatic or manual backups. It’s also more extensive some of its digital Rolodex counterparts, with support for Apple Watch, Facebook, LinkedIn, and MS Excel exports.

The free version comes with ads and offers 10 card recognitions. Premium offers unlimited card storage, auto backups, and ad-free support for either $8 each month or $30 per year.

 

Evernote Scannable

Perhaps you are looking for an app that will not only store your business cards but also your receipts, contracts, or other business documents. Evernote Scannable is the solution you’ve been looking for. With a clean and sleek interface, Scannable acts more like a secondary camera app, except documents ready to be scanned turn blue. All images are auto-oriented, cropped, and adjusted for readability, and are easily exported into PDF or JPG, and sent via email or text.

Best of all, Evernote Scannable is totally free to download and use, without limitations.

 

ScanBizCards

Despite the odd name, ScanBizCards is actually one of the more powerful options on this list. In addition to the same scanning abilities offered in the other apps, ScanBizCards also allows you to export your cards into the CRM platform of your choice, including Salesforce and SugarCRM. For those worried about transcription issues, ScanBizCards even offers manual transcriptions, with 2 complimentary included and then 50 transcription credits for $10. The app has received praise from Apple Gazette, TechCrunch, and the Appy Awards on ABC TV.

ScanBizCards has only one flat price: $2.99, and comes with no subscriptions or limits (except for the aforementioned transcription credits).

 

SamCard

If you want something that does away with all the cloud technology and fancy graphics, SamCard is your best bet. SamCard doesn’t have any fancy features or flashy interface but instead opts for a simple UI and imports information directly to your phone’s local contact list. Some power users may fear that the app is too barebones compared to the others mentioned on this list, but if you want to capture the simplicity and ease of the Rolodex, SamCard is all you need.

SamCard has a free lite version and a $4 premium version.

 

WorldCard Mobile

Perhaps you work with several international clients and want to support a variety of languages. WorldCard Mobile has the best language support out of all the apps. With 21 languages available, from Chinese to Arabic, you can format names that don’t translate easily to Roman English. For Gmail users, there’s the added benefit of being able to sync to your Gmail and Google contacts. One caveat is that it does not have the auto-snap feature when the card is in the right position. This may not be a dealbreaker for some, but definitely noticeable for others.

WorldCard Mobile is available in a free lite version and a $7 premium version.

 

These are just a few of the most popular card scanning apps, but there are many more on the market that serve different niche needs. Regardless of which app you choose, you can look forward to speeding up your contact information organization and ditching (or avoiding) that ancient contraption called a Rolodex.

Which one is your favorite? Have an app in mind that we missed? Get in touch with us through our Twitter (@NovelCoworking) and Facebook. Check back each week for more tips on how you can increase productivity and more!

The Pros and Cons of Standing Desks

The Pros and Cons of Standing Desks

You may be familiar with the dangers of sitting down for too long. Some will say it’s worse than smoking, while others might say that claim may be a little exaggerated. Either way, it is certain that prolonged sitting can cause back pains and neck strain that stretching can’t fix. So what can you do about it?

Fortunately, a new kind of office desk known as the standing desk has gained popularity in recent years, and we’ve even seen a few in some Novel Coworking offices. While working at a standing desk may seem tiring (and maybe even a little ridiculous) at first, standing desks have given workers a more reinvigorating alternative to the computer chair.

 

The Pros of a Standing Desk

 

Encourage higher productivity and alertness

Sitting in the same spot can make you feel sluggish and even drowsy — but standing can keep you moving, which can help keep you motivated and thinking as you work throughout the day. No surprise then that some managers are finding success through stand-up meetings: meetings where the individuals must participate by standing. The results? Participants felt more engaged with the work and one another.

Increases blood flow and stretches your muscles

Studies also show that sitting for too long has been linked to several diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even cancer. While a standing desk isn’t the universal answer, it can help break up a dangerous habit with intervals of activity and motion. One study conducted by the BBC found that the use of standing desks positively affected blood glucose levels and even improved asthmatic symptoms.

Improves spinal structure and posture

Call it iHunch, computer neck, or any other name you want, the result is the same- using a computer for a long time is bound to strain your spine. Posture isn’t just about how you look— it affects your bone strength and even your confidence. When you stand, you tend to naturally adopt a straighter spine and more upright posture as you work. Finding an adjustable standing desk is crucial if you want to prevent the forward neck position that many laptops on desks cause.

Helps burn calories and lose weight

Standing leads to higher heart rates, about an average of 10 beats per minute (BPM), and that leads to a difference of about 0.7 calories per person. “If you stand for three hours a day for five days that’s around 750 calories burnt. Over the course of a year it would add up to about 30,000 extra calories, or around 8lb of fat.” says Dr. Buckley from the University of Chester.

 

The Cons of a Standing Desk

 

Sore feet and tired knees

Standing for extended periods can be pretty tiring, particularly if you’re not wearing comfortable footwear or insoles. After a few hours, your feet may feel sore, and you may start shifting weight between both legs. By the end of the day, your whole leg may feel like burning, and if you don’t balance stationary standing with stretches and regular exercises, working at a standing desk could be damaging to your muscles.

Varicose veins

Veins in the lower legs have to transport blood from the heart, all the way to the feet and back up to the heart again. When people stand for too long or wear ill-fitting clothing, the veins may have to do extra work, resulting in a slight swelling that appears on the surface of the skin. This can be known as varicose veins. This is frequent in servers, nurses, and other workers that stand for a long time.

You don’t lose that much weight (right away)

It may seem like standing can lead to several pounds of lost weight, but it may take some time, maybe even a few years before you can get to that point. According to Bloomberg, 50 calories can be burned a day, which amounts to about 22 pounds over the course of 4 years (still beats how much weight you can lose while sitting though!).

Lack of real evidence

Standing desks are still a relatively new concept, so there aren’t many studies on their long-term effects. One article strongly suggests that many of the existing studies were flawed: either in sample size, length of study, or just overall poor research design. We may have to wait for more accurate and insightful reports to determine the true impact of standing desks.

Standing desks can be quite the investment, but it can ultimately be a very rewarding one. Our modern work culture encourages us to stay seated for long periods on the computer, but only recently are we discovering how dangerous that can be. While standing for the full day won’t make you suddenly healthy, it’s important to switch up your work habits from constant sitting to light pacing, standing, and even breaks to walk around the block. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you avoid staying hunched and completely sedentary while working.

 

Standing desks are becoming popular in both our shared office spaces and executive offices. Contact us today about getting your own one set up in your office!

How to be productive after work

How to be productive after work

You had a hard day at work, a long commute home, and you still have to make dinner. You want to work on personal projects or learn new skills, but you just don’t have the energy or time. Before you know it, it’s already late and you need to sleep before work the next day, so you put it off for another time. Rinse and repeat.

Many of us want to learn and do things outside of work, but with such few hours in the day, staying passionate about projects outside of work can feel draining.

Here, we’ll cover how to ensure you boost your productivity even after a full workday.

 

Learn to manage your time better, then make it a habit

Time management is at the heart of productivity. We’ve covered some time management tips in the past, from timeboxing to scheduling events on your calendar, but it’s important to develop a habit out of these tips.

Be patient- too often people believe time management drastically improves after a few days of owning a bullet journal, miss a few days, then give up entirely. The same goes for after-work activities. Schedule your projects and set aside time each day, then stick with it. You may need a few weeks, even months, but without that discipline, you’ll likely always procrastinate your passions.

 

Limit your distractions and find your zone

There’s a reason people go straight home after work- they want to collapse on the couch, spend time with their family, and watch television or play video games. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, it can be extremely counterproductive if you want to work on a passion project.

Learn how to limit your social media activity, avoid binge-watching, and other distractions. Inc recommends a few apps for avoiding time-wasting on your smartphone. We’ve covered StayFocusd and Freedom as both excellent apps that can cut down on those troublesome, distracting websites.

Sometimes, you get the most work done outside of your home. Consider finding another place to focus on your project- might we suggest a coworking space?

 

Pick passions and interests that you actually care about

If your project isn’t something you particularly care about, then of course you’ll continue to put it off until another day. If you really want to get some traction, pick something that you’ll actually enjoy doing or that you care about.

You’re always going to be tired, or lack the hours during the day, but if you really love what you do, you’ll find the time and energy to do it.

 

Set realistic, achievable goals to hold yourself accountable

For certain activities, you may only want to do them when you have time, and that’s acceptable. However, if you have a personal project or skill you’re trying to accomplish or improve on, you should make it a point to set a standard for yourself.

Every month (or time interval that best suits you), write down a few goals you want to reach. Perhaps you want to cover certain lessons every week or learn ten concepts every month. Maybe you want to read thirty pages every day. Whatever it is, the more concrete objectives you set for yourself, the more you can hold yourself accountable and actually track your progress.

 

Need a little help staying productive? Check out our previous post on productivity podcasts to tune into.

These are but a few different tips you can try, but by no means are they the only ones. What projects are you working on, and how do you stay productive? What tips do you have for others? Let us know on our Facebook or Twitter accounts and we’ll reshare the best responses.

Importance of an Office Layout

Importance of an Office Layout

You may not think about it during the day, but your office layout can make a huge impact on your mindset and your work. With a few adjustments to your office furniture, you can design a more productive and pleasurable work experience.

 

What’s an office layout?

This seems like an obvious answer: it’s how your office equipment and furniture are laid out within a certain space. However, we don’t want to just arrange these items based on space- office furniture and equipment should be arranged to maximize productivity, creativity, and collaboration.

It’s that second part that many businesses fail to grasp. Your office environment should encourage you to get more work done and communicate with the rest of your team effectively- sometimes, these objectives aren’t easy to accomplish when you have a lot of equipment, a lot of workers, or not enough office space (or all three).

 

What are the best types of office layout?

Experiment with different layouts until you find one that best compliments your workflow. Try using one of these layouts:

 

Cellular/Cubicle Office

Most commonly found in older office buildings, the cellular or cubicle office arranged employees and desks by rows and columns, often with low walls to divide people and (supposedly) retain their concentration. While these layouts still exist, they are gradually being phased out in favor of more open layouts.

 

Open Office Layout

In contrast, an open layout removes doors and walls as barriers to communication and collaboration. Multiple workers may share a single table, and the tables may be scattered throughout the space. These layouts have become more popular with startups as well as large tech firms as it encourages more immediate communication.

Read our previous article on how open offices can actually enhance your productivity.

 

Coworking Layout

Directly inspired by an open office layout, a coworking layout also eliminates walls or boundaries, but is much larger and often shared among multiple companies. The coworking space may feature couches, shared desks, private or dedicated desks, or high counters. Coworking has the added benefit of encouraging cross-company communication and networking.

 

Functional Layout

Some businesses may have unique services or products they work on and may decide to arrange their offices around the most frequently used equipment and machinery. For example, a startup that focuses on recording podcasts may strip their space and lay their computers, chairs, and other equipment around the recording microphone.

 

Match your company culture with your office layout

Ultimately, no one can tell you how to arrange your team, furniture, and equipment- you have to decide what’s best for your business.

One way to design your office layout is by basing it on your team’s needs and culture. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What does my business do?
  • What are the most common tasks each day?
  • What devices, equipment, or furniture do my team require to accomplish their work?
  • Open layout or cellular layout?
  • Collaboration or privacy?
  • Creativity or efficiency?

At the end of the day, these questions are about your business’s brand and culture. Ask yourself whether your space accurately and honestly reflects the team’s personality.

For some more advice, check out our previous post on how to create an engaging workplace, and read our office layout do’s and don’ts.

 

The Impact of an Office Layout on Productivity

Cubicles are a thing of the past. According to BizJournal, 81% of office owners and managers say office space is “very important” when it comes to hiring top talent, and 78% say they’re “increasingly being asked for open-office environments” and “more collaborative workspaces.”

Where and how your team works greatly affects the end product of their labors. When you make it easier and more enjoyable for your team to work, you can look forward to a stronger, more enhanced version of your brand.

9 Productive Hobbies To De-Stress, Build Skills, and Stay Happy

9 Productive Hobbies To De-Stress, Build Skills, and Stay Happy

Work can be a grind, so it’s important to have hobbies on the side to help you relax, focus, and overall, stay productive.

We’ve compiled a list of hobbies that absolutely anybody can get into, but would take a lifetime to master. Consider setting aside some time each week between your work, family and other obligations to try these out and incorporate it into your routine!

 

Deep-reading

With social media, people have gradually shifted their reading habits from concentrated reading to skimming for facts. Deep-reading harkens back to a time when people found solitary places to read long texts, often focusing on the symbols, themes, and concepts presented by the book. You can do it with any book, just slow down your reading pace so you can fully absorb each sentence with clarity. Visit Longreads for some other in-depth interviews, books, stories, and essays. Check out Novel Coworking’s list of 8 must-read books for 2018.

 

Exercising

If you really want to stay productive in your free time, the best thing you can do is to exercise. Doesn’t matter what kind you do- whether it’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Crossfit, yoga, or just a quick run- getting your heart and lungs pumping can be liberating while helping you stay focused and energized. Look for gyms and fitness centers near your home, and try to fit in an hour or two of training before or after work. Above all, exercising can help you stay fit and healthy, especially if you sit in front of a computer at work for most of the day.

 

Cooking

Everybody wishes they had more time to cook. The truth is there is time! Sometimes the biggest challenge is finding the right recipe- one that doesn’t take too long and doesn’t require multiple trips to the grocery store. Allrecipes is an awesome starting point. They have a gallery of popular recipes with reviews from the community, a recipe finder with ingredient search, and filters for cooking time or cuisine. Save your money, stay healthy, and develop one of the most important skills by cooking at least twice a week. You won’t regret it.

 

Writing a blog or journal

Writing isn’t just one of the most productive hobbies, it can also be a great method of recording moments, thoughts, and feelings, as well as a timeless way of communicating with someone miles, or even centuries apart. One way to practice writing is through a blog. Not only do blogs let you communicate with readers directly, but it has become a way of earning money for many writers. We recommend reading The Minimalists’ guide to starting a blog, which walks you through each step in detail. Don’t feel like sharing your thoughts with the world quite yet? Try out journaling. Journals can help you think through complex issues and emotions, without fear of being judged.

 

Drawing and painting

Similar to writing, drawing can be a powerful alternative to traditional communication, like speech or the written word. Drawing (and painting) can help reveal hidden emotions and thoughts, and revisit how we view the world. However, compared to methods of traditional communication, the barrier to entry for drawing is typically higher and is not often treated with the same importance. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain has become a popular introductory course and book taught by Betty Edwards. After just a few pages of reading and practicing, you too will realize drawing isn’t as difficult as people make it out to be, and can actually be deeply relaxing and satisfying.

 

Volunteering

Time is never wasted when it’s spent helping someone else. There’s something profoundly rewarding about using your free time to volunteer at a soup kitchen, contribute to a charity, or assist at a shelter. Visit Idealist and VolunteerMatch for safe matches with organizations and activities based on your skills and experiences. It doesn’t take much to make a difference.

 

Programming

Programming isn’t just about making apps or video games- it represents the language of the future. That’s why so many schools have begun teaching it as part of the curriculum. The next generation will develop software and programs that we’ve never dreamed of. But even as a hobby, programming will teach you new ways of problem-solving that can be applied to other fields and aspects of your life. Codecademy offers an easy way to learn through a code editor with a built-in tutorial and preview window. Harvard University’s CS50 course is just as good, complete with filmed lectures, problem sets, exams, and homework.

 

Travel and Sightseeing

Travel shouldn’t be limited to the once-a-year vacations! You don’t have to plan a whole month or save a fortune, you can start exploring the world on a shoestring budget. Try using Skyscanner, a website and app for tracking the best flight deals. You probably already know about Airbnb, but you can get the local experience and stay places for free through Couchsurfing. Want to stay somewhere fancier? HotelTonight lets you know which hotels have discounts tonight or the following night. Even if you can’t get away for a weekend, you can always explore your own city. You’re bound to find something you didn’t know was there before.

 

Dog Walking

Have experience with dogs? Why not walk them in your own time? Get some cardio in your free time while exploring local areas and meeting new pups. On top of it all, you can make some extra cash on the side (some walkers make up to $20 for each walk!). Check out Wag!, an LA-based dog-walking app that connects walkers with pet owners. Check to see if your city is supported.

Here’s our advice- give it some time! Hobbies aren’t supposed to be stressful second jobs, they’re meant to provide some levity and balance to your existing obligations. Put in a few hours in each week, and you’re guaranteed to develop some skills and perspectives that can even help you in your daily work.

Check out our previous blog on getting a productive start to your morning.

Make sure to follow our blog for more guides and posts on productivity and all things entrepreneurship.

How to Find Commercial Office Space For Rent

How to Find Commercial Office Space For Rent

Choosing an office space for a business is a difficult but important decision to make. The space you ultimately choose will come to represent your brand and influence how your team performs. Before you make your decision, you should do your research to find the space that best fits your business’s needs.

There are a lot of considerations to make in finding commercial office spaces for rent. While we can’t make your final decision for you, we can help steer you in the right direction in determining the space or spaces that work best for you.

 

1. Plan for Your Office Needs

Forget about “best of” lists and fancy awards- the best office is one that supports businesses to do their best work. That includes:

  • Space – how much square footage of space does your business require to operate efficiently?
  • Number of offices – are you a large business that needs private offices for each member?
  • Location – where your business is situated can impact how your clients interact with you. Check out Business Insider’s list of 50 best places to work in the USA.
  • Amenities – Coffee machines, printing services, mail delivery etc. Typically more amenities mean a higher monthly or yearly rent.
  • On-site staff – From the receptionist to the community manager to the cleaning crew, a helpful team can make all the difference in an office.
  • Transportation – The ideal office should be close to public transportation or main roads and highways. The easier the morning commute, the more productive the team can be.

 

2. Calculate Your Monthly or Yearly Budget

Moving offices may seem straightforward, but it can quickly become a costly investment if not properly accounted for.

If your business involves moving from a previous location, start by evaluating the cost of moving. These costs typically include the cost of hiring a moving company or renting a moving truck. Keep in mind your previous office location may require an early termination fee under a rental contract.

Consider additional costs, such as electricity, heat, Internet and parking spaces. While some places may quote a reasonable rate, make sure it’s inclusive of all the other utilities your team may need.

Once you add up your costs, evaluate whether a move is right for your business. For many startups, a coworking solution may be more cost-effective. For medium-sized businesses, a shared office suite may be more effective. Explore your options and consult your team for the best route.

 

3. Focus on a List of Potential Locations

Location is everything! Once you begin to find spaces based on your personal criteria, consider where the building is located. Is it in a safe neighborhood? Are the rates reasonable for the area? Is it close to public transportation, nightlife, restaurants, other relevant or important services for your business?

Start listing down locations that best match your expectations. Some may be in completely different cities or states. It’s important to get the opinions of other key stakeholders in your team. Would they be willing to relocate?

Check out Novel Coworking’s various locations across the nation.

 

4. Tour, Interview, Research

Start researching your list- the locations and the building. This is the only way to determine the viability of potential locations.

Determine what kind of space your business needs. Do you need an extension to your business’s existing offices? Or perhaps you simply need a temporary coworking solution.

Many office space providers offer tours of their location. Don’t just settle by going off images or 3D renders- you need to visit them in person to make a decision. Can you see your business’s culture developing within the space?

You may also spot something during your tour that wouldn’t have shown up on the webpage- a dilapidated corridor, or leaky pipes. In-person visits will also help you measure the specifications of each room, allowing you to determine whether you can move in existing furniture and infrastructure.

Most importantly, touring a location with your team can really help you accurately envision how your business may operate within the environment. There’s no point in having a large and spacious office that none of your team members feel connected to.

 

5. Negotiate Your Lease

You’ve narrowed your choices to one or two spaces. Now it’s time to negotiate the terms of your lease contract.

Keep in mind not all places will allow negotiation of a contract. However, they may be open to a flexible rate depending on a few factors, including the expected length of stay – the longer your business expects to rent out the space, the better position you may be to negotiate a lower average rate.

Plans may vary also depending on your need. Monthly plans may be more suitable for shorter stays, while Yearly plans will help you save in the long run.

Have your team’s general counsel or attorney review the terms of the lease as well. You never want to be caught in a position where you inadvertently break one of the landlord’s rules and find yourself moving spaces again.

 

Your new commercial office space

There’s no specific guide to finding commercial office space- each scenario differs depending on the business involved. However, you can still use these tips and best practices to help find a space that maximizes your team’s productivity and efficacy.

Interested in finding a flexible, customizable solution for your business? Whether you need multi-room extensions or just a new private office, Novel Coworking works with your team to develop a plan fit for your needs. Check out our plans and pricing page.