Snowfall

The First Big Snowfall 2020

With the white fluffy stuff all around us in Toronto today and given the look of weather forecasts and winter storm conditions coast to coast to coast, this blog post seems so appropriate this afternoon. With a blanket of snow in several parts of the country, it is hard to believe that the official first day of winter is still weeks away (December 21). Cheers to the first snowfall.

No matter where you are in Canada you might be thinking of that first big snowfall. If you recieved this post as a tweet feed you might be thinking "Where are you Ferg?". The post is actually inspired by the work of Neil Pasricha and his 2011 copyrighted edition of "The Book Of (Holiday) Awesome". Neil's work is very inspiring and in fact, he has created an ongoing #pandemicedition of all things awesome since the start of these challenging times.

In his original work, Neil reveals a series of moments during the holiday season that is just simply awesome.

The moment of awesome that I refer to today is that first big snowfall of the season. Growing up in Kenora, Ontario on the northernmost shore of Lake of the Woods, that first big snowfall was often Halloween. We'd put on our snowsuits and our Halloween garb and head out to the streets for trick and treating. Not as frequest but often too was snowfall on Thanksgiving weekend. We have always been cautious on heading back up to the lake for Thanksgiving to close up camp, given the possibility of these winter conditions that could be upon us.

Often times the first snowfall would catch everyone by surprise. In that regard, you might have had a 50/50 chance of a "snow day". In the north, we didn't see many "snow days". In fact, it was kind of a "buck it up buttercup" approach. We are in the north and it will snow. Southern Ontario, I found, was a little less capable of quickly adapting to the first dump of snow. Ha ha...we all remember the time that Mayor Mel Lastman called in the army to deal with our snow in Toronto.

I remember when I was a young District Manager at Molson in the 90's. If I had my team meeting on Monday and a snowfall was forecasted, I would just plan to get there early. My team would arrive late and complain of the snowfall. I'd quickly ask them if they had heard the forecast for snow and question why they had not planned for the probability of slower traffic. I guess that was just the "northerner" in me...smiles.

When at College and University, it was always a joyous time of year to have the first snow arrive. Sometimes it meant that expectations were lowered on arrival to class. On the way to class, there would be numerous snowball clashes. It was always a bit humorous to see who was prepared with boots or still wearing running shoes or less that appropriate footwear for the conditions.

As a parent with young children, the first snowfall was always magical. The joy of that first snowfall and just getting the chance to get out and romp around in the snow was such a heartwarming sight to see. Even our two Portuguese water dogs over the years loved to see that first snowfall and desired a walk in the white stuff.

In many parts of Canada, the first snowfall is the true mark of a change in season. In many areas that means that the winter has truly started and here to stay. In Toronto, it means that it will be a little inconvenient as the ploughs figure out what streets to plough (if they plough) and that it is going to be sloppy for a few days. However, in Toronto, it likely means that it is truly a passing fancy. Gone are the days where snow arrives and stays for months, let alone weeks. This snowfall today is plentiful, weighing down boughs on trees, adding up on the lawns, staying on rooftops and starting to accumulate as slush in the local streets. But...it will likely be gone within 48 hours.

So as Neil would suggest, that first snowfall puts us in a context for nostalgia and stories of years gone by. The first snowfall is truly #awesome.

Enjoy your first snowfall of 2020, today, perhaps already or soon to come.

PHOTO credit Helena Devins - she is one of those stalwart fans of winter and the great outdoors.

Enjoy.

@fergdevins

 

 


bladder cancer awareness

Fundraising during a Pandemic

Success for #BladderCancer Canada annual walk

It was early in 2020’s awareness of the pending Corona Virus.

At Bladder Cancer Canada, staff and volunteers quickly moved to assess whether physical walks held in September (which had been ongoing for close to ten years) were a reality, or whether we should pivot to a virtual model.

Some of us actually felt that we should wait just two more weeks and re-assess. Others pushed hard to make the call and get on with the appropriate planning. The call was made. Go virtual was the call. Thankfully.

Rather than a specific weekend or alternate weekend, the decision was made to make September a month to “walk where you are”. The 20+ communities that would have held walks, continued with their walk site planning — www.bccwalk.ca . Plans were also made to have a celebration video made to be aired on YouTube October 7th.

I chose to “walk where I am” and did so on Coney Island in Kenora on the September long weekend. I got in a great 5k stroll, joined at a safe distance with members of my family and neighbours on our island.

On a personal goal of $50,000, I raised close to 76% of my goal. In my mind, and with challenges facing friends and family I am delighted with the result.

Nationally we had a target goal of $600,000 — of which we achieved 71%.

Given that we did not have congregate walks, registrations of walkers declined significantly.

However, the passion and commitment of our bladder cancer patient community in Canada walked on and we achieved this important revenue for Bladder Cancer Canada — www.bladdercancercanada.org

With these results there are some key learnings:

  • Be nimble, make a decision, layout the plan — work the plan
  • Ask your former donors to please support you — this was key — and they were so pleased that I was not giving up due to COVID-19
  • My message was clear — I would appreciate the support, but also respect that in these challenging times support for charities may be another more urgent need or these times might prevent giving — Respect for your donors.
  • Reminder emails work — each time sent — each time received support
  • Strive to keep the message strong, in the face of the pandemic noise
  • Work social and traditional channels. We were so fortunate to have our national media partners — Global/Corus supporting us through then network and stations across the country — again — the need to breakthrough

Thanks to those who supported me and others, as we walked to raise awareness and funds in the fight against #bladdercancer. I/we appreciate YOU.

Ferg Devins


Tips to Help Solopreneurs Get the Most From Their Time

This article was written by Rae Steinbach.  Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.

The Solopreneur

Being a solopreneur comes with a ton of responsibility. You don’t have any support staff to help with things like sales, marketing, or product development – it’s all on you. That means that you have to be able to fit the jobs of many people into the time of one person. If you are going to do this successfully, you need to know how to make the most of your time.

Here are a few of the best time management tips for solopreneurs who are looking to be as efficient as possible each day.

Find a Workspace

Many solopreneurs work in a variety of locations. You might do some work at home, some at an office and you might even do a little work in a coffee shop. While there is no problem with having a variety of working environments, you should have at least one place that is just dedicated to getting work done.

Designing a home office might be enough for some, while for others, joining a coworking space (like this opportunity in Cincinnati, Ohio) might be the right answer. The right workspace might be different for different people, but the key is to find a space that you primarily recognize as a place for productivity. In Toronto, Justin Raymond has created "FlexDay" as a unique model for finding a flexible workspace.

Make a Daily Schedule

Once you’ve found an ideal workspace, the first step in any time management strategy should be to set a schedule for each day. If you are not organized in your tasks and have no plan for getting them done, you don’t have much of a chance of getting the most from every day. Whether you are creating a daily to-do list on paper or using a time management app on your phone, you need to sit down and plan out every day. This will not only help you to organize your days betterr but, it will also help to relieve some of the stress that comes with running a business on your own.

Set Priorities

Chances are that you do not need to get everything done in one day and that there are some tasks that are more urgent than others. If you are going to successfully manage your schedule, you need to be able to identify the most urgent or important tasks and prioritize accordingly.

When new tasks come up, assign them a priority level. Consider whether it needs to be fit into that day’s to-do list or if it can be scheduled for another day. You should also set yourself reminders for tasks that you know you have coming up later in the week or month.

Take Breaks

A break might seem like lost productivity, but they help you to avoid burnout. A few minutes away from your work can help you to refresh your mind and restore your energy. When you get back to work, you will feel better and be more productive. You might not be getting any work done for a few minutes, but the benefits of taking a break far outweigh the short amount of time out of your schedule.

Follow Your Motivation

As a solopreneur, there will be plenty of times that you are going to have to work when you don’t feel motivated. However, one of the best parts of being your own boss is that you don’t have to limit yourself to regular office hours. If inspiration strikes or you feel a sudden surge of motivation, you can act on it at any time.

When you are feeling high motivation, you should take advantage of it. These are the times when you are going to be at your most productive. Furthermore, taking advantage of these moments will help you to relieve your schedule moving forward, and that will make it easier to manage your time.

You didn’t start out as an entrepreneur thinking it was going to be easy, but that does not mean that it has to be hard. With a little effort put into time management, you will be able to get more from your days, and you won’t have to push yourself to your absolute limit.

Thanks for the useful tips Rae...cheers to the frontier of solopreneurship. @FergDevins


Santa

When there is no line at the mall to meet Santa

Have you been to the mall to see Santa yet this season?

Ho Ho Ho. That is the wonderful cheerful sound of Santa when positioned next to the Christmas tree in the mall. The even sweeter awesome moment is certainly when there is no line at the mall to meet Santa.

Neil Pasricha, in his "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome" captures this moment of awesome.

Whether you plan to visit Santa at the mall, or just happen to turn the corner and see Santa at the mall - it is one of the moments for kids of all ages to experience during the holiday season.

I still think that best plan is to do a little research into Santa's hours at the mall. By assessing his very busy agenda, you might be well advised to get to the mall when he has arrived with his sleigh. Early visitors may have a shorter line in front of them.

Wishing you much happiness this holiday season as you experience your own awesome moments at Christmas.

@fergdevins


Advent Calendar Traditions

Continuing on my seasonal posts of Holiday Awesome - inspired by Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome".

Traditions continue in the Devins household with our advent calendar

The Advent Calendar is one of those holiday season traditions that help us with the countdown to Christmas Day. The advent calendars have become a tradition that offers a token of joy during the 24 days leading up to the last "opening day" being December 25th. The origin is traced back to some point in the 19th century. It was originally a Protestant tradition when religious families would mark a line for every day in December until Christmas eve. Advent calendars were a countdown to the coming of Jesus Christ into the world.

On a more commercial front, it is always amazing each year, to see the new creativity that arrives on the shelves of gift shops and grocers as the advent approaches.

For a few years, I enjoyed sharing a tea with my daughter through mutually benefitting from gifting the David's Tea holiday collection. Naturally, if you search Google you'll find a wide and fascinating array of the best advent calendars of 2018. Chatelaine also offered up their choices for 2018 at "Best Advent Calendars".

This year my advent calendar is in tribute to our Toronto Maple Leafs. I arrived home from a business trip December 1st to find my advent calendar waiting for me on the kitchen table. It is a "limited edition" run full of assorted Lindt chocolate samples for the season. For every Toronto Maple Leafs advent calendar sold, the Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Foundation will gain a $1.00 to invest in their community initiatives.

So, I'm counting down to Christmas with my Toronto Maple Leafs advent calendar and counting down to see if they will keep pushing for top of the league, to close out this calendar year. Go Leafs Go !

I hope you and your family are enjoying your own special choice of advent calendar as the countdown to Christmas this December has begun.

 

Ferg Devins

 

 


I Survived and now Walking To Fight #BladderCancer

Walk to fight Bladder Cancer

September 23rd I will be walking to fight #bladdercancer in the annual Bladder Cancer Canada Awareness Walk.

I have walked in Kenora for the past three years, my summer residence community and "hometown". As Chair of Bladder Cancer Canada, I thought it was important for me to walk in the largest event in the country and return home to Toronto for the September event.

Toronto Walk

Deanne Puder is doing a masterful job of organizing the Toronto event, along with former supporters of the walk and our Bladder Cancer Canada Co-Founder David Guttman keeping her informed on best practices to date.

Corus Global

I am also delighted that Corus/Global is continuing as our national media partner. Troy Reeb has been our master of ceremonies in Toronto the past few years. Alan Carter of Global News will be taking on emcee responsibilities this year. It is great to have Alan on board and we extend thanks to Corus/Global for their much-valued continued support.

Why Walk?

Why Walk?  As a survivor of #bladdercancer, I was fortunate enough to have found out about Bladder Cancer Canada, very early after my diagnosis. The website offered some great resources, and Tammy Northam, the executive director, was very helpful in getting me started on setting up a fundraising walk in my summer residence of Kenora Ontario.

More than that - Bladder Cancer Canada truly makes a difference in the fight against #bladdercancer. They remain focused on patient support, raising awareness about the disease and funding research.

Earlier this year I became Chair of Bladder Cancer Canada's board of directors. I humbly take on this responsibility after the leadership of Ken Bagshaw and his predecessor Co-Founder of the organization - David Guttman.

I also remain inspired by Jack Moon, David's fellow co-founder, to whom I was referred to when I was "googling" and stumbled across the organization after reaching out to the American organization BCAN and the Inspire network.

By walking, and gaining the support of donors, I know that we will continue to build the impact that we have to provide for patients in the fight against bladder cancer in Canada. We will have more resources to raise awareness. We will have more resources to support our medical advisory and research boards and our Canadian researchers in the pursuit of finding a cure for bladder cancer.

I hope that YOU might consider SUPPORTING ME by joining me to walk in Toronto and/or supporting me by making a donation to my walk effort on my personal page at bccwalk.ca.

Thanks

Thank you for helping me and our volunteer board and patient support team make a real difference in the fight against bladder cancer.


Your Remote Office At the Lake

Hello out there Canada !

I'm re-issuing my "virtual office" blog post on working remotely at the lake - the remote office. I am also including a "video" produced last summer to help you think about how you might plan on working remotely this summer. Cheers to a great start to the month of July. Happy Canada Day long weekend.

VIDEO LINK HERE  

Ah summer...time to set up the virtual office.

A time when families plan to spend more time together with each other, extended families and friends. For many Canadians, it is a time to enjoy that special place known as the "cottage", "camp" or "cabin", depending on of course which part of this vast and magnificent land you might be headed to...the coast - lake - river - countryside - hills or mountains.

For me, that "camp" becomes my summer location and headquarters in Central Canada for the Devins Network. I get a smile on my face just writing that! It's the virtual office.

Even when I was still working full time at Molson Coors, I would make the weekly treck northwards to Kenora from Toronto late on a Thursday night and return on Monday.

Thankfully, I had the benefit of understanding and supportive colleagues and a CEO who knew that I was plugged in and accessible at all times, regardless of my physical location. Ground rules in that regard are critically important to make the model work. Establish that agreement early on so that the context is understood by your team and clients.

The remote or virtual office concept is being adapted and embraced by more and more individuals and businesses. I truly believe in this web-connected network society in which we live, if you've got access to the web, you are on the job; available and in touch.

Obviously, the truth is that virtual office or job locations are not for everyone. If you are an administration type, that requires physical files at your disposal, it's likely the case that you need to be next to those physical files. 

If you are on a production line or supervising production lines or operations, it is likely important that you are physically on the site in case troubleshooting is required.

However, if you can execute your responsibilities and fulfil on your accountabilities online, without requiring a physical presence - you can likely make the virtual office thing happen.

So what does a virtual office look like, feel like ?

DETERMINE THE WORKSPACE

Establishing your physical "workspace" is a critical consideration, in setting up your virtual office. A desk, chair, printer, filing space, office items, mouse, keyboard, clock are all important for your physical set up. Most important is an agreement with your family members of where you locate in their environment. You may have to take a call or examine something online at any point in the day. Having space that will allow for this and not cause friction with the rest of the family is key to happiness for those sharing your newly created office space.

A PHONE

Cell phones allow you to be in touch anywhere anytime as long as you have cell service. I find that more and more folks are leaving the landline behind and moving to cell phone only. Given that most families have plans for each member of the family - it has become the predominant device for contact...voice or text. As a solopreneur my cell phone is my phone for business and travels with me everywhere. Depending on how "remote" you are, you might need to do some research on network availability and service in your area. Most communities and service providers have figured out how to keep their permanent and summer residents connected.

COMPUTER

Hardwired to the net or Wifi will provide you with the connectedness you need to access your work team, clients, suppliers, colleagues, and prospects. If you don't have wifi you may actually have the benefit of a data plan and you can "hotspot" from your phone. Research most accessible and affordable options. Another critical consideration is your "back up". By this, I am referring to a  backup device. I stumbled upon a situation where my computer needed servicing. Having an Apple Mac Book it required being shipped away for several days. Thus, I needed to have a backup laptop, tablet or device.

WIFI

I have struggled year after year with just simply unacceptable wifi service from the local provider. I am now into my second summer with xplornet.com and find them to be outstanding. Currently, I have 20.7 MBPS down and  1.6 MBPS up. I have had better than than through the week.

DOCUMENTS 

Platforms such as dropbox, google drive, box, icloud and or various other clouds allow you to arrange your critical documents for access. You can also share and edit with teams via these platforms. It might take some getting used to but is really slick once you are operating in this space. This will also provide a safe back-up for you with access on any device if your primary computer or lap to go on the fritz.

FACE TO FACE

Facetime for Apple folks, SKYPE for just about anyone and many other video conference platforms like "Go To Meeting" allow you to conduct virtual meetings where you actually do have face to face ability through your computer, tablet or phone device. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and snap chat all have face to face capability as well.

VOICE TO VOICE OR SCREEN SHARING

Plenty of conference call platforms on phones and available today to ensure that you can remain connected and be engaged in meetings whenever that call might be on your calendar. I recommend securing a conference line so that you have it on the ready, rather than having to scramble if in need of convening a call with your team or clients. Join Me is a terrific service to share your screen with others via conference call. Webex or Zoom are also great services.

CONFERENCE ROOMS

Most hotels, and many local businesses offer up their conference space for use by individuals or small businesses. You don't have to look too far before finding something that will suit your needs. This is particularly important if you are need in several hours on a "call". It could be a major inconvenience to your family if you are set up in common space in your abode. Often times there is idle space in summer months in cottage country, the establishment might appreciate a few tweets, Trip Advisor referral or Facebook like or recommendation from you in return.

CALENDAR AND ALARM

Don't fall into a trap of getting distracted with what is going on at your virtual location environment. Have a calendar plan with "notifications" when meetings, calls or assignments are due. Since you are remote, you might sometimes be slightly adrift. Make sure you have a good system in place to stick with your business schedule, when required.

PLAN YOUR WORK WINDOWS

Put a plan in place to lay out your work each day. Rob Hatch at Owner Media has a good process that he talks about in his "work like you're on vacation" course. His suggestion is to lay out your work the night before, plan it, plan the outcomes and schedule that time free of distractions.

MAIL

Canada Post will allow for personal mail being forwarded, or how about having home office send you your mail weekly in a ground courier envelope. Many cottage communities also have local post office box availability. Depending on whether you know your community, or are just renting for the summer - don't just assume that your standard courier will be able to get to you. Talk to locals first. Remember that most cottage country areas do have a day or two delay in reaching you.

BANKING

There are now so many options to bank and complete transactions online. All of the banks and credit unions seem to have set up online banking ease. You can also utilize PayPal as a transaction service to pay online.

FEELING REMOTE AND AWAY FROM INFORMATION

Google it ! YouTube it ! There is no reason for you to feel out of touch if you are connected to the web in your virtual office.

NETWORKING GAPS

Pick your pathway and engage with folks through platforms existing on LinkedIN, Facebook, Twitter and Google + (to just name a few...). If you are remote, you may feel that you are disconnected from people. You can stay in touch through your networks. As part of your plan, you might decide to reach out to a number of people through the week. Drop those into your calendar with a purpose in mind. Check out profiles with your cottage community in their profile. A great twitter search tool for this is Audiense.

DISCIPLINE

Getting your mindset established from the get-go is most critical. Know when you are at "work" and when you are at "leisure". Plan your day, work your plan. Schedule appropriate amount of time for calls, email, social networking. Routine calls or meetings will make for better planning over the longer term. Discipline and planning will make this work with ease. Those early morning sunrises might make for the perfect time to wipe off the morning dew, grab a nice hot coffee, cup of tea, iced drink or smoothie on your deck or dock to check incoming mail and plan your day.

JUST A CALL OR EMAIL AWAY!

The biggest hurdle with establishing a virtual office is you getting your head around the fact that nothing is impossible to get done when you are remote. The other hurdle is getting those that you work with and support comfortable with the fact that you are achieving your goals and accomplishing the work that needs to get done; even though you are not physically at a location. No need to rub it in, but acknowledging accomplishments from your place away is a good reinforcement that the work is getting done.

Get your virtual office established and...enjoy the summer !

VIDEO LINK ALSO HERE - smiles.

@FergDevins @DevinsNetwork


Spring

Spring into Opportunities of Spring

As February evaporates, literally as snow banks shrink and streams and rivers flow, I am reminded of what spring brings by way of opportunity. It is time to spring into the opportunities of spring.

Re-Align

It is a time to re-align and set the stage for the hunkering down in the new year. Doesn't it feel like New Year's eve just passed? How are those New Year's resolutions holding up? Time to get them planned and executed.

Get Away

For many, this might be a time of escape, rejuvenation, refresh, contemplation, study, renewal. Snowbirds from Canada are renowned for the mid-winter escapes to southern climates as a bit of a kick start and dream of the summer ahead. The mid-winter vacation is a great bridge to the March thaw that we long for after months of snow and sleet and ice. Universities and Colleges across the land take "break weeks" for study and reflection. Soon into March, primary and secondary schools will have their March break vacation time to bridge from winter to spring.

That Special Project

Spring also brings an opportunity to look ahead at our projects for the spring, summer, and fall. What projects around the house will need tending too? If you have a recreational property or recreational vehicle there will be maintenance and tune-up required to get things up to snuff for enjoyment in the months ahead. What vacation plans are you putting in place that you've always dreamed of and will land this year?

Re-Connect

It is also a time of year to re-connect with family and friends and put your social calendar together. Perhaps it is dinner in or out with those you have not seen for a while. Perhaps a longer-term plan for an extended visit to the city or town, or at the cottage/camp/or cabin this summer. By taking the time in the spring to plan your social calendar, you'll be sure to harvest great memories in the weeks and months ahead.

That Desired Contract

Spring is also a time to make plans on the work front. What projects are due for the peak season of summer? What job prospects might you be considering? For university and colleges students, the summer job market is never hotter than right now, at break time to sneak in the interviews and applications with prospective employers for the summer.

De-Clutter

Finally, (although I'm sure you could add a lot more to this short list), spring is a time for de-cluttering. The old term of "spring cleaning" allows us to chuck those items that have just been hanging around too long. As the snow melts, neighbourhood garage and backyard sales emerge. Remember, "one person's garbage is another person's treasure", will likely fetch you a few dollars for that item that has outlived its welcome in your household.

Here's wishing you and yours well as you consider how you might spring in the opportunities of spring. Wishing you wellness and good plans for happiness and fulfillment this spring. Cheers !

@fergdevins


Trans Canada Riders

Given my summer location in Kenora Ontario, we are always catching news of "riders" traveling across Canada on various pursuits. I often wonder about the story behind the rider. Often times it is a personal journey of support or awareness. So many causes, so many riders.

In some instances it is just a dream journey, a time to fulfill on a vision, or a chance to see this great land of ours.

I know this summer that there are many who are travelling acros various parts of our great country, during Canada's 150 celebrations. It is a year of exploration. This is a special birthday year as Canada celebrates its sesquicentennial year.

There is one "rider" of whom I am familiar. His name is Paul Kraemer. Paul is a digital marketing strategist who hails from Richmond Hill Ontario. I have become friends with Paul through some of the work that he has done for Bladder Cancer Canada. Paul has been working with us on ways to increase our awareness on line. particularly with our Goggle Adwords efforts.

Paul is taking a dream trip this summer from Richmond Hill to the Arctic Circle and back again. Given his work with Bladder Cancer Canada, he was struck by the lack of awareness of this disease. He offered to help raise awareness along the way.

We have set him up with some swag, buttons, stickers, some key storylines and a flag to wave along the way. He will be meeting with some of our walk leads, volunteers and local media in our "walk communities" of Kenora, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg.

Perhaps you will see Paul on his journey and now have a little more insight into, "what that guy is doing". Paul will fulfill a dream of riding to and from the Arctic. He is going to rendezvous with family in Anchorage Alaska. Along the way, he will help us at Bladder Cancer Canada fulfill on a dream that we have as well. That dream and mandate is to support patients and raise awareness about bladder cancer in Canada. If Paul could affect just one patient and their support network,

If Paul can affect the life of just one patient and their support network along the way, he will have helped us fulfill our dreams too.

Wishing Paul a safe journey too and from the Arctic Circle. See you in Kenora !

@FergDevins  @BladderCancerCA

VIDEO CLIP


The Devins Network Lake of the Woods

Working Remotely at the Lake

Hello out there Canada !

I'm re-issuing my "virtual office" blog post on working remote at the lake. I am also adding a new "video" produced this summer to help you think about how you might plan on working remotely this summer. Cheers to Canada's 150

VIDEO LINK HERE  

Ah summer...time to set up the virtual office.

A time when families plan to spend more time together with each other, extended families and friends. For many Canadians, it is a time to enjoy that special place known as the "cottage", "camp" or "cabin", depending on of course which part of this vast and magnificent land you might be headed to...the coast - lake - river - countryside - hills or mountains.

For me, that "camp" becomes my summer location and headquarters in Central Canada for the Devins Network. I get a a smile across my face just writing that! It's the virtual office.

Even when I was still working full time at Molson Coors, I would make the weekly treck northwards to Kenora from Toronto late on a Thursday night and return on Monday.

Thankfully, I had the benefit of understanding and supportive colleagues and a CEO who knew that I was plugged in and accessible at all times, regardless of my physical location. Ground rules in that regard are critically important to make the model work. Establish that agreement early on so that the context is understood by your team and clients.

The remote or virtual office concept is being adapted and embraced by more and more individuals and businesses. I truly believe in this web-connected network society in which we live, if you've got access to the web, you are on the job; available and in touch.

Obviously, the truth is that virtual office or job locations are not for everyone. If you are an administration type, that requires physical files at your disposal, it's likely the case that you need to be next to those physical files. 

If you are on a production line or supervising production lines or operations, it is likely important that you are physically on the site in case troubleshooting is required.

However, if you can execute your responsibilities and fulfill on your accountabilities on line, without requiring a physical presence - you can likely make the virtual office thing happen.

So what does a virtual office look like, feel like ?

DETERMINE WORK SPACE

Establishing your physical "work space" is a critical consideration, in setting up your virtual office. A desk, chair, printer, filing space, office items, mouse, keyboard, clock are all important for your physcial set up. Most important is an agreement with your family members of where you locate in their environment. You may have to take a call or examine something on line at any point in the day. Having space that will allow for this and not cause friction with the rest of the family is key to happiness for those sharing your newly created office space.

A PHONE

Cell phones allow you to be in touch anywhere anytime as long as you have cell service. I find that more and more folks are leaving the land line behind and moving to cell phone only. Given that most families have plans for each member of the family - it has become the predominant device for contact...voice or text. As a solopreneur my cell phone is my phone for business and travels with me everywhere. Depending on how "remote" you are, you might need to do some research on network availability and service in your area. Most communities and service providers have figured out how to keep their permanent and summer residents connected.

COMPUTER

Hard wired to the net or Wifi will provide you with the connectedness you need to access your work team, clients, suppliers, colleagues, and prospects. If you don't have wifi you may actually have the benefit of a data plan and you can "hotspot" from your phone. Research most accessible and affordable options. Another critical consideration is your "back up". By this, I am referring to backup device. I stumbled onto a situation where my computer needed servicing. Having an Apple Mac Book it required being shipped away for several days. Thus, I needed to have a back up laptop, tablet or device.

WIFI

I have struggled year after year with just simply unacceptable wifi service from the local provider. This year I am experimenting with xplornet.com and find them to be oustanding. Currently, I have 23 MBPS down and 1MBPS up. And, I am currently looking at increasing the upload by enhancing my plan to 4 MBPS up.

DOCUMENTS 

Platforms such as dropbox, box, icloud and or various other clouds allow you to arrange your critical documents for access. You can also share and edit with teams via these platforms. It might take some getting used to but is really slick once you are operating in this space. This will also provide a safe back-up for you with access on any device if your primary computer or lap to go on the fritz.

FACE TO FACE

Facetime for Apple folks, SKYPE for just about anyone and many other video conference platforms like "Go To Meeting" allow you to conduct virtual meetings where you actually do have face to face ability through your computer, tablet or phone device. 

VOICE TO VOICE OR SCREEN SHARING

Plenty of conference call platforms on phones and available today to ensure that you can remain connected and be engaged in meetings whenever that call might be on your calendar. I recommend securing a conference line so that you have it on the ready, rather than having to scramble if in need of convening a call with your team or clients. Join Me is a terrific service to share your screen with others via conference call.

CONFERENCE ROOMS

Most hotels, and many local businesses offer up their conference space for use by individuals or small businesses. You don't have to look too far before finding something that will suit your needs. This is particularly important if you are need in several hours on a "call". It could be a major inconvenience to your family if you are set up in common space in your abode. Often times there is idle space in summer months in cottage country, the establishment might appreciate a few tweets, Trip Advisor referral or Facebook like or recommendation from you in return.

CALENDAR AND ALARM

Don't fall into a trap of getting distracted with what is going on at  your virtual location environment. Have a calendar plan with "notifications" when meetings, calls or assignments are due.

PLAN YOUR WORK WINDOWS

Put a plan in place to lay out your work each day. Rob Hatch at Owner Media has a good process that he talks about in his "work like you're on vacation" course. His suggestion is to lay out your work the night before, plan it, plan the outcomes and schedule that time free of distractions.

MAIL

Canada Post will allow for personal mail being forwarded, or how about having home office send you your mail weekly in a ground courier envelope. Many cottage communities also have local post office box availability. Depending on whether you know your community, or are just renting for the summer - don't just assume that your standard courier will be able to get to you. Talk to locals first.

BANKING

There are now so many options to bank and complete transactions on line. All of the banks and credit unions seem to have set up on on line banking ease. You can also utilize PayPal as a transaction service to pay on line.

FEELING REMOTE AND AWAY FROM INFORMATION

Google it ! YouTube it ! There is no reason for you to feel out of touch if you are connected to the web in your virtual office.

NETWORKING GAPS

Pick your pathway and engage with folks through platforms existing on LinkedIN, Facebook, Twitter and Google + (to just name a few...). If you are remote,you may feel that you are disconnected from people. You can stay in touch through your networks. As part of your plan you might decide to reach out to a number of people through the week. Drop those into your calendar with a purpose in mind. Check out profiles with your cottage community in their profile. A great tool for this is Audiense.

DISCIPLINE

Getting your mindset established from the get go is most critical. Know when you are at "work" and when you are at "leisure". Plan your day, work your plan. Schedule appropriate amount of time for calls, email, social networking. Routine calls or meetings will make for better planning over the longer term. Discipline and planning will make this work with ease. Those early morning sunrises might make for the perfect time to wipe off the morning dew, grab a nice hot coffee, cup of tea, iced drink or smoothie on your deck or dock to check incoming mail and plan your day.

JUST A CALL OR EMAIL AWAY!

The biggest hurdle with establishing a virtual office is you getting your head around the fact that nothing is impossible to get done when you are remote. The other hurdle is getting those that you work with and support comfortable with the fact that you are achieving your goals and accomplishing the work that needs to get done; even though you are not physically at a location. No need to rub it in, but acknowledging accomplishments from your place away is a good reinforcement that the work is getting done.

Get your virtual office established and...enjoy the summer !

VIDEO LINK ALSO HERE - smiles.

@FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

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