Friday, 17 May 2013

The thumbs up post - a beatnik's guide to social sites

Do you remember the first time you realized you were hooked on some social media site? Or should I ask - did you ever realize you can't stop using it? Spending long hours looking at some friend's random photo album will not further your time-management techniques. But don't worry, it's just an inevitable side-effect of the Computer Age and with a little attention it can be kept within safe barriers.

There are many debates on the topic and serious studies are written about the dangerous side-effects of the online depencency, but on the other hand, there are people who simply don't care to share their relationship status for example and stopped using / have never ever used social media sites. I've recently read an interview with those who quit Facebook for a shorter/longer period of time, explaining the reason of their choice. I must metion that the title of the article was somewhat funny - Are You A Psychopath If You Don't Have A Facebook Account? We Don't Think So - and you can read it here.

I don't think we should make such a harsh difference between Facebook users and non-users, but I'm sure we've all gone through various phases of our online socializing path: I sometimes feel the urge to share, like, tweet, pin or blog, other times I'm so fed up with the new timeline, the annoying game invitations or the stupid posts of others that I seriously consider deactiving my account. However, I could never do it because of my social community manager duties at the office, but that's another story.

As I tried to examine my social networking habits, I thought I could write a list of the social profiles and the way I use them:

1. Twitter: the business source

- I use it for job-related purposes, I share links of articles that I've read and found important;
- a few years ago I was a bookmark maniac but after a while there were so many uncategorized websites in my browser that I couldn't figure it out what website I bookmarked for what reason. I don't bookmark sites anymore, but post them on Twitter.

Office Beatnik usage score: 5%

2. Pinterest: the creativity source

- Ladies, beware! Causes instant addiction!
- The story is the same as with Twitter - for me it's an alternative for bookmarking and works just great for images and videos;
- I love lists and categories and labels and image galleries, so Pinterest is absolutely for me and not only for me, but for millions of users worldwide. Why? Images are more appealing, people love images and have no time for long blogposts (If this is true, I'm wondering who'll read this one);
- I've gathered ideas to garden party decoration so far, to kitchen renovation, hairdos and make-up tips;
- Only by looking at my (or others) boards I come up with new ideas;

Office Beatnik usage score: 10%

3. Facebook: the information source

- I had to check the date when I've created my profile (November 17, 2007), I stick to it ever since;
- friends, colleagues, family members, ex-classmates use it, just a click and I can chat with them;
- most importantly I use it for 'information gathering' about the brands, blogs, bands, books, events I'm interested in;
- I've encountered lots of businesses (smaller businesses) that have a website, but their page on Facebook is more up-to-date, so it's more convenient to like their page and have their updates in my newsfeed;
- I'm not into sharing every detail of my personal life, I mainly use it for being informed;
- Utility: thanks to my favorite bar's 'Your favorite song' contest on Facebook I recently won a concert ticket; if I didn't like the Canon page, I would have never known about their 'Buy a camera and win a bike' contest and would have never actually won a ravish new bicycle;
- The gym where I train posts the timetable each and every day, so I don't have to hit up their website to find out what class should I attend next;

 Office Beatnik usage score: 85%

What about you? Where do you expose your online persona?

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Coolest Office Break Rooms

Is it cosy? Is it stylish? Is it completely different than your regular spot at the office? It's every employee's dream to work at an inspiring workplace, where even the break room is designed in such a manner that you're simply eager to spend  a little time in it.

Yandex office by Atrium Designers

The general aspect of the office space in most cases is defined by the profile of the company - a hip advertising agency for example will certainly have a heartmovingly stylish interior design. I'm sure you're all familiar with those office spotting sites and blogs that present ravish designs of the most popular companies, or the images of various Google offices around the world. My favourite site presenting the most popular compaines' behind-the-scenes images is The Daily Muse. Here you're not only given a little insight to the offices, but interviews with some of the representatives as well.

Break Room at Enervex Inc. - Venting Design Solutions
Image Source

While looking at these great office designs I couldn't help but admire the way they pay attention the little details in order to create a sophisticated, yet laid back atmosphere: the walls sometimes remain uncovered (in case of brick walls this is absolutely obvious), while the rooms are given a certain  character with the help of beautiful installations and wonderful decorating elements.

Swatch - Switzerland

What I like the most about these office diaries are the images of office break rooms, where co-workers can eat, relax and have a coffee break. These areas in many cases are designed in such a way that they really create a sense of escape from your daily duties for a couple of minutes and to fill  you up with new energy.

Parliamentdesign, Portland, Oregon

Der Tank, Tallin, Estonia

Selgas Cano Architecture, Madrid, Spain

Level Eight by Collins Towers

The uncovered raw material like wood or brick and the exciting jungle-like sections break the monotony of the stern office design and inspire new ideas. Though the office where I work has no such design, but it does have huge windows and an exceptional view to green hills and high trees. How does your office look like?

Check out futher images here.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Exploring a creative mindset with mind mapping tools

If you're getting serious about blogging or content writing, you might face the problem of not knowing how to continue with posting. It's a common rule that you should write down what comes to your mind, make a list of the ideas you'd like to discuss. It's a really good way to get a fresh perspective on your older thoughts  and you can avoid to shift away from your main topic.

Modern brainstorming tools

Most of the times I really like to stick to old-fashioned things like taking notes with pen and paper or my antiquated mobile phone, but then again, I'm really into hot new tech stuff as well. I thought I'd search for some crazy mind-mapping tools and see how they'd ease my thinking.
I've found a great number of creative tools, but I've chosen three that I'm thinking of using regularly:


You can sign up for free and try lots of great functions to plan a whole project in detail. This tool is dedicated  for companies mainly, but I think it can be useful for bloggers as well. You can add notes, different kinds of icons and images, tasks and due dates and the 'ideas' can be shared and edited simultaneously.

mindmeister brainstorming

This one is way simpler than MindMeister and you can start brainstorming without registering. There are no fancy icons or images here, but you can easily export the sheet with your precious ideas.

Mind mapping about blogging

Very professional, my personal favourite. While looking at this one I realized I could use this tool not only for brainstorming, but to do more. The landing page has convinced me in such a way that I felt a certain urge to create a flowchart, a floor plan and a venn diagram as well, even though I don't really need them right now.

floor plan created with Gliffy

Friday, 26 April 2013

It makes me breakout

It's Friday and sunshine and concert in the evening and I woke up with this feeling in my heart and song in my head, so happy weekend and blogging everyone!


Thursday, 25 April 2013

Freelance copywriting or not?

Writing for me is like revealing my creativity and using it for creating something. Not so long I was playing a little with the idea of becoming a copywriter, so I started to read forums about it. I've met someone who's into this profession and I thought I'd interview her, then share it with you.

I would like to mention that I was thinking about copywriting as an alternative money-making option, but didn't know if I'm ready to give up my freelance career, so I asked Diana if it's worth it.
She explained that she has started freelancing about 7 months ago after deciding to give up her 9-5 job (she was a content writer for a website about fashion, lifestyle and beauty). So, with the knowledge and experience gained as a writer, it seemed a fun idea to her to write articles for different people from all over the world.

The Office Beatnik: How did you become a freelance writer?

Diana: I've always loved writing, so it quickly became my primary means of expression. After graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in English, I knew I wanted to write and give voice to my creativity. I've been a translator, then I started to write articles about fashion and beauty. It was a 9-5 job and after a while I felt that I wanted to work by my own rules. I am working for clients from 

The Office Beatnik: What are you writing about right now?

Diana: People ask me to write about different things. I often write reviews for diet pills, various beauty products, SEO articles for different websites, IT, lifestyle articles or articles promoting different travel destinations.

The Office Beatnik: How many working hours do you have in a week?

Diana: It depends. In the past couple of months I had the chance to work 40-44 hours per week. However, the time I spend with freelance writing depends on the complexity of the various projects.

The Office Beatnik: Do you stick to a strict schedule?

Diana: The greatest advantage offered by freelance writing is that I can organize my schedule for the week. In the past I had a similar job, so I know how to organize my schedule to work more efficiently.

The Office Beatnik: Could you give me some pros and cons of being a freelance writer?

Diana: The pros: you have the freedom to organize your schedule; you can run your own business from home; you can charge different prices from different people; your work is really versatile and fascinating.

The cons: you are deprived from any chances of socializing if you work from home; you might meet people who want to steal your content instead of paying for it.

Well, that's a pretty objective opinion about copywriting, but I think I'll stick to the busy life at office and keep blogging. At least for a while. Until then, a nice job post from 1964.

(Image from Bentlocker)

Thoughts triggered by trivial things

It's interesting to look through the blogposts you've written so far, to see the difference in the way you've changed your style and elaborated your topic. In the previous post I've mentioned the things that come from nowhere and trigger an idea that needs to be implemented, no matter what.

The triggering element - topic correlation

In most of the cases I take a note, make a photo or draw a little sketch of the triggering element and it's a brainstorming exercise really, because sometimes I suddenly realize that some of these elements can be combined, thus creating new ideas or topics. It's a cool thing to perceive such connections.

It's like when I was so eager to become a graphic designer after I graduated. Despite my urge it didn't work out for me, so I was looking for other ways of expression. It quickly came down on me that what I needed was writing. It's like a therapy for keeping your thoughts organized and getting yourself ready for new ideas.

What on Earth am I going to write about?!

Things might get a little blurry when choosing future topics for your shiny new blog. People usually have something more general in their minds, like: 'I'm gonna blog about my favorite fashion designer' or 'I can write something about the latest trends in online marketing', but they face the first real challenge when writing the very first blogpost (in case they've came up with the name easily).

I've faced the same problem for hundreds of times in case of many many posts, but the truth is, there's always something to write about and as long as you put yourself into those writings, you can't do anything wrong. I don't consider myself an experienced blogger and I'm obviously not trying to set up any rules for blogging, I write only about the things I've seen and virtually tasted while building my online presence. 

The topic - name correlation

I think it's essential, but should not be too obvious. I like names that contain a clever twist or something (you have a feeling about the topic, but don't know for sure). In this blog I intend to write about lots of funny/interesting/heart-melting things related to what many of us might have in common: a nice job at the office and what lies beneath it, how to make the best of it without losing our creative sanity, sense of humour and taste of beauty.

After pinpointing the topic I looked up the Internet to see if I find any articles regarding the name choice for a new blog and I've found this one. 'Be unique, be amusing, be odd' it says, but I would add a few more things, like don't choose something that's too long and too hard to remember. I usually think of it as a brand - if I'd start making customized penholders, what kind of logo would I invent? I would also check the url of my blog, I obviously don't want to make up a name that simply looks bad.

Sometimes the most ridiculous things can trigger a great idea of a blog name or a topic to your next post, it usually happens to me many a time that a childish rhyme, an amazing melody or a word from the lyrics of great song or poem triggers a whole stream of thoughts. It's nice to discover hidden connections between things you wouldn't imagine, right?

The Office Beatnik was triggered by this song:

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A Beatnik salutes you from her office desk

Starting a blog is easy peasy. Sometimes. But other times it's rather more complicated, especially when you have to come up with a catchy online pseudonym and create a ravish design. Later on, of course, all you have to do is to keep things going ( = post reguraly).

I've started blogging while preparing my thesis paper in literature (it was 2006/2007 if I recall it right). I was all over with Hemingway, The Lost Generation and literary modernism and felt the urge to write about my reading experiences in my own manner. I've used Yahoo! 360°, then I switched to Blogger. I have been using Blogger since then.

My current blog is a little personal style book completed with posts about music and literature, but besides that I wanted to create a blog somewhat more specific - this is what you are reading right now.

So who is the Office Beatnik? 

She is a 20-something woman who works at the office, likes beautiful clothes, has an unusual taste in music, novels and design. Because (and not only) of her job she likes to discover and try out everything related to the online media, she's fascinated by all that's geek and hi-tech, but at the same time she's a little vintage lover as well, this is how she became a 21st Century Beatnik.

Barefeet Beatnik Girl
(Image from Notes on the Highstreet)