Productivity

Co-Working in Kyoto Review

Co-Working in Kyoto Review

If you search online for places to co-work out of while travelling, Japan doesn’t rate highly. Actually, when I was researching Japan as a place to spend some time, there wasn’t even a lot of recent, usable information on available co-working spaces. I have been in Kyoto for a couple of weeks and have spent most days at a co-working space called Space Kante Kyoto. I thought I would add a little write-up just in case anyone was searching for somewhere to work out of – and dispel the myth the Japan is a bad place for co-working.

So, the important stats:

Period Visited: May 2018

Days open: Monday to Saturday

Times: 10:00AM to 10:00PM

Cost: JPY1,080 per day (including tax). About A$14 at the time of writing. Not too bad.

What you get: Wifi, desk

Wifi was pretty reasonable. Probably not as fast as your mobile wifi, which you could use if you wanted instead (and didn’t have a wife using it elsewhere during the day!). This is the speed at 11am on a Monday:

Wifi Speed

Wifi Speed

Setup: There are meeting rooms, an open co-working space, some study rooms for quiet work. The open co-working space has some background music playing, mostly just chilled music that is easily drowned out with headphones. There is not a huge amount of chatter on the floor when compared to co-working spaces in Australia. There were plenty of spots every day I was there, although I understand it gets busier in summer. Here are some pictures from inside:

 

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From the corner looking back across the open co-working space

Desk looking onto street

Shared work bench looking out onto street

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From the corner looking back to the cafe

Other: There is a cafe within the co-working space also, which does pretty good coffee.

What it is good for: Getting work done.

What it is not good for: Getting a sense of the start-up landscape in Kyoto. Admittedly, I didn’t go out of my way looking for this, and language would have been a barrier.

Anyway, if you’re looking for somewhere to get away and get some work done that doesn’t cost anywhere near as much as you think… you should consider Japan, Kyoto, and Space Kante Kyoto!

Excel System to send many customised emails

Excel System to send many customised emails

I, like most people these days, receive a truck load of emails. Many come from banks and are mostly addressed to “Hi”. There are plenty of posts on the internet about how to get engagement with your emails and increase open rates. Apparently, but unsurprisingly, making the recipient feel as though you have sent the email to them alone (i.e. personalising the email) is a great way to increase engagement.

Recently, I participated in the Cancer Council’s Relay For Life. Our team joined a little late, and I was travelling and under a bit of pressure at work which meant that leading into the final week the amount of money I raised was paltry. In fact, I had “raised” a total of $100. When I say “raised”, I am being a little disingenuous – I was the one who made the donation!

So I decided to take the time-poor approach to raising funds. Spam my LinkedIn contacts. I rarely ask anyone for anything (except James Waddell), so I thought it would be ok for me to hit them all up for a donation. At best I would raise a bit of money and potentially reconnect with a bunch of people who I hadn’t spoken to in a while. At worst, I would piss some people off for a good cause. If you receive an individualised email it’s not spam, surely?

A few years ago I wrote a VBA program for a friend at UBS to enable him to email his growing list of clients with a personalised greeting. As an avid reader of his excellent overnight recap, I wanted the email to be addressed to me rather than “Happy Friday”. So I dusted off the old spreadsheet, updated the code to enable it to insert the signature, dropped in my LinkedIn contacts and Boom! Individualised emails addressed to my LinkedIn contact list. Very efficient.

So, how did this approach go? Well, in 1 week my fundraising total rose from $100 to $2,500. Not bad! Hitting the “Go” button on my LinkedIn list is literally all I did. I also managed to reconnect with a bunch of old colleagues and acquaintances, so it was a double win!

If you’d like a copy of the file, just sign up on the popup, or contact me. As always, please use it for good and not evil.

 

The Ultimate Excel Waterfall Chart Template

Want an Excel waterfall chart with ultimate flexibility? Crossing the x-axis, green for up, red for down – all automatically. Download the template by clicking here.

Excel Waterfall Chart

Excel Waterfall Chart Template

Excel Waterfall charts  – why?

Waterfall charts have become more and more popular over the last few years.  Management accountants, among others, often use them to provide insight into the contributors to movements in financial results. With that goal in mind, waterfall charts are an excellent way to display this kind of information. Whilst I am not an accountant, I have a keen personal interest in data visualisation. One of my favourite sources for information and inspiration in this area is Hichert, and it was through his work that I was first exposed to waterfall charts.

One of our management accountants mentioned that she had problems the previous half with an Excel waterfall chart that needed to cross the x-axis. Building a waterfall chart from scratch sounded like a cool topic to cover in one of the Excel classes I run at work.

Restrictions

  1. No VBA. These classes are run for people with basic to intermediate Excel skills. No time, nor appetite, for VBA.
  2. Must be as simple as possible in execution. Following the class, the files are shared. I don’t run an Excel helpdesk, so if there are problems with the files after they’ve been in situ for a while (and people have made changes, etc), then people need to figure out how to sort itout themselves!

Outcome

I could write a step-by-step post on how it was made, but do you really care? The waterfall chart does pretty much everything an Excel waterfall chart should. The chart can cross over the x-axis with ease. Green for up, red for down.

Note, the template is in xlsx format. If you have a pre-2010 version of Excel, let me know and I will send you a compatible version.

I hope the template is of some use to you, and saves you some time when you next need a waterfall chart to explain some movements.

 

3 steps to never forgetting anything ever again

Forgetting stuff sucks. As we are all busy, busy, busy, it becomes easier and easier to forget things. No one ever puts their hands up to remind you that you have forgotten to follow them up on something that you asked for. They have probably forgotten about it also. I am probably pretty frustrating to deal with, because I am quite persistent and I never forget to follow up anything. Ever.

Here is my secret to never forgetting anything ever again, in 3 easy steps:

  1. Follow this link Followup.cc ;
  2. Sign up; then
  3. Use it, religiously.

Seriously, it has to be one of the easiest apps to use, and it is one of the few apps I consider useful enough to put my hard earned down on. I use heaps of different apps, and try out many more, but Followup.cc is one of my favourites. Here are a couple of ways I use it:

  • I email you, asking you to provide me something by a Monday at 4pm. In the BCC field, I include mon-4pm@followup.cc. On Monday at 4pm, I get an email reminder. If you haven’t sent through what I requested, guess who gets a follow up at 4:01pm. Yep, you.
  • If I need to do something at a specific time, I just shoot a quick email message off with the subject being what I need to do. I walk home from work, so I am often struck with inspiration or other random thoughts. If I realise I need to do something, for instance, a quick email to tomorrow@followup.cc and tomorrow morning when I arrive at work I have a reminder in my inbox.

One thing to note is that as you are effectively sending an email to a third party app, you should be careful about what you’re sending. I never BCC on sensitive or confidential emails. I just shoot a quick followup.cc email off after the initial email with the person’s name, and a quick note to job my memory. Of course, the reality is that we shouldn’t send anything confidential by email… but let’s be real – the world would grind to a halt!

Anyway, followup.cc. I guess it isn’t my little secret anymore.

Hope it helps!

Cale Bennett.