Lockdown Lessons

Well that is our first week in lockdown drawing to a close. It’s been a funny one, full of ups and downs. Here at Hidden Trax, we thought we’d give you a little run down of some of the things that have helped us stay focused as a business, in this bizarre old time..

1. FutureX Plus

We became founding members of this new venture from the FutureX team just last month, and for the past fortnight have become pretty glad we did. Working remotely has its pros (pyjamas, endless tea, home-cooked lunch) – but it definitely has its cons: motivation, loneliness and feeling mildly stir crazy. 

The FutureX Plus community has been a great place to chat with other entrepreneurs working from home, and the new #remote-working channel in the group’s Slack has been awash with top tips for getting through some pretty long and quiet days. 

FutureX have also opened up some of the Slack channels for freelancers, for free, in a bid to offer some much needed community support in this lockdown stretch. 

-> So get yourself a community, ask them questions, whinge to them, send stupid pictures and generally be in touch with people in a similar situation to yourself! 

2. Zoom? Skype? … Or Houseparty (with the cool kids)?

Yep, that’s right. Video calls have become the new coffee meet up, pub gathering, board meeting and family reunion. What platforms have you guys been preferring? Zoom seems to be the most common choice in the world of business just now – and we definitely prefer the link generating system, over Skype’s odd ‘search’ function (which often leaves us unsure we’re contacting the right John Smith!)

And who’s been having fun and games on Houseparty? This latest viral app hit has taken over, and is probably a tad more appropriate for catching up with mates. Although why not schedule some time in with your team, and enjoy the more informal and relaxed interface – while playing a few games together!

-> If you have a call, or you find yourself having a long chat with a team member on Slack, why not suggest a quick video call. Face to face chats with people, even briefly throughout the day, make all the difference to feeling like a sane human. 

3. Gratitude

Without wanting to put too blunt a spin on it, us at Hidden Trax have been taking time more than once a day to think over just how incredibly lucky we are. For now, mainly because we are still well (touch wood – then wash hands). And then of course, because of the fact that we can still operate as a startup, pivoting towards creating content for locals rather than visitors, and trying to prioritise one of our values over the other two (‘celebrating independent businesses’.) 

We’ve got a clean, warm, safe place to work from – with food, and the things we need. Right now, that makes us one of the richest people on the planet. So let’s not forget that. 

-> Remember all that you have, practice gratitude and remind yourself of the positives in this situation (because there are many!)

4. Combine your messaging apps!

We use Franz at the moment, but know there are a few options. Never before has this become so useful. Ever find hours slip away as you respond to messages not only across platforms: Whatsapp; multiple Slack accounts; Facebook Messenger – but also across different devices? Switching from phone to laptop just increases the chance of distraction. 

Get yourself a messaging app combiner for your desktop. Login in to Whatsapp Web, hook up your Facebook and Slack accounts and then YOU CAN PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY. It’s a game changer. Plus, responding to messages with a laptop keyboard is about 500 x more efficient. 

-> Download Franz or something similar and notice a huge change to your communication efficiency. 

Working remotely all of a sudden? We’ve been doing it since January! Here are our top tips!

It’s the topic on everyone’s minds, just now – and understandably so. More people than ever are being asked to work at home where they can, but working remotely is something Hidden Trax has been trialling since the New Year. 

So, as we are seasoned pros, we thought we’d write our own handy guide to working remotely, effectively!

1. Get up, get dressed, and go straight out (most days in the week)

Waking up in the morning with a purpose is – we feel – pretty vital to human happiness, and overall productivity. While working in pyjamas under your duvet is tempting, in the end, you’ll start to go a bit stir crazy. Blurring the lines between leisure and work isn’t the healthiest move; and getting up and going straight out in the morning means you’re dressed and interacting with the world from the off. Find a favourite coffee spot, get to know the staff. Don’t underestimate the importance of having another person to say good morning to. 

If we all need to isolate, then even going out for a short walk while avoiding enclosed public spaces could do the trick. Just some air, and a separation from your bedroom and the night time!

2. Be very strict on yourself with everything coffee related

If you are working in coffee shops, keep an eye on those pennies. It is easy to start spending lots and lots of money on hot drinks, and that is eating away at what you’re earning. Not only that, but consuming that much caffeine is questionable when it comes to hydration and energy levels. We’ve all been there, ordering that danger third coffee – and instantly feeling a bit queasy with a huge crash in energy. 

3. Eat lunch at home

Why? Because you can! And because you’ll save a ton of money, have far more tasty lunch options, and probably eat far less processed food. End of discussion. 

4. Write a daily to-do list first thing

No one is there, no one can see you, no one can motivate you. You are alone today, and so you need to be on the ball when it comes to a structure and getting things done. Find yourself daydreaming? Back to your to-do list. Find yourself looking out the window? Back to your to-do list. Start the day by writing one. End the day with everything crossed off, and any uncompleted tasks moved over to the next day. Working remotely makes you boss, manager, colleague and employee in one. Stay focused. 

5. Don’t be in a cafe for longer than an about hour without buying something

Despite what we said earlier, there is no excuse for ordering a coffee at 9am, and still sat taking up a table in a cafe at lunch time. Think about your environment. How much have you spent versus how many people could have used your table – people who might have bought food, or brought friends? This is a business, and while it is fine to use their wi-fi, plug sockets, and toilets all day – that is only true if it is very quiet, or you keep spending. So make a decision to leave if you’ve had enough coffee (see above!)

6. Make at least one phone call a day

We are social beings. Speak to others. Don’t go a whole day not speaking to anyone or you’ll start to feel weird about work. Phone someone else in your team, even just for a small catch up. Living in Slack? Maybe try and set up regular morning and afternoon phone calls with each other, to minimise the virtual chat (which is a huge distraction and unrewarding). 

For a wee roundup of just some of our favourite spots, check out the image above!

Behind the Scenes: Making our ‘National Galleries of Scotland’ #chat

 

The making of our latest #hiddentraxchat…in collaboration with the National Galleries of Scotland.

Wanna know what goes into one of our city podcasts?! Thinking of podcasting yourself, or want to get involved with Hidden Trax? We’ve created this helpful wee guide, taking you through the process. A behind the scenes expose, if you will, of our latest #chat release… ‘The National Galleries in Edinburgh’.

 

Step One: Planning 

First up, we met with some lovely folk from the Galleries and brainstormed some content ideas. A few emails later, we had got more of a concrete plan in place. Things to consider included who would we invite in to speak on the #chat, what topics would be covered, what questions needed answering, how long  the content should be, what kind of tone we should take, and what kind of timeline the project should take.  

We decided to invite back some of the Hidden Trax creators, specifically those who had produced #journeys for us with an art slant already. These wonderful arty people were Sarah Calmus (core member of Hidden Door Festival, and creator of the festival’s two-part #journey), Annika Neilson (Contemporary Art, Vintage Shopping & Sustainable Fashion), and Cora James (Photography). Sadly Cora couldn’t make this time, as she was down in London doing exciting photo things.

To replace her, Sarah invited friend and colleague, artist David Faithful,l in as a special guest. We decided Annika would make the ideal host, and all three sent in ideas around content and questions. Hidden Trax combined all their thoughts with the Galleries’, and we had a plan!

Step Two: Recording 

Down to sunny Leith we headed, to take up residency in our trusted recording studio, the Noisefloor. Living in Spilt Milk on Great Junction Street, we adore the whole family that make up this sprawl of recording studios and community music spaces. 

We arranged the recording on Friday evening, at 6pm. Considering the time and day, Hidden Trax treated the team to a beer each; a fun way to encourage the informal, friendly chat we were aiming towards. Barry Jackson, who’s been our sound engineer from the very beginning, came in for a wee cameo shift. 

He mic’d the guests up, and tested the sound. We cheers’d our drinks, and were ready to go!

Just over an hour later, we called it a wrap. 

Step Three: Editing

How long do you think it takes to turn an hour of messy, interrupted, laughter-filled audio, into a neat, tidy, coherent half hour with jingles, intros and audio stamps? A very long time. 

Kenza, our content lead, spent some hours glued to her laptop, wrestling with Logic Pro X: cutting, tweaking and adjusting. Patience is undoubtedly required, although in the end, there is a real sense of satisfaction in having made something the team were proud of!

The biggest challenge with audio editing is perfectionism. Audio is messy and inconsistent and accepting it won’t totally perfect is part of the process….otherwise we’d still be incrementally adjusting the volume levels forever. 

Step Four: Photography

With every Trax, we provide three photos, taken by official Hidden Trax photographer Tom Flanagan. Hidden Trax takes our visual identity very seriously, and believe our gallery of photos plays a vital role in communicating our brand, adoration of the city, and spirit of our Trax. 

For this Galleries special, we headed out to the The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One & Modern Two), and grabbed a whole bunch of shots on a sunny, but fresh day. 

After Tom took them home for an edit, and Kenza layered over some logos and branding – they were ready to go! 

Step Five: Release 

The National Galleries of Scotland had a listen over our audio, and came back with a couple of tweaks, which we appreciated and made. We sent them over our proposed social media images, an animation and some copy. 

Next, we agreed on a content release date. Last jobs including uploading the audio to our podcast host, Buzzsprout, from which our Trax appears on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. 

All that is left is to put it out to the world and hope you all love it!