Sunday was a murky and overcast day: the kind of day where I would normally sleep in, watch movies under the covers and nap until 4 p.m. or sunset, whichever comes first. But today I decided to be proactive and head over to Second Shift, a gorgeous remodel at 3432 W. Diversey Ave. and attend the “Cross it Off” Day: A No-Excuses Event.
Second Shift, owned by Levi Baer and Nicole Vasquez, is a large, softly-lit coworking space, dedicated to community outreach. Art lines the walls, featuring prints from IPaintMyMind, a nonprofit whose mission is to make beautiful artwork available to everyone, as part of their Shared Walls Program. Second Shift’s counterpart, The Shift, is a similar space based in Uptown.
The event started at 10 a.m. with relaxed breathing and guided meditation led by Flatau, with suggestions by Hillman to relax our gluteus muscles or as she puts it, “Relax your crack.”
Next was the getting-to-know-you session, where everyone introduced themselves and talked about their personal goals for the day and their procrastination issues. It was a relief to hear other people talk about plans they’ve wanted to tackle for months but just never got around to: it felt like procrastination group therapy, led by two friendly professionals.
Hillman and Flatau create events like this in order to give people a quiet, stress-free environment in which to work, surrounded by like-minded peers. From insurance agents to actors to hula-hoop artists, all of whom have similar long-term goals, put off for the longest time that needed to be “crossed off” once and for all.
“We all have a ton of work to do after a while. Our ‘should do’ list just gets overwhelming,” Flatau tells us. “You need space and time and support to do those things.”
The event was agreeably beneficial for those of us who attended; it was a place where everyone was less likely to get distracted by their phones or worry about the laundry that was waiting for them at home. People who signed up for the Early Bird Special had personal, one-on-one counseling with goal-setting worksheets to take home.
By 11:30 a.m., the space fell to a peaceful hush as everyone settled in; most people were reading books or scribbling into notebooks (much like myself), accompanied by the soft clacking sound of keyboard strokes. All this place was missing was a Zen garden and a statue of the Buddha in the corner.
If you must talk on the phone, Second Shift is equipped with three phone booths so that you can talk without disturbing others; Hillman and Flatau even offered to take people’s smartphones and withhold the Wi-Fi password if it made people feel more productive.
With the hosts’ gentle reminders to stretch, share and take lunch (in case we were so focused that we forgot to eat) the event was like a spa day for the brain. Our goal-setting gurus checked in on us hourly, encouraging us to share our progress and appreciate the feeling of accomplishment we felt as we, as Mark Twain once put it, “eat our frogs.”
Speaking of eating, we were provided with “Brain Food,” two flavors of Hawaiian blend coffee, provided by Kauai Coffee and snacks provided by Clif Bar. Jerry and Caitlin, who provided coffee and showed up in the colorful Kauai Coffee van, also joined in and got some much-put-off work done themselves.
I never realized how beneficial it was to get out of the house in order to get my productive juices flowing. Hillman recalls a think tank event that she attended in Nashville, Tenn. “The best part was being supportive to other peoples’ projects and ideas that were out of my realm.”
By 4 p.m., the hour by which I’d normally still be in my bathrobe and PJs, I left Second Shift inspired, having made new friends and gathered valuable resources for my side businesses. And I feel confident that I can complete a handful of realistic, openly-stated goals in two-weeks’ time. Thanks to Hillman and Flatau, I am ready to relax my crack and eat some frogs.
For more info on Second Shift, Mindful-U and Mac & Cheese Productions: